Climate change: Young people very worried - survey

By Roger Harrabin BBC environment analyst
Published14 September 2021

we need a change

Exercise 1 Vocabulary

  • powerless: unable to control or influence something

  • humanity: humans considered as a group; the quality of treating humans and animals in a way that respects their right

  • catastrophe: an event that causes widespread harm or destruction

  • underscore: to emphasize or show how important something is

Exercise 2 Article

A new global survey illustrates the depth of anxiety many young people are feeling about climate change. 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 affected their daily lives. Three-quarters of them said they thought the future was frightening. Over half (56%) say they think humanity is doomed.

Two-thirds reported feeling sad, afraid and anxious. Many felt fear, anger, despair, grief and shame – as well as hope. One 16-year-old said: “It’s different for young people – for us, the destruction of the planet is personal.”

The survey across 10 countries was led by Bath University in collaboration with five universities. It’s funded by the campaign and research group Avaaz. It claims to be the biggest of its kind, with responses from 10,000 people aged between 16 and 25.

Many of those questioned perceive that they have no future, that humanity is doomed, and that governments are failing to respond adequately. Many feel betrayed, ignored and abandoned by politicians and adults. The authors say the young are confused by governments’ failure to act. They say environmental fears are “profoundly affecting huge numbers of young people”.

Chronic stress over climate change, they maintain, is increasing the risk of mental and physical problems. And if severe weather events worsen, mental health impacts will follow. The report says young people are especially affected by climate fears because they are developing psychologically, socially and physically.

Exercise 3 Discussion

  1. What are your thoughts on the findings of this study?

  2. Do you find it surprising that 60% of young people worry about climate change?

  3. Do you feel sad, afraid, angry, or guilty when you think about climate change?

  4. Do you think governments are doing enough to prevent a climate catastrophe

Exercise 4 Further Discussion

  1. Do you know anyone who isn’t worried about climate change?

  2. What do you imagine would happen if global warming is not stopped?

  3. Are most young people in your country interested in politics and world issues?

  4. What were your hobbies and interests when you were 16 years old?