The kids may not be alright, and it’s all because of climate change, which made a “future too frightening.”
In a study published in Lancet Planetary Health, 75% of the world’s young people fear for their future. Nearly half of 45% of them say climate change takes a toll on their daily life.
The global survey claims it is the most comprehensive investigation of climate anxiety among youth to date. Researchers surveyed a sample of 10,000 people in 10 countries, all of whom were 15 to 25 years old. Focus countries included four in the Global South (Philippines, Nigeria, Brazil, and India) and six in the Global North (US, UK, Portugal, Australia, France, and Finland).
Global South youth more anxious about their future
Eco-anxiety was prevalent among youths from all countries. More than half reported being “angry, sad, anxious, helpless, guilty, and powerless” regarding climate change. Moreover, nearly half (45%) reported that climate change negatively impacted their lives, and they could not function as optimally.
Among the youth surveyed, there was a stark difference between levels of climate anxiety between young people in the Global North and Global South. Youth in the Global South had higher levels of anxiety over climate change than their counterparts in the more wealthy nations. Specifically, 65% of youth interviewed from the developing world said climate change threatened their family’s economic security, while only 42% said the same in the North.
The study also indicated that the climate crisis is impacting young people’s plans for their future negatively. More than a third (39%) said that they hesitate to have kids of their own due to the uncertainties posed by climate change.
Failed government response
Another significant finding from the study also showed how young people thumbed down their respective governments’ responses to climate change. Of the total sample, 64% said that government officials are not truthful about the real impacts of climate change on their future.
They also expressed that government action has dampened their hopes that a climate crisis can be averted. More than half of the youth surveyed also said that their governments are betraying the future of subsequent generations.
Youth from Brazil reported the most negative perceptions about their government’s climate response in all categories. Brazil has seen a dramatic abandonment of environmental protections ever since President Jair Bolsonaro took power in 2019. Conversely, the most optimistic group of youths were from Finland, where less than half (47%) of them said their government was a failure in its climate response.