Eco-anxiety, climate anxiety, or ecological grief is a psychological response to climate change. Here's a piece of advice to cope with it.
The Republic of Kiribati is a cluster of 33 islands, nestled in the Pacific Ocean southwest of Hawaii. It’s a very beautiful place with its coconuts, seabirds, wildlife, and pristine water. The thing is… it will be gone by the year 2100 as a result of the climate crisis due to rising level seas.
Kiribati isn’t alone. Countries around the world are suffering catastrophic effects due to global warming. Just turn on your TV and check it out for yourself. Nunatsiavut, the southernmost Inuit community in Canada, is one of the world's fastest-warming regions. The Great Barrier Reef’s warming oceans have caused mass coral bleaching. And the Amazon rainforest is being decimated by fires.
People living in these areas all share something in common: grief, but not the loss of a person, the loss of the planet.
In her latest film, The Magnitude of All Things, award-winning director Jennifer Abbott takes viewers on an introspective journey of the psychological and emotional impacts of climate change. The documentary, which will premiere in the U.S. at the 2021 Cinequest Film & Creativity Festival from March 20 through 30, depicts these regions and the impacts that global warming is wreaking on them.
“For the first time, I identified grief as an emotion I was feeling for the changing world around us. Prior to that moment, I didn’t really understand that grief is an emotion that’s very present in the world today because of all that we’re losing,” said the director.
According to Panu Pihkala, adjunct professor of environmental theology at the University of Helsinki, the term “climate grief” can refer to the feelings of loss and anxiety that people experience due to the effects of climate change.
And according to the clinical social worker and psychotherapist Andrew Bryant—manager of the website Climate & Mind—climate grief can also encompass the anticipated loss of something that people value in their local or global environment.