Climate change is the long-term shift in temperatures and weather patterns. These shifts may be natural, such as through variations in the solar cycle. These variations are no longer considered natural since human activities have been the one and only drivers of climate change. Primarily, it started with burning fossil fuels like coal, oil, and gas, and then it is still in the process. This is one of the major reasons for rising temperatures. Climate change has become an important major concern for the future of children and young people that is making them vulnerable to climate anxiety. It is causing anxiety and other negative emotions in children and young people worldwide. The fact is that none of us has the power to limit its harm. “Climate anxiety is more intense for teenagers, (especially) as they transition from home to college, because they have internalized the urgency of the crisis,” says Heather White, author of One Green Thing: Discover your Hidden Power to Help Save the Planet.
TO WHAT EXTENT CLIMATE CHANGE HAS AFFECTED PEOPLE SO FAR?A new global survey is conducted which clearly illustrates the depth of anxiety that many young people are feeling about climate change. This is the first large-scale investigation of climate anxiety in children and young people globally and its relationship with perceived government response.
- A new survey of 10,000 young people in 10 countries finds climate change causing widespread, deeply felt anxiety.
- Survey respondents feel betrayed by governments that have so far failed to do enough to address the crisis.
- Nearly 60% of young people approached said they felt very worried or extremely worried.
- More than 45% of those questioned said feelings about the climate affected their daily lives.
- Three-quarters of them said they thought the future was frightening. Over half (56%) say, they think humanity is doomed.
- Two-thirds reported feeling sad, afraid and anxious. Many felt fear, anger, despair, grief and shame – as well as hope.
- One 16-year-old said: “It’s different for young people – for us, the destruction of the planet is personal.
- It is concluded that overall 75% of young respondents said, “The future is frightening.”
IMPACT OF CLIMATE CHANGE ON PEOPLE’S MENTAL WELL-BEINGClimate change has already panicked the young population and compelled them to think about upcoming generations. With the stress of study, career, and future youngsters now feel anxiety by thinking about their environment. Every increase in rising temperature alarms people about a certain danger. It disturbs people’s lives, their physical and mental well-being. As we all know that physical and mental well-being are deeply connected with each other so, if one gets disturbed so does the other one. People are living with anxiety, as it has become a part of their lives. This anxiety causes other physical health issues that result in dehydration, heart stroke and disease, and warm-weather health conditions such as Lyme disease and allergies.
SIGNIFICANT OUTCOMES OF CLIMATE DISTURBANCE AND ANXIETYIt has been proved by many experts that climate change is a sign of the upcoming danger. It is creating fret and agitation amongst people, especially young ones. The warmth is not only in the temperature but also present in human behavior now. We often feel irritated when we go outside and we have to face extreme high temperatures. It is happening while it is around 45-50 degree Celsius. What will happen if it is above 50? The answer is quite obvious that it will probably create anger issues and increase the anxiety level. It will result in enhanced degrees of anxiety, depression, and stress; put up-traumatic stress dysfunction, material abuse, and domestic violence. People nowadays are losing their patience over small matters or issues. They do not even think twice about what they are doing. Thus, the instant reaction has become their voluntary action.
WAYS OF COPING WITH CLIMATE PANICClimate conditions are not in our control but anxiety levels can be reduced and controlled, which is definitely our control. Some ways to cope with the anxiety are:
- Avoid the topics that bother you e.g., do not talk about climate and related things.
- Families do not need to panic in front of their children while talking about the environment. Instead, they should talk about helping the planet such as composting and recycling.
- Parents must be aware of the signs that their child is struggling with anxiety about changes in the climate.
- Parents ensure that their children talk about climate related topics only to them and not with others at all.
- Parents must suggest the ways to their children so that they help the mother earth.
- Parents should seek professional help if it is required.
THE UNITED NATIONS’ SDG (SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOAL)-13The United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 13 aims to “take urgent action to combat climate change and its impact”, while acknowledging that the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is the primary international, intergovernmental forum for negotiating the global response to climate change. More specifically, the associated targets of SDG 13 focus on:
- The improvement on the quality of education, awareness raising and institutional capacity on capacity on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction and early warnings
- Integration of climate change measures into national policies
- Implementation of the commitment undertaken at the UNFCCC.
- Promotion of mechanisms able to increase capacity for effective climate–change related planning and management.
- Focus on least developed countries and Small Island Developing States