CM – Growing fear of the climate poses a significant threat to individuals and society


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October 6, 2021

from British Medical Journal

The extent of eco-fear – the chronic fear of the destruction of the environment – is increasing, especially among children and adolescents, and is likely to be significant and potentially harmful to individuals and society, experts from the BMJ warn today.

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Mala Rao and Richard A. Powell say that neglecting the effects of increasing eco-anxiety « leads to risks of exacerbating health and social inequalities between those who are more or less prone to these psychological effects, » while socio-economic ones Impacts – as yet hidden and unquantified – « will greatly contribute to the national costs of addressing the climate crisis. »

And they urge executives to « the challenges ahead, the need to act now, and the commitment. » to realize what it takes to create a path to a happier, healthier future and leave no one behind. « 

They point to a 2020 survey of child psychiatrists in England that shows that more than half (57%) see children and young people in distress over the climate crisis and the state of the environment.

And a recent inte rnational survey of climate fear among young people aged 16-25 showed that the psychological (emotional, cognitive, social and functional) pressures of climate change « deeply affect large numbers of these young people around the world. »

These findings also provide insight into the connection of young people’s emotions with their feelings of betrayal and abandonment by governments and adults, they write. It is believed that governments fail to respond appropriately, leaving young people “with no future” and “doomed humanity”.

So what can be done to alleviate mounting climate fears, they ask?

« The best chance to increase optimism and hope among environmentally fearful young and old is to make sure they have access to the best and most reliable information about climate change and adaptation, » they explain.

« Particularly important is information on how to connect more closely with nature, contribute to greener decisions on an individual level, and connect with like-minded communities and groups. « 

They conclude: » The climate crisis is an existential threat, and Fear of the future cannot be fully tackled until a common global strategy is in place to tackle the root cause of global warming n and all – especially the young and the weakest communities – hope for a better future.  »

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