Stop Telling Kids They’ll Die From Climate Change

Are climate change and other environmental threats the greatest threat to humanity? Many would agree. Young people in particular feel hopeless. Recent surveys asked 10,000 people aged 16-25 years old in 10 countries their views on climate change. The results were shocking. The results were shocking. More than half of the respondents believed humanity was in peril; five-quarters stated that they would face less opportunities than their parents; 55% said their family security would be compromised; 52% said they would not have enough money; 52% said that their future would be more difficult than their parents'; and 52 percent said their family security would be at risk. Only 39% said they would hesitate to have children. These attitudes were common across all countries, rich or poor, large and small, from the United States and Britain to Brazil, India, India, Nigeria, and Brazil.
This is completely normal for young people. I've been there. My current work is primarily focused on writing and researching about climate change. It's a field that I almost gave up. It was difficult to believe that I could make any contribution fresh out of university, having received a degree in climate change and environmental science. I was torn between anger and despair. Every effort seemed futile and I almost gave up. My perspective changed, thankfully. It worked and I'm glad it did. I was able to continue my work on climate change. I'm also certain that my efforts have had a much greater impact than if I had stayed in my old mindset. I believe that we must lift the veil of pessimism if we are to make climate change progress.

Let's be honest: Climate change is one the most serious problems facing humanity. There are many risks associated with it, some certain and some uncertain. We have not been able to reduce our emissions fast enough. There seems to be a disconnect in the communication about what the future holds. My climate scientists, who are all experts on the risks and know them better than anyone, have not accepted a future in oblivion. Many of them have children. They often have more than one child. They may also have young ones. Having children does not automatically make you able to make rational decisions. It does signal that people who study climate change day in and day out are hopeful that their children will live a fulfilling life.

It is alarming to me that so many young people feel they don't have a future. Many may also decide to have no children. This mentality is not only evident in the survey data but also my own personal experience. I hear this from my friends every day, even though I am in my twenties. It is an everyday dilemma to decide whether to bring children into a world that is on the path of annihilation.

A group of young activists was one of the most alarming examples of this doomsday mentality. It came just before the German elections. The group, known as the Last Generation, went on a hunger strike for nearly a month. Many ended up in hospital. One of them told his family and friends that he might not see him again. One told a journalist that hunger was nothing compared with what we can expect when climate change unleashes a severe famine here in Europe within 20 years. Scientists have not made this claim. This claim has not been supported by credible scientists. Climate change will impact agriculture. This is a serious concern in some areas, particularly in the poorest countries of the world. This is why I devote so much time to it. But what about famine in temperate Europe? In 20 years?