In July of this year, one of Lauren Jeffrey’s science teachers made an off-hand comment about how climate change could be apocalyptic. Jeffrey is 17 years old and attends high school in Milton Keynes, a city of 230,000 people about 50 miles northwest of London.
“I did research on it and spent two months feeling quite anxious,” she told me. “I would hear young people around me talk about it and they were convinced that the world was going to end and they were going to die.”
In September, British psychologists warned of the impact on children of apocalyptic discussions of climate change. “There is no doubt in my mind that they are being emotionally impacted,” one expert said.
“I found a lot of blogs and videos talking about how we’re going extinct at various dates, 2030, 2035, from societal collapse,” said Jeffrey. “That’s when I started to get quite nervous and worried. I tried to forget it at first but it kept popping up in my mind.”
In October, British television aired repeated claims by spokespersons for Extinction Rebellion that “billions would die” from climate change.
“In October I was hearing people my age saying things I found quite disturbing,” says Jeffrey. “‘It’s too late to do anything. ‘There is no future anymore.’ ‘We’re basically doomed.’ ‘We should give up.’”
Leading celebrities including Benedict Cumberbatch, Stephen Fry, Emma Thompson, Olivia Colman, Ellie Goulding, Tom Yorke, and Bob Geldof have all promoted Extinction Rebellion in recent weeks.
“I did research and found there was a lot of misinformation on the denial side of things and also on the doomsayer side of things,” said Jeffrey.
“As important as your cause is,” said Jeffrey in one of the videos, an open letter to Extinction Rebellion, “your persistent exaggeration of the facts has the potential to do more harm than good to the scientific credibility of your cause as well as to the psychological well-being of my generation.”
Cont . . .