Every day you read about how real the “climate crisis” is and getting worse. Humans burning fossil fuels to support out-of-control consumerism have brought the earth to the brink of disaster. Droughts, floods, storms, tornadoes, earthquakes and plagues of all kinds are proliferating. You are, of course, feeling all natural human reactions: fear, terror, not to mention overwhelming guilt because of your own role in causing the crisis of serious guilt. in enjoying your life. In a nutshell, you’ve entered what experts call “climate anxiety.”
The New York Times, as usual, went ahead on the matter. Back in July 2021 they published a feature length work by Molly Peterson titled “How to assuage your climate anxiety.” Sub-headings: “Amid wildfires, heatwaves and hurricanes, we all feel anxious about the future. But stewing or ignoring the problem won’t ease your burden.” Yes, if you were a writer for the New York Times, you would fully expect that among readers, it would be correct to say that “we all” feel anxious about the climate. How can we not? Please, Molly, tell us how bad it is. Excerpt:
Evidence that climate change threatens mental health is growing, According to a recent report from Imperial College London’s Global Health Innovation Institute. Higher temperatures related to depressive language and higher suicide rate. Fires, storms and heat wave risk of injury and depression. . . . Especially young people report feeling depressed by climate anxiety and the frustration of older generations. “They try to understand, but they don’t,” said Adah Crandall, 16, a climate and anti-highway activist in Portland, Oregon. “I fear for my future because of the adult’s inaction in the past.”
But, as the Times headline admits, “Try and ignore the problem” won’t calm your raging anger. You are looking for real solutions here. You want to do something.” Fortunately for you, a whole new psychologist has sprung up to advise you.
I recently learned about this topic regarding my upcoming college reunion (50th – ouch!). The university is Yale – I know, one of the worst institutions on the planet. One of my classmates realized that they were planning some kind of conference on climate change, and he suggested this opportunity to me. But it turned out that the organizers (surprise!) had other intentions. Another guy in our class, a guy named Mick Smyer, was one of the psychologists who specialized in the “climate anxiety” game, and they passed the board to him. Here is a link some information about Smyer. It looks like Smyer will offer his services to help us all “cope”.
The hypothesis here that you have to believe to enter the game is that there is a climate crisis and it is caused by human emissions of CO2. If you believe that, people will think that you might be nervous, such as China has allowed new coal-fired power plant capacity of about 47 GW to build just this year. In emissions rates given by our EIA for coal-fired power plants 2.23 pounds of CO2 per kWh, which means China’s new coal power plants this year alone will emit about 460 million tons of CO2 annually when they are in operation.
To counter that, what does Dr. Smyer suggest to improve your “climate anxiety”? My classmate who recommended me to the board went through Smyer’s earlier statements and came up with a list of suggested actions he suggested you could take, along with save CO2 emissions from each of those actions. Here are some of my favorites (figures in parentheses are said to be annual CO2 emissions reductions in tons):
- Change the air filter on your air conditioning system regularly (0,30). Well, at least he’s not suggesting getting rid of the air conditioning altogether. That will go beyond the fading.
- INCUBATE (0,31). I’m not sure exactly how it would work in Manhattan.
- Buy fresh food more than once per week (buy all your food from local sources save up to 100 tons per year) (100). I find the estimate of a 100-ton annual reduction in CO2 emissions to be very questionable, but let’s put that aside. Has Smyer noticed that around this part of our country goes a full six months each year (around November to April) without any fresh local fruit or vegetables? And then there are things like coffee, oranges, avocados, rice, etc., just things that aren’t grown around here. I guess it goes back to the carrots, radishes and potatoes in the tuber casserole.
- Recycling (1,40). Aren’t we all doing it by government mandate?
- Move to a smaller house (2.70). Now we are getting to the heart of the matter – voluntary poverty. I bet you can save even more by going into a monastery.
- And here are my personal favorites: Turning off the water while brushing your teeth can save 0.05 tons per year. That would really put those ChiComs in their rightful place! Unfortunately, as I understand it, in Manhattan, the water system up to six stories high is entirely gravity-operated and has no electricity.
While Dr. Smyer’s suggestions may appear absurd, he has nothing to do with Mrs. Peterson of the New York Times. For her article, she followed something called Grief network:
Non-profit organization Grief network provides support for climate change issues through a 10-step process, introduced at weekly meetings with a pledge to “reinvest in meaningful efforts.” . . . “We don’t consider any single approach a silver bullet” against climate anxiety and inaction, said Sarah Jornsay-Silverberg, chief executive officer of Good Grief Network. Instead, the goal is to do things, small or large, that are meaningful to you and reflect an inner shift in your outlook.
So what is an example of a specific step? Here’s what one topic of the article did:
Using non-combustible materials and sustainably protectable spaces, they rebuilt. And next to their new home, they planted a flowering tipu tree that can provide shade in just a few years. “The idea is, we’re not going to be beaten by this,” he said.