Earth Day: Worries and Anxiety over Climate Change and how to deal with both

By Canyon Skare, NMHC Undergraduate Intern

Today is Earth Day. First celebrated in 1970, Earth Day now brings environmental awareness to the forefront of our minds each year on April 22nd. However, this awareness can also bring with it anxieties and stressors about our changing climate. This feels especially relevant this year, as just last week stories of scientists being arrested for protesting climate change reached the news cycle.

Most notably, NASA climate scientist Peter Kalmus broke down before being arrested after he and another colleague chained themselves to the Los Angeles J.P. Morgan Chase building as part of a worldwide protest of over 1,200 scientists in 26 countries calling themselves the “Scientist Rebellion.” This story comes in the wake of Don’t Look Up’s recent release. A Netflix film that satirized common narratives that deny and spawn misinformation surrounding climate change, Don’t Look Up starred Leonardo DiCaprio as Dr. Randall Mindy, a climate scientist much akin to the real-life Kalmus.

With experts like Kalmus becoming increasingly emotional in their pleas to the public to take climate change seriously, it can be easy to spiral into anxiety and worry over climate change. Anxieties about reducing our carbon footprints, recycling effectively, and limiting our fossil fuel emissions can feel overwhelming with sustainability reminders that come alongside Earth Day celebrations, especially as it gains more and more media prominence. Such personal stressors almost evaporate entirely, however, when one looks at the national and global levels of emissions, numbers that can provoke almost existential dread. What can we as individuals do against such a challenge? Are we doomed along with the climate? And if we are doomed, what’s the point in continuing to fight against the inevitable?

Fortunately, this doom-and-gloom is not the case. Since 2010, sizeable steps have been taken to prevent the worst outcomes of climate change. Scientists are confident that even if current climate policies stagnate, we’ll be able to avoid the apocalyptic level of change that provokes dread. Renewable sources of energy are becoming more and more widespread (see the increasing number of TESLA cars on Lincoln’s streets for a local example), and overall increases in emission levels have actually been going down since 2010. While the anxieties surrounding climate change are well-founded, it’s important to give ourselves grace and look at the picture with a factual view. Climate change is a serious problem that we must solve, but we’re making progress, and that itself is something to celebrate this Earth Day.

I also encourage you to watch the following video for more details on our fight against climate change!

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