Have your children got eco-anxiety? How would you know if they had?
According to a variety of psychologists and psychiatrists, talk of a 'climate crisis' has led to an upsurge in young people reporting feelings of anxiety, helplessness and guilt.
The symptoms of this newly coined syndrome are real enough, according to the Royal College of Psychiatrists - and why wouldn't they be in a world pumped full of one-sided propaganda?
We saw this over Christmas
when Channel 4 screened a special edition of Gogglebox called Gogglesprogs, which featured viewers as young as six.The children were shown watching as the BBC parroted untrue claims by Extinction Rebellion (XR) that 'scientists say we have only 11 years to act'. And their response was all too understandable.One child looked especially pained as she counted on her fingers how many years she had left to live and worked out that, according to the BBC, the world could end when she was just 19.Later, a little boy reacted to the fanatical claims of XR by saying to the viewers: 'That's sad. Why did we have to be born at this time?'
They are growing up, of course, in a world where Greta Thunberg is preaching her gospel of imminent hellfire and in which world leaders queue up to approve her message.Supposedly serious politicians like to pretend that what the Swedish teenager is saying (we're all about die) is true, that her proposed response (destroy free-market capitalism) is reasonable, and people who ought to know better are trying to outdo each other in hysteria. The results are hardly surprising.
In recent weeks alone, a number of friends have told me of children feeling depressed or listless because they are falling for the lies of these abusers who claim that young people have no chance of ever growing up.One mother recently described how her daughters had asked what the point was in taking their GCSEs if they weren't even going to be here a few years later.
You might have thought that, rather than whip them up still further, any remaining adults in the room should offer children the perspective and insight that age might bring, but I have been repeatedly struck by how few people there are willing to take up that role.
Meanwhile, cynical politicians such as Jeremy Corbyn and anyone who aspires to lead the Lib Dems have played a huge role.
They have spotted a cynical opportunity to appeal to young voters and latched on to the issue, giving the claims of XR great weight in the eyes of the young and impressionable.Too many of us kowtow to children or treat them as some special source of truth, yet the reason why so many are becoming ill with anxiety is precisely because so many adults in a position to know better are telling them that they should be terrified.
The Guardian paper went so far as to warn that by 2020, Britain would be plunged into a ‘Siberian’ climate. I need hardly say that we are not yet staggering around an Arctic wasteland wearing bearskins.
Take a headline from the BBC website last summer: 'Climate change: 12 years to save the planet? Make that 18 months.'
This kind of scaremongering is so commonplace that it barely registers. Most of us have lost count of the number of eco-doomsday 'deadlines' we have passed. Yet we are still here.In 2000, the now-defunct Independent newspaper ran a story claiming that within a few years, children in countries such as ours were not going to know what snow was.Two years later, the anti-capitalist activist George Monbiot was using the pages of The Guardian to claim there would be famine within ten years unless we all gave up eating meat, fish and dairy products. Well, 2010 came and went but most Britons remain well-fed.
Two years later, The Guardian
was warning that climate change would cause millions of deaths in the succeeding years.
The paper went so far as to warn that by 2020, Britain would be plunged into a 'Siberian' climate. I need hardly say that we are not yet staggering around an Arctic wasteland wearing bearskins.
But that was always the way with climate alarmists. One day we were going to never see snow again - the next we were due to be covered in the stuff. And all the time we were expected to trust them and destroy the economy on their wobbly say-so.None of this, of course, is to say that there are not environmental issues, most importantly to do with pollution.Many of our responses remain inadequate. But you have to be, if not ignorant, then very young to fall for everything that people tell you about the climate.
It hardly helps that those who have been making the direst predictions are people who really ought to know better.According to former US vice president Al Gore, the polar ice caps ought to have melted away completely by 2013.
The Prince of Wales claimed that we were coming to the end of our days a full 11 years ago. Those 11 years came and went and we're still here.
Young people are not merely being encouraged to expect catastrophe, they are told it is good to do so. They are told that they should feel alarm.
That they must feel panic. And that the threats of imminent destruction should sweep away all other legitimate concerns.Natural phenomena, including disasters such as the recent fires in Australia, are presented as though they have never happened before and they are presented as though they are solely the result of this 'climate emergency'.
It is a cynical and dangerous trend. And so the hyping-up of a generation continues, all encouraged by adults.
Caroline Hickman, a teaching fellow at the University of Bath, recently claimed that eco-anxiety had increased massively in the past year.
'We've been talking to teachers and head teachers about how to help children and young people,' she said. Some children have reported waking up with eco-nightmares. Her response? 'Parents can't just say, "Everything will be all right" as it won't be.'
And there we get a glimpse into the real project here: a new generation is being terrified into agreeing with a specific and fringe eco-lobby.This lobby does not care if it damages the mental health of a generation because it seeks to recruit that generation as foot-soldiers.
It is time we called this what it is: an abuse of children on a massive and unforgivable scale. Something that the generations that will succeed us will look upon with shame.