Young people around the globe are profoundly worried about climate change, according to a new study, which found that those who feel governments are doing too little to address the crisis are most prone to climate anxiety.
“Distress about climate change is associated with young people perceiving that they have no future, that humanity is doomed, that governments are failing to respond adequately, and with feelings of betrayal and abandonment by governments and adults,” the authors wrote. “These are chronic stressors which will have significant, long-lasting and incremental negative implications on the mental health of children and young people.”
The study is the largest-ever survey of climate anxiety in teenagers and young adults, having canvassed 10,000 people, ages 16 to 25, in the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Finland, Australia, Portugal, Brazil, India, the Philippines, and Nigeria.
Across the 10 countries, three in four young people said the future is frightening, while nearly half said their feelings about climate change negatively impact their daily life, the study found. Around six in 10 said governments are not protecting the planet, while a similar number said governments are betraying them. Those who felt betrayed by governments were more likely to report climate distress. The study — conducted by researchers in the UK, the U.S., and Finland — was published in the journal Lancet Planetary Health.
“The failure of governments to adequately address climate change and the impact on younger generations potentially constitutes moral injury,” the authors wrote. “Nations must respond to protect the mental health of children and young people by engaging in ethical, collective, policy-based action against climate change.”