Tamsin, a volunteer on Young Scot's COP26 Climate Co-design group shares her thoughts on climate or eco-anxiety and some ideas on what to do if you experience it.
Little steps, massive leaps
We all have big worries about the future – may be about family members, education or jobs. But while these worries may differ, one collective worry is that of climate change.
A new global survey by Bath University took place across 10 countries with responses from 10,000 young people aged 16-25. The survey illustrated the depth of anxiety young people are feeling about climate change. It found:
- Nearly 60% of young people approached said they felt very worried or extremely worried
- More than 45% of those questioned said feelings about the climate affect their daily lives
- 75% said they thought the future was frightening while two-thirds of them reported feeling sad, afraid and anxious.
These young people feel betrayed, ignored and abandoned by politicians and adults. The report says young people are especially affected by climate fears because they are developing psychologically, socially and physically. Also, our future is ahead of us!
It’s not any surprise when we see what’s happening to our world on our TVs and phone screens – fires, floods, droughts, glaciers melting, habitats being destroyed, people and animals dying as a result.
Young people’s mental health is suffering. So what can be done? Best case scenario – all governments around the world would immediately put plans in place to mitigate climate change and reduce CO2.
But that’s not looking likely when leaders of countries such as China and Russia aren’t even attending COP and the Prime Minister of Australia only decided to come last minute. Some governments may talk the talk but will refuse to walk the walk.
So if we are feeling stressed and anxious about the future, what can we do? Here are some of my suggestions:
- Join a school strike for climate change action, march for change, or, if that’s not your thing, write to your local MP or MSP demanding change;
- Take action. Petition your local council to make changes in line with helping the environment such as committing to using less plastic, making schools more eco-friendly, planting more trees in your community;
- Set up local environmental groups – being with like-minded people can help ease worries and you can make your local environment better at the same time through litter picks and so on;
- Live in line with your values – eat less meat, walk more (no lifts to school!), don’t buy unnecessary ‘stuff’ or unsustainable clothing, use less plastic;
- Reduce, reuse, recycle!
- Do the small things – use a re-usable cup, don’t take paper napkins, turn the heating down, close the curtains to keep heat in;
- Make other people aware of how their actions can impact the environment and how they too can make positive changes;
- Focus on what you can control - you may not be able to make your Government do what you want, but you can control how you live each day.
Also, think positively - the more people talk about climate change and know about it, the more it’s in the news, and the more Governments will be forced to act.
It’s OK to be stressed about climate change but there’s still time to act – we just need to keep the pressure on.
I got involved in the Young Scot COP26 Co-Design Group as I want to do something to make my voice heard on climate change action. I am also part of my school’s Learning for Sustainability group and last year went out litter picking with a group from school to help make our local environment more environmentally friendly and rid the area of dropped plastic. It felt good to be out doing something practical and making a difference.
Small things, but many small things can make a big difference.
Remember, we’re all in this together – every human on earth. If everyone in the world ‘did their bit’ we’d be in a better place overall. Yes, Governments and big businesses need to make huge changes but every single one of us can do our bit. Shout loud for what you’re passionate about and take small steps to make a HUGE change.
Find out more about eco-anxiety in our #AyeFeel article.
Read other environmental blogs or visit our COP26 page to find out more about climate change, the climate crisis and the environment.
Young Scot supports young people to share their own voices, views and opinions and works with partner organisations and professionals who are experts in different topics. The views expressed in this blog are those of the young people, organisations and/or individuals who have taken part in the blog, not necessarily the views of Young Scot.