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A Different View on Your Climate Worries



A Different View on Your Climate Worries

Nearly 60% of the 10,000 young people from ten nations surveyed in a recent worldwide study expressed significant concern about the state of the earth in the future. The study, which was published in the medical journal The Lancet, also revealed that three-quarters of the respondents felt that “the future is frightening,” and nearly half of the respondents claimed that this kind of worry affected them on a daily basis. This study, along with other others, demonstrates unequivocally that climate change poses a hazard to more than just the environment we live in. It also presents a serious risk to our emotional health.

These emotions of loss, anguish, and concern about the current climate emergency—which are prevalent in today’s youth—have been classified by psychologists as “eco-anxiety.” Eco-anxiety is described as “heightened emotional, mental, or somatic distress in response to dangerous changes in the climate system” by the Climate Psychology Alliance. Eco-anxiety is not limited to the youth. It also influences scientists studying climate change and ecology, who are burdened by the reality their research portrays, and it impacts the world’s most economically vulnerable people, who suffer disproportionately from the catastrophic effects of climatic breakdown.

By 2024, eco-anxiety will rank among the main factors contributing to mental health issues. The explanations are clear. By 2027, scientists predict that global temperatures will have risen above pre-industrial levels for the first time, surpassing safe thresholds. Recent years have seen summer floods in Pakistan devastate areas that are home to almost 33 million people, while wildfires wrack Greece and Canada. Research indicates that people who are exposed to elevated temperatures and air pollution are at a higher risk of experiencing psychological distress.

To exacerbate the situation, our political class is not demonstrating bold leadership in the face of the climate calamity. The head of the COP28 conference in Dubai will be an executive from an oil and gas business. The UK government is reneging on its environmental pledges.

Thankfully, increased eco-anxiety will also provide a means of directly addressing the global catastrophe. The University of Bath’s Caroline Hickman, an eco-anxiety researcher, advises against pathologizing the stress, grief, despair, and depression that accompany eco-anxiety. This emotional distress has an undeniable external origin, after all. Hickman claims that anyone feeling these ways is responding to the climate issue in a perfectly normal and reasonable way. Her recommendation? Use eco-anxiety as a motivating emotion to inspire people to take action for environmental protection.

For this reason, more people will be joining the global movement for climate justice and looking for jobs that put environmental sustainability first in 2024. Protesters will exert more pressure on the governments that support the fossil fuel industries to quickly phase out the use of dirty coal, oil, and gas. Now that the majority of us are beginning to experience mental health issues, it is evident that they are also the primary causes of the climate catastrophe.


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