The connection between climate anxiety, government betrayal and moral injury
Dig deeper into our recent global survey of young people's eco-distress
I’m ever so briefly publishing again. I’ve missed our back and forths, and while I’m still on a break from work and writing while riding the new rhythms of caring for my newborn, I’m here to let you know about a recent study and upcoming event.
Last month, the pre-print of a survey my colleagues and I conducted was published that looked at climate anxiety in 10 000 children and young people (aged 16-25) in 10 countries around the world. Instead of just outlining the severe psychological toll that the climate crisis takes on youth today, our findings show how this is linked to perceptions of government betrayal and being lied to by leaders who are taking inadequate climate action while pretending otherwise. The study was discussed widely, from the UN Secretary General who brought it up in the UN General Assembly, to Stephen Colbert who included it in a skit on his show.
Our study is called Young People's Voices on Climate Anxiety, Government Betrayal and Moral Injury: A Global Phenomenon and will be published in Lancet Planetary Health. Co-authored by Elizabeth Marks, Caroline Hickman, Panu Pihkala, Susan Clayton, Eric R. Lewandowski, Elouise E. Mayall, Britt Wray, Catriona Mellor, Lise van Susteren.
In terms of what we found
45% of the global respondents said that their feelings about climate change negatively affect their daily life and functioning (this could include eating, concentrating, work, school, sleeping, spending time in nature, playing, having fun, relationships).
Huge numbers reported devastating thoughts about climate change.
Eight out of ten (83%) think that people have failed to take care of the planet
Eight out of ten (75%) (three quarters) think that the future is frightening
Over half (56%) think that humanity is doomed
Over half (55%) think that they won’t have access to the same opportunities that their parents had
Over half (55%) think that the things they most value will be destroyed
Over half (52%) think that their family’s security will be threatened (e.g. economic, social, physical security)
Four out of ten (39%) report that they are hesitant to have children
Join us on October 20th for a deeper look
The study was launched with a webinar featuring young climate activists and climate psychology researchers (which can be seen here). On October 20th, we’re hosting a second webinar that digs deeper into our findings and young people’s climate anxiety more generally. We have some special guests lined up. Flyer below.
Sure hope you can make it!
Other things of note
For World Mental Health Day, the shining actress and mental health advocate Katherine Langford (13 Reasons Why, Knives Out, Cursed), who will be joining us for the event on the 20th, interviewed me about climate anxiety, who it affects, and how to cope. Big thanks to Katherine for her awareness raising in this space. Find our conversation in PART ONE and PART TWO on KL’s Instagram.
Just before my son was born, I sat down with Dr. Jade Sasser, who too will join us on the 20th, to discuss how the climate crisis has shaped our thoughts around having kids or not. Jade also researches the emotional dimensions of the climate crisis and reproductive decisions. She has done a lot of fascinating work around how race and environmental issues bear down on this very intimate aspect of people’s lives. Check out our discussion on CNN.
Call out for stories
For an upcoming television segment, the PBS NewsHour wants to speak to young people who have experienced anxiety because of climate change. Anyone interested in sharing their story can contact producer Gretchen Frazee at email@example.com or 210-844-6094.
And lastly, an (unpaid) message about a new UN climate podcast
“Climate fatigue is real-- the stories of activists doing what they can, with whatever tools they have, help us feel empowered to do the same.”
What is No Denying It?
No Denying It brings listeners the voices of young climate change makers from across our warming planet. These activists, engineers and entrepreneurs show us how we can make big changes - in our homes, our jobs, where we pray, and with our family and friends. Because we all have to start somewhere - but the important thing is to get started.
Each episode highlights the influential work of a young climate activist and is headlined by a notable name— from UNDP Goodwill Ambassador and actress, Michelle Yeoh, to Drag Queen and Math Communicator, Kyne.
No Denying It is meant to accentuate personal solutions, help ease climate change-related anxieties and inspire people to take up the fight against the climate crisis wherever they are, with whatever tools they have.
That’s it from me for now. Back to being on break for a bit. Sending love.