Nearly 40 per cent of 16 to 24-year-olds suffer “eco-anxiety”, according to a survey last year. Children report that they feel traumatised by the Australian bushfires and the deaths of half a billion animals in the flames, or by the rubbish swirling round the oceans and the shrinking ice caps. It’s easy for a generation that grew up with the threat of nuclear war and read Raymond Briggs’s When the Wind Blows to think they’ll get over it; until I was ten I lived with a suitcase packed with tins of beans under my bed but it didn’t affect my mental health. For these children it feels different. Patrick Kennedy-Williams, a clinical psychologist from Oxford, this week warned that parents were asking for advice for children overwhelmed by fear of catastrophe. He has set up a group, Climate Psychologists, to help families to cope. His findings have been mirrored in research from academics in Bath warning of a rise in the number of children convinced the planet is being destroyed. Greta Thunberg, the modern-day doom-laden medieval mystic who channels these fears, will soon have her own BBC documentary series. The 17-year-old is right to raise the questions she does but it’s the obstructive, noncommittal responses from most adults that alarm children.
Times 12th Feb 2020 read more »