I wrote the following on June 20th, and tracked down Pete Williams from Somerfield, asking for a copy of the report that Bjorn Lomborg seems to have been so impressed by. Alas, I've heard nothing. Time to chase again, perhaps.
Back in February, the Boston Globe ran a story about a 17-year old who had been admitted to the psychiatric unit at the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne. The youth was refusing to drink water as he was worried about drought related to climate change, and was convinced that if he drank, millions of people would die. The doctors noted this as the first known instance of "climate change delusion".
On Monday, the Guardian ran a piece by Bjorn Lomborg titled: Scared silly over climate change in which he claimed that we are "frightening children with exaggerations – they believe they don't have a future and that the world is going to end". Most of the reportage in the story came from the USA, but towards the end, Lomborg says: "We see the same pattern in the United Kingdom, where a survey showed that half of young children aged between seven and 11 are anxious about the effects of global warming, often losing sleep because of their concern". Indeed it would be, were it true. But is it? And whose survey is it? The Guardian article didn't say.
Perhaps it was the same story as reported by GMTV in February which notes: "Half of young children are anxious about the effects of global warming, often losing sleep because of their concern". If so, this suggests it is a survey by Somerfield. Somerfield spokesman Pete Williams has said: "Concerns over our environment dominate the media at present and kids are exposed to the hard facts as much as anybody. While many adults may look the other way, this study should show that global warming is not only hurting the children of the future, its affecting the welfare of kids now".
All this rather runs counter to anecdotal evidence from teachers and headteachers with whom I have talked who say that young people find the challenges around climate and environment rather stimulating and motivating – and how much of the Somerfield survey can be taken at face value depends on what was asked, and how, of course. I'll try to track this down c/o Mr Williams – and report back.