I have felt hopelessness over climate change. Here is how we move past the immense grief

My intellectual and rational understanding of it has shifted to much more of an emotional and personal one

We avoid  acknowledging environmental pain, but it turns out that it is a necessary stage that  one moves through to explore possibilities and eventually to practical action. Saying no really is not enough.


This reality is taking its toll on our mental health, especially among younger people who are understandably losing hope for their futures on a hotter planet.’ Photograph: Global Warming Images/REX/Shutterstock

Human society under urgent threat from loss of Earth’s natural life.’ ‘The planet has seen sudden warming before, it wiped out almost everything.’

These are some of the headlines that bombard us at ever-increasing rates.

Each day new reports and household names such as David Attenborough warn of “irreversible damage to the natural world and the collapse of our societies”. The United Nations says we have 12 years to avoid climate catastrophe. We are also amidst the world’s sixth mass extinction, the worst since the time of the dinosaurs.

This reality is taking its toll on our mental health, especially among younger people who are understandably losing hope for their futures on a hotter planet. We are seeing the rise of what is known as climate or ecological grief. This grief summarises feelings of loss, anger, hopelessness, despair and distress caused by climate change and ecological decline.

…Eco-psychologist Joanna Macy teaches useful frameworks for facing up to disturbing realities and finding capacity for action. First there is the gratitude stage, which focuses our attention on those aspects of life and the world that nourish us. Then there is a stage that honours the pain that we are experiencing. The third and fourth stages relate to exploring new possibilities and finding practical actions to take.

The second stage of “honouring the pain” is one that is often skipped over, as we naturally seek to protect ourselves from negative feelings. But making space for grief can help us confront the reality we face head on, and instead of just looking on the bright side, find a way to move forward. MORE

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