Eco-anxiety and how its affecting young individuals

Eco-anxiety and how its affecting young individuals

(Painting by Savannah Rutt)

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Storyfest 2022

My idea is to have young educated individuals such as college students discuss what anxieties they are having about the current climate crisis. This is to spread awareness on mental health and help to create new ideas to relieve some anxiety about the climate status. 

Let’s talk about climate. It’s no surprise to anyone that we are going through a climate crisis. The earth is warming, forests are burning, hurricanes are increasing in intensity, and the sea is rising largely due to human activities causing an increase in the concentration of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere. The effects of this human-caused global warming are going to last throughout our lives and can worsen in the upcoming decades. Humans have caused this dramatic change and it is even making them sick. Infectious disease rates will increase with the extreme weather and high temperatures. This issue is leading to more than just physical sickness, the current climate crisis has led to a decline in many individuals mental health. 

Humanity as a collective may be past the “point of no return” in attempts to reprimand their impact on the planet. This is because humans excel at creating waste and consuming resources. Our biodiversity around the globe has been devastated by human settlements and expansion. So then the idea is what do we do now? We can explore renewable resources and adopt more sustainable business models to help remediate the damage that has been caused but the world will not be able to reach the state that it was in before industrialization. The world’s distress is overwhelming. People all around the world are overwhelmed by the climate crisis and it is especially creating a pressure on the young individuals.

Since the late 19th century, humans have been impacting the climate and over the past decade the conditions have only worsened. Individuals born in the past few decades have increased anxiety about this. Let’s be honest, how can someone be ok with the fact that they were born in a world that is in an apparently irreversible climate crisis? People have adopted depressive emotions such as despair and guilt. The crisis has caused what is now called eco-anxiety. Eco-anxiety is the severe worry about climate and environmental distress. 

Universities around the world are trying to educate students on the current climate crisis. Education helps to  spread awareness and provide the students with the knowledge to change our efforts, making the world more sustainable for the future. This creates a lot of pressure on the growing society as a whole and the students who are in school now for science, preservation, and conservation. Individuals studying the environment are definitely impacted but they are not the only ones. Young individuals in general, feel as though they are the last hope for the redirection of our current climate state. This added pressure gives young individuals a feeling of hopelessness. It is hard to be a young individual and have your voice heard in today’s society. As much as the young increase their education and fight for the justice of the matter, at the end of the day it is the people who are already established with money that call the shots. As a young individual myself it is hard in today’s society to have my voice heard and especially have my voice lead to impactful change. 

So how do we address eco-anxiety? We can start by creating small projects and expand those projects with time. There are measures we can take as individuals that help to conserve the diversity around us. Sure small projects are not going to change the climate crisis as a whole but they are not miniscule. Creating a project that helps to change one’s environment around them can help to reduce one’s eco-anxiety. The more small projects that are created the greater the movement will build. Hopefully, young individuals today can begin to leave behind their eco-anxiety and start to pour their energy and focus on the environment around them. 

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