A new study finds a large majority of people aged 16-25 suffer from “climate anxiety” and close to half report their feelings about the environment negatively affect their daily lives, but rather than recognize these fears as irrational, the experts use them to advance their progressive agenda. It’s all green, all the time, except when governments around the world are actively increasing fossil fuel production behind the scenes.
“Like many others my age, I feel like I experience this ‘apocalypse mentality’ that really burrows itself in my brain and stomach every day. I have trouble envisioning a future beyond a year,” explains Skyler Karzhevsky, a 23-year old from Somerville, Massachusetts. Ms. Karzhevsky was talking about her fears of a changing climate, shared by many of her peers, a new phenomenon known as “climate anxiety.” Zachary Peden, an 18-year old from Tulare, California, described it this way, “I get anxious thinking about whether or not I should have children in the future. I don’t want them to have to watch in despair as the world crumbles, burns and floods around them. I already have to, and it’s so demoralizing and depressing.” Heidi Shepard, 23, of Moab, Utah picked up on a similar theme, “climate change [has] narrowed my imagination and stolen my future. All I strive for now is to grow enough food and acquire enough medical and survival skills to sustain myself and others in an increasingly untenable society on a planet that is burning to death.”
These three young people are not alone. A recent study titled “Young People’s Voices on Climate Anxiety, Government Betrayal and Moral Injury: A Global Phenomenon” surveyed 10,000 individuals from 16-25 years of age in 10 countries, collecting data on their “thoughts and feelings about climate change, and government response.” The study reports that “Climate change has significant implications for the health and futures of children and young people, yet they have little power to limit its harm, making them vulnerable to increased climate anxiety. Qualitative studies show climate anxiety is associated with perceptions of inadequate action by adults and governments, feelings of betrayal, abandonment and moral injury. This study offers the first large-scale investigation of climate anxiety in children and young people globally and its relationship to government response.” The findings are stark and distressing to say the least. 84% of respondents claimed they were “at least moderately worried” about climate change, 59% were “very or extremely worried.” More than 50% “felt sad, anxious, angry, powerless, helpless, and guilty.” Over 45% claimed their “feelings about the climate affected their daily life and functioning, and many reported a high number of negative thoughts about climate change.”
This cohort is also worried about the government response to climate change, rating it “negatively.” They “reported feelings of betrayal [rather] than of reassurance. Correlations indicated that climate anxiety and distress were significantly related to perceived inadequate government response and associated feelings of betrayal.” Ultimately, the study concluded “Climate change and inadequate governmental responses are associated with climate anxiety and distress in many children and young people globally. These psychological stressors threaten health and wellbeing, and could be construed as morally injurious and unjust. There is an urgent need for increases in both research and government responsiveness.”
Britt Wray, one of the authors of the study, followed up with an opinion piece on CNN.com, making it clear that rather than addressing most of these fears as irrational and explaining to these young people they are lucky enough to live in an age of plenty, the plan is to exploit them to the fullest. She wrote, “With the COP26 climate summit coming up in Glasgow, it is time for more world leaders to heed the existential concerns young people feel and the distrust of governments they harbor by taking bold action. If they don’t, they must be ready to face the steadily worsening mental health of their own youth.” In her opinion, “climate anxiety is not a mental health disorder,” but “a normal and natural response to a very real civilizational crisis that is unfolding. It marks one’s wakefulness to reality, can spur people to action, and is thereby an adaptive response. However, if not supported, it can cause real suffering, and become overwhelming and debilitating.” Ms. Wray concludes that all we can do is give into these fears and legitimize them by embracing progressives schemes to save the planet. “The adults in charge ought to listen closely to what children and young people are saying and prioritize their psychological well-being by enshrining its protection in far-ranging climate and economic policy. The enormous cost to the population’s mental health that will accrue by further delaying action needs be recognized by those in power. Nothing less than the future sanity of our species depends on it.”
Translation: Enact far reaching economic change right now, or everyone is going to go insane.
This, of course, is precisely backward; the completely wrong way to treat a patient, unless your goal is creating even more panic and make them even more mentally unbalanced. Whatever these young people feel, the reality is that they live in the most prosperous, healthy, and safe period in the history of the known universe. This is true by almost every conceivable metric. There is more wealth, food, healthcare, comfort, technology, recreation, and general safety than ever before. The short term challenges of coronavirus, a supply chain crisis, and a spike in urban crime aside, a young person in America, Europe, and other prosperous regions can expect to live longer, better, and in more peace than any previous generation, period. To the extent that climate change is a problem, it pales in comparison to the challenges humanity has faced in the past. In the last century alone, there were devastating, catastrophic wars, climate events so bad dust from Texas made it to the Atlantic Ocean, bad science and agricultural management that starved millions upon millions of people in China and the former Soviet Union, and world wide depressions where more than one out of four people couldn’t find work. These were all real, immediate, fatal crises with no potential for mitigation. World War I killed some 20 million people around the world, wounding 21 million others, and irrevocably disrupting life for millions upon millions more. World War II was even worse, killing 75 million people, wiping entire countries off the map. At points during both conflicts, no one knew if the world would ever return to normal ever again.
By comparison, the risk from the weather today, even as it supposedly changing, remains absolutely miniscule and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. In fact, the number of deaths from extreme weather events has declined threefold over the past 50 years, even as the number of reported events has increased by five over the same period. The most comprehensive study of its kind ever conducted, the “WMO Atlas of Mortality and Economic Losses from Water, Climate, and Water Extremes (1970-2019)” found that “Deaths decreased almost threefold from 1970 to 2019. Death tolls fell from over 50,000 deaths in the 1970s to less than 20,000 in the 2010s. The 1970s and 1980s reported an average of 170 related deaths per day. In the 1990s, that average fell by one third to 90 related deaths per day, then continued to fall in the 2010s to 40 related deaths per day.” Moreover, 91% of these deaths occurred in developing countries. If you live in the United States in the year 2021, and you heed the government’s advice during a major hurricane, blizzard, or weather event, your chances of dying are infinitesimal.
To be sure, the study did note an increase in the number of events, which they claimed was due to “climate change, more extreme weather and improved reporting” without defining the impact of each, but the connection between weather and climate has always been hazy at best. Take hurricanes, for example. The actual data show no trend towards an increasing number or strength. Last year, we had the highest number of hurricanes since 2007, but that was only the third most since 1970. The first half of the 20th century was the most active period on record, before climate change. Other so-called extreme weather events are also highly misleading. Recently, forest fires have been attributed to global warming without considering changes to management techniques that have made large burns far more likely. The Center for Biological Diversity found that “The vast majority of western dry forests are at risk of large, high-intensity fire because of the effects of poor forest management over the past century. The primary factors that lead to current forest conditions include logging large trees, fire suppression, and livestock grazing. Since the beginning of the 20th century, all three of these factors have been present in western forests, and they continue to play a role today.” Meaning, the impact of climate, if anything, pales in comparison to our own mismanagement.
Likewise, droughts are also now regularly attributed to climate change, but little attention is paid to how poorly water resources are managed in many states. The last reservoir in California was built in 1979, when the population was 23 million, barely half of what it is today. Further, the most massive drought on record in the United States remains the Great Dust Bowl of the 1930s. Over a period of several years extreme winds swept choking dust from Texas to Nebraska, killing livestock and crops across the entire region. The dust storms were known as “black blizzards” and some of them reached Washington DC and New York, even covering ships in the Atlantic Ocean with dust. The drought started in 1930; the storms of dust in 1931. By 1934, 35 million acres of farmland was destroyed, changing cultivated land for crops to completely useless strips of parched earth, and another 125 million acres was at risk. Rain did not return to the region until 1939, ten years of drought. Nothing like it, or anything close to it, has happened since, but even then much of the impact was due to poor land management decisions and could have been mitigated with better techniques and technology.
Ironically, it is green policies themselves that are rapidly leading to the worst energy crisis since the 1970s, one of the few things that could jeopardize our progress towards a safer and healthier world. The talk continues to be green, but the action behind the scenes is all about shoring up energy production simply to keep the lights on. As such, governments in Europe and the United States are actively taking steps to increase fossil fuel production because of spiking prices and fears Europeans in particular won’t even be able to heat their homes this winter. President Biden himself has lobbied OPEC to increase oil and gas supplies, while he simultaneously pushes a skinny version of the green new deal. At the G20 Summit on Saturday, the President “stressed the need for balanced, well supplied, and competitive global energy markets so we don’t undermine this critical moment of economic recovery,” according to a US government official. In other words, we need more oil. Another senior administration official said Biden would not get directly involved in negotiations with OPEC, but “we have a voice and we intend to use it on an issue that’s affecting the global economy.” “There are major energy producers that have spare capacity,” the official said. “And we’re encouraging them to use it to ensure a stronger, more sustainable recovery across the world.” President Biden’s approach to “dirty” energy might as well be an update on the old “Not in My Backyard” canard. We’ll be happy to restrict our own production as long as we can pick up the slack somewhere else, similar to how the Europeans have outsourced greenhouse gas emissions by purchasing wood-pellets for fuel from trees grown in the United States.
Ultimately, the truth of the situation could not be more obvious: We’ve been subsidizing renewable fuels and green energy since at least 1994, going down various versions of this road for almost 30 years. We have made some progress with wind and solar in particular, but without a reliable means to store excess energy, both have proved unreliable at scale because the wind doesn’t always blow and the sun doesn’t always shine. The result is a lack of capacity at times and limits on how much you can increase production. So far, only fossil fuels are able to fill that gap. The “experts” know this and, thus, world leaders are scrambling to secure more oil and natural gas for precisely that reason, even as they push green policies that will only result in more of the same.
In other words, young people are certainly right in one sense: The government is betraying us all, as they usually do. Ronald Reagan, perhaps, said it best. The ten most terrifying words in the English language are “I’m with the government and I’m here to help.” This is a lesson young people should definitely take to heart.