Written by: Summer Graham
In part 1 of our climate change blog, we covered the basics of climate change and global warming, and the negative impacts they can have on our environment. But the impacts of a changing climate don’t stop at impacting us physically, it has started to take a toll on our mental health as well.
If you’ve ever read an article about the impacts of climate change and global warming without being brought down by the doom and gloom, I’d be surprised. Even if reading this blog series on climate change has impacted your mood or made you feel depressed and pessimistic about the future of the Earth, you aren’t alone. Climate Depression and Eco-anxiety, caused by worrying about the ever-looming threat of climate change, is experienced by many.
One survey conducted found that 71% of millennials and 67% of generation Z feel that climate change has negatively impacted their mental health. In fact, many young people are choosing not to partake in certain life-changing events due to their uncertain future. Four out of five people surveyed in the 18-23 age group report that they are not planning to have children of their own due to climate change. Even in a sample size of 2,000 people, that 80% statistic is staggering.
Although constant depression, stress, and anxiety are not necessarily desirable, this response to climate change is not unwarranted. Just like how our body has stress responses when we are in a dangerous situation, Eco-anxiety is our response to a real threat that is becoming more prevalent every day. The main difference is that this threat has not suddenly appeared, it has been steadily growing stronger through decades of being ignored, and the path to effectively dealing with it is not clear. There is no “fight or flight”. The only option in combatting climate change is to fight, but how do we fight something so large?
What We Can Do
When looking into what you can do to help stop and reverse the effects of climate change, it is important to remember that this issue was not created by a single person, and it won’t be solved by the actions of a single person, but rather the actions of a collective global community. Your actions will not single-handedly solve the climate crisis, but will contribute to the movement by inspiring other people to make a change. Suggestions from organizations like Reset, David Suzuki Foundation, and Earth Day Org include some simple changes that can help reduce our impact on the planet:
1. Change your diet – meat and dairy can account for up to 12-17% of global greenhouse emissions. Start with one meatless day a week (check #meatlessmonday on your social media for ideas!), or commit to ordering a vegetarian or vegan option when eating out.
2. Avoid plastic and cut down on your waste – single use items take a toll on our resources no matter what they are made of, but plastic especially harms our planet from start to finish! It is created from fossil fuels and remains in the environment long after it’s been disposed. Check here for 7 easy way to cut down on plastic.
3. Green your commute – walk, bike, and take public transit where possible.
Switch to renewable energy, and invest in it if you can! Divest from the fossil fuel industry, and support banks and organizations that are doing the same.
Be a conscious consumer – buying less, and only what we need, can greatly reduce our impact on the environment. When a purchase does need to be made, research products and brands that are environmentally focused and sustainably sourced.
4. Fly less – and when you do, offset your carbon emissions.
5. Vote, march, and spread the word! These efforts only do so much when done by a single person. Magnify your impact by inspiring friends and family to join you, and vote for policies and politicians that will implement real change.
6. Once you’ve made some of these changes in your own life, look into volunteering or working for an organization combating climate change on sites like GoodWork.
Now that you know the basics, continue to educate yourself about the impact climate change is having on our planet today. While you continue to learn, implement some changes in your life today so we can have a better tomorrow.
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