How climate change affects your mental health | Britt Wray

How climate change affects your mental health | Britt Wray

For all that’s ever been said
about climate change, we haven’t heard nearly enough
about the psychological impacts of living in a warming world. If you’ve heard the grim climate research that science communicators like me
weave into our books and documentaries, you’ve probably felt bouts of fear,
fatalism or hopelessness. If you’ve been impacted
by climate disaster, these feelings can set in much deeper, leading to shock, trauma, strained relationships, substance abuse and the loss of personal
identity and control. Vital political and technological work
is underway to moderate our climate chaos, but I’m here to evoke a feeling in you for why we also need
our actions and policies to reflect an understanding
of how our changing environments threaten our mental,
social and spiritual well-being. The anxiety, grief and depression
of climate scientists and activists have been reported on for years. Trends we’ve seen
after extreme weather events like hurricane Sandy or Katrina for increased PTSD and suicidality. And there are rich mental-health data
from northern communities where warming is the fastest, like the Inuit in Labrador, who face existential distress
as they witness the ice, a big part of their identity, vanishing before their eyes. Now if that weren’t enough, the American Psychological Association says that our psychological
responses to climate change, like conflict avoidance, helplessness
and resignation, are growing. This means that our conscious
and unconscious mental processes are holding us back from identifying the causes
of the problem for what they are, working on solutions and fostering
our own psychological resilience, but we need all those things
to take on what we’ve created. Lately, I’ve been studying a phenomenon that’s just one example
of the emotional hardships that we’re seeing. And it comes in the form of a question that a significant amount of people
in my generation are struggling to answer. That being: Should I have a child
in the age of climate change? After all, any child born today will have to live in a world
where hurricanes, flooding, wildfires — what we used to call natural disasters — have become commonplace. The hottest 20 years on record
occurred within the last 22. The UN expects that two-thirds
of the global population may face water shortages
only six years from now. The World Bank predicts that by 2050, there’s going to be
140 million climate refugees in sub-Saharan Africa,
Latin America and South Asia. And other estimates put that number
at over one billion. Mass migrations and resource scarcity increase the risk for violence,
war and political instability. The UN just reported that we are pushing
up to a million species to extinction, many within decades, and our emissions are still increasing,
even after the Paris Agreement. Over the last year and a half, I’ve been conducting
workshops and interviews with hundreds of people about parenting in the climate crisis. And I can tell you that people who are worried about
having kids because of climate change are not motivated by an ascetic pride. They’re nerve-racked. There’s even a movement
called BirthStrike, whose members have declared
they’re not going to have kids because of the state
of the ecological crisis and inaction from governments
to address this existential threat. And yes, other generations have also
faced their own apocalyptic dangers, but that is no reason to disregard
the very real threat to our survival now. Some feel that it’s better
to adopt children. Or that it’s unethical
to have more than one, especially three, four or more, because kids increase
greenhouse gas emissions. Now, it is a really unfortunate
state of affairs when people who want kids
sacrifice their right to because, somehow, they have been told
that their lifestyle choices are to blame when the fault is far more systemic, but let’s just unpack the logic here. So an oft-cited study
shows that, on average, having one less child
in an industrialized nation can save about 59 tons
of carbon dioxide per year. While in comparison, living car-free saves nearly 2.5 tons, avoiding a transatlantic flight —
and this is just one — saves about 1.5 tons, and eating a plant-based diet
can save almost one ton per year. And consider that a Bangladeshi child only adds 56 metric tons of carbon
to their parents’ carbon legacy over their lifetime, while an American child, in comparison,
adds 9,441 to theirs. So this is why some people argue that it’s parents from nations
with huge carbon footprints who should think the hardest
about how many kids they have. But the decision to have a child
and one’s feelings about the future are deeply personal, and wrapped up
in all sorts of cultural norms, religious beliefs, socioeconomic status,
education levels and more. And so to some, this debate
about kids in the climate crisis can seem like it came from another planet. Many have more immediate threats
to their survival to think about, like, how they’re going to put
food on the table, when they’re a single mom
working three jobs, or they’re HIV positive
or on the move in a migrant caravan. Tragically, though, climate change
is really great at intersectionality. It multiplies the stresses
marginalized communities already face. A political scientist once said to me
that a leading indicator that climate change is starting
to hit home, psychologically, would be an increase
in the rate of informed women deciding to not have children. Interesting. Is it hitting home with you,
psychologically? Are you perhaps someone
with climate-linked pre-traumatic stress? A climate psychiatrist coined that term, and that’s a profession now, by the way,
shrinks for climate woes. They’re getting work at a time
when some high schoolers don’t want to apply
to university any longer, because they can’t foresee
a future for themselves. And this brings me back to my main point. The growing concern about having kids
in the climate crisis is an urgent indicator
of how hard-pressed people are feeling. Right now, students around the world
are screaming for change in the piercing voice of despair. And the fact that we can see
how we contribute to this problem that makes us feel unsafe is crazy-making in itself. Climate change is all-encompassing and so are the ways
that it messes with our minds. Many activists will tell you that the best antidote
to grief is activism. And some psychologists will tell you
the answer can be found in therapy. Others believe the key is to imagine
you’re on your deathbed, reflecting back on what’s mattered
the most in your life, so you can identify
what you should do more of now, with the time that you have left. We need all these ideas, and more, to take care of our innermost selves as the environments we’ve known
become more punishing towards us. And whether you have children or not, we need to be honest
about what is happening, and what we owe one another. We cannot afford to treat the psychological impacts
of climate change as some afterthought, because the other issues, of science,
technology and the politics and economy, feel hard, while this somehow feels soft. Mental health needs to be an integral part of any climate change survival strategy, requiring funding,
and ethics of equity and care, and widespread awareness. Because even if you’re the most
emotionally avoidant person on the planet, there’s no rug in the world
that’s big enough to sweep this up under. Thank you. (Applause)

Daniel Yohans

100 thoughts on “How climate change affects your mental health | Britt Wray

  1. underwaterdick says:

    Well, apart from the clickbait title, did I actually just hear some of the nonsense that came out of her mouth?

    I don't have a problem with humanity trying to reduce its impact on climate change.

    Not having children whatsoever? Trying to adapt your entire lifestyle and enjoyment of life to try and reduce the impact?

    No, we all need to make the changes we can whilst staying happy with our lives. Maybe reduce meat consumption, fly less, buy a more environmentally friendly car. Why all the drastic "Go vegan, don't fly and get rid of your car" crap? No wonder she thinks it impacts mental health.

    Not having children at all because of an unknown future? If every generation had that idiotic idea, we wouldn't be here. Anyway, you children might die before you, or long before climate change has a huge negative impact on their life. Bit you would deny yourself that fantastic opportunity?
    Ok, maybe don't have six, but don't not have them if it is something you wanted to have one day.

    I have a two year old daughter, I know she might live to be in a worse place than us,. It maybe it will be better? She might die sometime much sooner than I expect. She has already lived a lot longer than children often did in the past, I am grateful for that. But would I ever have denied myself the opportunity to be a father? Not a chance.

    I was born in the 80s, my parents didn't put off having me because there might be a nuclear war.

    She also said a lot of other things I disagree with, but we will leave it there.

  2. Stephen Catton says:

    Good grief what a pile of rubbish. If you are going to scare millions of kids then or course you are going to create traumatised idiots

  3. fuk the government says:

    Im from finland (northern country) and I can say before it was safe to ice skate on top of lakes when i was like 7. Nowdays I cant trust that ice anymore when im 17. That is only in decade. It is just sad.

  4. freesk8 says:

    Here is the solution to Climate Change stress: turn off the liberal media that promotes Climate Change stress.

  5. LoganGSW 30 says:

    Women or men who “decide” not to have kids due to climate change either can’t find a suitable partner or shouldn’t be parents in the first place.

  6. Bryan Cooper says:

    OMG! Climate Change is bogus – NON- Science, and the only scientists who endorse Climate Change or Global Warming are the one's who's pay checks depend on endorsing it! Please people, do NOT believe this B.S. it is all based on a MONEY & POWER grab and to CHANGE the USA into a 3rd World Nation. I live in the Socially Marxist Nation of California and the Snow Flakes are abundant due to the Communistic College Professors push to try to re-educate the younger crowd into USA HATERS! Get the REAL History, not the B.S. History these Prof. are touting! This website will help you learn the truth about what is really going on:

  7. MellowDrain says:

    Fake news, climate change is a scam

  8. Christine Buzzi says:

    I would like to know what the climate change taxes go towards. So far NO ACCOUNTABILITY. Marches do nothing only depress the already depressed. Don't watch junk science. There's enough proof it's all a myth. More like CLIMATE ENGINEERING…HAARP etc.

  9. Brian Eibisch says:

    What a great presenter!! This young woman should study Law and become a barrister.

  10. Tyler Durden says:

    Lmfao at this ignorance. You sound like pathetic human beings

  11. Dirty Bee Hinds says:

    stick to science, not paid propaganda

  12. Screw Tape says:

    Where can I go to officially join this cult?

  13. DeathAngel says:

    I decided when I was in grade school that I didn't want to bring children in this world and make them clean up the mess from our ancestors.

  14. WarmUpWinner Mac says:

    STOP READING A SCRIPT FEELING FEELER FILLING IN!!!!!—I have to say DARPA says they wanna fund this type of stud but GOSH this this was the BEST face you could put on it WOW you made this look Really Bad and they helped YOU AND IT SHOWS!!!!!

  15. Because Kittens & Paint says:

    #worldbenzoday World Benzodiazapine Awareness Day…learn the truth!

  16. - Slinger - says:

    L I S P

  17. jworthe says:

    Espousing climate change allows one to project moral superiority over their peers, which in turn provides self esteem.

  18. Angels View says:

    We're being gassed like roaches!

  19. The Great Cornholio says:

    So.. if it's global warming.. why are there 1500's maps of a green and lush Antarctica – mapped perfectly?? It's covered in ice now.. isn't that global cooling?? 🤔

  20. Robert Denham says:

    You mean how the césium 134 &137 from Fukashima, in the entire worlds food and water supply, affects your mental health. Seeing as we've lost over 3 billion birds in Canada, a decimated fishing industry and nearly the ENTIRE OCEAN is now DEAD.

    So it's the radiation.
    Nagasaki, Hiroshima, Three mile island, Chernobyl, and Fukashima, WI-FI, 5G, etc etc, tell us so, it's the God dam radiation.

  21. youngEngineer says:

    How about we don’t let the Bangladeshis replace us, eh?

  22. Lee Alderman says:

    And then I unsubscribed. If David Deutsch ever does another one, I'll see it on his Twitter feed.

    This is fear mongering nonsense, which causes great harm.

  23. Stephen Snyder says:

    Ph D in Science Communication? Sounds like she is making her living spreading the bad news as she knows.

  24. KFStreich says:

    People have anxiety, it has been around forever. Raise your hand if you have several decades on this planet.

    I remember when it was child abduction, terrorism, nuclear war, Donald Trump. Whatever is in the news cycle creates anxiety in a certain group, the real issue is the news cycle. All of these have given folks similar anxiety to what is described here.

    This entire talk moves us away from fact based discussion into nonsense.

    4 years ago I watched the debates, Democrats had a thoughtful discussion about the important topics of the day while the Republicans had a middle school food and insult fight.

    What has happened to the Democrats over the last 4 years? I don't even recognize the party any more.

    Get your proverbial $#!+ together!

  25. jl644 says:

    "How Climate change affects your mental health" By brainwashing kids and people telling them it's caused by people.

  26. mark vietti says:

    this is so lame

  27. Ian W says:

    The only anecdotal or fuzzy statistic she didn’t espouse was the “97% of climate scientists” one.

  28. Anything-type Channel says:

    What’s a roundtrip?

  29. Ricky Hernandez says:

    Everyone is talking "Gobal Warming" & the ice caps melting. No one is talking about the Ice Forming in other regions FASTER than the caps are melting tho… 🤔🤨🤔

  30. Kunal Khan says:

    I'm a Bangladeshi and Dhaka is he highest populated city in the world, but we still can feel and claim we are smarter than the Americans! Because, since our childhood, we lead a life full of struggles. some of us has latest cars but majority of us loves to decrease our living expenses rather than overly fancy lifestyle, that's why we use Rickshaw instead of cars.

  31. Kevin Fowler says:

    I see now where TED stands politically.

  32. س كريم says:

    not in muslim country more kids you have safe your futures each muslim woman give birth to
    5 to 8 kids each year.. them population is booming like crazy ,,,

  33. krninja22 says:

    These are the same people that have Trump Derangement Syndrome. Sad lost souls.

  34. seanseanseanseansean says:

    I like how 1 out of every 3 people that gives this video a rating are rating it THUMBS DOWN. You people are the most well-educated folks that recognize this BS talk for what it is.

  35. Ethan says:

    Yup, you preach! The sheer intersectionality of it all, those guys that had to beat back the nazis had it pretty easy compared to this.

  36. I love Nutella says:

    HELP I stayed up till 2'o clock in the morning watching Ted while eating cold noodles🤦🏽‍♀️🤦🏻‍♂️

  37. gaming Pedia says:

    E _ Vill people.. White.. People..

  38. gaming Pedia says:

    Don't move sleep in home.. The climate after 20 years.. Become. Back.. Don't do anything against nature🌿🍃.. .. 100% you and your child get best life..

  39. Ben Verzijlbergen says:

    Good lord. Yes, if you present facts that way and assume causality, offer no actual help or plan, aside from 'hoping other people do something', then yes, that could scare someone into selfdestructive behavior. Stop telling them bad things without a concrete solution they can achieve – Technically news, reports you quote and your documentaries are causing the mental harm, ironically.

    Should they have kids? Yes! A hostile enviroment has never been a reason to have fewer kids – quite the opposite, in fact. What are you trying to do here, scare the human population into extinction?!

  40. DisturbedToad says:

    Just change your name to Illuminati Talks and get it over with.

  41. Miha Brilj says:

    you still wory abot climet change is a human caws
    earth once didnt have water on it
    we have none efect on climet globaly
    -get out of university its usles nowunles enginir, doc, fizik..

  42. Ethan says:

    I’m fat because of McDonald’s and climate change.

    Also those evil spoons.

  43. drditup says:

    if she worry about climate change affecting mental state negatively, she should not fear-monger about these issues herself. Also perhaps present the studies she refer to.

  44. Kim jung Un Child labour says:

    Jesus christ can someone fix her mic

  45. Bigg Phillips says:

    Have you guys noticed how these climate change activists trash every place they protest at. Look a LA which is controlled by climate change Liberals

  46. viata vy says:

    what, ive been struggling with this the whole of my life and now our climate is on the worst point, hope i dont go crazy lol

  47. Royston E. Smythe says:

    Don't have children to save the world for the future generations…

    …and those who care for the environment will not breed so those who don't care about it will keep propagating themselves.

    The logic is stunning…and brave.

  48. End Of Innocence says:

    "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities."–Voltaire

  49. End Of Innocence says:

    Yes, the media are making people believe absurdities, and those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.

  50. Lost Serendipity says:

    I've got a splitting headache due to climate change

  51. Epic Mark Aquarius says:

    Read This!
    The idea that Global Warming is a natural cycle is well understood from paleo data covering the past 1 million years

  52. jkadoodle says:

    How Trump getting elected affects your mental health, as told by woke liberals.

  53. End Of Innocence says:

    People are indeed impacted negatively by propaganda.

  54. onetiretech says:

    I really feel sorry for her.

  55. James Potter says:

    The part of Britain I live in has vast deposits of coal so we had tropical forests years ago .we also have lakes caused by melted ice fields ,it shows the earth moves in cycles and all this climate change hysteria is a load of rubbish

  56. HexerPsy says:

    I had ssssho much trouble getting through thissh video.

  57. James McGinn says:

    I'm going to mail the Labradorians a bag of ice.

  58. James McGinn says:

    You can't have your glaciers and eat them too.

  59. James McGinn says:

    I remember when the UN used to be . . . naw, they were always a bunch of goons.

  60. Ana Margarida Cardoso says:

    My master's dissertation was about this lol!

  61. andrew worth says:

    Sounds like the whole world is developing a victim-hood mentality on this issue.

  62. MrFatilo says:

    Yes, let the smart people stop breeding and the retards breed like rabbits, good idea. Oh wait, this has been going on for some time now… And it shows…

  63. Chris Givens says:

    Why bring kids into this world knowing they’ll have to deal with all of these difficulties within the environment.

  64. ATA 2012 says:

    I guarantee that 30% of leftists think she os credible because her lisp and her bright pink outfit, which makes her "stunning and brave."

  65. Cedar Bobedar says:

    Our society is collectively in denial, with its internal voices arguing for and against the reality of the catastrophe while its actual faculties are arrested with the intellectual masturbation that is our capitalist economic vanity. Our society is an organism sitting frozen, eyes locked on a truck hurtling straight toward it, terrified.

  66. Thomas Chen says:

    Her speech rate, more than anything else, is the indicator of the urgency of crisis. It seems the world will be over if she doesn't finish her talk within 7 minutes. But to me, she is rushing through a written report. I hope she can slow down and use one or two concrete stories instead of many to let me feel, not just know, the mental impact of climate change.

  67. Matt Clarke says:


  68. Galen Caudill says:

    Man I had some good sourdough hot cakes this morning.

  69. Riley M says:

    I’m sorry but all I can focus on is her lisp

  70. Ravi Teja says:

    Can I mug up a 50 pages script to use on Ted talk ?

  71. Ben Gaviria says:


  72. Danial Huls says:

    Fortunately, our mental health won't affect the climate. Remember that recent lawsuit about misrepresentation of scientific data? No? Didn't think so. I do think overpopulation is an issue, not in terms of living space and food, but unforeseen metropolitan caused societal malevolent interactions.

  73. John Davis says:

    But climate change is a mental disorder in itself…

  74. Samie Hamad says:

    Migration happens because of wars

  75. Danni Herly says:

    I think spiritual energy growth and managing your spirit is the problem ,,yes being lazy to do things yourself ,to comfortable, that makes people go crazy , and lack of confidence n skill acquisition, feeling guilty won't get you far , or fear , giving up is the problem ,don't oppress yourself

  76. Friedrich says:

    So she says that environmental problem such as climates change could impact physiological condition,especially in women which has no child,right?

  77. Alejandro Quinones says:

    So how do you reverse climate change with the most invasive species on the planet running the show. It would take a massive global change that many are not willing to do. Look at the rainforest. Everyone sees the lungs of the earth burning at an alarming rate but noone is really doing anything about it. Talking about it and feeling sorry does not extinguish the flames. The climatologist are wrong and it will get worse sooner than they expected.

  78. CDE says:

    I love the way you visualize your language. You're so beautiful, Ms. Scientist.
    Am I a sexist?

  79. thats right says:

    Climate change cautheth thpeech impedimenths

  80. Kris Hunt says:

    In my opinion it's simple as population control

  81. Mr Monkles says:

    Legit thought this was a comedy/ parody…but she actually believes what she’s saying 🤣🤣🙈

  82. Dave Ed says:

    There has been no point in our history without “climate change” there is no point in worrying about it.
    If you are selfish enough that you have to think about reasons not to have kids.. dont you are not mentally equipped for parenting!

  83. patton james says:

    "Existential distress," – "Existential threat…" Existential… Buzzword of pompous dilettantes. Overwrought, the banality of the year, uttered by those who really have nothing to say, but are compelled to impress themselves by drivel.

  84. Johnny Dominguez says:

    Only one thing to do sweetheart…
    Sit back…
    And embrace the horror…
    You're gonna be menopausal very early just thinking about this "global warming" nonsense.

  85. Lugares que callan says:

    so, i wont use my oven to help climate change!…. who paid this person to say what she did?

  86. Ralph Dratman says:

    Excellent talk! Thanks to all who made it possible.

  87. Zeeshan Haider says:

    I love how honest she is. No false hope, just plain facts.

  88. harry knuckles says:

    I can tell you before watching this video, that this woman is a mental case…. Yup I feel stupider” 👈🏼 see stupider crap it's contagious!

  89. Katherine George says:

    She’s not wrong. I just want my AA and then to be done and live the rest of my life to the fullest

  90. Washington Strong arm says:

    You have mental problems = climate change
    You have headache's = climate change
    You have a diarrhea = climate change
    You can't pay your monthly Bill's = climate change
    Don't want to have sex= climate change
    Wars around the world= climate change
    Peace around the world = climate change
    Nobody buy's your global warming= climate change

    It is so funny that you can use "Climate Change" for everything under the sun.

  91. Christina Penner says:

    Whilst I’m sorry this is happening to others at least I no longer feel alone. This is so fucking scary.

  92. KARTHIK R says:

    Wow, this is like trump derangement syndrome but for climate change. Its bad PR like this that gives the climate change deniers clout.

  93. Catalia says:

    I watched this at school

  94. Gerard Mulder says:

    Another privileged broad telling us about the feelings of others. Useless.

  95. Piper Free says:

    Such a happy women that looks forward to a bright future.

  96. Samuel Christian says:

    The answer to the question of whether or not one should have children in the age of climate change is straightforward, No! more children mean more mouths to feed. Another good example of climate change affecting mental health in the middle east, extreme desert heat causes the natives to behave violently and become religious extremists.

  97. Epic Mark Aquarius says:

  98. AllNamesAreTaken says:

    Humans are creating mental health problems through encouraging a climate of fear.

    More needs to be done but If you have to scare people into believing you, you are being abusive and manipulative and your motives should be questioned.

  99. Mooncracker says:

    I needed this!

  100. Big Nasty says:

    Milo Milankovitch. Look him up people.

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