At The World’s End: Dealing with Climate Anxiety
Photo Credit: Zero Hour
As the state of the climate crisis becomes more dire than ever, more and more people have begun to recognize the validity of the issue. The increased media attention has brought more awareness to the subject but came with an unintended consequence. Youth and adults alike are facing one of the greatest existential threats humankind has ever seen, and there is no clear solution.
As a young activist living in a city with some of the lowest air quality in the country, I have witnessed the impacts of the crisis firsthand. The harrowing threats the media speaks about are beginning to come to fruition. This realization is essential to action but has led many young people to feel powerless about their fate. Climate anxiety, sometimes referred to as ecological anxiety, has become a widespread issue in just a few years. It is daunting to consider that there may be an end of the world, and that end of the world might be before you are at the age to retire. Ecological anxiety has caused teens and young people to reconsider their plans; many groups and individuals have decided not to have children due to worries of the state of the environment the child might grow up in. While doing everything you can is necessary, worrying excessively is neither helpful nor healthy. So how do we deal with it?
I’ve had my fair share of panic surrounding the Earth’s future. With all of that long-term terror, I’ve learned some strategies for dealing with climate anxiety.
Make a list of what you can and cannot do to help
In the age of public activism, sometimes it feels like the only way to help is to go vegan or not buy a car or devote your life to public service. While all of these things are exceedingly helpful, consider what you have the capacity to do and only what you have the ability to do. If you have the capacity to go vegan, great! If not, try cutting back on meat consumption where possible. Solving the climate crisis does not fall solely on your shoulders.
Remember that you alone did not cause the climate crisis, and therefore it is not solely your responsibility to fix it.
One hundred companies are responsible for 71% of emissions (The Guardian). Unless you happen to be on the board of a giant corporation, that isn’t your fault. We are all contributors, but we aren’t the cause. If you’re doing the best with the resources you have, that is all anyone can ask for. Don’t let large companies convince you that you are at fault. If you want to find a way to be doing more, there are thousands of ways to help out.
Focus on systematic change
Individual actions alone will not solve the climate crisis. Instead of considering what you cause as an individual, focus on voting for candidates who will make the necessary change on your behalf.
Remember that worrying about the crisis will not let you control its outcome. Whatever happens, your actions will matter. You will be able to say that you did everything you could.
About the Author
Ava Stahl is a sophomore in high school, and she currently resides in Pittsburgh, PA. When she’s not organizing, Ava enjoys reading, doing DIY projects, and adult coloring books.