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Generation Dread: Grappling Our Emotions Amidst the Climate Crisis by Britt Wray

“If environmental injustice are to be healed, emotional intelligence will be key to that process. It can help people find understanding, common ground, acceptance, and importantly, the ability to offer reparation, from which forgiveness and partnership may be achieved.”

Are you someone who is anxious, hopeless, stressed or in fear about the future state of the environment? Even as an environmentalist, I find myself sometimes feeling like this.


There is no doubt that the threats to our environment continue to grow, causing us to develop complicated emotions about our actions, next steps and the future. One of the best books that have helped me dissect these emotional feelings was Britt Wray’s book, Generation Dread.


“...what made me wonder how the planetary health crisis might be psychological affecting people in other ways, including pernicious ones that most of us are not aware of”


There are times when uncertainty overpowers motivation, and convenience outcompetes new habits. The reasons behind our avoidance to take the next step towards a sustainable future are supported scientifically by Wray and research was done on emotions related to climate. Recognizing that our emotions are tied to our actions, hopelessness and stress caused by ecological anxiety might help us draw on solutions that reduce the implications of eco-distress.


Though intense feelings of eco-anxiety can be detrimental to our mental health and are experienced in different degrees, having healthy levels of stress is crucial to becoming better environmental stewards. Stable and balanced feelings of urgency can ensure actions are being taken


“The eco-distress that so many of us feel becomes a problem when it causes us to burn out, shut down, turn away, lose function, or get stuck in one dire place. But it can also carry enormously practical benefits when we have a chance to process it; it can urge us to gather new information, reassess our life choices, find a deeper purpose and make important changes that can help bring about justice-oriented societal shifts.”

As we become more aware of how our emotions can affect and drive sustainable action, a new perspective and mindset would arise. With confidence and positivity comes creativity and more chances to connect with each other. The climate movement requires collective action, and if we all prioritize the environment, we will become more capable of responding to the climate crisis. By understanding the emotions society and communities have developed around climate change, we can identify ways to turn hopelessness into motivation.


“The planetary health crisis is so urgent that we can’t afford to go too fast, slapping familiar but deficient solutions onto the problem instead of reimagining our approach. We must slow down enough to be thoughtful while still moving swiftly, get creative, and connect with our existential priorities as we design more capable and scalable responses.”


Reference:

Wray, B. (2022). Generation Dread: Finding Purpose in an Age of Climate Crisis. Knopf Canada.



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