It’s time to talk about another effect that climate change is having on humanity.
Our planet is dying.
There is absolutely no denying it. For decades, humans have watched as the global temperature steadily increases, sea levels rise, and our forests and ocean reefs are destroyed. We have seen the images of the suffering animals, the forest fires, and the floods. It is nearly impossible not to be overcome with a profound sense of loss and grief, as we think of what our species and our greed has done to the incredible varieties of life that call this beautiful planet home.
How can we not be filled with grief and despair as we learn about how the right wing government in Brazil has pushed the Amazon Forest to nearly to the point where it will no longer be recoverable? How can we not feel devastated knowing so few of our politicians are willing to take meaningful action? How can we not feel a lump swell in the back of our throats as we look at images of a starving, pregnant orangutan clinging to the last remaining tree in her forest that she calls home, after its been destroyed for palm oil?
Climate and environmental grief are real, and unavoidable. There is a sense of companionship, beauty, and warmth that comes along with knowing that we share this planet with so many other species, and knowing we are responsible for taking it away from them is a terrible thing to cope with. At this stage, knowing we have only a little over a decade to change course before the damage is irreparable, and seeing so many species continue to go threatened or endangered, I would argue that this grief has become traumatic for young generations.
It’s easy to feel helpless, and to become overwhelmed with the psychological trauma that can come with imagining the earth we stand to inherit. We are not responsible for the crisis ahead of us, but that does not absolve us of the responsibility to fix it. The reality is, we have no choice, and knowing that it lies all on our shoulders with such a precious, small window of time to take drastic action only adds to the trauma. It is terrifying.
As humans, our natural inclination at times is to shut down. The destruction of our planet is too painful to think about, so many of us would rather internalize or deny the trauma for as long as possible, rather than address what lies ahead. Unfortunately, thanks to the inaction of past generations and corporate greed, we no longer have the luxury of time. We’ve reached the point where we can no longer wait, and the potential mass extinction of not just our species but millions of others is a threat that only grows stronger by the day. Again, more trauma.
If there’s any silver lining in any of this however, it’s that human beings have a wonderful ability to turn their grief, pain, and anger into meaningful action. For the sake of my own sanity, I have to believe that the future habitability of the planet will be a catalyst for mass organization and involvement on behalf of our climate, our environment, and all the life forms affected by the current changes and instability.
As hard as it may seem, we really can fix things. We have a responsibility to our planet not to allow despair to get the better of us. We have to attend climate vigils, meet like minded individuals, and organize. Donate to politicians, charities, and organizations working to combat climate change and protect our environment. Write to your local officials. Boycott corporations and products if you can that have an unnecessarily bad effect on our planet. Our generation is incredibly strong, and I have faith in our ability to rise to the challenge ahead of us in the best ways we know how.