Claim: Some People are Suffering Debilitating Eco-Anxiety – But their Fears are Justified 🤡🤡🤡

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Essay by Eric Worrall

If you wanted to help someone suffering debilitating eco-anxiety, would your starting point be reinforcing their delusions by agreeing with them?

Climate change and extreme heat are making us more anxious

Published: August 11, 2022 4.50am AEST
Kiffer George Card
Assistant Professor in Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University

Globally, heat waves have become an increasingly frequent summer affair, as much of the world faces extremely high temperatures. 

The rising frequency and intensity of heat waves can trigger various forms of emotional distress affecting people’s mental health. One such emerging form of distress is eco-anxiety, which is defined by the American Psychological Association as the chronic fear of environmental doom that comes from observing climate change. In other words, people are worried about what a changing planet means for them and future generations. 

According to a landmark survey on eco-anxiety, 68 per cent of adults reported experiencing “at least a little eco-anxiety” and 48 per cent of young people report that climate change negatively affects their daily life and functioning.

As a social and behavioural epidemiologist, I study how environments — social and natural — influence individuals and their health. For example, recent research by my team at Simon Fraser University found that a small number of people experience debilitating levels of eco-anxiety that cause cognitive and functional impairments that limit their ability to live happy and healthy lives.

Eco-anxiety: climate change’s new coping mechanism

These worries are normal and even rational. We are connected to the land, air and water around us. So when our environments change, a primal sadness and worry is perfectly appropriate and perhaps even advantageous for survival.

As highlighted by last year’s IPCC report, the evidence showing that climate change causes greater frequency and intensity of extreme heat events is more certain than any other documented effect of climate change. Unfortunately, the same report predicts that global temperatures will continue to rise and their effects will worsen.

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In my opinion it is ridiculous to assert that “primal worry and sadness” is justified, even if you accept IPCC climate science at face value.

Look at all the predictions of climate disasters which have fallen flat, like the prediction the Great Barrier Reef will die – a claim which looks totally ridiculous in the light of the recent news of record coral cover.

Look at Al Gore’s silly polar ice prediction, or the grandaddy of global warming predictions, the 30 year old UN prediction that the world would end in 10 years. Guess what – we’re still here.

Or the fact the worst heatwaves in the instrumental record occurred in the 1930s, not in recent times. Or the massive fall in the number of deaths from weather related disasters, thanks to our fossil fuel wealth, which gives us better forecasting, planning, medical care and housing construction. Or the fact the Earth is measurably greening, as the ecosystem responds to global warming and CO2 fertilisation.

CO2 and global warming by every reasonable metric to date has been good for the health of our ecosystem, and good for humans.

Maybe people who are suffering climate panic to the point of debilitation are incapable of listening to or evaluating contrary evidence. But surely trying to talk them down from their state of debilitating panic has got to be a better plan than reinforcing their delusions, by telling them their fears are justified.

via Watts Up With That?

August 10, 2022