''Realities of climate change and gov't failures to act, chronic, long term & potentially inescapable stressors (Study)''

September 15, 2021

TAP) -«The realities of climate change alongside governmental failures to act are chronic, long term and potentially inescapable stressors; conditions in which mental health problems will worsen,» according to a global study published Tuesday.

The study, which was said to be the first large-scale research of its kind, was led by academics from the U.K.'s University of Bath and the Stanford Center for Innovation in Global Health, among others. It is under peer review in The Lancet Planetary Health journal.

Some 45% of the 10,000 young people surveyed across 10 countries for the study, published Tuesday, said anxiety and distress over the climate crisis was affecting their daily life and ability to function.

Three-quarters of respondents aged 16-25 felt that the «future is frightening,» while 64% of young people said that governments were not doing enough to avoid a climate crisis.

In fact, nearly two-thirds of young people felt betrayed by governments and 61% said governments were not protecting them, the planet or future generations.

«Such high levels of distress, functional impact and feelings of betrayal will inevitably impact the mental health of children and young people,» the authors of the study warned.

They added that while climate anxiety may not constitute a mental illness in itself.

Young people from countries in the Global South expressed more worry about the climate crisis, with 92% in the Philippines describing the future as «frightening.» However, 81% of the young people surveyed in Portugal also expressed this level of concern, the highest rate among the Global North countries included in the study. Portugal has seen an increase in wildfires in recent years amid higher temperatures.

Caroline Hickman, a researcher from the University of Bath Climate Psychology Alliance and a co-lead author of the study, said that anxiety among children was a «completely rational reaction given the inadequate responses to climate change they are seeing from governments.»

In addition, Liz Marks, a senior lecturer from the University of Bath and another co-lead author of the study, said it was «shocking to hear how so many young people from around the world feel betrayed by those who are supposed to protect them.»

«Now is the time to face the truth, listen to young people, and take urgent action against climate change,» she added.

Wafa Hmadi, a climate change consultant in charge of the Local Action for Climate project and the Arab Youth Sustainable Development Network AYSDN stated to TAP that 'climate anxiety levels are rising, especially after the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which revealed frightening facts, notably the major sacrifices that young people and children must make in order to survive on the Earth they inherited from their parents and grandparents.

The most recent international IPCC report, published on August 9, 2021, is considered 'a red alert for humanity.'

According to the analyses of the Carbon Brief platform, in a world where warming is limited to 1.5°C the average person born today must emit eight times less CO2 than their grandparents, Hmadi recalled.

'It is as if we are passing on to our children as a legacy our responsibilities that we have shirked. Not to mention the rising temperatures that will exhaust them physically. Today, young people show a chronic fear of climate inaction,' said the climate activist.

According to the World Economic Forum's Global Risks Report 2020, failure to act on climate change is the number one risk in the top ten risks over the next ten years. It ranks before the risk of weapons of mass destruction.

In Tunisia, youth are increasingly mobilising for the climate. The Youth for Climate movement is staging a protest in Tunis on September 18 to call on the authorities to take action and demand a climate emergency state.


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