Climate change and a new era symptom: eco-anxiety

"Adults are always saying they have a duty to give hope to young people. But I don't want their hope. I don't want them to talk to us about hope, I want them to panic.". These were the words of the Swedish activist, Greta Thunberg, during the World Economic Forum in Davos in January 2019.

Both Greta's speech – urgent, but essential for action – and information on the media and social networks, bring the feeling of panic over the magnitude of the challenge of climate change. The generalized burden is such that the phenomenon already has a term: "eco-anxiety".

According to the American Psychological Association, eco-anxiety is the “chronic fear of suffering an environmental cataclysm ”, generated by "Observe the seemingly irrevocable impact of climate change and worry about the future of oneself and future generations."

"We can say that a significant number of people are stressed by the potential impacts of climate change, and the level of concern is increasing.", says Susan Clayton, professor of psychology and environmental studies at College of Wooster, a college in Ohio.

Some of the symptom that define the phenomenon are the constant worry, a feeling of drowning, overwhelm and a repetitive thought that revolves around the fear that what we fear will be fulfilled.

How can we combat eco-anxiety?

The scientist Owen Gaffney, author of a study that details concrete steps that governments, companies and individuals can take to combat global warming, says that "We must not forget that our individual actions can have a positive impact on the planet". "Eco-anxiety is the right answer to the magnitude of the challenge," Gaffney said.

A good way to work anxiety is transforming generalized anguish into action. While the analyst Duncan Geere argues that "the greatest responsibility for producing major changes lies with political leaders and businessmen," he recommends. three concrete actions that we can take as individuals to help fight global warming and control our anxiety.

"First, think about climate change when you decide what you eat, how you travel and what you buy; second, talk about climate change with your friends, your family and your colleagues; finally, demand actions from politicians and companies with the mechanisms you have at your fingertips, "he concludes.

From joining a social organization, foundation or group that shares our same concerns, to choosing a cause and contributing from our own place: making compost at home, cleaning beaches, eating less meat or demonstrating in mass protests. Everything adds up, both for our mental health and for the planet.