A survey of 10,000 young people aged 16 to 25 in ten countries, from North to South, reveals the chronic anxiety of this generation vis-à-vis the climate crisis. Three-quarters of them think the future is “scary” and 60% believe that governments are ignoring their plight.
The “eco-anxiety”, the evil of the century? 59% of young people are “very worried “ even “extremely worried “ about climate change. More than 50% feel “anxious, angry, helpless or helpless and guilty “, according to the results of this study carried out in ten countries, “the largest“from young people to this day on the subject.
Produced by British, Finnish and American researchers, it will soon be published in the journal Lancet Planetary Health. For the first time, it establishes a link between the perception of government inaction and the psychological distress of young people.
More than half of young people terrified of climate change
I remember being so anxious that it was difficult for me to go to work or get up in the morning
45% said their feelings about climate change had a negative impact on their daily life and functioning, with ” a high number of negative thoughts about climate change “.
This is the case of Lotta, a 24-year-old Finnish woman engaged in the fight for ecology, interviewed by France Inter. “When I think about climate change, the first emotions that come to mind are anxiety and sadness. The future is so uncertain and I feel like I’ve been deprived of a normal life.“
“My anxiety level peaked in 2018, after the publication of the famous IPCC report“, continues Lotta. “I remember being so anxious that it was difficult for me to go to work or get up in the morning. I felt bad to continue living normally after that.“
The survey, funded by the NGO Avaaz, was carried out in Australia, Brazil, Finland, France, India, Nigeria, the Philippines, Portugal, the United Kingdom and the United States.
In France, 77% of 16-25 year olds think we have failed to take care of the planet (compared to 83% globally) and 61% that they will have fewer opportunities than their parents. Almost half consider that they have been betrayed by the government, and only a quarter believe that the government does “enough to avoid a disaster“ecological.
They hesitate to have children
“We don’t just measure how they feel, but what they think. Four [jeunes] in ten hesitate to have children “ for ecological reasons, specifies Caroline Hickman, researcher at the University of Bath and co-author of the study, in an interview with BBC News.
Ophélie, a 23-year-old Frenchwoman, does not want descendants, she explains why: “Myself, I’m not even sure I will survive until the end, so I think if I had one, he might die at 40 … Which doesn’t make sense.”
For her, eco-anxiety began with the last publication of the IPCC on August 9. “It really was written in black and white that when children born in 2021 turned 30, human life as we know it today would inevitably be transformed.“
Young people from southern countries, more worried
75% of young people consider the future “scary” in the ten countries studied, a rate which rises to 92% in the Philippines, 86% Brazil and 80% in India. According to the authors of the report, anxiety levels appear to be highest in countries where government climate policies are considered weakest, and where climate change is most visible.
“I grew up with the fear of drowning in my own room“, loose Mitzi Jonelle Tan, a Filipino activist for the ecology aged 23, in a video of the NGO Avaaz. In his country, regularly affected by typhoons, 93% of young people consider that we have failed to protect the planet.
Young Brazilians are the most likely to feel “betrayed by their government” (77%) on the climate issue, and 78% to think that it is lying about the impact of the measures taken for the climate.
Finland, on the contrary, is the country where young people appear to be the least dejected (only 56% say the future is frightening). Overall, we are more worried in the southern hemisphere, and Portugal, particularly prone to forest fires, is the most worried country in the North.