Climate anxiety. It’s a real phenomenon, and a common one among young adults and teens, at that. Climate change is something that many people of younger generations have been hearing about their whole lives, with activists against the cause starting out younger as well. It is no secret that rising temperatures are a colossal problem, affecting every aspect of human life, so it makes sense that it might spark distress, worry, and anger in people. In a 2021 study, documented by Nature.com, out of 10,000 people, aged 16-25, in 10 different countries only 5% reported to have no worry for climate change at all, with 27% reporting extremely worried, 32% very worried, and 25% moderately worried, and 11% a little worried. Overall, the feelings associated with climate change fared with feeling afraid, angry, powerless, and guilty, with few feeling optimistic or indifferent, and the majority feeling sad and afraid. Anxiety and fear related to the climate has disrupted over half of young people, as well as their ability to live daily life. However, although the future is frightening, there are ways to calm these nerves.
Connect to a Community with Your Concerns
Everyone’s experience with climate anxiety and how they handle it may differ, but there is no one right or wrong way to feel it. Someone who witnessed the disappearance of bees in their neighborhood may have just as valid climate fears as someone who is living in a hurricane zone. There are numerous ways to reach out to those around you, whether it be something as simple as finding a group online or lending your time to a Climate Cafe or network. Climate Cafes work to bring together individuals willing to share feelings and reactions surrounding climate in a hope to alleviate hopelessness, anxiety, and confusion. Alternatively, a 10-step plan is offered through the Good Grief Network, to help develop empowerment over climate chaos and turn the process of anxiety into action.
Focus on What You Can Tackle
Gaining insight and educating yourself on a situation is always important, but only in proportion. The oversaturation of information can do more harm than good, especially to mental health. As one person, you can learn about situations that you can take on, but once you place yourself in the shoes of a superhero trying to save the world, you are taking on much more than you can chew. The struggles of the world can be hard enough to chew without the constant reminder that it is a persistent change. One person will never be equipped to stop climate change overnight, so the participation in what is available to you counts just as much. As helpful as it is to learn and tackle climate change objectives, it can do just as much good to take a break from the negatives of the world.
Remember That Any Fight Counts
The transformation to a greener society is not something that can occur overnight, so any contribution can count towards helping. There are many accessible and out-of-the-box ways to help change your lifestyle for the better. For example, while turning off lights when they are not in use is a productive and effective way to cut down energy consumption, check energy use elsewhere, such as washers, dryers, air conditioners, and heaters to limit consumption even further. Help in its easiest form is still a form of help. Starting up organizations, such as the Climate Cardinals, is another path of the contribution that may not be commonly thought of. Though the Climate Cardinals do not directly contribute to the saving of electricity, cleaning of litter, or the act of recycling, it spreads the word of climate change to those who do not speak English. The organization works with volunteers to translate information in over 100 languages, making the movement more accessible to those worldwide.
Although the effects of climate change are daunting, they will not be the end of this generation. We have the power to prevail and the ability to get the help we desire to do so. Angst in response to our changing world is understandable, but it will not limit what we can do as a society.
“About.” Climate Cardinals, https://www.climatecardinals.org/about.
“About.” Good Grief Network, 13 Oct. 2021, https://www.goodgriefnetwork.org/about/.
Renwick, Danielle. “7 Ways to Manage Climate Anxiety.” Teen Vogue, 6 Oct. 2021, https://www.teenvogue.com/story/how-to-manage-climate-anxiety.
Thompson, Tosin. “Young People’s Climate Anxiety Revealed in Landmark Survey.” Nature News, Nature Publishing Group, 22 Sept. 2021, https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-02582-8.