NPR: Climate Change Anxiety Driving Debilitating Psychological Disorders

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

h/t John Garrett; According to Princeton psychology professor Elke Weber, lots of people are popping pills to cope with climate anxiety, and more people should raise the issue at Thanksgiving – they will discover their entire family wants climate action.

Coping With The Reality Of Climate Change

August 12, 20214:25 PM ET
Heard on  All Things Considered

NPR’s Audie Cornish speaks with psychologist Elke Weber about the way individuals deal with the threat of climate change.

CORNISH: Increasingly, people are dealing directly with the results of climate change – right? – record heat across the country. How do people respond when they’re confronted with the sort of bigness of the issue of climate change? What kinds of emotions can that draw out?

WEBER: It can be incredibly overwhelming, especially among younger people. And so there’s no question that climate anxiety has gone drastically up by contemplation about sort of what kind of world we live in and what kind of a world we might leave to our children and grandchildren. So it’s very debilitating symptoms that oftentimes have to be treated with medication or with psychotherapy.

CORNISH: What’s the effect of seeing governments not act quickly or aggressively enough? Is this something that comes up for people when it comes to sort of how they take in the idea of climate change, how they react to it?

WEBER: In psychology, there’s this notion of pluralistic ignorance – that we might be concerned about an issue, but we don’t realize how many other people are also concerned about the issue because oftentimes, when things are polarized and charged, we don’t talk about it. You know, we don’t talk about it at Thanksgiving. If people talked about it more, they would realize that their concern about climate change is actually widely shared. And so therefore, you know, I think there would be more awareness on the part of politicians that many people in their constituencies, you know, sort of do want them to take action.

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Going by the last few election, I’m guessing there are a large number of Americans who don’t see climate action as their number one priority. So I think Elke Weber is being a little optimistic about the prospects that everyone will agree, if true believers proselytise about the alleged need for radical climate action at the Thanksgiving table.

I have no doubt climate anxiety is causing real problems. If you brainwash kids into thinking the world is on the brink of destruction, and nobody is doing anything about it, you get a lot of extremely anxious kids – many of whom embrace self destructive choices like taking hard drugs, or lose their minds to large doses of prescribed anti-depressants. What is the point of saving money, getting a better education, planning for the future, if you believe there will be no future?

I do believe the climate crisis narrative is slowly dying, 40 years of predicting the imminent end of the world due to human emissions is wearing a little thin. But the broken lives and human wreckage will remain, long after politicians abandon even the pretence of caring about climate change.

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via Watts Up With That?

August 14, 2021 at 09:01AM

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