TechDigits

Tech news
Tuesday, May 28, 2024

COP27: Climate anxiety is rising - it might be a good thing

COP27: Climate anxiety is rising - it might be a good thing

Global leaders are about to meet for another UN climate summit - COP27 starting in Sharm el-Sheikh on Sunday - and the reality of climate change for many people can be overwhelming.

Record-breaking heatwaves, devastating floods in Pakistan, and drought in East Africa - and that is just this year.

It is no surprise that climate anxiety is rising, particularly among young people, who have mostly only known a world affected by climate change.

But experts and activists have told BBC News that these fears can actually be good news for the planet.

"People who are really aware of climate change may be more motivated to take action," University of Bath environmental psychologist Prof Lorraine Whitmarsh says.

Her research has found a link between climate concerns and taking effective action, including reducing carbon footprint by cutting down on waste or buying second-hand.

When people talk about their own climate anxiety, they often say it is linked to the vast amounts of negative and often scary news about the planet.

"I think it's hard not to worry about climate change. We're constantly bombarded with news articles and social media about how it's just crisis after crisis - ice caps melting, disasters - it can be very overwhelming," explains Roisin, 16, from County Antrim in Northern Ireland.

Roisin is on the youth advisory board of Save The Children, which recently found that 70% of children in the UK worried about the world they are inheriting.

Roisin, 16, says almost everyone her age talks about their fears for the planet


But she says there is hope too: "You can always see young activists like Greta Thunberg, and people like David Attenborough taking action on it."

Roisin says she has become a vegetarian and makes sure she only shops locally. "Taking action is my only way of dealing with climate anxiety - it means I know I've done everything I can do to solve the problem," she says.
Some campaigners, like 23

-year-old Zahra Biabani in California, say the widespread focus on climate catastrophe can be misleading.

When she began posting online about environmental issues at university, she realised there was "a gap between education and action, which was being filled by 'doomism'".

"Climate education can be debilitating without a form of encouragement to act, especially when we see what's going on the world, and how it's going to get worse," she explains.


Now she shares "climate optimist" news and writes newsletters focusing on good news and solutions.

"Climate optimism is not just nice, it's necessary because in order to be sustained in our action and our advocacy, we need to believe in and have something that's worth fighting for," she explains.

She believes that there is a generational divide between many young people who want to focus on how the planet could be saved, and the "older white man community" that focuses on how "the world is going to end".

"I don't want to think this comes from a bad place. I think they have a lot of anxiety as well, but they're finding a very different way to use it," she suggests.

Psychotherapist Caroline Hickman specialises in climate anxiety, and has treated a significant number of young people. She says it is "totally normal" to worry about the state of the planet, but "sinking into despair and 'climate doomism' is not the solution".

It is important to distinguish between serious clinical anxiety about climate change, which is a mental health issue, and worries or concerns.

Prof Whitmarsh suggests that while there are high levels of concern about climate change, particularly in young people, most people do not have debilitating climate anxiety that requires treatment by a mental health professional.


What to do if you have climate anxiety


Zahra suggests:

*  Focus on good news. Find stories about progress made in curbing climate change or a new solution. "Look for information that is a source of encouragement and doesn't blindside you."

*  Give yourself a break Do something unrelated to the problem - exercise, go outdoors, read or watch a film. "Finding an activity not connected to climate change is really cathartic and really beneficial."

Caroline suggests:

*  Take action Join a local group that does something to tackle the problem, or lobby politicians to pass laws. "Find like-minded people and work together to advance a goal."

*  Do not totally switch off "I caution people about shutting down completely - because when you wake up, the reality will be too extreme."

Newsletter

Related Articles

TechDigits
0:00
0:00
Close
FTX's Bankman-Fried headed for jail after judge revokes bail
America's First New Nuclear Reactor in Nearly Seven Years Begins Operations
Southeast Asia moves closer to economic unity with new regional payments system
Today Hunter Biden’s best friend and business associate, Devon Archer, testified that Joe Biden met in Georgetown with Russian Moscow Mayor's Wife Yelena Baturina who later paid Hunter Biden $3.5 million in so called “consulting fees”
Google testing journalism AI. We are doing it already 2 years, and without Google biased propoganda and manipulated censorship
Musk announces Twitter name and logo change to X.com
The future of sports
TikTok Takes On Spotify And Apple, Launches Own Music Service
Hacktivist Collective Anonymous Launches 'Project Disclosure' to Unearth Information on UFOs and ETIs
Typo sends millions of US military emails to Russian ally Mali
Server Arrested For Theft After Refusing To Pay A Table's $100 Restaurant Bill When They Dined & Dashed
Democracy not: EU's Digital Commissioner Considers Shutting Down Social Media Platforms Amid Social Unrest
Sarah Silverman and Renowned Authors Lodge Copyright Infringement Case Against OpenAI and Meta
Why Do Tech Executives Support Kennedy Jr.?
The New York Times Announces Closure of its Sports Section in Favor of The Athletic
Florida Attorney General requests Meta CEO's testimony on company's platforms' alleged facilitation of illicit activities
The Poor Man With Money, Mark Zuckerberg, Unveils Twitter Replica with Heavy-Handed Censorship: A New Low in Innovation?
The Double-Edged Sword of AI: AI is linked to layoffs in industry that created it
US Sanctions on China's Chip Industry Backfire, Prompting Self-Inflicted Blowback
Meta Copy Twitter with New App, Threads
BlackRock Bitcoin ETF Application Refiled, Naming Coinbase as ‘Surveillance-Sharing’ Partner
UK Crypto and Stablecoin Regulations Become Law as Royal Assent is Granted
A Delaware city wants to let businesses vote in its elections
Alef Aeronautics Achieves Historic Milestone with Flight Certification for World's First Flying Car
Google Blocked Access to Canadian News in Response to New Legislation
French Politicians Advocate for Pan-European Regulation on Social Media Influencers
Melinda French Gates Advocates for Increased Female Representation in AI to Prevent Bias
Snapchat+ gains 4 million paying subscribers in its first year
Apple Makes History as the First Public Company Valued at $3 Trillion
Elon Musk Implements Twitter Limits to Tackle Data Scraping, but Faces Criticism for Technical Misunderstanding
EU and UK's Slow Electric Vehicle Adoption Raises Questions About the Transition to Green Mobility
Top Companies Express Concerns Over Europe's Proposed AI Law, Citing Competitiveness and Investment Risks
Meta Unveils Insights on AI Usage in Facebook and Instagram, Amid Growing Calls for Transparency
Crypto Scams Against Seniors Soar by 78% in 2022, Experts Urge Vigilance
The End of an Era: National Geographic Dismisses Last of Its Staff Writers
Shield Your Wallet: The Perils of Wireless Credit Card Theft
Harvard Scientist Who Studies Honesty Accused Of Data Fraud, Put On Leave
Putting an End to the Subscription Snare: The Battle Against Unwitting Commitments
The Legal Perils of AI: Lawyer Faces Sanctions for Relying on Fictional Cases Generated by Chatbot
ChatGPT’s "Grandma Exploit": Ingenious Hack Exposes Loophole in AI, Generates Free Software Codes
The Disney Downturn: A Near Billion-Dollar Box Office Blow for the House of Mouse
A Digital Showdown: Canada Challenges Tech Giants with The Online News Act, Meta Strikes Back
Distress in the Depths: Submersible and Passengers Missing in Titanic Wreckage Expedition
Mark Zuckerberg stealing another idea: Twitter
European Union's AI Regulations Risk Self-Sabotage, Cautions smart and brave Venture Capitalist Joe Lonsdale
Nvidia GPUs are so hard to get that rich venture capitalists are buying them for the startups they invest in
Chinese car exports surge
Reddit Blackout: Thousands of Communities Protest "Ludicrous" Pricing Changes
Nvidia Joins Tech Giants as First Chipmaker to Reach $1 Trillion Valuation
AI ‘extinction’ should be same priority as nuclear war – experts
×