Emotional Wellbeing



Mental Health

Mandy Kloppers

How to cope with climate despair

Climate despair has become a growing trend. I am meeting clients (and friends for that matter) that are increasingly anxious about the state of our planet. Climate change is becoming a real issue. I’m not sure about you but I have noticed that there seems to be increased flooding, increased fires, and general unease in our natural habitats. Thankfully, there has been a large amount of attention placed on the state of the planet and what we can all do to lessen our carbon footprint.

The weather extremes cause increased anxiety among our population, especially due to the fact that climate despair leaves us feeling powerless and hopeless. Perhaps if we all do our little bit, and we collaborate we will find a way to turn the tide.

Climate change statistics

10,000 years ago there were no cars, planes, buses, trains or motorbikes. There was no electricity – no TVs, electric lights, fridges, microwaves, washing machines, computers, mobile phones (imagine that – no computers or mobile phones!), central heating, factories, power stations and so on. Things stayed like this for thousands of years. Humans used horses and oxen for farming and transport.

The most well-known greenhouse gas is Carbon Dioxide, also known as CO2. Other greenhouse gases are methane, carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide, nitrous oxide and water vapour.

The greenhouse effect means that in general, the planet is getting hotter. Greenhouse gases are not always bad. We actually need some greenhouse gases in the atmosphere in order for life on Earth to exist:

– Trees and plants would not survive without CO2 as they need it for photosynthesis.
– The plants in turn provide food for animals and humans and they give out oxygen for animals to breathe.
– Greenhouse gases also keep the planet warm enough for life to exist.

– The Inuits in the Arctic regions have noticed the ice melting more in the summer months and freezing less in the winter months.
– The Shanty towns in Asia and Latin America are suffering more floods and storms than in the past.
– The Europeans are witnessing more forest fires, melting glaciers and heat waves than ever before. Many locations in England experience hose pipe bans in the summer.

Serious floods around the world, which used to occur every 100 years are now occurring between every 10 to 20 years. This is because warmer air temperatures lead to more evaporation, which eventually causes more heavy rainfall.

The ice caps at the North Pole (The Arctic) and the South Pole (The Antarctic) are slowly melting and this is causing the sea levels to rise. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has estimated that sea levels may rise by 40 cm over the next 100 years.

The effect of climate change on wildlife

Polar Bears – These wonderful animals need ice to live on; it is their habitat and they are specifically adapted to hunting and breeding on and around it.

polar bear

Photo by Hans-Jurgen Mager on Unsplash

Seals need ice flows too – to rest and give birth to their pups. If the ice flows continue to melt as quickly as they are, the seals and polar bears will die out as their habitat disappears. If the seals die out it means less food for the polar bears, too.

Plankton and Krill – at the beginning of the food chain, microscopic plankton and the tiny krill provide food for a huge number of animals in the sea, from barnacles, to fish and even sharks and whales. Plankton and krill are very easily affected by changes in sea temperatures and will move away or die if the temperature changes, even slightly. This reduces the amount of available food for other species in the food chain.

For many animals, such as mosquitoes and egrets, global warming could be a good thing as it means they can spread further afield into parts of the world that were previously too cold. The little egret used to be a rare sight in the UK; now it can be seen regularly in good numbers in estuaries in the South of England. Sadly slower animals like snails and frogs are not faring so well (they can’t move away as easily).

Many plants are not coping as well with climate change either. At least many of the faster animals (ones that can fly, in particular) can move or migrate to other areas if the conditions in their habitat change for the worse. But plants can’t move at all, so they are particularly vulnerable.

The bottom line: The climate is changing faster than the plants and some animals can adapt to the changes.

The effect of climate change on our health

As the globe gets warmer, microbes, pathogens and pests will have the tendency to move poleward while leaving the equatorial region.

Climate change can cause the expansion of diseases. In the process of unfavorable temperature conditions, disease-carrying pathogens will migrate from their main origin to other parts as a form of adaptation and survival.

Climate despair is creating anxiety and a fear of the future which in turn could lead to depression if the state of anxiety is prolonged (and it probably will be as climate change isn’t going to improve overnight)

How to manage climate despair

1)Use less plastic/nonbiodegradable items where possible and recycle or reuse your plastic items.

2)Turn your heating down at home.

3)Eat more plants and vegetables.

4)Exercise more often and avoid using the car where possible/or travel less often abroad

5)Donate to a charity such as:

What it does: The Coalition for Rainforest Nations is unique in that it’s an intergovernmental organization of over 50 rainforest nations around the world, from Ecuador to Bangladesh to Fiji.

Why you should consider donating: This group is believed by Founders Pledge to have had a huge impact on reducing emissions through REDD+. The group also played a big role in securing an agreement on forestry in the Paris agreement.

  • Sandbag

What it does: Based in London and Brussels, Sandbag is a nonprofit think tank that uses data analysis to help build evidence-based climate policy. It advocates for carbon capture and storage in the EU, pushes for strong carbon pricing, and works to accelerate the coal phase-out in Europe so as to ensure all plants are closed before 2030.

  • Climate Emergency Fund

What it does: The Climate Emergency Fund is different from the groups listed above. It was founded recently — July 2019 — with the goal of quickly getting money to groups engaged in climate protest. I

5)Switch to green energy

Renewable energy is now cheaper than its fossil fuel equivalent. The cost of commercial solar panels has fallen more than 80 percent over the past decade, while the cost of batteries is one-seventh what it was 10 years ago. The affordability of renewable energy has, in turn, prompted many governments to promise to cut their emissions; by one count, around two-thirds of the global economy is covered by some form of zero-emissions pledge.

6) Move to a green bank – sustainable banking is the way forward!

7) Participate in “no-mow May” or leave part of your garden as natural as possible. Highly manicured gardens leave less for pollination and affect insect’s ability to feed their young.

8)Put an insect hotel or two in your garden.

insect hotel

Photo by Tania Malréchauffé on Unsplash

9) Create gaps in your fences for hedgehogs to move through freely. (Not quite climate change but while I’m on the subject of gardens and wildlife…)

We can all play our part and by doing something constructive, our collective effort will make a difference.

Mandy X

Photo by Matt Palmer on Unsplash

Photo by Kris Mikael Krister on Unsplash







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