If you’ve been experiencing mounting anxiety about global warming and climate change in recent years, you’re not alone.
‘Climate change distress’, ‘Ecoanxiety’ and ‘ecological grief’ are some of the terms that have been coined to describe what you’re feeling.
Scientists don’t, and shouldn’t, sugar-coat their findings. Even the most conservative climate predictions have predicted that the human population could witness a major environmental catastrophe as early as 2040. Think massive famine, droughts, increasing extreme weather changes, coral reefs dying, wildfires, floods, and other cataclysmic conditions.
We’re witnessing the devastating effects of climate change in our lifetime and the constant struggle to balance pessimism with optimism is overwhelming. It’s a harsh reality that brings our worst fears to a very near future, leaving many of us feeling hopeless, agitated, rattled, guilty and depressed.
You’re not alone in this struggle.
If you’re feeling hopeless about what others are, or aren’t, doing to address climate change, doing something yourself can feel super-empowering.
Taking positive action is more important than ever. Rather than ignoring the issue, taking control, getting informed and involved with initiatives like our Pollinator Parks or Green Heart projects, and joining our litter picks, beach cleans, and other events will go a long way to lessen the anxiety.
Declaring a climate emergency and putting the climate risk on your agenda in your business or workplace is also a positive move. Here at Climate Action North we’re working to launch a raft of support and a toolkit for businesses to declare a climate emergency and to take action.
And don’t forget that there’s lots of things you can do as an individual.
This list isn’t exhaustive but it’s a good start!
- Use a reusable ‘keep cup’. Stop buying bottled water!
- Don’t use plastic bags at the checkout. Take your own bags and containers to the shops and always avoid buying plastic-wrapped products where possible.
- Use public transport or car-share. Liftshare.com, the leading UK car share provider, says that commuters who regularly share lifts save about £900 each year!
- Check before you chuck. Up to 70 percent of everyday household waste can be recycled or reused in some way, but many of us throw it in the bin if we’re not sure. If in doubt, check this website for advice on what to do and visit the WRAP website for this and much more.
- Eat less meat. Grow your own herbs, fruit and vegetables instead.
- Use LED lighting instead of incandescent and switch to 100 percent renewable power – it has a very real impact on the environment, and will save you money.
- Put on an extra layer of clothing instead of turning on the heating.
- Buy second-hand clothes where possible and support fashion brands that are ethical and environmentally conscious. Try upcycling or reusing clothes, furniture and other items in your life and at work. Get ideas here.
- Engage nationally and use your vote!
- Follow @GretaThunberg for inspiration, information and details of forthcoming strikes and initiatives you can get involved with.
- Keep the conversation going with your family, friends and colleagues. Sometimes talking to like mined people is a good start. The Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA) provides professional networks where people can also meet others, share concerns and discuss the anxiety they are feeling. IEMA is investigating climate anxiety and looking at how it can support professionals.
Above all look after yourself.
If you are feeling anxious or depressed and you need some support, try one of the following resources:
Anxiety UK: a charity helping those suffering from anxiety.
The Samaritans: a charity providing support to anyone in emotional distress.
Mind: a charity that makes sure no one faces a mental health problem alone.