Climate change is one of the most pressing issues of the twenty-first century. So, why do people refrain from taking action?
Climate change is a subject that needs no preface. We all watch the news; we all scroll through social media. We are all aware the ice caps are melting, the rainforest is being destroyed, and it is currently snowing in March. Nevertheless, so many of us continue to forge on without taking action. Why is this? Simply put, the prospects of climate change can be overwhelming and anxiety-inducing. It can make us want to stick our head in the sand and convince ourselves we won’t be the ones to reap what we sow.
But why do we do this? Climate anxiety is a growing concern as an increasing amount of people become aware of the potential impacts of climate change. People are gradually becoming aware of the fact that growing temperatures, sea-level rise, and extreme weather events are all linked to climate change. This knowledge has led to feelings of distress, fear, and helplessness. In 2019, BBC reporter Christine Ro interviewed Caroline Hickman, a researcher at the University of Bath, about society’s anxiety surrounding climate change and how it impacts the call for conservation.
“Climate anxiety – like climate depression or climate rage – isn’t a pathology. It’s reasonable and healthy response to an existential threat.”
When posed with a threat, it is our natural reaction to go into fight or flight. It would be only reasonable for this reaction to be triggered when faced with the effects of climate change. The issue often feels too big and overwhelming, so we ignore it until it cannot be ignored anymore. We procrastinate. We dream that someone else will swoop in and fix it, and we will all be saved. Sorry to say, it is too late to entertain this daydream as the future of our planet is on the line.
How to combat climate anxiety
Climate anxiety can be tackled through various strategies. One method is to focus on approaches that promote resilience, such as learning about different ways to reduce carbon emissions or engaging in activities that promote mindfulness and relaxation. As well as, connecting with others who share similar concerns. This can provide comfort and a sense of shared purpose. Climate anxiety is a real phenomenon that can have a significant impact on an individual’s mental health. It is important to identify these feelings so we can find ways to cope with them. By taking action, connecting with others, and learning about the crisis, individuals can gain a sense of control over the situation and work towards a more sustainable future together.
There are many actions that we can take to become climate change activists. One of the simplest things we can do to help slow climate change is to reduce our energy consumption. Meaning turning off lights, unplugging appliances when not in use, using energy-efficient appliances, and utilizing natural light when possible. We can also explore renewable energy sources such as solar and wind to replace traditional sources of electricity. We should also be aware of the water we use and try to reduce our water consumption. Taking shorter showers, using low-flow showerheads, and fixing leaky faucets are just a few ways to reduce water usage. We can also make a difference by choosing to buy locally-grown produce and choosing products with minimal packaging. Where possible, we should opt for alternative transportation, such as walking, biking, or public transport, to reduce our carbon footprint. We should also be aware of our waste and do our best to reduce, reuse, and recycle. Composting is another fantastic way to reduce waste and to help replenish the soil with nutrients. These are just a few of the small things we can do to help slow climate change!
What we can do
Lastly, it is important to educate ourselves and those around us about the current state of our climate and the steps we can take to improve it. With the arrival of social media, it is easier than ever to spread the word and encourage others to act. We should also use our voices, and vote for candidates who are passionate about the environment and are eager to take action. The most amazing thing about humanity is, when we care enough, we will stop at nothing to make change! If enough people can take just a few steps in the right direction, a significant difference can be made for the future of our home, planet earth.