Wildfires, floods, hurricanes and other catastrophes have shaped much of the last two years. In September 2020, those who glimpsed the sky would have seen an eerie dystopian orange tint over the Bay Area. The pollution and smoke from a spectacularly horrid wildfire season was not the only thing on our minds. 2020 was also the year of the pandemic and devastating change.
We have been in survival mode for quite some time.
But the climate crisis has been a constant danger, even before the pandemic. Climate anxiety is a term that is still evolving as our knowledge of the climate crisis continues to evolve. But as Anouchka Grouse writes in her book “A Guide to Eco Anxiety,” “If fear is a reaction to a clear threat then anxiety is a reaction to an unclear one.” The climate crisis is undoubtedly filled with uncertainty and oftentimes that threat is unclear.
Most of us are not in direct danger right now. If you have Wi-Fi and are reading this then the climate crisis may seem far away and easy to forget about. But the minute we start dwelling on the seemingly insurmountable amount of work that needs to be done to change our consumption habits and indeed the way we live our lives to a more sustainable method, the climate anxiety sets in.
The polar ice caps are melting, sea levels are rising, and the globe is warming at an unprecedented rate. In the face of it all we may feel small and helpless. What can one single person do?
A lie we have been told is our individual actions do not make a difference. Changing to more sustainable consumption habits and the simple act of using a reusable water bottle does make a difference. Climate anxiety is often characterized by a lack of action. But even if our actions are just a drop in the ocean, the ocean is literally made up of millions of drops. Moreover, many of the actions we can take to slow climate change are free. Stopping to buy that thing you will only use once is free. Contacting your representative is free.
In the United Nations’ latest report on the climate crisis, the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) says it is now or never. It seems our world has been at a tipping point for some time now and we are collectively at a turning point. The report details that there is a financially viable way to transition from fossil fuels, change our farming habits and overall the way we conduct our lives to keep current temperatures from rising. But we all have to do our part.
Climate anxiety is a very real and valid feeling. However, we should not let that stop us from doing our part. Tell us what small change you are making in your life @hercampusjsu.