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Research Shows More Children Experiencing Eco-Anxiety

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — With hotter and more frequent wildfires and hurricanes getting more devastating every year, researchers say children are being afflicted with a new worry: eco-anxiety.

Research shows that stress over the environment and climate change is hitting kids especially hard, and prompted teenage environmental activist Greta Thunberg to urge world leaders and politicians to take action.

"The planet is outside its comfort zone and we also need to be outside of our comfort zone to prevent the worst consequences from happening," she told CBS This Morning.

Climate Activist Greta Thunberg Visits Capitol Hill To Speak To Lawmakers
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 18: Founder of Fridays For Future Greta Thunberg (L) and co-founder of This Is Zero Hour and plaintiff in Piper v. State of Washington Jamie Margolin (R) testify during a House Foreign Affairs Committee Europe, Eurasia, Energy and the Environment Subcommittee and House (Select) Climate Crisis Committee joint hearing September 18, 2019 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Thunberg, who recently sailed across the Atlantic Ocean in a zero-carbon emissions sailboat, is in Washington to discuss the climate crisis with lawmakers and will speak at the UN Climate Action Summit on September 23 in New York. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Greta, a 16-year-old with Asperger's and autism, has managed to channel her feelings about climate change into action. But for most children, the increasingly concerning news about the environment and climate change fuels worries as extreme as the sun or moon exploding to obsessing over the changes in the weather, emission rates or water temperatures, Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge said in a Skype interview with CBSN Los Angeles.

"There's just a lot of concerns about the impact of the changes in our environment and children are particularly sensitive to these things because we talk about them," she said.

Children are very intelligent and perceptive these days, says Hodge, and they understand the ramifications of what happens as a result of climate change.

"These bright kids are picking up, you know, we just had this massive catastrophe in the Bahamas, where 70 percent of people have lost their homes and are underwater," Capanna-Hodge said. "Children understand, that means people are not in their homes, and so that stirs up their own worries."

Parents who want to calm those fears should start a conversation with their children with the facts, presented in a developmentally appropriate way, assure them of their safety and check in with them regularly to determine what their worries are, Capanna-Hodge said.

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