Protesting, marching, educating ourselves, watching Cowspiracy, changing our majors, choosing our career paths, all to protect the Earth we can see slipping away. We are in the midst of a climate crisis. Generation Z is trying to find solutions. We are taking on the challenge of solving this climate crisis, starting a movement, but at what cost?
Tackling Intersectional Issues
We are watching our gardens fail, earlier springs, unpredictable snowstorms, higher rates of avalanches, biodiversity loss, eradication of coral reefs, flooding, and asthma linked to air pollutants. We can see the natural world slipping away.
We are learning; that income inequality, gun violence, and redlining are all climate change issues. Intersectional issues must be tackled all at once, to bring about immediate change. We may feel empowered, and also overwhelmed.
How do we deal with this knowledge?
We can advocate, write, and make artistic representations of the environmental crises that need awareness. At some point feelings of burnout begin to come to many climate actors’ minds. We feel overwhelmed by the crippling anxiety of knowing that the climate is changing at unnatural rates. Despite our best efforts to reduce plastic consumption, eat a plant-based diet, and use public transportation, it never feels like enough.
There is a word for this feeling; the term eco-anxiety/ climate-anxiety was coined in 2005 by the Climate Psychology Alliance.
It is a word used to describe “a chronic fear of environmental doom” (Climate Psychology Alliance). These feelings of eco-anxiety are everywhere, they are suffocating and only increasing. It is important to acknowledge these feelings and find healthy ways to cope with them. In order to stop climate change, climate actors have to find a way to take care of themselves, so they can provide their best efforts and resources to create the change they know they need to see.
For me, I turn to the outdoors. I try to get lost in the natural world. I find myself seeking centering feelings from fresh wind, bird songs, and the rippling creek. Many people use meditations, long baths, hikes, or other methods to maintain their well-being.
Introducing: Climate Cafe
One place for climate actors to share their feelings is called Climate Cafe. Climate Cafe started as a way to support climate actors who are overwhelmed by the burden of climate grief, anxiety, and doom. In this space, participants are able to share thoughts and feelings free from shame. Our group at Temple shared intimate feelings of grief, anxiety, and fear of failure. The website’s mission statement reads “Meet with other people and takes turns expressing how climate and ecological breakdown makes you feel” (Climate Cafe). Check out the Climate Cafe website here for more info.
Through Climate Cafe, we found a space to connect with like-minded peers, with similar struggles, guilts, and griefs. We had an important moment for dialogue, to bring ourselves forward to talk about how we can each find our roles in being activists while acknowledging the things we will have to carry with us along the way. It is a space for people to remind themselves they are not alone, we can do this, together.
A lot of us feel we are carrying a great weight, wanting so badly to slow the rapid destruction of the planet we love and inhabit. Climate Cafe acts as a space for people to put the load down for a second, take care of themselves, and be well.
So far, only a fraction of us have gotten the privilege to attend Climate Cafe, stay tuned for more of these events coming in the upcoming semesters from Temple Sustainability!