The daunting challenge of grappling with climate change, and the environmental destruction already occurring, can fuel feelings of anxiety, depression and hopelessness, a professor warns. Jennifer Atkinson, an associate professor of environmental humanities at the University of Washington, Bothell, has gained national attention for focusing on this psychological phenomenon —what’s been called eco-anxiety, climate grief and eco-distress— that is perhaps unique to our Anthropocene Age. On October 20, Atkinson will lead a virtual talk discussing her work, Climate Anxiety, Grief and Hope: Moving from Angst to Action. The 7 p.m. virtual talk is provided free by New Mexico State University’s Climate Change Education Seminar Series.
Atkinson will discuss healthy approaches to the stresses that arise from confronting the reality of climate change, in order to help those concerned stay engaged in action.
“Staying engaged in climate solutions over the long term requires us to avoid emotional burnout; yet when bombarded with so much bad news — mass extinction, dying oceans, displaced communities and burning forests — this is easier said than done,” Atkinson said. “These talks explore the mental health dimensions of climate disruption among students, scientists, activists and frontline communities, and shares practical strategies for building the emotional resilience to channel despair into meaningful action.”
Atkinson is working on a book titled, An Existential Toolkit for the Climate Crisis, which provides strategies that young people can use to cope with the emotional cost of confronting climate change. Atkinson has also produced a podcast, “Facing It,” which offers tools to channel eco-anxiety into action, and she is also leading public seminars on climate and mental health, many available through a website, An Existential Toolkit for Climate Justice Educators.
For more information and to register for upcoming events in the Climate Change Education Seminar Series, visit https://sustainability.nmsu.edu/nmsuccess/.
The final series installment for the fall semester will be a virtual talk at 7 p.m. November 17 by Karletta Chief of the University of Arizona titled, “Unique Climate Change Impacts on Water Resources of American Indians and Alaska Natives in the U.S.”