Weather forecasts predict soaring temperatures of up to 28C across the UK later this month. While an Easter heatwave is welcome news to many, those with climate anxiety see something more sinister behind the sunshine.
“It’s a worrying sign,” says Sam Brichard, a 25-year-old philosophy graduate from Bournemouth. “It’s getting warmer and warmer and either people don’t care or don’t see it as a symptom of climate change.”
The Met Office has warned that bouts of hail and thunderstorms are likely to come before the hot weather.
“It just doesn’t seem normal,” Brichard says. “When I see these weird weather patterns, it seems like the world is literally self-combusting and that’s a really scary idea.
“Some days I feel really helpless.”
A recent study shows that Brichard’s feelings are widespread in people aged 16-25. Published in The Lancet, the survey of 10,000 young people found that 84% worry about the future of the planet.
Still, climate anxiety is not officially recognised as a mental health illness. According to climate psychologist Megan Kennedy-Woodard, this is because it is “a normal psychological response to the greatest threat that humanity has faced”.
Climate anxiety, also known as eco-anxiety, can manifest itself in different emotions, such as feelings of despair, grief and depression.
“Our goal is to shift this mindset,” says Kennedy-Woodard, who published her book Turn the Tide on Climate Anxiety earlier this year.
The psychologist added: “We find that those who are taking action feel much more empowered and hold much more positive climate emotions.”
The UK has witnessed rising average temperatures recently, with London experiencing its warmest March for five years in 2022. Forecasters suggest the heatwave could arrive as early as mid-April.