Mandy Kloppers

Climate anxiety

Climate anxiety is on the rise. Everywhere you look there are warnings about the state of the planet. Too much plastic in the ocean, species on the verge of extinction (or already extinct), the melting polar icecaps, the changing seasons…all of this paints a very worrying scenario.

I recently watched a documentary by the marvellous David Attenborough on how climate change is affecting the planet. It was upsetting watching the devastating effects of climate change and it’s no wonder that climate anxiety is on the increse.

So much so, that I have had a few clients seek counselling for this very topic. Many people say they feel helpless while others plunder the planet. Climate anxiety often worsens when you become a parent as you then worry about the future for your children. Thankfully, the younger generations are more aware of climate change and find it more natural to be aware of good practices to protect the planet.

I hate seeing waste and try to recycle as much as possible and do my little bit. Still, there is a lot that isn’t under our control and this uncertainty leads to anxiety.

What you can do about climate anxiety

Focus on what you can control

There is absolutely no point in focusing on what you can’t control. You will end up frustrated and stressed. Of course, it isn’t easy to tame these thoughts but when you realise your are focusing too much on the ‘bigger picture’, you can make an effort to redirect your thoughts to more productive ones. Instead, focus on recycling, donating to charities that help improve the world such as Greenpeace. Turn your thermostat down to 19 degrees in winter. Buy less clothing and buy more quality clothing that lasts longer. There are so many important ways that we can all do our bit.

Don’t watch the news

There is a lot of doom and gloom in the media and it’s a good idea not to watch this when you’re feeling particularly vulnerable.

Focus on positive information

There is a lot of positive out there if you look for it. For instance:
2018 saw the largest annual increase in global renewable generation capacity ever, with new solar photovoltaic capacity outstripping additions in coal, natural gas and nuclear power combined.

The UK, set new records for wind generation. There are plans for the UK’s largest solar farm to provide the cheapest electricity on the grid, thanks to battery backup (crucial for intermittent renewable technology). Tesla, meanwhile, installed the world’s largest lithium battery in Australia and it is set to pay back a third of its cost within one year.

Three decades ago, Chernobyl released large quantities of radioactive material into the environment, necessitating evacuation of an area now known as the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone (CEZ). But forget the popularised imagery of a nuclear wasteland; Chernobyl is now home to an amazing diversity of wildlife, its forests are expanding and the future of this region is looking positive.

Forests have reclaimed the abandoned city of Pipyat near Chernobyl

Global economic growth may have peaked

Expansion in the global economy may have peaked, according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. The economic think-tank is worried by the slowdown, but it may actually be good news for the climate and possibly for society too. This is because less global economic growth means less production, less consumption – and lower emissions.

No one can predict the future and it’s good news that we are all so aware of saving the planet. A collective movement that will hopefully see many positive changes in the future.

Be aware of where you focus and chunk it down. Don’t catastrophise and imagine the worst case scenario. Do your little bit daily and stay informed as much as possible (especially on the positive stuff). When you do this you will dramatically reduce your climate anxiety.

Mandy X