Heatwaves across the world are at alarming highs. British Columbia is on fire, and there's not much relief in sight. Everywhere you look, it seems like humans are just creating the conditions for our extinction, and our leaders can't act fast enough.
Climate anxiety is a big topic here in the office. Here are some of the things we're doing to keep the sads at bay.
1. Get creative with water conservation.
Okay, confession time: I (Alex) used to be pretty climate-ignorant. For example, back in my twenties when I was living in Germany, I was brushing my teeth. My (then) boyfriend came into the bathroom and said, "What are you doing?"
"What do you mean? I'm brushing my teeth."
He pushed the faucet down. "You don't need to keep the water running the whole time."
He was right! I'd never even thought about it. In my house growing up, water felt as ubiquitous as air. But not anymore, especially now that my family's on a well and people are tapping the local groundwater for personal profit. So now, we turn the water off when we're brushing our teeth and we even turn the shower off while we soap up/scrub, then turn it back on to rinse off.
Bonus tip: you know how you let the shower run for a minute or two to get the temperature right? Why not put a bucket in the shower and use that perfectly good water to give your plants a drink? Same with the water that fills up the salad spinner or the water that got a bit stale in that bottle that's been in your trunk for a week... repurpose it!
2. Get grounded in nature.
Connecting with the earth and learning some survival essentials has been super helpful for me (Alex again). Thanks to Fianna Wilderness School and their incredible adult programs, I now know how to do more than just stare at a laptop — I can start a fire in winter! In the rain or snow!
Sitting in community at their Adult Mythology Club has also been a big help in keeping climate anxiety at bay. One of our co-workers Cam says, "It helps me to get away from the news/screen and out in nature, to be in deep connection with the beings and spirits there." Another co-worker, Riley, agrees: "Connecting with nature helps me remember what I am trying to protect rather than tuning it out / numbing."
3. Familiarize yourself with a "portfolio of fear."
COVID was a bumpy ride, and the Cold War was still a thing for many of us. But put in historical perspective, most of us have had it relatively "easy." We haven't had to deal with world wars, famines, or extreme poverty. And as our co-worker David H. points out, "History is full of generational societal existential challenges that were unsolvable in the moment. [Keeping that in mind] helps gain temporal perspective and gets you out of the rage echo chamber that is today."
4. Keep fighting the good fight.
Buy less, re-use more. Need a new car? Consider an EV. Take public transit. Ride your bike. Yeah, none of this will make a huge splash, but it can at least keep your head in the game.
5. Don't be afraid to have awkward conversations about fossil fuels.
Many of us know and love people who work in the fossil fuel industry. No one wants them to lose their jobs, and they are not responsible for the poor decisions of the executives and policymakers who've allowed this crisis to continue unchecked. AND, we still rely on fossil fuels every single day! If the entire industry was shut down tomorrow, life as we know it would grind to a halt.
But, as Al Gore pointed out in this recent New York Times interview, "The climate crisis is in the main a fossil fuel crisis. If the world is not permitted to discuss the phasing down of fossil fuels because the fossil fuel companies don't want the world to discuss it, that's the sign of a very flawed process."
6. Remember that our extinction isn't a foregone conclusion
Imagine the kind of future we could have twenty years from now. Are we still marching toward our extinction, or are we using clean energy sources, eating locally, and able to enjoy nature without experiencing heat stroke? Let's believe that the latter is possible. Like the economist Rudiger Dornbusch said, “Sometimes things take longer to happen than you think they will, and then they happen faster than you thought they could.”
As Al Gore says, “We can stop the temperatures going up worldwide with as little as a three-year time lag by reaching net zero,” he said. “And if we stay at true net zero, we’ll see half of the human-caused CO2 coming out of the atmosphere in as little as 30 years.”
When times are tough, it's tempting to just bury your head in the sand. But chin up, folks! Let's put things in perspective and keep our eyes on the prize.
What do you do to keep climate anxiety at bay? Let us know in the comments. 👇