With Gen Z reportedly being twice as likely to battle depression when compared to Americans over 25, there’s no denying that today’s youth are more mentally ill, or at least more inclined to respond to surveys about it, than the generations that precede them.
But what if there was an unrealized factor in these perpetual feelings of despair? Epidemiologist Catherine Gimbrone certainly thinks so, presenting a fascinating, evidence-based argument that political ideology plays a role; more specifically, highlighting that liberals are more depressed and anxious than conservatives.
A major contributor to this gap in mental health is eco-anxiety. Raking in 43 million views on TikTok, #ecoanxiety plagues the minds of today’s youth. From overwhelming lists of infeasible daily practices to headlines providing world expiration dates—which ironically continue to pass, only to be “reevaluated,” the constant fear of environmental doom instilled disproportionately among today’s youth is driving them beyond eco-anxiety and into pure eco-insanity. This increase in fear of the future isn’t just based on TikTok views. When asked if they’d seen an increase in reports of environmental distress among patients, a survey found that 57.3% of child and adolescent psychiatrists in England answered yes.
Unsurprisingly, research notes that not only do conservatives tend to be happier than their liberal counterparts, they also experience higher levels of meaning in their lives. This is likely attributed to morally consistent religious beliefs and freedom from fear of the world’s end.
If anything, energy’s role in improving the state of the world should provide younger generations with hope for the future. The media and our leaders need to stop fear mongering, and instead showcase the endless opportunities that energy provides. Energy is freedom, independence, power, control, and national security– all things that ensure self-sustenance and reliability. When present, these stimulate feelings of comfort, confidence, and hope, ultimately inspiring optimism not just for us, but for the generations that succeed us.
Not only that, but reliable energy has also proven time and time again its ability to lift nations from the depths of poverty. Since 1980, global poverty has declined from nearly half of the world’s population to less than 10% today. Life expectancy is higher than ever before, and infant mortality rates are at an all-time low. A mildly warming climate and dramatically increasing energy consumption has not brought planetary doom but rather human flourishing. Deaths from climate-related disasters are down over 98% since the 1920s .
This positive news can be attributed to energy as a driving component in human flourishing. The United States is living proof of what energy can do. Through innovation, technology, and prioritization of the energy industry, the U.S. sets a historical precedent that freedom, prosperity, and environmental quality go hand in hand. If developing nations had the ability to take control of their own financial destiny and embrace the endless opportunities of energy, they could follow in the footsteps of those before them and become economic powerhouses.
Don’t let the headlines send you into a spiral of eco-insanity; abundant and reliable energy is the way of the future. America, and the world, will continue to reap the benefits as long as we continue to prioritize the freedom to produce and consume energy instead of allowing the government to dictate where we get our energy from.
Rather than cowering in fear for the future, it’s vital that we redirect our time and effort into things that matter, things that will allow us and future generations to flourish—such as affordable and reliable energy. An investment in abundant energy is an investment in those future generations.