Dear readers, I have pretty solid climate anxiety. And it’s time to talk about it.
I don’t know if you share my worry, but studies show that many people do. It is especially prevalent in youth, according to research with 10,000 people aged 16–25 years old. 75% said the future was frightening, and more than 50% said that humanity was doomed. 68% of respondents checked the boxes for “sad” and “afraid” when asked how the prospect of climate change made them feel … the two highest response words. (Also, 30% did respond with the word “optimistic,” further entrenching my belief that many young people are just a bunch of little sh*ts just trying to be cool, but I digress and will cease before I become the “get off my lawn!” guy).
All kidding aside, the linkage between anxiety of all kinds, climate anxiety included, and diminished mental health is sometimes a lingering problem, especially when people don’t have the emotional tools to process these feelings. This is made worse when people feel they are alone in this anxiety. A quote from an article in the journal Nature on the topic hits home for me: “Among those who said they have talked to others about climate change (81%), nearly half reported being ignored or dismissed.”
It is simply too easy to turn a blind eye, throw one’s hands up, and not take on the stress. Ignorance is bliss sometimes. But then the problem is that burden of actually doing something falls even more heavily on those who believe in it.
A friend recently asked me for advice on how not to burn out — I know she cares about social justice and the environment, and she works hard at a nonprofit that is working on making the world a better place, probably for less than she’s worth.
So, I’m turning to you, readers, who probably have some thoughts on this subject, and asking that you take 2 minutes to fill out this survey below. I’ll publish the results later, assuming we get enough responses.
Also, for those interested, I’ve written a book review of The Ministry for the Future, a book I found incredibly inspiring and hopeful. Consider adding it to your fall reading list.
[Editor’s note: We have republished this due to an error in the original post affecting the display of the survey on mobile devices.]
Featured photo: A Texas National Guardsman rescues a flood victim after Hurricane Harvey hit Houston, August, 2017. Source: Lt. Zachary Wes/Army National Guard
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