Almost 60 percent of those between the age group of 16-25 are anxious about climate change.
Climate change is not just a threat to the planet, it may well affect our psychological well-being too. A study published in The Lancet in 2021 showed that about 60 percent of young people are extremely worried about climate change and felt sad, angry, helpless powerless, and guilty.
“I feel like I am studying and working hard, but it will be of no use if the planet we are in is not in a suitable for us to live. This makes me worried.”- Mehnaaz, a 17-year-old PU college student from Bangalore said. They also feel governments are of no use when it comes to climate action.
Sometimes the feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, and anger are so strong that many young people end up in therapy rooms. According to Sumithra Sridhar, a psychologist working with Heart It Out mental health organization, weather and climate change definitely affect mental health. But young people being exposed to a lot of information on social media and through other platforms can also be a reason for this climate change-induced anxiety.
On the other hand, the exposure to news reports and information through social media makes young people empowered to act. Climate change awareness campaigns and resistance against climate change mainly come from youth organizations. “We are not exactly doomed. If we start working on it,” said Akhilesh Anil Kumar. He is the founder of Bring Back Green foundation and is a UN India climate leader. He said that the democratic structure of the country offers a lot of space for young people to work with the government and push the government to make the right decisions. He cited the example of EIA draft notification -2020 when lakhs of young people in India did research and wrote emails to the authorities.
Climate change is no longer a distant phenomenon that affects only polar bears or sea turtles. Its direct impact on human civilization and individual well-being is all the more visible around us. But as young activists across the world attest, this is not the time to sit and lament. This is the time to get up and act.