In the words of Greta Thunberg: “Adults keep saying, we owe it to the young people to give them hope. But I don’t want your hope, I don’t want you to be hopeful, I want you to panic.” That is precisely what younger generations are feeling these days, panic. The term eco-anxiety stems from the sense of hopelessness concerning the irrevocable future we face due to climate change. How do parents, teachers, friends, and individuals deal with this sensation?
Younger generations are progressively becoming aware of the reality our world is facing. How long do we have until it’s too late to save our earth from climate disaster? Can we rewind the clock? On Monday 21st of September, 2020, a climate clock was displayed by artists Gan Golan and Andrew Boyd warning us that there were 7 years, 101 days, 17 hours, 29 minutes, and 22 seconds until the Earth’s carbon budget is depleted based on the current emission rates. Many have praised this oeuvre d’art for the awareness it has brought to the people of New York City, however, could it be that we are making people hyper-aware of this reality — walking past a sign that warns you of the years, days, hours, and seconds left leading up to our potential doomsday is bound to overwhelm people. The constant influx of information concerning ecological disaster our society faces will indeed overpower us, especially today’s youth, so how do we overcome it?
- Focus on your daily actions It may seem simple but focusing on your individual action to help the matter will reduce this sense of hopelessness. Aligning your actions with your beliefs will help you feel a sense of satisfaction.
- Do not feel shame, none of us are perfectWhile it is important to align your actions with your beliefs, do not feel shame if you are not able to maintain the lifestyle you envisioned for yourself. Remind yourself that we live in a world that was built a certain way and you are swimming against the current.
- Protect your surroundings Protecting your local community, nurturing your green areas, and the people around you will give you a sense of fulfillment – after all, when we nurture our surroundings, we indirectly nurture ourselves.
- Find people that are compatible with youAlthough it is important to challenge our way of thinking and not constantly be surrounded in an echo-chamber, it is also fundamental to find people that are like-minded to you. A constant battle with climate-change deniers or simply, people that are not interested in what matters to you is bound to overwhelm you.
These four lifestyle changes might seem trivial to anyone facing eco-anxiety, and they might be, if they have already been incorporated into your lifestyle. Nonetheless, they are extremely important to one’s well-being. Although eco-anxiety is a term that has been recently coined, it does not take away the reality of its effects.
By: Estelle Radi