What can I do about the climate crisis?

by Carolyn Soucie

What can I do about Climate Change?
1) Stop being lazy
2) Stop being a coward
3) Educate myself and pass it on!

Lets explore laziness. Its lazy of me to not vote. Its lazy of me to not look into which candidates/parties have the greenest platforms. example: Its lazy of me not to try and avoid plastics at all cost. Its lazy of me if I “like” a post but NEVER DO ANYTHING to change my ways. Its lazy if I just read the above suggestions (some of which are great. David Suzuki .org is a good start) but I’m not really going to make any changes because it will inconvenience me. The sad face emoji and the like button are not going to save this world. Back that up with action! Yes I know its hard but it can be done! Bad habits can be broken. I can make changes. Its lazy of me not to plan my week with more meat free meals. Its lazy of me to point the finger at the government. Who do I think put them in power? Its lazy of me to point the finger at corporations. Corporations go where the money is. And who’s money did they get rich and powerful from? I can vote with my dollars!

Am I a coward? I’m a coward when I don’t speak up. If I see something that isnt’ right I must speak up! I’m a coward when I don’t vote. I’m a coward when I’m not willing to try something new and do things differently for the betterment of the planet. I’m a coward when I don’t want to inconvenience others by asking directly for what I want. Eg: no plastic at grocery stores or pulling that store manager aside and asking him for what you want. I’m a coward (and a hypocrite) if I don’t’ stand by my convictions. Eg: I can ditch that grocery store and support local butcher or farmer! <–make sure you let them know why you ditched them!

Educate myself about what’s going on. What’s in my food? (eg: palm oil) Where does it come from? Listen to the scientists. Check my facts. Ask questions!! Get involved. Do the research. Go see for yourself. Learn from others. Ask for help. When you gain knowledge pass it on! Scream it from the mountain tops if you have to. 

We don’t have time to dick around anymore.

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Climate Change Anxiety is Real

A recent article posted on CNN dives into how climate change anxiety is a real threat and covers some ways to address it. “Paralysis caused by fear is a real problem,” the article says. I whole-heartedly agree with this. In a lot of ways, it doesn’t matter what outside pressure is causing the fear—climate change, racism, recent events in the US surrounding women’s reproductive rights—this fear is leading first to outrage and then to hopelessness.

Hopelessness is the common thread through various levels of depression. It begins with a sense of overwhelm and an inability to place exactly where the pressure is coming from. Many afflicted with high functioning depression seem to be healthy, or at least equipped with healthy coping mechanisms. What happens when the ability to cope is overwhelmed by the storm of hardships hitting survivors from all angles?

Lucas Wolfe, in his article When Your Depression Stops Being High Functioning on The Mighty wrote, “I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t hold a thought in my head. I lost weight, and the light of life drained from my eyes. I was a shell of my former self, and for the first time since the depression began, I couldn’t successfully hide my battles from those around me. Everyone could see something wasn’t quite right, but no one knew what was wrong.” He was paralyzed.

Contrary to the text I am plugging into my lap top right now, I am in the same place right now. Like Lucas, no one in my life knows what’s wrong—neither do I. Like Lucas, “I had made the transition from high-functioning depression to major depression, and it was shocking how little I could do.” I’ve spent the better part of six weeks in bed and avoiding texts, phone calls, and social interactions. I’m afraid that people will see me, like really see me—my fear, my trauma, my gross mess.

I’m constantly worried about finances, the environment, whether or not the world is even going to still be here before I pay off my student loans. I’m often wondering outloud to anyone who will listen what the point of it all is. What’s the point in making career goals when the world leaders are ignoring the facts and refusing to act to save our planet? What’s the point in working my ass off at a minimum wage job when it costs more to get to and from work that the sum of my weekly wages? What’s the point of getting out of bed when nothing about today is different than any other day? I am not alone in these questions.

Many of my peers have the same thoughts and voice the same fears. The two main themes emerging from our Creative Writing cohort were mental illness and environmental crisis. The two go hand in hand.

Andrea Marks Rolling Stone says, “The mental health impact of climate change is a one-two punch: There will be increasing anxiety about the future, as well as an increasing number of people undergoing the trauma of climate catastrophes like flooding and hurricanes” in her article How the Mental Health Community Is Bracing for the Impact of Climate Change. Marks went on to report, “A Yale survey in December found nearly 70 percent of Americans are “worried” about climate change, 29 percent are “very worried” — up eight percentage points from just six months earlier — and 51 percent said they felt “helpless.” Fifty-one percent felt helpless.

Just over half the population surveyed felt helpless at the current climate situation. We’re watching the world quite literally die before our eyes and our leaders seem more preoccupied with women’s wombs than whether or not there will be life on Earth in the near future. Liv Grant of the Guardian wrote, “Wild places dwindle, the animals and plants that live in them disappear. Climate change is now a certainty, and it will without a doubt lead to the loss of land, species, and ways of life. In the abstract this is disconcerting. Up close it is devastating. I worked on the BBC’s Climate Change: The Facts, presented by David Attenborough, and have felt this pain first-hand.”

So what do we do about it?

So far, all I’ve been able to find in my research is coping skills. Nothing solves the problem of climate related anxiety—nothing that is except for changing the trajectory of humanity. Western society is so dependent on capitalism and consumerism. These are the ideologies (where the dollar bill is more important than people, animals, and the environment) that are fueling climate change. When activists try to advocate for change the immediate outcry is “how will we make a living?”. My question is, how will your inflated bank account matter when we’re all dead?

Sooner than anyone wants to admit there will be global water and food shortages like human history has never seen before. Since my childhood, several animals have gone extinct. Bees are dying (they pollinate flowers to grow our food among other things). Unstable weather and forest fires are increasing. The science is there. Let’s stop ignoring it and actually do something.

Those with the power either need to use it or lose it. Vote like the environment actually matters.