What Can You Tell a 17 Year Old Who’s Afraid of Dying from Climate Change? Part 1

How to live a meaningful life in a time of turmoil

Steve Genco
9 min readAug 29, 2023

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A view of a post-apocalyptic landscape from the popular video game, Fallout 4. The scene shows the player’s first glimpse of the post-nuclear world they now inhabit.
A screen grab from the popular video game Fallout 4, a favorite among gaming youth. This is the post-apocalyptic view that greets survivors emerging from Vault 111.

I originally published this post as one long article, but decided to divide it into two slightly more bite-sized pieces. This is Part 1. Part 2 is here.

I recently came across a post on Reddit that said, in part:

“I’m a teen and I’m really scared for my future

“I’m so afraid of climate change. I just turned 17 not so long ago and I’m afraid I’ll never get to grow up because of the way our Earth is going.

“Most of my friends and family are apathetic, such as my parents who don’t like me talking about this stuff since they feel we can’t really change anything. My mom thinks it’s completely irreversible. I hate holding it all inside all the time. …

“I guess what I really wanna hear is it’s all gonna be ok even though it’s probably not the truth. I’m just scared. I’d appreciate any positive news or insight from those who feel the same way and how you manage it while doing everything you can. Thanks for reading.”(source)

I’ve been thinking quite a bit about what to say to a teenager like this young person to help them prepare for the dangerous world they are about to inherit. I concluded the best advice I could give would be to suggest some questions they need to consider. So here are four questions I believe any young person who wants to survive the 21st Century needs to ask and answer for themselves:

In Part 1:

  • What predictions can you rely on?
  • What will give your life meaning?

In Part 2:

  • What skills and mental habits will you need?
  • How will you live?

What predictions can you rely on?

There are some things that are pretty safe bets for the rest of this century. I’ve discussed many of them in detail in previous posts, so I won’t go over all the evidence that supports them here. I’ll simply say this: these are things that can either be predicted with certainty, or are likely to occur with a very high probability.

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Steve Genco

Steve is author of Intuitive Marketing (2019) & Neuromarketing for Dummies (2013). He holds a PhD in Political Science from Stanford University.