‘Eco-anxiety’ about the doomed state of humanity in the face of catastrophic global warming is leading climate researchers to quit and decide not to have children. BBC News has more.
Until two years ago Jennifer Newall was working at the forefront of climate change research.
Her PhD on melting ice sheets and changing sea levels had taken her to Antarctica, Scandinavia and the USA but it was while leading a workshop for primary school children in Glasgow that she began to question what she was doing.
“It dawned on me,” she says. “The physics behind this haven’t changed in my lifetime. They’re not going to change going forward.”
Jennifer says she realised action was needed urgently and she no longer had the passion or motivation to continue studying the effects.
She put her career on hold in order to take more direct action but she found the scale of the challenge overwhelming.
Jennifer is one of a growing number of people who have experienced ‘eco-anxiety’ – a chronic sense of hopelessness and fear of environmental doom.
“It presented itself as depression and anxiety,” she says. She felt completely paralysed and often unable to get out of bed.
It was during what she describes as her “eco-grief” that 33-year-old Jennifer decided she could not have children.
She says: “I don’t feel like I can have children, because a) the world can’t cope and b) I would feel guilty bringing any child into this world.”
Jennifer didn’t complete her PhD on the disappearing ice sheets – although she hopes to one day return to it.