Most global warming alarmists focus on changes supposedly occurring to the world we live in, but GW is also having an effect on another world—the world inside our heads. For instance, a recent study by the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) showed that 80 percent of Sweden’s young people (ages 15-25) worry about how climate change will affect their future. Moreover, half of the respondents think about climate change once a week or more often, and no less than 25 percent experience stomach pains or unhappiness when they do so.
This is actually not a new phenomenon. In the 1990s, something known as “eco-anxiety” came into existence. It involved feelings of helplessness, despair or of not being able to do enough about climate change. Margaret Anderson, who holds a master’s degree in eco-psychology, calls it “that underlying feeling of fear and anger about the state of the Earth”. One person explained her melancholic feelings this way:
“The sight of an idling car, heat-trapping carbon dioxide spewing from the tailpipe, would send me into an hours-long panic, complete with shaking, the sweats, and staring off into space while others conversed around me.”
Another anxious reporter explained it as follows:
“Whatever steps I take to counter global warming, however well-intentioned my brief bursts of zeal, they invariably end up feeling like too little, too late. The mismatch between the extremely dangerous state of the earth and my own feeble endeavuors seems mockingly large.”
While eco-anxiety might be an unknown concept for most, that hasn’t stopped it from becoming quite a lucrative business for some. One website has compiled a database of people who identify themselves as providing therapeutic or educational services related to ecopsychology. In the U.S. alone, there are over one hundred people listed–charging up to $250 per hour–ranging from ecotherapists and ecologists to shamans.
Climate change/eco-anxiety has an eerie resemblance to another condition that popped up back in 2009: “Avatar blues”. The movie Avatar, which basically showed dirty mankind exploiting beautiful Na’vi people on the beautiful planet Pandora, caused people to experience depression–and in some instances—contemplating suicide. As one viewer said to CNN back in 2010:
“When I woke up this morning after watching Avatar for the first time yesterday, the world seemed … gray. It was like my whole life, everything I’ve done and worked for, lost its meaning … It just seems so … meaningless. I still don’t really see any reason to keep … doing things at all. I live in a dying world.”
The common denominator between eco-anxiety and Avatar blues seems to be the notion that earth is a unclean place, soon-to-be inhospitable to polar bears and on the brink of overall destruction. On its face this is similar to the “nuclear anxiety” that was widespread in the later half of the 20th century; the difference, however, is that fear of nuclear war was rather well-founded, while the alleged mega-catastrophes of GW have yet to appear.
Fortunately, there are ways of overcoming eco-anxiety, such as realizing that earth isn’t such a dull place. Our friends the ecotherapists have constructed more ingenious methods, such as advice on becoming more in tune with nature by always carrying around a small rock or twig. According to Carolyn Baker, a psychotherapist who offers eco-anxiety coaching, it helps to realize that “it’s OK to give yourselves a break for a few weeks or months,” and “focus on positive things, go see a comedy, [or] read a trashy novel”. Thanks, Carolyn. [click to continue…]