For many around the world, as climate change shifts from an abstract concept to the reality of many people’s daily lives, fear of environmental threats and uncertainty of the future are becoming increasingly present.
You may have already heard the term “eco-anxiety,” which deals with the chronic fear of environmental damage or ecological disaster.
While the term is not limited to climate change, the continued impact of the climate crisis on physical and mental wellbeings globally has caused heightened levels of distress.
An American Psychology Association survey in February 2020 found that two-thirds of American adults said that they felt at least a little eco-anxiety, and almost half of those under age 34 said that stress about climate change affects their daily lives. A 2021 survey of 10,000 young people in 10 countries published in Nature News Journal found that nearly 60% of respondents feel “very worried” or “extremely worried” about climate change, and 45% of participants said their feelings about climate change impacted their daily lives.
Climate change, in particular, is such an overwhelming global threat that eco-anxiety often feels like a natural response. My small actions, from eating less meat and avoiding single-use plastics to being a member of environmental organizations on campus and voting for “green” politicians, sometimes don’t feel like they’re really helping to move the needle in a positive direction.
But, with Earth Day this month, I’ve been reminded of how important it is to not just invest in solutions but take a moment to celebrate the progress being made. I think that’s one way we can avoid staying stuck in an eco-anxiety “bubble.”
Here are just a few things that have happened globally in the past year that can help recharge your eco-conscious efforts and remind you that EVERY action counts!
- Solar power, which rose 23 percent globally in 2021, and wind power, which rose 14 percent globally in 2021, can reportedly limit global warming to 1.5C if the 10-year average compound growth rate of 20 percent can be maintained to 2030.
- The United Nations has approved a landmark agreement to create the world’s first-ever global plastic pollution treaty due to be finalized by 2024, describing it as the most significant green deal since the 2015 Paris climate accord.
- A new, innovative wooden skyscraper in Sweden can capture 9 million kilograms of CO2.
- All 13 buildings owned by the Empire State Realty Trust (including the Empire State Building) are now being completely powered by wind.
- A woman in Kenya named Nzambi Matee founded Gjenge Makers and opened a factory that turns plastic waste into bricks that are even stronger than concrete.
- Solar-powered bikes that allow rangers to approach poachers without being detected are helping stop illegal wildlife poaching in South Africa.
- Five years after one of the worst tropical cyclones to hit the southern hemisphere devastated coral reefs off of Fiji, they are (surprisingly!) alive and active again, filled with vibrant colors and fish.
- For the first time, electric and hybrid vehicles outsold diesel vehicles in Europe in 2021.
- Four Bengal tigers (which are endangered) that lived in a cramped train carriage in Argentina for 15 years were rescued by Four Paws International and have finally found freedom!
- Students from Coventry Business School in England designed a floating house to save people from floods.