More and more news articles are discussing environmental anxiety, and I know that I’m more distressed about people and the planet than ever before. Linked here is an article from The Independent, really worth a read, yet it’s first sentences “Plummeting insect numbers. A sixth mass extinction. Thinning of ice sheets. Sea level rise. Wildfires in California. Thawing Arctic permafrost,” really points to why this anxiety is growing. How could it not?
It feels like I’m in the opening sequences of Children of Men, where the population is facing extinction through infertility – different problem, same concern. It’s easy to see how people get into a type of frozen panic, where there is an absolute terror of what is happening, but an inability to act.
Britt Wray, in her Ted Talk, states:
“… the American Psychological Association says that our psychological responses to climate change, like conflict avoidance, helplessness and resignation, are growing.”
The issues are so vast, I guess we expect our leaders to do the work, but that isn’t always happening. I get angry with big business and so fed up with politicians that have their hands tied, seemingly doing nothing. These issues are huge, overwhelming and global. I’ve noticed that there are a lot more online petitions to sign and protests to join – especially on Facebook. However, I’m finding this evolving era difficult to know where to put my energy. It’s so crushing that it’s easy to put it nowhere because, well, it’s all a bit much, and there seems to be different scientific data pointing to different outcomes – how do we know what to believe?
Greta Thunberg’s speech was so powerful, so devastating and I was so appalled by the governmental backlash she received. Her emotions were real, her concerns were justified, whatever you think about global warming, she certainly made some pointed remarks.
Interesting enough, the Australian prime minister, Scott Morrison, stated that we should not be putting children through such anxiety, he states:
“I want children growing up in Australia to feel positive about their future, and I think it is important we give them that confidence that they will not only have a wonderful country and pristine environment to live in, that they will also have an economy to live in as well…I don’t want our children to have anxieties about these issues.”
I’m not sure where he gets the idea that his country has a pristine environment. We don’t have to look too far to see that most countries around the world DO NOT have pristine environments anymore. And this is not a comment on Scott Morrison, many governments around the globe had similar things to say.
Sad – that it is the youth who are accelerating the issues and not the older generations pushing for change. I agree with Greta, that the world is in a sorry state of affairs when children have to publicly demand for political action.
Luisa Neubauer, (youth activist) at TedxYouth 2019 states:
I travelled to the Climate Conference and wanted to find out what this is really like, what this is about. For political realists, this might be no surprise, but I found it hard to bear: that fossil fuel industries and political leaders are doing everything, everything to prevent real change from happening. They are not keen to set targets that are ambitious enough to put us on a below-two-degree pathway. After all, these are the only ones who benefit from this climate crisis, right? The fossil fuel industry generates profits, and political leaders, well, they look at the next election, at what makes them popular, and I guess that’s not asking the inconvenient questions. There is no intention for them to change the game. There is no country in the world where either companies or political powers are sanctioned for wrecking the climate.
The one aspect that struck me was a particular carbon emissions graph she used, not the 21 Century graph showing a slight increase of emissions over 20 years, but the terrifying graph showing emissions over 10,000 years. An extraordinary picture – a very clear indicator of the human factor. (If you’re not sure – just google it)…
What Luisa asks us all to do is become activists, push for change, question politicians, to combat this growing anxiety of the global situation. I might not be able to change what is happening in other parts of the world, but surely I can make my voice heard locally. And that is where I think we can all make a start. In part, this is why I’ve started blogging. I just need to do something, say something, create something.
I also believe that living in New Zealand, a long way from some of the bigger global issues, it can be easy to put blinkers on and just live life ignoring what is going on. However, that position is also changing as in our local neighbourhood, especially, the Pacific Islands are under extreme pressure from rising sea levels. Some small, low lying Islands, have completely disappeared.
Also, New Zealand is an agricultural nation, the dairy industry is one of our biggest exports, and this industry isn’t exactly the cleanest… but that’s an entirely other blog post!!
So, what to do? Well one thing that can relieve some anxiety are the small things, privately – in your own home, for example, gardening, composting, recycling and consuming less. And I’m all for that – but sadly that’s not going to make enough changes, which is why we have to get public on these issues.
Start by reading more on the topics, talk about issues with family, friends, and colleagues. Also get involved in the community, understand what effects the changing environment has around you, vote for local Politians that have environmental plans in place, question big brands on their climate actions. I know it all sounds a bit much, and I’m freaking out as much as anyone, but I’m willing to start. We have to get creative and get active. Start small, just do one thing and see where it leads.
I’m no activist, this is all new to me, but I can’t just watch those images of people losing their home Islands to rising sea levels, or watch on as ever increasing storms hit areas around our globe and do nothing. We all have a stake in this. This is so not going away. I wish it wasn’t like this, but the reality is what it is. No fairy tale endings here.
My personal challenge, over the next 12 months, is to join local groups, get involved in the community more, help assist my local area, and to put energy into my corner of the world. I can’t do everything, but to feel more confident in myself, to feel that I’m at least doing the best, I need to do something!