Climate Change: No Personal Beliefs Should Increase Children’s Anxiety


One reader believes psychiatrists and mental health clinicians should approach climate change with skepticism.

anxious child

Marina April/AdobeStock


This article is a response to the articles “In the Courtroom, A Psychiatrist’s Perspective: Youth Take Case to Court to Protect Their Futures and Win” by Robin Cooper, MD, and “To Assume Among Them the Powers of the Earth” by Elizabeth Haase, MD.

I read with concern the articles in the October 2023 issue of the Psychiatric Times relating to the climate change lawsuit in the State of Montana. I believe we must consider the unintended consequences of the apparent unquestioning support by the authors of these children's actions.

The authors do not mention the hundreds of thousands of birds, including endangered species, that are killed every year by wind turbines, the degradation of the earth due to mining for rare metals needed for electric cars, the toxic exposure of child slave labor to get these minerals, the beaching of whales on the New Jersey coastline due to offshore wind farms, etc.

Is the only factor relating to climate change anthropomorphic? What percentage of climate change is related to cyclical changes, like ice ages, sunspot activity, etc? Healthy skepticism of settled science or consensus should be the bedrock of good medicine. According to government statistics, there was no increase in hurricanes over the past 10 years. The warmest decade recorded was the 1930s. In addition, recent forest fires have been caused by a lack of clearing out of dead trees and brush. Advocates appear to believe that almost any natural calamity is caused by climate change, but one must consider that any theory that explains everything should be viewed with skepticism.

The authors believe that aligning with and advocating for the children in the lawsuit is ethical and demanded of us as psychiatrists. I respectfully disagree, as I believe that psychiatrists should not allow their personal beliefs, no matter how strongly held, to potentially increase the level of these children's anxiety.

Childhood is a time for children to grow and mature and overly focusing on their fears is antithetical to their psychiatric health.

Dr Springer is a psychiatrist in Newtown Square, PA.

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