Let's face it; the science of climate change is pretty dire. Even if we act boldly - and we must - to avoid the worst impacts of climate disruption, we will still lose a lot and at a grand scale.
This reality is starting to sink in for many, and the result is psychological stress and what some call "climate grief." This can be debilitating in various ways, from mourning alone to burying feelings in the hope they will go away if we ignore the news.
How do we deal with this?
Everyone will process their grief in their own way, but psychologist Joanna Macy has a framework that might be helpful.
Macy recommends turning repeatedly through a cycle of four stages:
- Have gratitude: Being alive in this world is still a gift. We can open our heats and minds to the beauty and wonder of it all. We can be present and thankful. Take time to really appreciate the world.
- Honour our pain: We tend to try to cover up the anguish we feel for what is happening, but we don't need to be afraid of this pain and bury it. Rather, facing it can teach us that we are all interconnected and lead to a new way of experiencing life.
- See with new eyes: Knowing how we are connected to other people and other species allows us to sense our own capacity and power for change.
- Go forth: Learning from the first three stages, we can draw our own unique skills and relationships and act accordingly with others to build a better world. It won't be everything, and it won't be perfect, and that's ok.
Many people have an easier time processing climate grief by joining together with others who may be experiencing it too, talking about it, and taking action.