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The Reality of Climate Anxiety

As a strong advocate for climate action, there have been many times when I’ve spiraled into an anxious mess worrying about the future of our planet. I’ve slowly come to realize that this form of climate change anxiety is perfectly warranted given the emergency of the situation. It can feel hopeless to be so passionate about an issue that affects all of humanity, and yet only a handful of people are devoting their lives to it while others take no responsibility for their actions because it is still socially acceptable to be environmentally irresponsible. It is insufficient to leave this global-reaching issue to environmentalists alone.

[bf_image id="cvjk4p9jjrm8k4bxkrg7kxg"]  Personally, I put in a great deal of effort to make sure to reduce my carbon footprint and consumption of single use plastic. If you ever see someone walking around campus holding all their groceries loose in their arms because they forgot to bring their reusable bag, it’s probably me. So, you can imagine how panicked I feel when I see people walking around nonchalantly with a multitude of plastic bags or not thinking twice before grabbing a convenient plastic water bottle. It’s something that takes such little effort to execute, yet leaves a large impact on the environment. It’s disheartening to struggle to make a conscious effort constantly while others could not be bothered to change their ways. [bf_image id="q7jvvw-87vlk8-1fevux"]

 A prominent triggering moment was when someone I knew not only walked in with a plastic bag for a purchase that could easily have been held without a bag, but they then proceeded to dispose of the plastic bag in the TRASH! There are so many other options to at least recycle the plastic or use it as a trash bag itself. I cannot begin to describe my feelings of despair and panic as my social anxiety coupled with my climate anxiety held me back from intervening and led to my thoughts spiraling. But that’s the issue with anxiety in all senses. Even if you can understand the situation logically and know the right step is to inform others of their mistake and the importance of the climate emergency, it becomes overwhelming to do so.  [bf_image id="jgkz88c36jgm4f2hcv4r4s"]  I’m exhausted from countless attempts to educate even those closest to me. Repeated mistakes of recycling the incorrect plastics irks me. What’s most troublesome is when people are resistant to taking the time to educate themselves about the importance of climate change and their miniscule actions. While they may not all be as passionate as to spend every waking moment pestering the government to take climate action, the simplest way to help the environment is to start by making small, genuine changes to your lifestyle. Perhaps I’m someone that feels more connected to the issue of the climate emergency, but I can hope that many others are disturbed to the core by the majority of society’s inaction for the short-term benefit. Nevertheless, my small efforts make a difference, and observing environmentally irresponsible actions only encourages me to educate more. People will continue to make mistakes in their attempts to save our climate, but we will persevere. Climate change is real and a very imminent danger to life as we know it. Learn about the science behind it as well as ways to make a positive change going forward. Focusing on positive action will ease some of the inevitable anxiety around the climate crisis.  [bf_image id="q9ggug-7292sw-9fez7n"]


Soumika is a sophomore at the University of Wisconsin-Madison studying zoology and environmental studies on a pre-veterinary track. She loves reading, hiking, and adventuring with friends when she's not busy studying or cuddling with animals.
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