Climate anxiety forces young people to change course

Career decisions are influenced by the severity of the climate emergency

Photo by Gina Rogers.
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By Safoura Rigi-Ladiz

The idea of young people pursuing environmental studies seems wonderful but this betrays a sad reality. The danger stemming from climate change is forcing young people to make life choices out of fear, not necessarily out of true passion or interest.

The action and initiative that young people are taking against climate change is inspirational and unprecedented. But the reality is that environmentalism has become increasingly popular because we don’t really have another choice.

According to a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration study, 2019 was the second-warmest year on record, with nine of the 10 warmest years having occurred since 2005. If temperatures continue to increase on a global scale there will be changes felt locally. This includes coastal erosion, an increase in wildfires and insect outbreaks and diseases, according to the Canadian Public Health Association.

At this point, none of this is really a surprise to anyone. Some young people, myself included, are pledging to not have children due to the severity of the climate emergency. This illustrates the bitter truth of climate change action.

Langara’s Canadian Studies coordinator and biologist Frank Williams is right when he says that the increase of environmental depression is a sad outcome of the reality of just how severe the climate emergency is. Max Keller is a Langara stud­ent who chose to enrol in environmental studies because he feels “existential terror” due to climate change. Most young people can relate to this anxiety, environmental majors and others alike.

In a perfect world, environmental studies shouldn’t be a career path to pursue out of fear and uncertainty of the planet’s capacity to host humans. Instead, it should be a career to pursue out of genuine interest, like all other majors. Pursuing a career out of fear adds another layer of unhealthy anxiety.

Unfortunately, this feeling is only becoming more widespread.

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