Climate anxiety as global study reveals three-in-four young people think ‘the future is frightening’

Hannah Somerville

Many young people are “extremely worried” about climate change. A study found that 75% of 10,000 16 to 25-year-olds across 10 countries (United Kingdom, Finland, Portugal, Brazil, France, Australia, United States, India, Nigeria and Philippines) believe “the future is frightening”. The study was led by Bath University in the UK in collaboration with five other universities and the Climate Psychiatry Alliance. It found that young people’s experience of “climate anxiety” is strongly linked to perceived levels of government action on the issue.

Across the board, 58% said their government was “betraying me and/or future generations”, while 64% said their government was not doing enough to avoid environmental disaster. Among those surveyed 59% said they were “very” or “extremely” worried about climate change. More than half of all participants reported feeling “anger”, “fear” and “shame” while a full 56% agreed with the statement “humanity is doomed”.

The study raised the alarm over widespread psychological distress among children and young people globally linked to environmental damage. “Our children’s anxiety is a completely rational reaction given the inadequate responses to climate change they are seeing from governments. What more do governments need to hear?” Caroline Hickman (co-lead author of the study) says.