WASHINGTON - Young victims of climate disasters descended on the US Congress Thursday to urge lawmakers to acknowledge the effect of global warming on their mental health.
Among them was 17-year-old Madigan Traversi, a California teenager forced to flee her home in her pajamas after smelling smoke from a giant wildfire in 2017.
Today, the high schooler says she suffers from "anxiety, depression and trauma" - conditions reported by young activists across the world on the front lines of the fight against climate change.
"My family found out the next day our house and property had burned to the ground," she recalled.
Along with a classmate, the teenager wrote a resolution, introduced earlier this year before the US Congress, urging lawmakers to "protect the mental health of current and future youth" by taking action on climate change.
"There's an awakening happening right here," said Congressman Mike Thompson, the California Democrat who introduced the resolution, adding that "the kids are driving a big part of that."
Researchers have warned that youngsters are particularly susceptible to mental disorders as they contemplate a future marked by crushing heatwaves, devastating storms and rising oceans.
"We are anxious about the future and this anxiety is warranted," said Giselle Perez, 17, who co-authored the resolution.
She warned that if the United States doesn't get more involved in the climate crisis, "my future and the future of my generation is hopeless."
The White House has touted the Inflation Reduction Act, signed into law last month by President Joe Biden, as the biggest commitment to mitigating climate change in US history.
Under the plan, the federal government will spend about US$370 billion (S$500 billion) on green energy initiatives.
Lawmakers in both chambers of Congress passed the Bill by thin margins as the state of Kentucky recovered from unprecedented flash floods that killed dozens. AFP