Global Warming Related Climate Anxiety Leads to Heightened Emotions

Author: Twig

Date Published: 11.02.2022

Tags: #Climate Anxiety

How climate change affects our mental wellbeing and what we can do about it?

In the 21st century, we are becoming increasingly aware of the environmental pressures that exist in today’s world, whether that be climate change, deforestation or waste accumulation. Following increased levels of environmental monitoring, scientists have discovered that the earth could be nearing a global tipping point that entails irreversible changes to the state of our ecosystems, ultimately leading to detrimental effects at the expense of the planet — and its people. Already today, communities in environmentally deprived parts of the world are threatened by effects of climate changes such as droughts and wildlife loss. But also people whose livelihoods are not (yet) directly impacted by the change, struggle with the effects that climate change has on their wellbeing. Particularly among young people, the large neglection of environmental degradation and negative future outlooks have worsening effects on their mental health.

climate change

You’re not alone with your feelings

Climate anxiety can come in several different forms of emotion, whether that be sadness, anger, guilt or powerlessness but you mustn’t feel alone. Recent studies have shown that 95% of young people feel some sort of worry when it comes to climate change. These concerns can lead to a sense of helplessness, particularly among those who strive to play their part in protecting the environment but believe that not enough is being done on a larger scale.

Nature, 2021 based on Marks et al., (2021)

Indication from a recent study has shown that the younger demographic is becoming increasingly frustrated, with 65% of respondents stating that governments are failing the youth population. This is a result of governments’ and corporations’ lack of transformative action to address environmental and social issues in policy, production and consumption. While some of the problems are relatively young phenomena, they will ultimately have a significant effect on younger generations’ future if current trends continue. This is having a serious effect on the mindset of young people with almost 50% of participants in some nations stating they are hesitant to have children due to the changes we are seeing in the environment.

Climate anxiety can be overwhelming or scary for anyone experiencing it, especially those who have witnessed traumatic environmental events such as floods or wildfires. In some cases, you may find that your child or young members of your family are struggling with climate anxiety. Fortunately there are ways in which these ‘climate emotions’ can be mitigated.

It’s not all doom and gloom

However, there is also a positive spin to be taken from this! There is a potential for a bright future as the youth have a desire to make a difference in the way they live and contribute to protecting the earth and particularly marginalised groups.

Photograph: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
  • It is vital to not simply dismiss these emotions, but to instead use this as a catalyst for positive change by showing what they can do to make a difference — start small, with litter picking for example.
  • Reducing levels of stress and anxiety can even be as simple as taking a trip outside to your local national park, to really appreciate the environment that we are looking to protect.
  • Living in alignment with your values and spreading the message gives you a feeling of empowerment and agency — if you worry about carbon emissions, try to reduce your footprint by driving less or if the journey is mandatory, maybe consider offsetting your carbon emissions.
  • To experience a sense of connectedness, it can also help to share emotions with others. Peer support groups like The Good Grief Network (GGN) and podcasts like ‘Climate Change and Happiness’ provide resources to process climate-related emotions and take a positive spin on climate anxiety. After all, feelings of guilt or anger often root in our compassion and empathy for the environment and society.

It’s all about awareness

Climate awareness could even come in the form of consumption or lifestyle choices. These need to be informed by clear analytics that show how each of us can make a difference. The use of features such as carbon footprint trackers or tree planting facilitate the consumers’ ability to track and manage their environmental impact. In terms of conscious consumption individuals can also actively contribute by thrifting their clothes or selling their unwanted things when buying and thereby empower a circular economy. Small changes in the way we make decisions like this, will have a lasting impact on our relationship to the environment and ourselves.

Sources: News Scientist, New York Times, The Guardian, Tetra Pak, Marks et al. (2021), Climate Change and Happiness, Nature

Recomended Articles

10 Eco-innovators that solve the climate crisis through technology

10 Eco-innovators that solve the climate crisis through technology

The Evolution of Fabric and its impact on our Clothing Choices

The Evolution of Fabric and its impact on our Clothing Choices

B Coming B Corp™

B Coming B Corp™

Interesting in knowing more about
For the Earth services?