The Five Stages of Climate Grief
Or: How Not To Get Morbidly Depressed Over Climate Change
It seems like every other day we get the news on how climate change is destroying our planet. Well, that’s probably because it is.
Hearing all of this, maybe you decide to ignore it and let someone else deal with it. Maybe you get angry and frustrated with the people actively accelerating climate change. Almost certainly, you feel depressed and helpless about the state of the world. These reactions are completely rational.
I went through all of them. I’ve been an environmentalist since I saw (and was traumatised by) An Inconvenient Truth when I was 8 and have since fully experienced the classic five stages of climate grief.
This is where a lot of deniers, obviously, get stuck. It's a nice safe space where everything is perfect and sea levels aren't rising.
Admittedly, I was in this stage for a pretty long time and occasionally return to it when talking to said deniers. It's hard not to be furious at the fact that most people are letting things continue the way they are.
Basically trying to build an idea that it can be fixed. This usually happens when people find out about carbon capture and fusion technologies, hoping that they’re going to save us. Big technocrats stay here because it promises a future Earth not destroyed by global warming where they don’t have to make any changes to their lives.
And this is where most people are right now. A depression against such a massive, planet altering challenge that just makes you want to crawl into a ball and give up. A depression that weighs on you a little bit more with every article, natural disaster and politician’s cop-out speech.
A lot of people deal with this depression by putting it away, trying to forget that climate change is real and dangerous and convincing themselves that someone else is going to fix it. Therein lies the problem though. We’ve all been told by the people and industries that benefit from this apathy that we can’t make a difference ourselves.
Almost 80% of Australians believe climate change is happening. That’s around 20 million people in this country that are either angry, depressed or lying to themselves.
And this is echoed around the world.
Billions of people. Imagine if billions of people decided they weren’t going to stay in apathy over the climate crisis anymore, if billions cut down their meat consumption, caught public transportation and stopped buying fast fashion.
We don’t need billions of people though, we just need enough.
For a long time, I convinced myself to ignore the need for climate action and believed I could live my life in apathy … and I was miserably depressed because of it. But since starting EarthOffset, I haven’t felt it since.
I entered the stage of acceptance. I accepted climate change was happening but more importantly, I accepted that I couldn’t stop it by myself. I accepted that my actions would only make a small difference but that was better than nothing. I accepted that if I spent every day of my life making those small differences, it would be enough for me.
Living this way, making those small differences, gives me hope that others will accept climate change as well and start making their own small differences. You don’t need to start a company. Every single person who uses a keep cup or switches to solar brings so much hope that one day we will reach enough.
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