In one week this year I have skied at lower than -30°C and higher than 0°C. We have what I’m sure is the best snow base in years, but it’s layered with freezing rain. We’ve had record breaking cold. And this past summer we had record breaking heat. Even without there being a global pandemic this would be stressful. And it turns out I’m not the only one who feels that way.
Bratu et al (2022) studied the effects of the heat dome that caused the aforementioned record breaking heat in Western North America. They surveyed people living in British Columbia, Canada who were older than 16 years of age about their climate anxiety following the heat wave and compared the results to those collected prior to the heat wave. Like me, the majority of participants expressed increased anxiety about climate change due to the heat wave.
This is a real concern. I see it among the students in the sustainability classes I teach and in the conversations I have with people. Sure, it’s cliche to talk about the weather but when the weather is record breaking in every direction it’s hard not to talk about the weather. But we can’t do anything to impact the weather. I can’t do anything but put on my shoe spikes to walk in the freezing rain and my neoprene face mask to walk in the freezing wind.
We can however do something to impact the climate. We can change one food item a day to something with a smaller impact. We can use active transportation whenever we can. We can actually prioritize equality so that we can eliminate issues like food deserts. We can care about our fellow human and non-human neighbours.
Climate anxiety is real and we can’t fix it immediately. But we need to act together so that one day our actions change the climate for the better and make our weather less stressful.