Climate change is here, it’s damaging and it’s going to make us anxious. Our next step is how to use that fear, not how to suppress it.
Raphael Sanis

Climate change is here, it’s damaging, and it’s going to make us anxious. Our next step is how to use that fear, not how to suppress it.

Eco-anxiety is a relatively new term describing the distress over the environmental future of our world. This fear is rooted in our greed and destructive habits. 

From The Guardian to The New Statesman, angst caused by a changing climate has been covered by the majority of news outlets. There’s a reason: eco-anxiety is on the rise. 

How we deal with it is the next problem. 

People are writing self-help articles and interviewing therapists to help those suffering. Even Psychology Today has an article titled ‘Coming to terms with eco-anxiety‘.

Although to an extent, help is necessary, especially if cases get extreme, I don’t want to come to terms with my eco-anxiety. It seems so bizarre that we are willing to treat the mental health aspects, while doing nothing to tackle the root of the problem.

Extinction Rebellion protesters took over London’s streets.
Ultimately, we need to change our day-to-day routine and eco-anxiety is the force that will drive this revolution forward. Our worry and concern for the environment is a tool we can use to bring change. People are getting angry that the greed of the rich is threatening and already damaging the rest of us. Over six million people took to the streets for the climate change strike in September. It delivered a message that we live in a depressing era for the climate and we should be anxious.

Greta Thunberg, the international hero of climate change, said in her UN Climate Summit speech that we need to panic; and she’s right.

Not only are hundreds of species at risk of extinction, but so is our civilisation. Scientists are saying that civilisation could collapse by 2050.

The protests will carry on until October 19th.

These terrifying reports prove that we cannot afford to ignore science. Our anxious thoughts are there for a reason. Earlier this year, an academic paper with over 100,000 views caused people to seek therapy. Professor Jem Bendell wrote, “The evidence before us suggests that we are set for disruptive and uncontrollable levels of climate change, bringing starvation, destruction, migration, disease and war.”

An example of this is the two Malawi teenagers at the Climate Change strike describing the catastrophic effects of global warming in their country. This included an increase in malaria and crop difficulties.  

They made me realise that we are fortunate as we don’t see the effects of climate change – how much carbon we use barely makes an impact on our lives. It is those in poorer countries that suffer from our plastic waste and carbon footprint. 

I spent my teenage years keeping climate change on the backburner of my mind. Yes, it worried me, but it also felt like such a distant concept that there was no point letting it consume me. Now, science shows that I cannot afford to ignore it. Nor am I willing to.

From this stems my eco-anxiety, that our lucky escape will not continue forever and one day, it will hit us hard.