Image credit: Grist
As a 10th-grader growing up in Bergen, Norway, Mia Chamberlain dreaded when her science class lesson was on climate change. She’d often skip those classes or sneak out of the classroom. She couldn’t handle the fear when confronted with projections of scorching droughts and devastating floods — a future that she would have to live through, despite having grown up in a country as wealthy and safe as Norway. It was like the breathless, stomach-churning feeling of being broken up with, the moment a future vanishes. She couldn’t understand how her science teachers could discuss it with the same detached calm of instructing an algebra class. “It was like sitting through a horror movie that you really don’t want to be watching,” said Chamberlain, who is now 23.
Around that time, nearly 2 million barrels of oil and other fossil fuels were being drilled each day from Norway’s continental shelf, much of it sold elsewhere. Adults around her didn’t seem to understand Chamberlain’s frustration. She felt afraid, lonely, angry, anxious, and deeply unhappy — a tide of emotions she now describes as climate anxiety, a diagnosis that is receiving more and more attention from scientists, psychologists, and now, courts.