Eric Holthaus, a Meteorologist and climate change writer, said the following in a tweet storm earlier this year.
I’m starting my 11th year working on climate change, including the last 4 in daily journalism. Today I went to see a counselor about it.
I’m saying this because I know many people feel deep despair about climate, especially post-election. I struggle every day. You are not alone.
There are days where I literally can’t work. I’ll read a story and shut down for rest of the day. Not much helps besides exercise and time.
The counselor said: “Do what you can”, which I think is simple and powerful advice. I’m going to start working a lot more on mindfulness.
Despair is natural when there’s objective evidence of a shared existential problem we’re not addressing adequately. You feel alone.
You feel powerless. You feel like nothing matters. Your relationships suffer. You feel guilty for “not doing more”.
But what the hell am I supposed to do? Write another blog post?
Last year we lost a huge chunk of the Great Barrier Reef. We are literally ending existence of animals that were here for millions of years.
We don’t deserve this planet. There are (many) days when I think it would be better off without us.
How am I supposed to do my job—literally to chronicle planetary suicide—without experiencing deep existential despair myself? Impossible.
To me, our emotional/psychological response is *the* story on climate change. It defines how (and if) we will solve the problem.
The number one comment I get is “we’re fucked”. That’s not totally true. In order to “save the planet” we have to confront this despair.
Climate despair, on its own, isn’t bad. It’s a sign you care. It’s just hard to function when you feel weight of the world crashing down.
The more I talk about my despair, the more I realize other people feel same thing. That makes me hopeful—we are more powerful than we think.
I don’t have an answer for where to go from here. That’s why I’m in counseling. But part of the answer is: don’t be afraid to talk.
It is a poignant note. I’ve just begun thinking about and writing about climate change over the past months and it resonates. Our current state of progress is woeful. If I were to be working on it every day, I’d enroll myself in counseling too.
And, yet, despair doesn’t help. Action does. And, learning and awareness precedes action. So, here’s to learning more and sharing it to build awareness in the meanwhile.