As they become more exposed to the grim realities of climate change, today’s teens and people in their 20s — an entire generation — are experiencing increased anxiety, grief, fear or guilt about the planet’s future as well as their own.
For teachers of environmental studies, softening the scientific evidence about what lies ahead — in terms of sea-level rise and the increased intensity, duration and frequency of storms, droughts and floods — is not an option. While parents will need to choose how and when to deliver information in contextually or age-appropriate ways, pretending climate change isn’t here shouldn’t be an option either.
We can all agree that letting youth deal on their own with these feelings, which many call eco-anxiety, is out of the question.
Fortunately, for all of us who are concerned about the mental health of this generation, there are ways of conveying the hard scientific facts about climate change while at the same time fostering resilience. In so doing, we can help this generation adapt in the face of adversity and manage the inevitable changes to their lifestyles over time.