Children often worry about very different things than their parents. is one of the big Climate change, Research shows that most young people are “extremely concerned” about it, leading to a phenomenon called climate anxiety. Children and young adults who struggle with it can feel as though they have no future or that humanity is over.
“We see a lot of young people saying, I think my life will be worse than my parents’ lives,” said Dr. Sarah Schwartz said.
A study published last year collected attitudes about climate change from 10,000 people around the world aged 16-25.
In the survey, 59% of youth and young adults said they are very concerned about climate change and more than 45% said their feelings about climate change negatively affect their daily lives and work .
“So, they know the world is going to be a tough, dark, scary place,” Schwartz said. “And it feels really scary for them to imagine themselves in that world.”
The study also revealed how climate change makes young people feel. Across all countries surveyed, about 62% said they are concerned about climate change. About 67 per cent said they were sad and scared.
Schwartz is doing research on climate anxiety. She said it’s not a diagnosis, but a valid response to current situation in the worldAnd his research shows that three-quarters of young people are concerned about climate change.
Schwartz said, “I don’t think it makes sense as a disorder because, again, it’s believed to be the psychology of the few rather than the majority.” “And then the goal is that this is an individual disorder, where we treat on an individual level rather than addressing social issues and environmental issues.”
“People should talk about it more because it’s their planet,” said high school student Johanna Flores. “He should be worried about his health.”
Flores lives in Chelsea, Massachusetts, just outside Boston, where she said so much jet fuel, road salt and heating oil has accumulated on the river it’s difficult for some residents to even get close to the water.
“And you’re not going to see it in a white neighborhood like you’d see a beautiful view of the water,” said Darren Rodriguez, 15, who lives in Chelsea. “You won’t see any industry like smoke and pollution.”
The students are environmental activists for a non-profit called Greenroots. They work with adults to advocate for environmental justice in their hometown by educating and empowering others to get involved.
“We should just participate in anything, like if there’s some sort of tree planting thing going on, like participate in that,” Flores said. “Or if there’s some kind of event, even a garbage pick-up, people should participate in that because it helps the community a lot.”
With a group focused on environmental problems in their neighborhood, it’s no surprise they’re also concerned about climate change.
“It’s scary to think what awaits future generations and the world itself,” said 16-year-old Grendol Oliva.
“I’m very worried because I want to be able to have children and see my children grow up,” Rodriguez said. “I think I won’t be able to experience it because people are careless about what they do and how they treat the environment.”
being involved helps
Schwartz said activism Can be an effective way for children to deal with the feelings associated with climate anxiety.
“Higher climate change concern correlated with higher clinical symptoms of depression and anxiety,” Schwartz said. “But what we did see was that for young people who have high levels of climate concern, if they also had high levels of hyperactivity, we didn’t see any higher levels of depression symptoms.”
Schwartz said the social aspect of activism and peer support is the biggest piece in helping protect against depression.
“It could mean signing petitions,” Schwartz said. “It may mean supporting other people who are going to be the face of it, you know, who are going to march up Beacon Hill over there,” Schwartz said. “So, I guess the idea is to work with a group.”
It could also mean putting together a “pop-up park” in Chelsea, like the Greenroots kids have done.
“If there are more people working like this for a better future, change can happen,” said 16-year-old Grendol Oliva.
“It helps me deal with it, like I’m not alone,” said Troy Arnold, 16.
Rodriguez said, “There are moments when you’re just the way you are, like nothing’s going to change.” “But then there’s also a small sense that there’s still hope that people will change, and that people will come together to help save humanity.”
How can you get involved
Schwartz said that when people think of activism, they often think of a protest or a rally. He added that there are other ways people can get involved and work with others. She recommends some of the following tools, guides, and resources:
Are you interested in climate activism but not sure where to start? You can get climate toolkits and resources through our climate here.
Programs and Resources
Get involved in making a difference in your community through The Climate Initiative.
Here, you can find more resources to help you act on climate change.
join a group
Join Sunrise Hub here. A Hub is a group of young people working together in their community to stop the climate crisis through the organization Sunrise Movement.