Confronting Our Climate Anxiety
By Analicia Hazelby | September 15, 2021
If you would like to learn more about overcoming climate anxiety, Turn Oakland County Green is hosting a webinar, Confronting Our Climate Anxiety, September 27th, 2021 from 7 - 8:30 pm on Zoom. Three speakers will be discussing from their perspectives how to cope and act on climate. Please register here.
Nowadays, it’s rare to go a day without hearing of or experiencing the effects of climate change. All over the globe, we are experiencing catastrophic flooding, fires, and storms. It becomes increasingly difficult, when watching the news, to absorb and feel any type of positive emotions about what is happening to our precious home. Questions may come up in your mind, like what can I as one person do to change the course of our seemingly disaster-prone planet?
As a chapter leader for a climate organization, I have noticed that my members are becoming increasingly anxious about the climate, especially after the 6th IPCC assessment. Sometimes I feel that it becomes more and more difficult to motivate and mobilize members to act when the events we are experiencing seem so insurmountable.
Whenever I think about solving climate change, I think of Nelson Mandela and one of his famous quotes, “It always seems impossible until it's done.” The big challenges we face today seem too hard to face upfront. But, in the face of the storm, we need to present ourselves with the hope that together we can make the change, and the faith that we will be ok. Faith and hope are two crucial elements to solve these problems. Sometimes you need to act blindly, without ever knowing with 100% certainty what the outcome will be. And as I get older, I’m learning that you need massive amounts of faith and hope to do anything great. You have to believe it with every fiber of your being, and you need to believe it every day. Climate change may have washed away the walls of Rome. But to rebuild Rome, we need more than a day.
I personally keep my focus on what I can do instead of being distracted by the news. I continue to walk forward step by step to work with others to figure out what actions can be taken. Claudia Tebaldi, a climate scientist at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, puts it best in this article with The Washington Post. “You have the choice of spending your time feeling the doom and gloom … fearing the future,” she said. “Or you can get up every day and remind yourself that that day is likely going to be the best you have … and you better make the best of it.”
I’ve seen myself that when we all work positively together toward a common goal, we can really make a change. At Citizens’ Climate Lobby, we have recently made 11,000+ calls to members of congress across the nation. And, our constant nudges (calls, emails, tweets, etc) to congress have not gone unnoticed. Recently, news broke that the Senate Finance Committee is considering a price on carbon, which is part of what CCL has advocated for for years.
We are all at different stages and areas of life, so I’d like to also share with you a few everyday actions we can all do that can help us to feel better about our situation at hand.
If our climate situation is nagging you, do something about it. If you’ve never done anything about it, start small. Climate is a huge issue, so don’t feel like you need to fix it alone. We are all in this together. Every small part helps. If you don’t recycle, recycle. Bike to the gym. Bring a reusable container to a restaurant with you (it doesn’t have to be weird, you can keep it in your car). If you have more time, learn how to compost in your backyard. Acting on an issue can really help to relieve our anxiety about it, big or small. Get involved with a climate group and call and write to your congresspeople.
Talk about it
The easiest thing you can do is to talk about climate change. We need to break the spiral of silence between our peers when it comes to climate change. It can make the difference between acting on it and just letting your thoughts simmer inside. When we bring words into the air, it really does make a difference in our psyche. And, if you feel you need professional help, it’s always worthwhile to speak to a licensed therapist.
Take time to relax
We are only human. If the news is too much for you, it’s important to take a moment to enjoy the things you love the most, whether it’s family, friends, hobbies, or nature itself. I always enjoy immersing myself outside, whether it’s gardening or mountain biking. I find that it takes my mind away from whatever is happening in my life.
Find a support group
Get involved with a climate group that understands what you’re going through. There are lots of climate groups, from the Sierra Club, to small groups I’ve found on Discord (a messaging and digital distribution platform). Find one that works for you.
If you would like to get more involved locally, I urge you to join and act with Turn Oakland County Green. You can sign our petition, attend our webinars, and meet with your Oakland County Commissioner. And once you do, don’t forget to spread the news and mention to your friends all the great work you’re doing. We are a group of local citizens who are passionate about environmentalism and want to see a change just like you.