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Fear of the Dooming of our Planet Has Caused a Rise in Eco-Anxiety
It’s frustrating enough that there are people and politicians that can’t acknowledge that we are contributing to climate change, and that policies must be put into place to slow it down. This frustration is heightened when there is constant news coverage on record breaking temperatures, an increased amount of flooding and wildfires, and other natural occurrences that affect millions worldwide. To top it all off, there are many articles popping up discussing the potential end of life as we know it due to our own self-destruction.
There are plenty of people that understand how pressing these issues are, and the lack of progress towards fixing the issue, as well as feeling an inability as an individual to do anything about it, has caused an increase in eco-anxiety. General anxiety disorder is “a long-term condition that causes you to feel anxious about a wide range of situations and issues, rather than one specific event (NHS)”. Symptoms of the disorder can be both psychological and physical and you do not need to exhibit all of the symptoms to have the disorder. Some of the symptoms are restlessness, a sense of dread, feeling constantly "on edge”, difficulty concentrating, irritability, dizziness, heart palpitations, dry mouth, headache, pins and needles, and insomnia (NHS).
While general anxiety disorder can be triggered by a variety of situations, eco-anxiety is triggered more specifically by “a chronic fear of environmental doom (Fawbert, 2019)". When a person with eco-anxiety sees in the news or right in front of them, the negative impacts of climate change, they start to stress “about the future for oneself, children, and later generations (Fawbert, 2019)”, triggering their anxiety. According to the UN intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in their Landmark 2018 Report, we must reduce carbon emissions by 45% in 11 years in order to keep global warming from increasing by 1.5 ℃. This news is dooming enough to trigger eco-anxiety, and the disorder has recently had an increase.
With the increase of eco-anxiety has come many articles suggesting ways to combat it. For those that feel like you are incapable of making any change, it is said that any little thing you do to help fight climate change will help. Things such as being eco-conscious about everything you do in your daily life, and getting involved in activism are ways to help the environment, and may help put you at ease (Fawbert, 2019). The mental toll that the issue of climate change has caused for many people goes to show the seriousness of the issue and how important it is to implement changes to save the planet.
Fawbert, Dave. “'Eco-Anxiety': How to Spot It and What to Do about It.” BBC News, BBC, 27 Mar. 2019, www.bbc.co.uk/bbcthree/article/b2e7ee32-ad28-4ec4-89aa-a8b8c98f95a5?intc_type=singletheme&intc_location=bbcthree&intc_campaign=bbcthree&intc_linkname=article_ecoanxiety_contentcard20.
NHS. NHS Choices, www.nhs.uk/conditions/generalised-anxiety-disorder/symptoms/.