From the endless stories of species extinction to the forest fires on the Mediterranean coast, the flood of floods that hit Europe this summer, and the disappointing news surrounding the COP21 summit, it’s easy to get into aimless moods of worry and guilt about the planet and its future.
A recent report by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) certainly made for a gloomy read. It confirmed that the last five years were the hottest since 1850, that sea levels rose three times as fast compared to 1901-1971, and practically confirms that not only have extreme heat attacks increased since the 1950s, but that they are, too more often. Frankly, enough to throw someone into a tailspin.
With that in mind, it’s hardly surprising that eco-anxiety is a real thing, according to the medical journal The Lancet. Especially with young people. Defined by the American Psychological Association in 2017 as “Chronic Fear of the Environment” and also known as climate distress or fear, its symptoms are panic attacks, insomnia, and obsessive-compulsive thinking; and can worsen overall mental health.
If this sounds familiar to you, maybe it is time to do something about it. First things first, if the condition feels uncontrollable, you should contact your GP – they should be able to offer you a number of options.
One possible solution to eco-anxiety is to adopt a slightly different mindset. It is true that our planet is in dire straits, but instead of focusing on the damage already done, you may want to focus on what you can do to address the problem. Below I have five lists that can help. The lists contain a selection of books, films and podcasts dealing with solutions to the climate crisis. I have also included a proposal for petitions and activists to sign that you can follow as you look for actionable steps. They may feel like small steps in the big picture, but they can also be powerful.
Read these books
- We Have A Dream by Mya-Rose Craig: What could be more hopeful than reading about the amazing work of 30 young climate activists? In this book, Craig specifically highlights indigenous and colored people from around the world to hear their experiences and put them at the center of the climate discussion, where they belong. You can read an excerpt from the book here.
- How to Give Up Plastic: A Guide to Changing the World, One Plastic Bottle at a Time by Will McCallum: While capitalism is responsible for the dire state of our planet, that doesn’t mean we as individuals cannot help. To take specific steps, consult this guide – and start making meaningful changes at home now.
- All We Can Save by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Katharine K Wilkinson: Who Runs the World? Girl. At least that’s what Beyonce says. And this compilation of essays from over 50 key women leading the climate change charges.
Watch these movies
- Ice on Fire: We all love Leonardo DiCaprio. But does Leonardo DiCaprio raise awareness of climate change? Now that’s even better .. Produced and told by the man himself, Ice on Fire focuses on the new innovative solutions that are being developed for our climate crisis. It can be seen on NOW TV.
- Paris to Pittsburgh: If you are concerned about climate change, remember that people are fighting it – as passionately portrayed in this film, which focuses on the local efforts of American communities to combat the problem. Nobody is waiting for Washington here. It can be seen on Disney +.
- Kiss The Ground: It’s hard to feel good about something as devastating as climate change, but Kiss The Ground regenerates any sense of hope you may have lost. Narrated by Woody Harrelson, the film argues that the solution may have always been there: in the healing power of the soil. It can be seen on Netflix.
Check out these podcasts
- Jane Goodall: The Hopecast: A podcast whose whole goal is to give listeners hope for the future. World famous primatologist and anthropologist Jane Goodall speaks to changemakers from around the world to learn about her life and her dreams for the future.
- Sustainababble: Learn something new about climate change without experiencing soul-crushing fear with this self-proclaimed comedy podcast. Each episode aims to remove any confusion you might have, and all of them are delivered in a fun, relatable way.
- Sustainable (ish): A podcast that makes sustainability manageable. Sustainable (ish) tells you to focus on what you can do instead of worrying about what you can’t. Basically, it is “your BFF sharing simple ideas for feasible changes you can make”.
Follow these people
- Lizzie Carr: Lizzie Carr, an activist and founder of On Planet Patrol, is driven by the fight against plastic pollution. With her regular posts of facts and videos that demystify information about climate change, Carr is one to follow.
- Wilson Oryema: If you’re into fashion and clothing, you should follow Wilson Oryema, with his focus on incorporating sustainability into our materials and textiles. He is also the founder of the Gen Z sustainability initiative Regenerative Futures.
- Alexis Nikole: Collector and environmental scientist Alexis Nikole will definitely add a touch of joy to your timeline. Nikole is passionate about teaching people about game forage and sustainability. Come for the food, stay for the charm and humor.