People Now Have ‘Eco-Anxiety’. I’m One of Them.


If I was sitting on this park bench in
only three years time, I’d be buried underneath eight feet of landfill… which
seems uncomfortable we’re on what’s about to become one of
the most expensive miles of coastline in the whole world. And not because you have
to be filthy rich to live in Manhattan, because of rising sea levels. New York
City has just approved a 1.5 billion dollar plan to strip this park and get
rid of everything that you see here – the benches, the basketball courts, the trees
raise it up eight feet, fill it with landfill, and then build the park again.
And this is all to protect Manhattan from rising sea levels, from storm
surges, from hurricanes and from extreme weather events. And for me, thinking about
this city being underwater, the uncertainty of the future stresses me
out, and makes me feel uncomfortable and worried and kind of tight in my chest. I
guess, like most of Manhattan… I have anxiety. Do you want me to cut? No, no it’s okay
it’s just that the climate is now another thing that we have to worry
about. And you know, it’s not just me. New terms have been introduced to describe
this kind of anxiety that we’re all feeling. Actually in 2017, the American
Psychological Association first used the word “eco-anxiety” which they said is a
chronic fear of environmental doom. I’m sure that some of you might relate
to that but to the rest of us, myself included, I found it a little extreme,
right? A chronic fear of environmental doom. But then for me, a few years passed,
and everything changed: Australia started burning. Now Australia
has always had bush fires, but these ones, they’re different –
the fire season has started earlier, the fires are more intense, they’re leaving unimaginable damage in their wake. And this is because of the effects of a
warming climate on weather events. It makes them extreme. Now the people who
are in Australia I can’t imagine how they’re feeling –
they must be dealing with a kind of direct eco-anxiety right? I mean there’s
evacuations, there’s property loss, there’s the
terrible toxic smoke that I’m sure you have seen pictures of. I can’t imagine
how horrible it must be. But over here in New York City, people also feel terrible.
People around the world feel terrible and they want to talk to me about it as
an Australian. They have this kind of indirect eco-anxiety where they’re still
anxious about the world’s events, but they’re not really sure what they can do
being so far away. The fact that everyone wants to talk to me
about these fires and nobody wants to talk about this park that we’re in right
now, tells us something fascinating about how our brains work.
Have a seat let me tell you about it. Our brains are wired to deal with direct
threats rather than indirect future problems. They’re wired – evolution has shaped
them over years and years – to be worried about what’s happening right now. But in
terms of climate change and a warming climate, that’s not something that we
really have the option to think about. So this park here, the plan – you know to
demolish, to get rid of everything and raise it up eight feet, has been campaigned
against by the residents. They don’t want the park to close, they don’t see
the problem. And if we wait for the threat of climate change to be immediate –
if we wait for the fire to be on all of our doorsteps,
we’re gonna be kind of screwed. And screwed is putting it lightly, don’t you think? Come walk with me. Now you might be wondering what the
point of this video is. And for those of us who are feeling eco-anxiety, we get
stuck in these cycles of anxiety because we don’t know what we can do to break
out of them. We don’t know what action is going to make a difference. And actually
that’s something that psychologists recommend – taking action, however small. So
you might donate to organizations that are making a difference, and I’ll link to a
bunch that are in Australia down in the description. Other things that can help are
small actions, starting small, things that we can do to help. You might use a metal
straw or a reusable cup as a step to reduce your plastic waste. And you know
it’s not gonna solve climate change, especially when I can’t even get the lid
off this cup to use the straw! But it’s something that might make you feel a
little bit better and keep you motivated to keep going. Activism is something else
that’s recommended – maybe you could join a march and if you are feeling severe
eco-anxiety, maybe it’s something to see a medical professional about. Maybe eco-therapy will become a thing in the future? Maybe it already is. The thing is,
if you are anxious about something – when it’s not severe – you’re worried and
you’re stressed ,it means that you care. And honestly action is the best way to
cope. I never thought that using a metal straw
would be beneficial for my psychology… Okay I did just want to add
that it’s been a year since I launched my Patreon! Which has been crazy, I
appreciate everyone’s support so much. I’m actually working on a really big project this year, which I’ll be able to tell you about soon. But as always, thank you
to my top patrons – there is only one left and his name is Jason. I
probably pronounced that wrong but I hope that he’ll forgive me. A link to my patreon is
down in the description as well as the organizations in Australia if you want
to support them. Thank you!

100 Comments

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *