Going Green: Change can happen at all levels and it all counts

We can all help by making small changes. Photo: AdobeWe can all help by making small changes. Photo: Adobe
We can all help by making small changes. Photo: Adobe
I hear a lot about eco anxiety – the state of concern people have for the planet and the environment.

It’s especially prevalent in young people who feel helpless and powerless to stop what they see as an inevitable decline they have no choice but to

inherit as they get older and become parents and join the workforce themselves.

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It’s easy to think we’re doomed but I’ve worked in this sector for over three decades and the reality is every day there’s work to be done and every day a dedicated and growing group of people across the globe are rolling up their sleeves, volunteering and turning up to work and doing what they can to make a difference.

Whether that’s experts in green energy who are pushing the envelope all the time or whether that’s protestors or teachers writing to their local MPs, or families planting trees in their local park or recreational area. Change can happen at micro and macro levels and it all counts and can subdue feelings of anxiety about our planet.

Lots of young environmentalists talk about being on the edge of a cliff but we’re simply not. There is no one point where we are 'doomed'. The more we pollute the worse global warming is therefore, we have to stop burning oil and gas as soon as possible. Yes, politicians and businesses definitely need to move much faster to make changes and yes – like them, I wish things were happening at a greater pace but there are also great changes happening.

The American Psychological Association refers to ecoanxiety as ‘a chronic fear of environmental doom.’

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Eco anxiety symptoms include panic attacks, loss of appetite, irritability, weakness and sleeplessness.

Psycholanalyst Joseph Dodds author of a 2021 research paper into the Psychology of Climate Anxiety says: “The symptoms of climate anxiety are not necessarily feelings to be got rid of, but lessons to be learned, although only if they can be felt in a safe way, through developing meaningful action and positive social, psychological and ecological change.”

But the concerns about how our planet is changing are amplifying far beyond the youth who will inherit the worst impacts to solve.

Ahead of the 2021 COP summit, research found 75 per cent of adults in Great Britain said they were worried about the impact of climate change. Staggeringly, just over two fifths, that’s 43 percent of those surveyed said they’d felt anxious about the state of the environment more widely in the past month. But rather than feel helpless, those feelings of concern are translating to action.

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The adults in the study who admitted to being worried about the impact of climate change were a massive three times more likely to have made a lot of changes to their lifestyle than those who were relatively unworried.

The bottom line is that yes, eco anxiety is real, but it’s leading to behaviour change, so a little worry if it’s followed by action will help the planet and us feel less helpless.

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