University of Bath research published last month drawing on findings from the largest scientific study of its kind suggested that climate anxiety affects the daily life and functioning of nearly half children and young people surveyed globally. This week, the authors of the study and leading commentators will discuss these findings and their implications at an online event taking place on Wednesday 20 October.
The inaugural study, based on surveys with 10,000 children and young people across 10 countries, found 75% of young respondents believe ‘the future is frightening’ – jumping to 81% of youth surveyed in Portugal and 92% in the Philippines. It found, for the first time, that climate distress and anxiety is significantly related to perceived government inaction and associated feelings of betrayal. 58% of children and young people surveyed said governments were “betraying me and/or future generations”, while 64% said their governments are not doing enough to avoid a climate catastrophe.
The article generated worldwide discussion, with over 1100 articles in media. Many children and young people themselves have commented on the article, most of them saying that this research has made them feel heard in their climate distress. On a political level, the article has been discussed for example by United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres in his opening speech for the General Assembly 21st September and by climate leader, Christiana Figueres.
In a wide-ranging webinar on Wednesday 20 October, the co-authors of the research will engage in a deep conversation about the subject matter together with selected high-level commentators.
University of Bath lead, Caroline Hickman from the Department of Social & Policy Sciences and the Climate Psychology Alliance, explains: “Since launching this research in September the research team has been honoured by Antonio Guterres (UN Secretary General) referring to the research in his opening speech at the recent UN meeting of world leaders.
"We received messages of support from Francois Hollande (one of the architects of the COP21 climate agreement), Greta Thunberg, Stephen Fry, Margaret Attwood and Inger Anderson (Executive Director UN Environment Programme). As well as many articles in the press worldwide we are continuing to discuss in Al Jazeera, Sky News, BBC, ITV, Reuters and The Guardian.
"The research has been presented to many different groups including The Welsh Parliament, EU and UK Parliamentary groups. It has been presented at webinars internationally in the uk, the Philippines, USA, Ireland, Finland and Switzerland.
"In addition, I have received many emails from young people from all over the world, saying ‘thank you’ that they feel validated and heard by us making these links between their feelings of climate anxiety and fears for their future and concern about the failure of governments to take sufficient action to curb the worst effects of the climate crisis."
The speaker list for Wednesday’s event includes many pioneers of eco-anxiety research, such as:
- Dr Panu Pihkala from University of Helsinki speaks about climate emotions, one area of focus of the study.
- Dr Susan Clayton, the lead author of many influential texts about climate anxiety, discusses the results of the study in connection with the overall scholarship about related matters.
Climate anxiety is deeply intertwined with many justice issues, and it is also seen differently by people from various contexts.
- Dr Jade Sasser studies how race and eco-anxiety impact reproductive plans in the U.S.
- Dr Charles Ogunbode shares insights from the wide research projects about climate distress in which he has taken part. The webinar features examples of people’s lived experiences of climate anxiety.
- Dr Britt Wray, the author of a global newsletter and a forthcoming book about eco-anxiety, shares comments from the field and links them with the study.
- Actress Katherine Langford brings her voice to the subject matter.
- Eric Lewandowski shares his story as a case example of a psychological professional who has recently awakened to the full scale of the crisis.
- Sally Weintrobe, the author of the recent bestseller Psychological Roots of the Climate Crisis, will link the study with her longstanding work on climate anxiety. Educational philosopher Blanche Verlie will discuss the study in the light of her scholarship, which is manifest in her new volume Learning to Live with Climate Change.
The conversation is facilitated by Dr Catriona Mellor, a psychiatrist who has written about coping with climate distress and a co-author.