wired: Another complicating factor is the exacerbation of climate change. Looking ahead, in both the near future and the distant future, things will get worse before they get better.
SC: I think it is important. We’ve conducted this comprehensive survey of young people around the world, so people ages 16-25. And I’m talking about it because they’re the ones who pretty much face this future. And they reported, to a surprising degree, that they felt things were only going to get worse—they wouldn’t have the opportunities they had for their parents, and that things they valued were threatened. They don’t know if they should have children. Even a high percentage supports the phrase “humanity is doomed”.
wired: something that you and I own I talked about it before This is the concept of environmental grief around the devastating California wildfires. What is that?
SC: It’s really interesting to talk about sadness because anxiety is a kind of autocorrelation: I worry about myself, I worry about what’s going to happen to me. But grief is directed towards others – it is about losses. So you are showing this awareness of the value of something that has already been lost or that you expect to lose.
And for a lot of people, these places were very important to them. can even be idea from place. The thought of California becoming somewhat of a hostile place for the human population – that’s probably too strong, but you get what I’m saying. This is a loss for this idea about what it means to be California.
wired: I was hoping to talk about the role of PTSD here, especially in natural disasters, and especially among children, who may not be equipped with the psychological tools to deal with these kinds of things.
SCWe are particularly concerned about children, because there is evidence that they are more likely to develop PTSD. And I’m expecting here, because I’m not a pediatrician, but I suspect it’s partly because security is so important to kids. They have to learn what stays the same, what is stable around the world. And so we have this kind of turbulent, confusing experience that really goes against that ability to have a good sense of security.
There is some evidence that children who experienced trauma when they were young may have a primarily lasting effect on their ability to process strong emotions as adults, as adults. So because babies develop in so many ways — psychological, physiological, and neurological — these early effects can have remarkably long-term effects.
wired: As with many things related to climate change, the less fortunate will suffer the most. Rich people can run – they can move into one of their other homes. The poor and people of color will struggle much more with climate change.
SC: I think this is absolutely true. There is a lot of good evidence for this. And I think it’s important to highlight it because sometimes people will act as if environmental issues are some sort of elite – you have to be rich to worry about environmental issues. But certainly, especially when it comes to climate change, it is an issue of social justice. This will increase inequality, and the poor and already poor countries will be more affected. And that will get worse. In fact, there is data Which shows that, at least within the US – I haven’t seen any international data like this – but within the US, people of color are more concerned about climate change.
wired: It is important to specifically refer to Heat island effect. So in cities, you get higher temperatures and the heat dissipates less quickly overnight. This was one of the very obvious inequalities that the researchers pointed out, which are the poorest neighborhoods It tends to get hotter than the surrounding countryside. With more people moving to major cities around the world, how could this extreme heat be particularly problematic?