What Pushes Adults to Bully Children and Deny Science?

Research on how a threat to the status quo shapes belief & behaviour.

Grant H Brenner

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To the shame of adults on the planet, it takes children to step up and demand action. Greta Thunberg has quickly become a lightning rod for climate change activism, and her young voice reverberates throughout our global consciousness. Her impassioned pleas and unvarnished condemnation are, for many, seen as long overdue and just what the doctor ordered. For many, she is a hero. For others, an object of scorn and humiliation.

Climate Change Science

According to NASA, the evidence is incontrovertible that climate change is real and represents a serious threat. Based on studies in peer-reviewed scientific journals, they report that at least 97% of working climate scientists agree that “climate-warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities”.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), “established by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in 1988 to provide the world with a clear scientific view on the current state of knowledge in climate change and its potential environmental and socio-economic impacts” reports unequivocally that climate change has multiple negative impacts on the environment and is extremely likely to be caused by human-made greenhouse gases (go here for the Synthesis Report, IPCC, 2014).

Climate Change Is Bad for Your Health

The psychological effects of climate change have been an area of increasing concern for behavioral health researchers. Climate change worsens mental health. The American Psychological Association in collaboration with ecoAmerica report that in addition to negative effects on the environment and physical health, climate change is taking a toll on mental health, “due to trauma and distress due to personal injuries, loss of a loved one, damage to or loss of personal property or even the loss of livelihood,” citing higher rates of PTSD, mood and anxiety disorders following natural disasters (Clayton et al., 2017).

Furthermore, many believe we are facing what is referred to as the Sixth Mass Extinction, following Elizabeth Kolbert’s 2015 Pulitzer Prize book The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, and work by Ceballos et al. (2015) and other research groups…

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Grant H Brenner

Psychiatrist, Psychoanalyst, Entrepreneur, Writer, Speaker, Disaster Responder, Advocate, Photographer