Climate Change Taking Toll on Mental Health of Teenagers and Adults

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Climate change is taking a toll on the mental health of teenagers and young adults in a way that could be broadly damaging to society and even democratic institutions, says an article published in Politico.

First of its kind

That’s among the findings in a first-of-its-kind survey of people aged 16 to 25 conducted by researchers at The University of Bath, NYU Langone Health, Stanford Medicine Center, and other institutions. The peer-reviewed paper, which was accepted for publication Monday by Lancet Planetary Health, surveyed 10,000 young adults in 10 countries.

“As bad as the storms are outside, the storms inside are even worse,” report co-author Lise van Susteren said in an interview. “Children don’t live in a cave. They’re more media-savvy than we are. They know it’s not some campfire gone awry on the West Coast.”

The numbers percentage

83 percent said people have failed to care for the planet; 75 percent called the future frightening; 39 percent said they’re hesitant to have children.

Most worrisome in the big picture was widespread mistrust of government. Among U.S. respondents, only 21 percent said the government could be trusted, the worst showing of any country.

In India, nearly 3 in 4 teens and young adults said humanity is doomed. In Brazil, 78 percent said the government lies. Ninety-two percent of Filipinos called the future frightening.

Failing to act

“Climate anxiety in children and young people should not be seen as simply caused by the ecological disaster; it is also caused by more powerful ‘others’ (adults and governments) failing to act on the threats being faced,” researchers wrote.

That failing could amount to a form of child abuse, the report found, saying “the distress of climate anxiety could be regarded as cruel, inhuman, degrading or torturous.”

Teenagers are marching

We’ve heard this story before. Teen activist Greta Thunberg took on former President Donald Trump. Teenagers are marching in the streets. Young adults are suing the U.S. government in a case that could go to trial next year. Large employers say they’ve been forced into climate action in part by demands from their young workers.

But the survey is the first time climate anxiety has been quantified and documented in young people.

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Source: Politico

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