Climate: three quarters of young people consider the future “scary”

“I grew up afraid of drowning in my own room. ” Like Mitzi Jonelle Tan, a 23-year-old conservationist who lives in the Philippines, a country particularly prone to typhoons and sea-level rise, more and more young people are deeply concerned about climate change. They no longer have confidence in the future, feel betrayed, powerless in the face of the environmental crisis and the inaction of governments.

These are the findings of the largest-ever study on climate anxiety among young people, which for the first time shows that climate-related psychological suffering is greater when individuals deem the response of governments to be inadequate. This work, the results of which were made public on Tuesday, September 14, have just been validated with a view to publication in the scientific journal The Lancet Planetary Health.

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The study, conducted by researchers from British, American and Finnish universities and funded by the NGO Avaaz, is based on a survey carried out between May and June by the Kantar Institute among 10,000 young people aged 16 to 25 years in ten countries, both North and South (Australia, Brazil, United States, Finland, France, India, Nigeria, Philippines, Portugal and United Kingdom). Prior to responding, participants were unaware of the topic of the survey.

Stronger eco-anxiety in poor countries

In detail, 59% of young people surveyed say they are ” very “ Where “Extremely worried” of climate change, while 45% say that climate anxiety affects their daily lives in a negative way, whether it is sleeping, eating, studying, going to school or to have fun.

Worse, 75% judge the future ” frightening “, 56% believe that “Humanity is doomed”, 55% that they will have fewer opportunities than their parents, 52% than the safety of their family “Will be threatened” and 39% are reluctant to have children. More than half of those polled say they feel afraid, sad, anxious, angry, helpless or guilty. Less than 30% feel optimistic.

The countries where eco-anxiety is the most significant are most often the poorest or those most affected by climate change, such as the Philippines, India or Brazil. In developed countries, it is in Portugal, which has seen a sharp increase in fires since 2017, that the concern is greatest.

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