Moving beyond climate “doom and gloom”

By Ankita Arora, North Denver CCL chapter

As a child growing up in Delhi, India, one of my fondest memories was going on vacation in summer with my family to a small city that lies in the foothills of the Himalayas. The chirping of the birds, the smell of the trees, the lush green grass and the clear blue skies felt like heaven — luxuries we missed living in the capital.

A few years ago, we planned a family trip to rekindle our memories and I was shocked to realize that my heaven had been taken away from me. That there was no difference anymore between the city life of Delhi and the peace in the mountain city. “What kind of a world will my kids grow up in?” I thought. “Will they only see the Earth fried up, buried in ash — black and gray?” And that’s how my climate anxiety kicked in.

As I have shared these sentiments with my peers, I have realized many amongst us are feeling the same hopelessness, worry, and insecurity due to climate change. The recognition of the shared concerns about the future of our planet, and acceptance that they exist for a reason have helped me move beyond the “doom and gloom.” I found my answer to heal from climate anxiety in the article Is climate grief something new by the American Psychological Association (see other resources below). Especially the simple schematic that the article talks about — feeling, talking, uniting, and acting — in that order.

As I have delved deeper into the issues of climate anxiety, I have recognized the importance of taking the time to feel the grief as I observe the health of our planet deteriorating. I’ve realized that identifying the many ways I’m grieving for the damage that’s irreparable as well as what I fear we will lose in future goes a long way. In addition to facing and acknowledging my grief and anxiety, I’ve also learned I need to make sure that I take care of myself well — for me daily walks with my fur babies, meditation, quality time with friends and family, and a good weekend hike are essential.

Uniting together with people who have similar concerns and stories and joining hands together to solve one problem at a time has helped me in keeping my spirits uplifted. Joining CCL has been a game changer for me. CCL is a strong and positive community of people from across the political spectrum united in our efforts to create the political will to support national carbon pricing legislation. As a CCL-CO volunteer and an immigrant who also loves writing and social media, I’ve been able to plug in and get active in CCL in meaningful ways, through the newsletter, being a Media Manager, and working on the CO Social Media Team. There really is a place for everyone within CCL.

Equally important, to me, is taking action at a personal level. I agree with Dr. Katharine Hayhoe’s statement: “Taking action, when we can, fosters hope while managing expectations for the future.” To thwart global heating, I’ve been trying to do my part — by recycling, reusing, consuming fewer animal products, flying less, and making my home more energy efficient. In addition to reducing my carbon emissions and building climate resilience, this also gives me a sense of accomplishment.

The fight against climate change can be slow, burdensome, and excruciating. As Dr. Renee Lertzman, environmental psychologist and founder of Project InsideOut, reminded CCLers last year on a national call: “We need to address all of our emotions about the climate crisis, not only for our mental wellbeing but also to remove roadblocks to action. If we can’t look at how climate change makes us feel—along with the dilemmas and difficult choices we face—we can’t solve it.” These words hold true for me, and give me hope that one day my kids will experience the wonders of our planet like I have.

Here are more resources to ease the plethora of climate emotions that many of us are facing this summer, with the increasing heat waves, wildfires, and droughts.