Questions from 10-14yr Previous Youngsters – Watts Up With That?

Essay by Eric Worrall

My question – where is the climate class action lawsuit on behalf of kids who suffered mental health damage at the hands of climate educators?

‘How long before climate change will destroy the Earth?’: research reveals what Australian kids want to know about our warming world

Published: March 21, 2024 6.04am AEDT

Chloe Lucas Lecturer and Research Fellow, School of Geography, Planning, and Spatial Sciences. Coordinator, Education for Sustainability Tasmania, University of Tasmania

Charlotte Earl-Jones PhD Candidate, University of Tasmania

Gabi Mocatta Research Fellow in Climate Change Communication, Climate Futures Program, University of Tasmania, and Lecturer in Communication, Deakin University

Gretta Pecl Professor, at IMAS and Director of the Centre for Marine Socioecology, University of Tasmania

Kim Beasy Senior Lecturer in Curriculum and Pedagogy, University of Tasmania

Rachel Kelly Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Future Ocean and Coastal Infrastructures (FOCI) Consortium, Memorial University, Canada, and Centre for Marine Socioecology, University of Tasmania

Every day, more children discover they are living in a climate crisis. This makes many children feel sad, anxious, angry, powerless, confused and frightened about what the future holds. 

Research and public debate so far has largely failed to engage with the voices and opinions of children – instead, focusing on the views of adults. Our research set out to change this.

We asked 1,500 children to tell us what they wanted to know about climate change. The results show climate action, rather than the scientific cause of the problem, is their greatest concern. …

In Australia, research shows 43% of children aged 10 to 14 are worried about the future impact of climate change, and one in four believe the world will end before they grow up.

The largest group of these questions (15%) asked for predictions of future events. Some 5% of questions implied the planet, or humanity, was doomed. They included:

Will all the reefs die?

How long before climate change will destroy the Earth?

How long will we be able to survive on our planet if we do nothing to try to slow down/reverse climate change?

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The abstract of the study;

Analysis of children’s questions on climate change reveals that they are most concerned about how to take action

Chloe H. Lucas,Charlotte A. Earl-Jones, Gabi Mocatta, Kim Beasy, Rachel Kelly, Gretta T. Pecl


Children across the world are facing physical, emotional, and social impacts of climate change. Despite burgeoning scientific and political climate discourse, the voices and opinions of children are underrepresented, as previous research has focused on the opinions of adults. This lack of representation contributes to feelings of disempowerment and betrayal. We investigate children’s priorities for climate knowledge, reporting on questions asked by approximately 1,500 Australian school students as part of a climate literacy engagement project. They reveal remarkable depth of consideration about climate change, with a stronger focus on impacts and action than on scientific causes. “What can we do?” was the core concern of 40% of questions, which often emphasized individual responsibility. Urgency and frustration were evident in questions about climate impacts posing an existential threat to life. Findings demonstrate the importance of considering children’s valid concerns when making decisions that affect their education, well-being, and future.

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Thankfully some kids may be quietly receiving advice from parents or grandparents not to attend climate marches or commit acts of eco-terrorism.

Social hierarchies perpetuated through family, school, and media norms support children making individual choices within existing systems but also delegitimize collective action that might disrupt these systems. This tension is described by Karsgaard and Davidson, who document a participatory research project involving 99 school students from 13 countries that led to the presentation of a white paper on childhood climate citizenship to the IPCC. The authors found that while the children participating in their project most often saw climate change as an issue of justice, they were limited in their ability to imagine different ways of dealing with this issue by the dominant framings of individualized responsibility and government leadership. Despite their age, children felt responsible for their participation in economic systems that damage the environment: “When describing how they might act to address climate change and climate injustices, students tended toward individualist behaviors in response to a deep sense of guilt over consumptive practices” …

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How did we let this education disaster happen?

There is zero chance anthropogenic climate change in the foreseeable future will make the world uninhabitable for humans. The proof is that our monkey ancestors thrived in a much hotter world. The Palaeocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, 5-8C hotter than today, was the age of monkeys. Our monkey ancestors thrived on the abundance of the hothouse PETM, and colonised much of the world, only retreating when the cold returned.

If a bunch of monkey ancestors with brains the size of matchboxes could figure out how to thrive in a hothouse world, we could certainly manage.

Having said that, it is doubtful if anthropogenic CO2 could recreate anything like the hothouse conditions of the PETM, even if we burned every scrap of recoverable fossil fuel on the planet. Not only is the CO2 band of the atmosphere almost completely saturated, which severely limits the impact of additional CO2 on global temperature, the Earth has experienced significant geological changes since the PETM such as the establishment of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current 33 million years ago, which continues to exert a substantial cooling effect on the global climate. The Earth’s current geology is currently aligned so strongly against warming, from a geological perspective we are in the middle of an ice age, the Quaternary Glaiciation.

But kids are not being taught this basic science, this unequivocal proof that even if global warming occurs, global warming is not a threat to human survival and prosperity.

What really outraged me, a sizeable fraction of kids (1 in 4) believe the world will end before they grow up. Some of them feel guilty about “consumptive practices” they believe are wrecking the planet, which presumably includes eating meat and other high carbon, high calorie foods which kids need to develop to their maximum potential. Even worse, those children have been made to feel a deep sense of responsibility – even though, as kids, they have very little responsibility for the state of the planet.

How many of those one in four kids who believe the world is about to end will turn to hard drugs or other self destructive behaviours, to escape the pain and guilt and feelings of responsibility, which have been inflicted on them by climate educators? Because we know climate despair is driving kids to abuse hard drugs: Leading rehab specialist Dr Wodak (retired), testified in a government inquiry in 2019 that fear of climate change is a major motivation for kids giving up on life.

How many of those 73,000+ people who die of Fentanyl overdoses every year in the United States, were kids whose climate educator convinced them there was no point trying to pursue life, liberty and happiness?

Future generations will look on our era of “climate education” as an age of collective child abuse, and will wonder why nobody stood up to the abusers and put a stop to it. Because there will be a tomorrow, and a day of reckoning.

Perhaps it will be the kids themselves who put a stop to educational child abuse, by suing schools and education authorities for lying to them about the dangers posed by global warming, and causing them to make harmful life choices. This outrageous situation is just begging for a smart lawyer to launch the mother of all class actions, on behalf of drug addicts and mental health patients whose lives were ruined by climate educators.

There will be a a tomorrow and a day of reckoning, even if 1 in 4 of the kids who will one day participate in that reckoning do not currently believe that there will be a tomorrow.

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