You know when you are in a type of situation such as a group project where everyone throws the work onto your shoulders and then you become super stressed out and become very anxious and scared for your project? Or back in 2012 when I was 9 and I thought that I would never get to live to see my next birthday because I was told the world was going to end. The term anxiety to me means that when something bad happens or is going to happen you start to freak out and become really worried to not only you but everything around you. Well, this type of thing is happening in the real world right this very minute with climate change. The older generations did not want to have to deal with the problem, so they dumped all this pressure and stress onto the younger generation’s shoulders. This half answers the question of why is the younger generation worrying and forming this climate anxiety? There are many articles and studies on climate anxiety and how it is affecting people and our world in general.

In 2012 I experienced true anxiety for one of the first times. Back then I was only 9 so I did not have a very good grasp on what was happening however, I did know that the world was going to end. On December 21, 2012, everyone started to panic because they thought the world was going to end just as the Mayan Calendar had predicted. In The Washington post ‘Is 2012 the end of the world as we know it?’ by Matthew Restall and Amara Solari, they state that it is a type of anxiety called “Apocalyptic anxiety”. Many articles online before the doomsday was supposedly to occur, stated that the world was not going to end but, I think that was just something to get people to calm down. Another reason why people were panicking was because of planet X. Planet X was to be believed to be hiding behind Pluto and would soon make its way over to Earth and crash into it. Everyone felt a sense of dread and fear, they felt powerless because they could not stop the inevitable from happening. This was a sense of worldwide anxiety because we knew there was nothing that we could do to stop it.

Just as everyone back in 2012, and even before that, were fearing the destruction of the world, millions of people fear climate change for many reasons. One of the biggest reasons is that people think that climate change is causing problems to human health. In ‘Framing Climate Change as a Human Health Issue’ by Rossa-Roccor, Giang, and Kershaw, they explain how people are framing climate change as a human health problem to potentially create a bigger impact on others so that they may take action to do something. Roccor, Giang, and Kershaw expounds,

“Framing is an inevitable part of human interaction that has been found to influence individual decision making, as such, is used intentionally in politics and the media.”

This shows great emphasis on how the media is practically scaring people to take action which can be tied into anxiety. Making people from everywhere start to panic and worry about what is to come of them because we are telling them that climate change is the reason for all these human health problems. People want to save themselves and their loved ones so they will do almost anything to prevent climate change from making them sick.

black and white photo with hospital beds whith sheets seperating them. A nurse stands next to a patient
black and white photo with hospital beds whith sheets seperating them. A nurse stands next to a patient

Anxiety is a hard thing to cope with especially when your whole world is crumbling right in front of you. So many different things can cause distress in people, and environmental change is one of them. People are frightened by change because it is unpredictable. In ‘The Distress Caused by Environmental Change’ by Glenn Albrecht, talks about those stressful situations causes people to act out against the problem to fix it. As soon as something bad happens to a person’s home/environment, they start to care and try to fix it. Albrecht exclaims that,

“Distress within the community has been expressed in a multitude of ways… fear of ill health and frustration caused by inability to stop the pollution and have a real say in the way the region is being developed.”

Albrecht is expressing to the audience that the way how there is a type of frustration or fear that can cause people to do impulsive things. For instance, there are many protests that are going on in the world telling people to stop littering or a most recent example would be pipelines that can poison water and ruin homes forever.

Here is an article on Line 3 pipeline and what it is doing to tribal lands:

Sometimes people put the weight of the world on your shoulders and there is nothing you can do about it. Climate anxiety is a real thing that many people tend to overlook. In the article ‘Excerpts from a Field Guide to Climate Anxiety’ by Sarah Jaquette Ray, she explains how the older generation wants the younger generation to take the reins to try to fix the mess that they could have help prevented. All this pressure that has been put onto the younger generation makes them start to form a thing called climate anxiety. Climate anxiety is the fear that climate change is destroying our planet to the point where it will be unlivable. As I mentioned in the previous paragraph, is the fear and worry about what is happening. Ray extenuates that “Change is coming, and the climate generation is driving it.” Once again this shows us that the younger generation is doing everything in their power to switch things around for the better. They are going to save and change our world one step at a time.

All three of these articles all tie together with anxiety. In ‘Excerpts from a Field Guide to Climate Anxiety’, the author explains the stress and fear the younger generation has to face. In ‘Framing Climate Change as a Human Health Issue’, the author explains that the media is putting fear into the eyes of people that climate change is a reason for human health issues which, is making people help out. In ‘The Distress Caused by Environmental Change’, the author explains that people fear change and will start acting on a problem as soon as something horrible happens to their surroundings such as their homes. These articles tie into people fearing the future and how it is making them help out, trying to fix what should have been prevented a long time ago. My definition of anxiety is the fear of the future and what is to come of it. In the New York Times, ‘Got Climate Anxiety? These people are doing something about It’, the author states that, “This professor said that she became really stressed and depressed because she fears that the environment/world is going to collapse…” This real-world situation insinuates that many people fear that our world is being destroyed in front of our eyes which is making a lot of us fear for our lives and our planet.

In conclusion, many people from around the world are experiencing the same things about what is going on around us, anxiety. Fear of what is to come in the future and how we as the human race are going to find a way to put an end to it. This fear and stress have been put on the younger generation because the older generation could not and would not do anything about it. A way people are making people help out with the cause is by telling people that climate change is one of the main causes for human health problems and that is why them and their loved ones are getting sick and dying. Then finally, people are starting to get distressed by change that is happening to their homes and environment around them making people start to do something to prevent these types of things from happening. Fear comes in many ways whether it be anxiety about the future, climate anxiety, feeling powerless, feeling hopeless, etc. Sometimes we feel as if there is no other way to fix what is happening around us and that is what causes all of us fear.

Christian Brothers University student