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How do young people experience climate change? The answer, according to a study, is not good, and for good reason.
For an upcoming study, researchers from the University of Bath in the UK and other schools spoke to 10,000 people in 10 countries, all aged 16 to 25, to gauge their thoughts on the climate change. The prevailing answer could be summed up in two words: incredibly worried. And respondents say governments are not doing enough to tackle climate change.
The inquiry comes more than six weeks before the nations of the world gather in Glasgow, Scotland, at an annual meeting called by the United Nations to tackle climate change. Scientists say nations are adopting the wrong kinds of bold policies to avoid the worst effects of climate change. The survey suggests that young people around the world understand how widespread and dangerous political inaction is in the face of climate change.
The study concluded that there is a correlation between negative emotions, such as worry, and beliefs that government responses to climate change have been inadequate. So how governments are tackling – or not tackling – climate change directly affects the mental health of young people.
Of those polled, nearly 60% said they felt ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ concerned about climate change, and more than half said climate change made them feel ‘scared, sad, anxious , angry, helpless, helpless and / or guilty. ”
Positive feelings such as optimism were reported the least among respondents, the researchers said. In fact, 77% said they saw the future as frightening, and 56% agreed with the view that humanity is doomed, according to the study.
For many young people, these feelings of fear and worry also affect their ability to function, according to the results. More than 45% of those polled said that their perception of climate change negatively affects their daily life.
And for those who live in the poorest countries of the southern hemisphere, who are more likely to be affected by natural disasters made worse by climate change, the outlook is even worse: Overall, they are more worried and their ability to function is even more hampered, the researchers found.
Young people also said they were generally dissatisfied with the way their governments handled the realities of climate change.
Across all countries represented – US, UK, Australia, Brazil, France, Finland, India, Nigeria, Portugal and the Philippines – 65% of young people felt their government was failing them on climate change and 60% said felt that the government had dismissed the plight of citizens on this matter. Nearly half of those who said they spoke with others about climate change said their concerns had been ignored, the researchers said.
Tackling climate change individually is not enough on its own, the researchers said. Those in power have a responsibility to act to protect not only the Earth, but also the sanity of those who will inherit the planet, they said.
As one 16-year-old included in the study wrote: “I think it’s different for young people. For us, the destruction of the planet is personal.