Young people in the UK are suffering severe anxiety about the climate emergency and no longer trust authority figures because of their inaction, according to activist Clover Hogan.
Clover, 22, is a researcher and podcaster on the growing problem of eco-anxiety – heightened emotional, mental, or somatic distress in response to dangerous changes in the climate system.
Eco-anxiety is a growing problem among young people. Research by Friends of the Earth found 70 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds are eco-anxious.
She said: “It feels like an increasingly difficult time to be a young person with social media, doomscrolling, and living through the pandemic. Climate change can cause added feelings of stress, anger and powerlessness.
“We have been raised to put faith in our institutions like business, education, and government, but we’re losing faith in these institutions.
“Action has not been taken at the pace or scale required and it can feel despairing and hopeless.
“All too often young people are faced with a choice between a climate change denier and a procrastinator.”
But these negative emotions can have a positive effect, says Clover, who is also the founder of Force of Nature, a youth non-profit organisation that aims to mobilise the emerging generation of leaders for climate action.
“It is easy to say eco-anxiety is a problem, but it’s a healthy natural response,” she said.
“The problem isn’t feeling eco-anxious, it’s proof we are awake to the climate crisis.
“We have seen young people becoming agents of change by channelling their feelings into action.”
Clover urges young people to not run away from the feelings but think about where they can have an impact as an individual and focus on it, rather than be overwhelmed by all aspects of the climate crisis.
The second series of Clover’s Force of Nature Podcast launches this month. She will interview 11 guests about how to combat feelings of powerlessness towards climate change across fields including plastic, fast fashion, politics, education, and social media.