The Secretary General of the United Nations said recently` I am here to sound the alarm. The world must wake up. We are on the edge of an abyss – and moving in the wrong direction. Our world has never been more threatened and more divided’
He points out: Covid has exposed the glaring inequalities of our world. Vaccines in the First World are expiring and thrown in the garbage while many places in the Global S-outh have hardly seen a vaccine. The climate crisis is pummelling the planet. There is no peace, arms manufacturers are thriving. Mistrust and misinformation are leading to a paralysis; human rights are under fire. We see warning signs on every continent and region; there are scorching temperatures, wild fires, shocking biodiversity loss, polluted air, water and natural spaces.
`Instead of humility we see hubris.’ Mistrust is growing. Parents see a future for their children that looks even bleaker than the struggle of today. And when young people see no future at all, then we face a moment of truth’.
We need co-operation and dialogue; we need to invest in peacekeeping, and nuclear disarmament, we need to stand up for human rights. There must be finance for developing nations so we can all reach carbon neutrality by mid-century. Obviously subsidies for fossil fuels should end straight away. There should be debt service suspension and an end to tax evasion.
AVAAZ has produced an historic study of climate anxiety in young people. The study was caried out in 10 countries. They found 60% of future voters feel betrayed due to the state of the planet and the inaction of governments. There was a perceived need to have a global plan to save humanity and the planet. The majority of young people were found to be suffering anxiety and distress over the future of our planet. As many as 45% said climate anxiety was affecting their daily lives. 75% were finding the future frightening – the percentage rose to 95% in the Philippines. 64% of young people said governments were not doing enough. 39% were hesitating about having children.
Some young people are taking their government to court. Already there are 33 governments facing youth led litigation.
How can the young be helped? The Climate Psychology Alliance tells us: remember you are not alone, talk about climate change, remember there is only so much one person can do – yes do it , your small actions will have an impact – but it is not all up to you; take care of yourself and last but not least, reconnect with nature, spend time in it.
Joanna Macey has wisdom for young and old. All of us need to hear within ourselves the earth crying, shake off our shrunken sense of self and wake up – we are all members of a living body. Grief can be a doorway towards a sort of recognition of our inter-existence with all life. First of all we need to be glad that we are alive, ground ourselves in gratitude and say thank you to life. Then we will be able to go to the place of mourning and find the tenderness to look at suffering. Opening our hearts in shared experience of collective trauma there will then be trust and ability to collaborate rather than feuding and bitterness. With alertness and courage we can link arms to walk with uncertainty, that big adventure, feel life within and make a choice.
Jessica Gatty ra