The increasing number of climate events can cause despair, but taking action could help to overcome the feeling of discomfort
By Carlos Roa
In an era marked by climate crisis, a new phenomenon has emerged affecting millions of individuals worldwide. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, eco-anxiety means “Unease or apprehension about current and future harm to the environment caused by human activity and climate change.”
This condition is becoming increasingly prevalent as people grapple with the overwhelming challenges posed by climate change and ecological threats.
A tracking conducted by CivicScience after Tropical Storm Hilary made landfall in southern California, reveals nearly 4-in-5 U.S. adults have experienced some form of natural disaster. Moreover, the source reminds the influence of the devastating wildfires in Maui adding to this toll.
In addition, an American Psychological Association survey found that “two-thirds of American adults said that they felt at least a little ‘eco-anxiety,’ defined as anxiety or worry about climate change and its effects.”
Why Is It Growing?
Eco-anxiety, also known as climate anxiety or environmental anxiety, triggers feelings of distress, and fear related to environmental issues and the impending consequences of climate change.
It manifests in a range of emotions, from chronic worry about the planet’s future to acute anxiety as communities face specific climate events or news. It is aggravated due to the following factors:
- The increasing frequency and severity of natural disasters, such as hurricanes, wildfires, and floods. Individuals witness these events firsthand or through media coverage, heightening their sense of vulnerability and fear.
- Loss of biodiversity: The accelerating rate of species extinction and habitat destruction troubles environmentalists and conservationists. The loss of beloved animals, like polar bears and koalas, fuels eco-anxiety.
- Environmental degradation: Experiencing pollution, deforestation, and ocean plastic pollution on a global scale can leave people feeling powerless and anxious about the future of the planet.
- Interconnectedness: Many individuals recognize the interconnectedness of environmental problems, economic disparities, and social injustices, creating a sense of despair about the complexity of these issues.
Dealing With Eco-Anxiety
Unfortunately, this climate-related distress is here to stay. However, we need to learn to cope, take care of ourselves, and engage more effectively in climate action.
Here are some useful strategies:
- Practice eco-friendly living: Taking tangible steps to reduce one’s environmental footprint can provide a sense of control. Simple actions, such as reducing waste, conserving energy, and supporting sustainable products, can make a significant difference.
- Education: Gaining a better understanding of the challenges at hand can alleviate some anxiety. Knowledge empowers individuals to take informed actions and advocate for change.
- Engage in activism: Becoming involved in environmental activism and advocacy can channel anxiety into positive action. Joining local environmental groups can help individuals feel part of a larger movement for change.
- Seek support: Talking openly about eco-anxiety with friends, family, or a mental health professional can be therapeutic. Sharing concerns and finding like-minded individuals can provide a sense of community and support.
- Mindfulness and self-care: Practices like mindfulness meditation, yoga, or spending time in nature can help manage anxiety. These activities promote emotional resilience and a sense of calm.