Children and youth's biopsychosocial wellbeing in the context of energy resource activities

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Abstract

Background

Children and youth emerge as key populations that are impacted by energy resource activities, in part because of their developmental vulnerabilities, as well as the compounding effects of energy systems on their families, communities, and physical environments. While there is a larger literature focused on fossil fuel emissions and children, the impacts of many aspects of energy systems on children and youth remain under examined and scattered throughout the health, social science, and environmental science literatures.

Objectives

This systematic interdisciplinary review examines the biological, psychosocial, and economic impacts of energy systems identified through social science research – specifically focused on household and industrial extraction and emissions – on children and youth functioning.

Methods

A critical interpretive search of interdisciplinary and international social sciences literature was conducted using an adaptive protocol focusing on the biopsychosocial and economic impacts of energy systems on children and youth. The initial results were complemented with a purposeful search to extend the breadth and depth of the final collection of articles.

Discussion

Although relatively few studies have specifically focused on children and youth in this context, the majority of this research uncovers a range of negative health impacts that are directly and indirectly related to the development and ongoing operations of natural resource production, particularly oil and gas, coal, and nuclear energy. Psychosocial and cultural effects, however, remain largely unexamined and provide a rich avenue for further research.

Conclusions

This synthesis identifies an array of adverse biopsychosocial health outcomes on children and youth of energy resource extraction and emissions, and identifies gaps that will drive future research in this area.

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