by Will Lloyd
Tuesday, 24
November 2020
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18:19

Climate doomsters are giving children ‘eco-anxiety’

Scaring youngsters about the future will do them no good
by Will Lloyd
A happy and well-adjusted climate striker. (photo by Kristian Buus/In Pictures via Getty Images)

One of the hobby horses that Richard Dawkins is fond of flogging is his claim that religious education is evil. Dawkins pops up around once a year to remind us that “forcing a religion on your children is as bad as child abuse.”

I thought of the evolutionary biologist when new research revealed that more than half of child psychiatrists in England are seeing young people who are depressed about climate change. In September the Royal College of Psychiatrists asked members who worked in the NHS whether they were noticing patients who were anxious about ecological issues. Child and adolescent psychiatrists, more than those working with other age groups, had seen a rapid rise in “eco-anxiety.”

The findings will come as no surprise to anybody who has worked recently in an English school. When I taught in one last year, I was initially taken aback by the solemn, gloomy, apocalyptic worldview of my students. When it came to climate change they had abandoned hope — “what’s the point sir” was a common refrain, “the world is going to be over in ten years anyway.”

Those students (and plenty of teachers) I encountered had fallen hard for the Greta account of climate change. This sees global warming not as an immense technical challenge to be solved, but as a moral, even metaphysical judgement on our species, rendered by forces that are running away from our control. This sense of impending doom has, understandably, dug a vast reservoir of fear in young people.

With great enthusiasm from the Mayor of London, Extinction Rebellion, pressure groups, and teachers themselves, these feelings where channelled last September into a series of climate strikes. One of the most unsettling parts of them was watching teenagers stage “die-ins” to show their anger at the climate emergency.

Strikes, protests and activism are not adequate responses to a world where China and India account for over a third of the world’s CO2 emissions between them. They raise the emotional temperature, without offering any constructive approach to the problem of rising temperatures. Deep down, I think plenty of teenagers are smart enough to know this, which is why so many of them are feeling anxious and depressed.

Three-quarters of teachers don’t feel like they’ve been adequately trained to teach students about climate change. In the absence of that training, it’s the most hopeless account of the issue that’s taking hold in English schools. “Forcing a religion” on children is not child abuse, but scaring the bejeezus out of them about the climate is close to it.

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Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
1 year ago

Sadly, this story brings together two of the great frauds of our time, climate change and the demented focus on ‘mental health’. Apparently Sweden has seen no net increase in its average temperature for 70 years, Delhi has just seen its coldest morning ever, various parts of New Jersey are equalling their record low termperatures, and a power plant in Vladivostok has been knocked out by unusually large amounts of freezing rain.

Robyn Lagrange
Robyn Lagrange
1 year ago

“Save the Planet”

The hubristic cry of a misguided anthropocentric minority. We can’t save the planet or destroy it. It is scheduled to last around another 4 billion years.

On the one hand they are intellectually dishonest. What they mean to say is the earth is overpopulated. On the other hand they want to preserve the climate so that we can continue to live here. Is Covid 2 the pandemic or is the human race the real pandemic?

Personally, I have always tried to live sustainably as far as is possible in a western economy, not because of concern for the planet, but because I grew up in a society that considered thrift to be a virtue.

I don’t deny that the climate is changing. It has been changing throughout the history of the planet. Organisms that can adapt, survive.

Excessive and hysterical concern about climate change only illustrates a naive understanding of the nature of life. For all we know, yesterday, a nearby star went supernova and when the blast of radiation and debris hits us in say, 10 years time, it will exterminate all life on earth. For all we know.

We live life on a knife edge and tomorrow is not guaranteed. Yes we should conserve resources and not be wastful. As with most things it comes down to moderation.

bsema
bsema
1 year ago

The reason children are seeing psychiatrists about their depression over climate change is primarily because children are seeing more psychiatrists for depression.

Steve Craddock
Steve Craddock
1 year ago

I think the post truth world is never more clearly witnessed than through the lense of the climate debate. Someone somewhere said “facts don’t care about your feelings” but I believe this is a slightly cynical contraction, and should be appended with: “but feelings fund raise better”
The one thing I suggested to my older kids was that i thought our planet had been slowly heading towards accidently destroying the very bottom level of our global food chain by sequestering over millions of years one of the vital building blocks that all or most plant life needs to thrive and we had not really spotted this until recently through our improvements in horticulture. Luckily for us, though not through any guile or secret wisdom, I suggested we had equally entirely accidently started to de-sequester the same vital compound. Unfortunately, our accidental saving of the entire food chain may have a few side effects which we are arguing frantically about currently. By offering a balancing more positive suggestion i hoped to counter the prevalent hysteria, that only that tells us we are all doomed unless we obey the preachings of the climate change high priests and their fawning accolyates.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
1 year ago

Interesting observations, but could have done without the Dawkins references.

Forcing religion on children (in a fundamentalist way) is certainly a form of mental abuse, and we know that many priests/clerics have used religious memes to scare children into accepting awful physical abuse.

The survivors of “climate change related’ abuse will probably recover. The victims of sexual abuse virtually never do.

Basil Chamberlain
Basil Chamberlain
1 year ago

I wonder, in 1953 or 1962, were child psychologists then seeing young people who were depressed by the prospect of nuclear annihilation? And were those young people not right to be depressed by what seemed then an immediate threat with a strong probability of destroying their futures? We know, of course, in retrospect, that it didn’t happen, but they we were right to be afraid then, as perhaps we are right to be afraid now.

David George
David George
1 year ago

Right or wrong it’s seriously not a good idea to be terrifying people, especially our young, to the point they believe there is no worthwhile future, even more so when there is no evidence that any such thing is likely. Some of the more soft headed are even refusing to reproduce.

There has always been somewhere on earth experiencing an unusual weather event; present that as “unprecedented” and attribute it to human induced CC and you can understand why people are being fearful. A gentle warming over the next few centuries is possible, likely even but there’s no credible scientific evidence for, or confirmation of, the catastrophic rapid climate change theory
.
The outrageous exaggeration from the dominant media and fear mongering elites is inexcusable.

Carl Goulding
Carl Goulding
1 year ago

I very much doubt it. Their lives and thinking were not dominated and manipulated by a rampant, irresponsible, disrespectful, self-righteous and dishonest MSM. They had parents who had experienced and survived real hardship and lived through a world war to give them hope. They were also free from the horrors of facebook and twitter.

Johnny Sutherland
Johnny Sutherland
1 year ago

I wonder just how many child psychologists there were in 1953 or 1962.

I also wonder how many mental health issues are because we tell people they have mental health issues, and if they don’t they must have a serious mental health problem.