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Eco-anxiety: How to Cope with a Scary Future?

The growing concern about climate change is affecting the daily lives of thousands of young people around the world has a name: Eco-anxiety. Half of this population assures that they see a terrifying future and this is the way in which you can treat the subject.

Person sitting on a dock near a lake

The climate crisis we are currently experiencing is not only leaving thousands of deforested forests, endangered species and few (or no) natural resources in its wake. Photo: Pexels

LatinAmerican Post | Vanesa López Romero

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Leer en español: Ecoansiedad: ¿Cómo hacer frente a un futuro aterrador?

The climate crisis we are currently experiencing is not only leaving thousands of deforested forests, endangered species and few (or no) natural resources in its wake. It is also leaving social problems, affected communities to the core and hopelessness. At least, that shows a recent study led by academics from Bath University and the Stanford Center for Innovation in Global Health, where they say that almost half of the world's population of young people is seriously anxious about climate change and its disastrous consequences.

Three-quarters of the people between the ages of 16 and 25 who were surveyed for this study say that the "future is terrifying" under the conditions in which our planet is living. Likewise, 64% of those surveyed are dissatisfied with insufficient policies and actions by governments around the world. As a result, the people surveyed feel that the anxiety and stress generated by the climate crisis affects their daily lives, and even interferes with their ability to function ordinary.

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Although the study clarifies that this does not mean that the climate crisis implies a mental illness as such, it is evident that this issue is being relevant in the common life of this group of people who today are living the consequences of what past generations did and who fear for their future and that of planet earth.

What can be done?

Ecoanxiety is the anxiety generated by the climate crisis that we are currently experiencing. This term began to be used more naturally after the delivery of the report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2019. In this, the need for "urgent and unprecedented changes" was emphasized. A pandemic later, and after his last publication that spoke of the consequences of not having paid attention to these urgent changes, eco-anxiety takes center stage. Likewise, the question enters the conversation: and then, what can be done?

For Owen Gaffney, scientist, analyst, global sustainability writer and head of media at the Stockholm Resilience Center, the key is to keep in mind that individual actions can have a positive impact in the midst of a crisis. This is what he affirms for the BBC , and ensures that eco-anxiety is the most obvious response to such a threatening situation, so validating this feeling is fine.

Gaffney invites people to share this concern with close friends, discuss it at family or friend gatherings. Put it on the table so that not only the subject is talked about, but also in order that individual and collective solutions are sought and, why not?, convince one or another person of the importance of paying attention to this crisis and get down to work.

On the other hand, it calls for optimism, as this can be a powerful engine, not only to avoid echo anxiety, but to create more awareness and make decisions and actions that are in favor of a less scary and more hopeful future.