I am anxious and scared.
My knowledge on the climate crisis deeply affects me. On many occasions I have found myself crippled with fear and anxiety over a changing world, and feeling like a large part of the older generation is unconcerned about my generation’s future. I have felt unmotivated to make choices regarding my own future because I’m scared of what kind of world I will be living in if proper change doesn’t happen soon. I have heard other people my age say ‘I won’t die of old age, I’ll die from climate change’ numerous times. This has left me thinking that climate change anxiety is a real thing, yet another consequence of the climate crisis, that is debilitating young people’s mental health.
Everyday, I look around me and shake my head in disbelief at what Malta is becoming. I see precious land and trees making way for construction and roads. I see life being wiped out by hunters. I see tree bases covered in concrete. I see waste being dumped in the sea. Everyday, I see how money and greed rule this country, at the expense of a natural world. Many people realize this, but many people have also become numb to the realities of global warming. Many seem to want to turn away from these harsh realities and detach themselves from fear. However, there are people like myself who are unable to do so. And whilst we are being taught about climate change, we are not taught about how to cope with the anger, stress and fear, that come with that knowledge which may drive us into constantly worrying and complaining about the problem.
Unless we are able to learn how to deal with these feelings, our ability to tackle the problem will be futile.
Examples of futility? We are our own example, think about it. Most of what we do is try to influence other people’s actions. We tell people off for using a car, we pass remarks for the use of plastic, we complain about the government and so on. This is a cry for help from us young people, and it stems in significant part, from climate anxiety. When influencing, we’re usually faced with two types of responses:
- Applauded for using our voice for good
- Made fun of, called try-hards, attempting to control other’s lives
Regardless, when doing this, I still feel helpless, because I don’t feel like I’m making much of a difference. All along, people who have the power to make a difference are unwilling to take on the responsibility themselves. I begin to feel those feelings of stress, anger and fear, wanting to complain about how we’re getting nowhere. By time, when these feelings arise, I now try to take a step back to analyse and think of a more effective way of bringing change.
But this climate anxiety is also the driving force behind change. As a country, we must hand the reigns to younger people, who understand climate change and are passionate enough to fight it. We must give them a seat at the table with people in power, to discuss change together. We must bring children and youths from around the world to discuss climate change. The only way we will fight this crisis is if we listen to the people who cannot stand the destruction of the planet, but are willing to stand in the destruction to make a change.
So if you are a young person who suffers from climate anxiety, do not worry. Amidst the flaming chaos building up inside of you, take a moment, control the flame, and kindle it into a raging bonfire, the ultimate weapon in our arsenal, your voice. Stop trying to tell others what to do, that is their own flame to wield. Instead, master your own, and lead by example, be patient with the people around you, and never lose hope of change. With enough individual micro-decisions on this very line of thought, we will end up with a society geared for change, and only then can we stop looking longingly into the distant future, and take the decisive step.
(This article was originally posted on civilsocietymt.com)
Written by: Julia Cappitta
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