There are so many terms of this being knocked around about this; ‘climate grief’, ‘eco anxiety’ and climate depression.
As reports are released about climate change and ecological breakdown, and ever-increasing numbers of people go on strike, it is difficult to now avoid the reality we face. I don’t know about everyone else but as I learnt more and more about the issues I have felt an enormous amount of despair and it’s apparent that there are a lot of people going through the same experience at the moment, especially young people.
Greta Thurnburg says she no longer feels the despair associated with the issue because she now feels empowered.
My journey has been one of putting my head firmly in the ground about the issue for a large part of my twenties and then deciding that I could no longer bear the burden of not doing something. I then embraced the knowledge and took action through my work. At times I have felt enormously empowered and elation has replaced anxiety. This is rarely long-lasting - when I feel unable to assist I return to a depressed state about the issue.
Making changes in my life makes a massive difference but I put too much pressure on myself and often feel I’m not doing enough. Being engaged with other people who are making a difference always helps, as long as they are motivated, have a focus and are coming up with solutions. I have done some campaigning but often it results in me just feeling angry about the issues afterwards.
I’ve personally felt getting Better Century going has helped. It has been great to find like-minded people who are doing things, it makes me feel that change is possible.
What are people’s experience with this? I think it’s a really important thing to discuss as our experiences can really help others navigate it. Could be you haven’t been affected or maybe you have - let us know how you’ve overcome the bad news!
What a heartfelt post and I’m sure many of us are feeling the same. I’ve just finished reading The Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace-Wells which has opened my eyes.
Yes, it certainly is depressing, but like the decision which pill to take in the movie The Matrix, I would prefer to know the truth, and stare pessimistically at it, than be hoodwinked into a rose-tinted version of the future that you can’t prepare for or take action against.
The more I learn, the more scared I get, but I have also discovered many things in the last year that do give me some hope.
I also believe we adults should get behind our young inheritors and educate them appropriately, encouraging different behaviours for the future, but it does mean modelling those. I have met some inspiring families recently who are bringing up their kids this way. If everyone does what they can, and keeps increasing this, it’s a start.
Keep calm and carry on, and I think this website is a great way to create links and meet people who have taken the Blue Pill. Once you know this stuff, you can’t un-know it
Thanks for this. I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit over the last few days since writing this post.
There are a few important observations I’ve made.
My issue is actually getting over what I expect from the world, both for myself and others. For myself, I find it difficult to accept that I can’t have quick fixes, easy fun, that maybe I can’t really buy something whimsically or go on holidays abroad regularly. That perhaps I’ll never be able to live the life which was sold to me…
It’s nice to be lazy and have things easily - it’s a very attractive reality and one that is very difficult to shake.
I do however find enormous solace in the fact that I can come home and pick vegetables in my garden, and have had a wonderful holiday with my Mum in Britain, that my solar panels are producing energy for my home and I cycle to work.
In talking with my wife @beckettcatherine about this the other thing which is hard is to have to give things so much thought and consideration. We are so used to pulling things off a shelf or getting stuff at the touch of a button, it does feel unfair to have to do things with so much more thought and research. It’s difficult to accept what we’re trying to do is not popular…
On that last point. It does remind me part of the purpose of Better Century to actually make it so we can find products and services more easily, that we can save time on research and get people to still be able to get things at a click of a button but through this site… Perhaps if we can make it easy and more fashionable we can make it popular and shift the status quo!
One day I hope people don’t just share their vanity through facebook but their consideration and compassion (perhaps a plastic-free picnic or wildflower garden) on Better Century with pride…
My dream still goes on!!! (but we still have those difficult days! )
Interesting! I’m intrigued that you seem to focus on ‘getting stuff’. My sense is that not bothering with stuff and reducing the importance of shopping, is key to easing the planet’s woes and is proven to make us mellower. What is this ‘stuff’ of which you speak?!?!
Hi and welcome to Better Century! Thanks for your question…
I agree with you, we need less not more… I can’t find where I referred to stuff but I might be being blind
I do think we need the right tools and knowledge for change though…
Well, Tom, in many ways this does look a bit like an ethical shopping site, discussing what products to get, suggestions for shoes, better tyres etc. Nothing too wrong about that, but it’s good to be clear. I think that shopping through the site links pays for it? Am I right?
That’s up to the community but yes it is in our business model so we can be can be sustainable. At the moment we are generating no funds at all and are therefore listed as dormant as a company.
What’s your opinion?
Personally I think it’s really difficult to find ways to live sustainably and we should promote those companies which are providing products and services that can help everyone transition easily.
Love this article for the new scientist. 8 ways to tackle it are so clear, and two of them involve finding solutions and people like you. So - thank you to everyone for joining Better Century, you’re making my world better!
This is a really good article and point 4, I feel, speaks to me as feeling ashamed fuels helplessness and depression. I think trying to deal with this, not as easy as it sounds, together with point 5 about focussing on changing systems (not to mention finding your own comfort level with your own personal contribution) is how I manage. I’m not preaching this as I know, just admitting this is my approach - flawed or otherwise.
Thanks for starting this conversation…
I agree that it’s very important to talk about this and glad we’re addressing it here. It’s a massive topic in conservation circles too when we hear of conservation efforts that have failed; often leading to despondency, anger, cynicism and loss of hope for the project teams and communities.
However, you’re not alone and it was recognised that we need more conservation success stories in all areas to show that conservation does work and makes a difference.
So a fantastic group called ‘Conservation Optimism’ has been set up by EJ Millner-Gulland who is the Tasso Leventis Professor of Biodiversity at the University of Oxford and director of the Interdisciplinary Centre for Conservation Science. Their yearly conferences and Facebook page shouts about conservation successes and when I read those, any dread or depression lifts my heart back to hope again. And there is real hope.
Perhaps a similar group could be set up to share sustainability success stories?
Hi there, first post here! Was led to this community through a job advertisement.
Will apply, and also hang out here. What a great resource!
Ok, so here is my very brief outline of how I manage my almost sometimes crippling eco-grief.
First, to speak about it, share it with people. Own it. Pushing it down and away only makes it worse. Creating connections with other people who also feel that pain makes you feel less alone. “Pain for the world is a normal, healthy response to a world in trauma.” Joanna Macy & Chris Johnstone, Active Hope. (READ IT)
I recognise that my grief comes in waves, and is often interspersed with anger, or fear. I remind myself that it is ok and even good that I am feeling these things, it shows my connection to the earth and how important it is to heed my inner alarm bells.
Second, connect with nature. Remember her beauty, abundance and resilience. Go out and put your hands in the dirt, your face against bark, listen for the birds and watch for the crawling things. Honour and remember the spark of life that connects us all.
Third, get to work. Act. For me the ‘act’ was getting involved in Extinction Rebellion, I set it up over in Canada, which was fun, super interesting, massive learning curve, rewarding and brought me into contact with literally hundreds of people also hungry to act, connect, learn and build something beautiful.
As mentioned above, I’d really recommend reading Joanna Macy & Chris Johnstone’s book ‘Active Hope’. And ‘Drawdown’, edited by Paul Hawken.
I started reading Active Hope last week, amazing clarity, wisdom and guidance!