Helen Meigs thinks about climate change. A lot. "It's always in the back of my mind," said the Macalester College sophomore. Concern about climate change isn't rare on campus. In fact, she's convinced it's widespread. "My whole generation wonders if we're getting cheated out of a full future, and we can't put it out of our minds," she said. "It's an anxiety-inducing situation."
That anxiety has a name: climate grief. In 2017, the American Psychological Association recognized the complex mental health burden in people who have experienced losses from natural disasters associated with climate change. It also found evidence that the warming planet is churning up an emotional stew of anxiety, depression and pervasive dread.
Young people, in particular, seem susceptible to the psychological toll from the steady stream of bleak scientific studies and reports of melting glaciers, rising seas and extreme weather events.
"Those of us who work in the climate change world see young people mourning the losses that are coming," said Sarah Goodspeed, youth and policy manager of Climate Generation, an advocacy group founded by Minnesota polar explorer Will Steger. "These reactions are real and valid."
Christie Manning, a research psychologist and assistant professor of environmental psychology at Macalester College in St. Paul, said that such a response is understandable. "Anxiety is a normal reaction to what we read in the data on climate change," she said. "If you see frightening things coming, fear and worry are a logical response to it."
"We have to put climate change at the forefront of the political agenda, make it part of the national conversation," Meigs said. "Our generation is taking the lead and taking matters into our own hands."
An international studies major with an environmental studies concentration, Meigs is planning a career that will follow her passion. "Some days I'm motivated to do well in school so l can get a job that can make a difference. Other days I think, what does my GPA matter when we are headed for climate catastrophe?" she said. "I want to work to delay or stop climate change. "Nothing else really matters if we don't do that.”
[TBC: “Environmental psychologists” won’t address an obvious cause. Children and young adults are frightened because they are fed information designed to frighten. Environmentalists can objectively be seen as fear mongers. Evidence that environmentalist “evidence” is lacking is demonstrated by supposedly sound scientists freely dispensing judgments that “exaggerates the challenge of global warming by using ever more hysterical rhetoric, thinking that if the last doomsday prediction didn’t work, this one will.
“For instance, the late Stephen Hawking, the famous astrophysicist, said that the consequences of Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate accord were monumental: ‘Trump’s action could push the Earth over the brink, to become like Venus, with a temperature of 250 degrees [Celsius] and raining sulfuric acid.’
“As Nathan Cofnas notes in The Weekly Standard, this is nuts. The share of the atmosphere taken up by that vile gas carbon dioxide (which just happens to sustain all plant life) is 400 parts per million. It’s been much higher than that in the past without boiling the oceans or raining acid from the sky” (https://nypost.com/2017/07/14/climate-change-fearmongering-has-turned-totally-unhinged/).
In the meantime, psychologists have gained another clientele.]