I am truly terrified of the future I will face. It is coming closer and closer, and I know that it is going to happen no matter what I do on my individual level. However, this doesn’t stop me from trying to make a change.
We know that the concept of climate change has been plagued by criticism in the past, but with scientific evidence we can be clear. We understand that climate change is a human caused change in climate due to emissions, while climate variability is caused by natural variations in the earth’s climate over time due to non-human causes, such as volcanic eruptions and changes in the sun.
As humans have continued to conduct activities that unlock sequestered carbon at a rate that the carbon cycle cannot maintain, we are left with the conundrum of how to deal with the circumstances of this. Climate change will impact all living things on the planet. The way this will happen is by rising temperatures and changing composition of the atmosphere and oceans. This will lead to extreme weather events like hurricanes and storms, changes in seasons, and may lead to flooding or fires and droughts. It will also lead to sea level rise via expansion and melting of water that was previously in a frozen state. This can cause salt water intrusion. Among all these things our basic human needs of food, water, and shelter will be affected, especially in vulnerable Caribbean countries.
The fear of how this affects our present and future, especially for our future generations, is sometimes very overwhelming. Climate anxiety, also known as eco-anxiety, is a growing concern as people become increasingly aware of the challenges posed by climate change. I have found that with knowledge and understanding, solutions can be found. For example, some of these simple things we can do every day will make a positive difference and help us to manage our feelings of climate anxiety:
1. Learn about solutions
It is always good to start with learning. Many times we feel anxious about issues because we are unsure of how to solve them. Learning about climate solutions can inspire hope and even help you to find actions that work for your community. Here are some ways to do this:
- Read books and articles.
- Watch documentaries on how climate change is affecting people around the world and what they’ve been doing about it.
- Talk to people who have experienced climate change firsthand (both who are and aren’t scientists) and ask what they think would help.
- Participate in local events that educate about climate change and help you get involved in solutions.
2. Join others and connect with your neighbors
Connecting with people to reduce climate anxiety can be a powerful way to find support, share concerns, and collaborate on solutions. Here are some ways to connect with others:
- Join local groups: Look for local organizations, community groups, or environmental clubs that focus on sustainability and climate action. Attend their meetings, events, or workshops to connect with like-minded individuals who are passionate about addressing climate change. These groups often provide a supportive community where you can share your concerns and collaborate on projects.
- Engage on social media: Social media platforms offer a vast network of individuals and organizations focused on climate change. Follow influential voices, climate activists, and environmental organizations on platforms like Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook. Engage in discussions, share your thoughts, and connect with others who are interested in the same issues.
- Attend climate-related conferences and events: Climate conferences, workshops, and events bring together professionals, experts, and enthusiasts from various fields. Participate in these gatherings to learn from experts, gain knowledge, and network with people who share your concerns.
- Volunteer for causes: Many organizations and initiatives rely on volunteers to make a difference. Offer your time and skills to contribute to local environmental projects, such as tree planting or sustainable community initiatives. Volunteering not only connects you with like-minded individuals but also provides a sense of purpose and fulfillment.
- Organize local climate-related events: Take the initiative to organize events or workshops in your community that raise awareness about climate change. This could include film screenings, panel discussions, or educational workshops. By organizing such events, you can bring people together, foster discussions, and connect with others who are concerned about climate change.
- Share personal stories and experiences: Sharing your own journey and experiences with climate anxiety can be a powerful way to connect with others. Write blog posts, contribute articles to local publications, or participate in storytelling events focused on climate change. By sharing your story, you can create empathy, encourage conversations, and connect with individuals who resonate with your experiences.
3. Look at your Community’s actions
Here are some strategies communities can adopt to deal with climate anxiety:
- Education and awareness: Foster a culture of knowledge and understanding by providing accurate and accessible information about climate change. Educate community members about the causes, impacts, and potential solutions to climate change. This can help alleviate anxiety by empowering individuals to take informed action.
- Encourage action and involvement: Help community members channel their anxiety into positive action. Provide opportunities for individuals to get involved in local sustainability initiatives, such as community gardens, clean-up campaigns, or renewable energy projects. Taking action can provide a sense of purpose and empowerment.
- Promote resilience and adaptation: Help communities build resilience to the impacts of climate change by implementing adaptation measures. This can include developing emergency response plans, creating green spaces that mitigate heat island effects, and supporting infrastructure improvements. By actively preparing for and adapting to climate change, communities can feel more empowered and less anxious about its potential effects.
- Foster community support networks: Create spaces for individuals to come together and share their concerns, fears, and ideas. Establish support groups or community forums where people can discuss their climate-related anxieties and find emotional support. Connecting with like-minded individuals can help reduce feelings of isolation and helplessness.
- Focus on positive stories and solutions: While it’s essential to acknowledge the severity of climate change, it’s equally important to highlight positive stories and solutions. Celebrate successful sustainability initiatives, share stories of resilience, and showcase innovative projects that address climate change. By focusing on positive examples, communities can inspire hope and motivate individuals to take action.
- Engage with mental health professionals: Recognize that climate anxiety can have a significant impact on mental health and well-being. Encourage community members to seek support from mental health professionals who are knowledgeable about climate-related concerns. Therapists or counselors can provide coping strategies and tools to manage climate anxiety effectively.
- Empower youth and future generations: Engage young people in climate action and decision-making processes. Encourage their participation in sustainability initiatives, provide platforms for their voices to be heard, and support youth-led organizations focused on climate action. Empowering young individuals can give them a sense of agency and hope for the future.
- Advocate for policy changes: Support and engage in advocacy efforts to promote climate-friendly policies and regulations at local, regional, and national levels. By advocating for systemic changes, communities can address the root causes of climate change and alleviate anxiety associated with its impacts.
Remember that addressing climate anxiety is a collective effort. By working together, communities can provide support, foster resilience, and promote positive change, leading to a more sustainable and emotionally healthy future.
4. Be resource efficient
Being resource efficient means making the most out of available resources while minimizing our environmental impact. Reducing our individual impact on the planet is a simple way to remind us that we can make a difference. Here are some tips to help you be more resource efficient:
- Reduce, reuse, and recycle: Start by reducing your consumption. Before buying something new, consider if you can repurpose or repair something you already have. When you do need to make a purchase, opt for durable and high-quality items. Also, practice recycling (if you can) by separating your waste and recycling materials, such as paper, plastics, glass, and metal.
- Conserve energy: Use energy-efficient appliances and LED light bulbs, turn off lights when not in use, and unplug electronics that are not being used. Consider using renewable energy sources such as solar panels where possible.
- Save water: Be mindful of your water usage. Fix any leaks promptly, take shorter showers, and install water-saving fixtures like low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators. Use a dishwasher and washing machine only when you have a full load, and consider collecting rainwater for outdoor use.
- Optimize transportation: Choose eco-friendly transportation options whenever possible. Walk, bike, or use public transportation instead of driving a car. If you need a car, consider carpooling or car-sharing services. Regular vehicle maintenance, proper tire inflation, and driving at optimal speeds can also improve fuel efficiency.
- Minimize food waste: Plan your meals and shop with a grocery list to avoid buying more food than you need. Properly store food to extend its shelf life, and use leftovers creatively. Compost organic waste instead of sending it to the landfill.
- Practice responsible consumption: Before making a purchase, consider the environmental impact of the product. Look for products that are made from recycled materials, have minimal packaging, or are produced by environmentally responsible companies. Buy in bulk to reduce packaging waste.
- Go digital: Whenever possible, opt for digital alternatives to paper. Use electronic documents, emails, and online tools for communication and organization. This reduces paper usage and saves trees.
- Educate yourself and others: Stay informed about sustainability issues and learn about new technologies and practices that promote resource efficiency. Share your knowledge with others and encourage them to adopt resource-efficient habits.
Remember, resource efficiency is a mindset and a way of life. While we as individuals make little impact, we have the power if we work together to change the systemic issues. Companies and decision makers have to take responsibility for the major part of this crisis.
Remember, connecting with others is essential, but it’s equally important to listen and learn from different perspectives. Building bridges, collaborating, and supporting each other can help reduce climate anxiety and foster a sense of collective action towards a more sustainable future.
With these mindful changes we can reduce the anxiety that comes with the change in climate. Let’s convert our fear into fuel that can power our movements. Find out how 350.org and CCN are working towards climate solutions and adaptation.