John Stonestreet is President of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, and radio host of BreakPoint, a daily national radio program providing thought-provoking commentaries on current events and life issues from a biblical worldview. John holds degrees from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (IL) and Bryan College (TN), and is the co-author of Making Sense of Your World: A Biblical Worldview. The views expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent those of BCNN1.
Doctors and other researchers have discovered a whole new class of psychiatric disorders among young people these days. They’ve labeled it “eco-anxiety,” otherwise known as “climate depression.”
This isn’t the first time we’ve suggested on BreakPoint that alarmist rhetoric over climate change has seriously affected the way young people think and feel, and a recent article in the Washington Post Magazine describes just how much.
The article quoted an 18-year-old from Alabama who said that “in my peer group, you just go right from talking about polar bears dying to ‘Did you see what Maya posted on Snapchat?’ Nobody has a filter to adjust . . . It’s like, the ice caps are melting, and my hypothetical children will never see them, but also I have a calculus test tomorrow.”
As the article makes clear, our rhetoric about climate change is particularly damaging to younger Americans who have “fragile psyches.” I’m not using that description in any disparaging way. According to the NIH, one-third of all kids between the ages 13 and 18 experience an anxiety disorder. Twenty-seven percent of those in “Generation Z” rate their own mental health as “fair or poor,” and thirty-seven percent have seen a mental health professional.
When asked which current events stress them out most, climate change ranks third behind school shootings and suicides. As the head of the American Psychological Association put it, “Current events are clearly stressful for everyone in the country, but young people are really feeling the impact of issues in the news, particularly those issues that may feel beyond their control.”
One obvious way for us to respond is by talking about current events more responsibly. While alarmists such as Greta Thunberg fill our screens and social media feeds, plenty of people who are concerned about climate change, including scientists, agree that the kind of apocalyptic rhetoric used to advance the issue is misleading and harmful.
Kate Marvel, a NASA and Columbia University climate scientist, told the Post that the ‘We’re all going to die” message is “just not supported by the science.” While Marvel is concerned about climate change and its impact, “one can have a sense of optimism by working towards a solution.”
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Source: Christian Headlines