Grimly fascinating article by Ellen Barry in the NY Times about all the therapists who now mainly talk to people about their anxiety over climate change:
A 10-country survey of 10,000 people aged 16 to 25 published last month in The Lancet found startling rates of pessimism. Forty-five percent of respondents said worry about climate negatively affected their daily life. Three-quarters said they believed “the future is frightening,” and 56 percent said “humanity is doomed.”
The blow to young people’s confidence appears to be more profound than with previous threats, such as nuclear war, Dr. Clayton said. “We’ve definitely faced big problems before, but climate change is described as an existential threat,” she said. “It undermines people’s sense of security in a basic way.”
I suppose the problem is this: people worried about climate change feel like they are meeting enormous resistance to their efforts to reduce our impact on the planet. So, they keep getting ever louder and more shrill. But their rhetoric has no effect on many and maybe most people, so the resistance remains. Instead, their rhetoric has a catastrophic effect on sensitive people and especially sensitive, young people. The level of doom-mongering needed to achieve even modest reductions in greenhouse gas emissions is enough to send some of us crawling into therapy.
You all know what I think: we're not going to solve any of our problems if we're too depressed and anxious to work at solving them, so this is completely counter-productive.
I wonder why climate change is doing this? I think humanity is objectively in a much better place than we were during the Cuban Missile Crisis; the chance that climate change is going to kill a few billion of us strikes me as much lower than the danger that nuclear weapons posed during the Cold War. My own personal environmental nightmares were all bound up with population growth, and it looks like we are solving that problem so fast that rapidly falling populations might soon be one of our biggest problems.
I have a sense that climate change is not really the source of this anxiety, just a convenient target for our anxious world to focus on. And as to why we are so anxious, I have no idea.