For all the people of my generation who want to blame Greta Thunberg for creating eco-anxiety in young people, the real reason young people have eco-anxiety is because of the climate crisis and mass extinction event being caused by the inaction of our generation.
I am 53 years old. My generation was coming of age right as the general public was learning of the reality of climate change. James Hansen of NASA testified before Congress when I was in college, and a scientific consensus rapidly formed during my young adult years that anthropogenic climate change was a reality. Yet my generation has spent most of our adult lives squandering the opportunity to address climate change before it became a full-blown crisis.
And now some of us feel “uncomfortable” when Greta and other young people call us out for our inaction. We don’t want Greta to “catastrophize” what is happening by talking about the end of human civilization like it really is the end of human civilization or by taking about the sixth great extinction that has already begun like it really is an extinction. Apparently, we want to keep on living in denial and not change much of anything or make the sacrifices that the reality of our situation calls for.
We sure as hell better feel uncomfortable when we hear Greta and the other young people whose futures we have stolen because our generation blew it. We spent 30 years listening to climate scientist after climate scientist warn us of the climate chaos to come, and year and year we just kept increasing emissions of greenhouse gases.
If we don’t want to be made to feel uncomfortable, we had better take what’s left of our generation’s time to make up for our pathetic inaction in the face of the clear scientific consensus that climate change is real and that it is primarily caused by human activity.
We have ignored our moral responsibility to act urgently to preserve a livable climate far too long. We deserve to be uncomfortable. We deserve to be much more than uncomfortable.