Fear paralyses, hope enables

Last week it was eco-anxiety, this week it’s climate dread:

. . .One of the Auckland strike’s organisers, Marcail Parkinson, 17, said at the event on Friday that “climate dread is one of the biggest mental issues affecting youth”.

“When Greta [Thunberg] did her last UN speech, I had to take the day off school, because I was just so upset that I was finding it hard to eat, I didn’t want to move. I was so stressed out about that,” she said. . . 

Another teen at the strike, Phoenix Glover, said climate change was affecting students’ decisions when it came time to plan their future careers.

“If our climate starts falling apart, and we have the mass extinction that we’re on the verge of, then there’s no point in having a Bachelor’s or Master’s or PhD.” . . 

These two aren’t alone in feeling this way and the growing sense of doom has prompted National’s Agriculture spokesman Todd Muller to write:

Some thoughts on Friday’s School Strike for Climate.

I admire the passion of the students who marched.
I agree with their demands that those in political and economic influence around the world must initiate faster global action on climate change.
I accept that civil demonstrations can mould the political and business will for investment in technologies that will support transition to a low emission future.

But when I see messages, repeated on signs held by our vulnerable, determined, anxious, youth saying “You’ll die of old age, I’ll die of climate change!”, I feel deeply uneasy.

I do not agree that our young New Zealanders lives are at risk if global efforts to reduce emissions don’t happen at the pace that keeps global warming below 1.5 to 2 degrees.

Our young New Zealanders are right to be concerned about climate change. However, I do not believe their futures are hopeless, and we should not be allowing this message to take hold.

Doomsday predictions framed to challenge the perceived inherent inertia of the status quo, to make a political point, are reckless. For our young people, already feeling a sense of anxiety and lack of certainty around their futures, it can add to their sense of hopelessness.

I appreciate that calling out such alarmist and catastrophising language will see many on the extremes of this debate pile in and say ‘hey, there’s the Nats Ag guy acting as a denier again’.

I am not. I am, however someone who believes perspective is important in this debate, especially in how we articulate the opportunities, challenges and impacts of climate change to our youth and children.

Climate change is the most complex issue facing our planet.

If we are to address climate change, it requires global adversaries, such as the United States, China and Russia, to cooperate together to transform their economies. Even if we work at breakneck pace, we still expect the world to warm 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius. With this will come changes to agriculture, oceans and cities around the world, and we need to focus on how we adapt to these changes.

But it is misplaced to state our society will collapse under these changes.

We need our young people to view climate change as a challenge they have a positive role in solving. Today’s youth will be the innovators of the next decade. There are opportunities to develop solutions to the challenges climate change presents to us, particularly in agriculture if given time to be invented.

A balanced sense of both challenge and opportunity must be outlined to our youth precisely because of their talent, curiosity and determination.

Let’s not dampen that collective capacity by scaring their self-belief with talk of extinction lingering just around the corner.

Fear paralyses, Hope enables. Let’s demonstrate that.

The radical green political agenda emphasises the challenges and the opportunities are given little if any coverage.

But the news isn’t all bad and Andrew Bolt offers some cool facts on warming to calm the sobbing children:

I promised you a list — easy to print out — of scientific facts that should stop children from being terrified that global warming will kill them. It’s time to fight this hysteria, especially after Greta Thunberg’s breakdown at the United Nations. Here’s the list. Distribute widely.

NO, GLOBAL WARMING WON’T KILL YOU

Are you terrified by claims that global warming is an “existential threat”? That there will be a “great winnowing” and “mass deaths”? That we face “the collapse of our civilisations”?

Don’t believe those scares.

You are told to believe “the science”. Well, here is some science you should believe – solid scientific facts that tell you that global warming is not as scary as you’ve been told.

Be calm. You are not in danger.

· You have never been less likely to die of a climate-related disaster. Your risk of being killed has fallen 99 per cent in the past century. Source: International Disaster Database.

· You have never been more likely to live longer. Life expectancy around the world has risen by 5.5 years so far this century. Source: World Health Organisation.

· We are getting fewer cyclones, not more. Source: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate ChangeBureau of Meteorology.

· There is more food than ever. Grain crops have set new records. Source: Food and Agricultural Organisation.

· The world is getting greener. Leaf cover is growing 3 per cent per decade. Source: NASA.

· Low-lying Pacific islands are not drowning. In fact, 43 per cent – including Tuvalu – are growing, and another 43 per cent are stable. Source: Professor Paul Kench, University of Auckland.

· Cold weather is 20 times more likely to kill you than hot weather. Source: Lancet, 20/5/2015

· Global warming does not cause drought. Source: Prof. Andy Pitman, ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes.

· Australia’s rainfall over the past century has actually increased. Source: Bureau of Meteorology.

· There are fewer wildfires. Around the world, the area burned by fire is down 24 per cent over 18 years. Source: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center et al.

Polar bear numbers are increasing, not decreasing. Source: Dr Susan Crockford.

It’s such a pity that facts usually come a distance second to emotion but that’s what’s needed to counter the eco-anxiety and climate dread that stops young people from looking beyond the fear and finding the hope.

5 Responses to Fear paralyses, hope enables

  1. Andrei says:

    I had to take the day off school, because I was just so upset that I was finding it hard to eat, I didn’t want to move. I was so stressed out about that,” she said. . .

    How utterly clueless can you get – does this spoiled brat have any concept of how her vapidity might be viewed by a girl of her own age ,who quite possibly sewed the knickers this airhead is wearing, in a sweat shop in Bangladesh and who works sixteen hours a day to earn just enough to eat for the next day

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: