Rising temperatures, intense heat waves, tornadoes, floods, hurricanes, fires, loss of forest, and glaciers, combined with disappearing rivers and desertification can, directly and indirectly, can impact human health and wellbeing. Now, a recent study has stated that the young generation is experiencing "high levels of psychological distress" due to climate change. The government's inaction has further worsened the growing crisis.
In the study, which is being termed as a one-of-its-kind survey, responses from as many as 10,000 young people (between 16-25 years) were recorded. It was led by Bath University in collaboration with five universities, reported BBC.
What Are The Key Findings?
Amongst them, 45 per cent believed that anxiety and stress due to climate change was impacting their daily lives and affecting the proper functioning of normal chores.
As part of the survey, 10,000 youths and teenagers were selected by the authors of the study from 10 different countries. India was also selected among the United States, Australia, Nigeria, and the Philippines.
After the completion of the study, three-fourth of young adults believed that "Their future is frightening," and 65 per cent of them believed that their respective governments were not doing their bit to curb such catastrophes exacerbated by climate change.
The countries with the highest proportion of respondents who felt 'very tensed' or 'extremely tensed' by climate change were the Philippines (84%), followed by India (68%) and Brazil (67%). These countries have been hard-hit by climate change.
Portugal — where wildfires are becoming highly severe — had the highest level of very worried or extremely worried respondents (65%) amongst the high-income nations surveyed, which included France, Finland, Australia, and the United States.
"A dreadful picture of widespread climate anxiety in our children and young people has come out from this study," Caroline Hickman, co-lead author of the study stated, according to Nature. Hickman is also a professor and researcher at the University of Bath in the United Kingdom.
Psychological Distress Linked To Government Inaction
Described as the first large-scale study of climate anxiety, it was assisted by human rights activists, academics, and mental health experts, including Dr. Eric Lewandowski, a New York University clinical associate professor. It was funded by AVAAZ, a U.S. nonprofit organisation that promotes global activism, and it is expected to be published in The Lancet Planetary Health.
"For the first time, the study has suggested that high levels of psychological distress in the young generation is linked to the government inaction," Hickman explained, as reported by Nature.
When asked about how governments are responding to climate change, 65 per cent of the surveyed adults agreed with the statement that governments are failing the young generation, 64 per cent agreed that they lie about the impact of actions taken by the government and 60 per cent agreed they were dismissing people's distress. Only 36 per cent agreed that governments are acting appropriately as per science. However, young adults do feel reassured when governments act.
"Our children's anxiety is entirely a rational reaction, given the inadequate responses to climate change they see from governments. What more do the authorities need to hear to take action?"
Experts React To The Study
As climate change contributes to deadly weather events, more organisations are getting active over time to control it. Quill Robinson, vice-president for government affairs of the American Conservation Coalition, a conservative advocacy organisation, tries to prepare young adults around market-based environmental action. "Unfortunately I am not surprised that the young generation is so worried and scared of climate change," Robinson said.
"Both young as well as old need to tell a factual story about climate change," he added.
The survey comes at a time when the young generation has voiced their thoughts about the issue of climate change. A worldwide youth-led "climate strike," with rallies planned in thousands of cities, was conducted on Friday, 24th September.
"Young people all over the globe are very well aware that the people in power are failing us," Greta Thunberg, the world-famous teenage climate activist was quoted in the study.