7 ways to tame climate change anxiety
Climate change is a real and growing threat. Some choose not to believe that there is a climate crisis, but according to NASA, 97 percent of actively publishing climate scientists agree that humans are causing global warming and climate change. Indeed, most of the leading global science organizations have issued public statements expressing this fact. 1
Hotter global temperatures, an increase in catastrophic global weather events, more frequent wildfires, longer periods of drought, rising seas, and even fast-melting glaciers in Antarctica point to the damage being done to our planet—and this damage will continue to impact our way of life well into the future, particularly if we don’t take action to reduce greenhouse gases.2
When we know it will take a global effort to preserve the earth and create a more climate-stable planet, it’s easy to feel anxious about our future and our children’s future. We can feel powerless because it seems like whatever small steps we might take in our homes won’t make any difference at all.
But this is simply untrue.
First of all, climate anxiety is real. According to Yet Hickman, a psychotherapist and researcher who studies children’s attitudes towards climate change in the UK, climate anxiety is a reasonable and healthy response to an existential threat.3 Your fears are valid—it’s what you do with them that matters.
The David Suzuki Foundation4 has recommendations for ways you can help fight climate change and reclaim your power:
- Vote wisely. Not all politicians are committed to taking action on climate change. Use your voice by casting your vote (at all levels of government) for those who are willing to take bold climate action.
- Use energy wisely. Look at ways to make small changes in your home to make it more energy efficient:
- Change to energy efficient lightbulbs
- Unplug computers, TVs, and other electronics when you’re not using them
- Wash clothes in cold or warm water, not hot
- Hang your clothes to dry and use dryer balls (which help speed the drying process) when you can’t.
- Install a programmable thermostat
- Winterize your home to prevent warm air from escaping in the winter, and to try to keep hot air from coming in during the summer
- Choose renewable energy, like solar, geothermal, biomass, and hydropower whenever possible
- Eat for a climate-stable planet by going meatless more often, buying organic when possible, growing your own food, and reducing food waste
- Green your commute. Take public transit, ride a bike, car-share, switch to an electric or hybrid vehicle, and fly less
- Buy less and share, make, fix, upcycle, repurpose and compost more
- Reduce plastic use by buying in bulk using reusable containers, using reusable bags and produce bags when grocery shopping, bringing a reusable mug or thermos to the coffee shop, using cloth diapers, refusing plastic straws at restaurants and purchasing metal or silicone straws instead
Most importantly, talk to family and friends about your plan to reduce your carbon footprint and help contribute to a healthier planet. When we know we’re working together and sharing ideas and resources, it can help calm our anxiety and make us feel like we are truly making a difference—because we are.
417949D CAN/US 04/20