by | Jun 25, 2021 | Blog

Young child holding picture of Earth with a facemask on.

Summary

  •  Psychologists have coined the intense feeling of climate change despair as “solastalgia”. The emotional turmoil of climate change despair can potentially lead to anxiety, burnout, and depression.
  • Whether it is a young person or an adult living with climate change despair, tackling climate anxiety and addressing the climate crisis are inherently linked. Similarly, psychologists have acknowledged that the best way to help with climate change despair is to take practical action.
  • Choosing a sustainable way of life can have a positive impact on climate change. For example, opting to buy energy-efficient white goods, reusing and recycling products, and even eating less meat can all play a part.
  • There are many industrial hubs that recognise the importance of becoming carbon neutral and have green investment opportunities. For example, the Port of Rotterdam is becoming one of the world’s most sustainable industrial clusters. Here, the community aims to reuse carbon and it has a target to reduce the Port’s emissions to 50% of 1990 levels by 2025.
  • Most renewable energy sources produce extremely minimal global warming emissions (and often none at all). When taking the “life cycle” emissions of clean energy into consideration, the global warming emissions associated with renewable energy are often negligible.

Introduction

The sheer impact of climate change is hard to ignore, and it is affecting us both physically and emotionally. We can see the effects of global climate change happening before our eyes – such as sea levels rising, glaciers shrinking, and longer, more intense heat waves. A rising number of people are now suffering from climate change despair, with the feeling that there is no hope of improving or fixing the damage done to Earth.

Climate-induced grief affects many people and appears to be particularly problematic with the younger generation. This is due mainly to the increasing visibility of climate change, combined with rising carbon dioxide emissions and widespread public access to bleak scientific reports. Climate change is being reported everywhere, so it is hard to escape from the pessimistic environmental outlook. As a result, many young people are increasingly losing hope for their future.

Our actions can positively influence the environment and our health, so it is worth taking active steps to make a difference (and feel better too). In this piece, we are going to explore climate change despair and consider how making positive green investment choices, such as renewable energy stocks, could help brighten up our outlook.

What Is Climate Despair?

Psychologists have coined the intense feeling of climate change despair as “solastalgia”.

The physical impact of the climate crisis is impossible to ignore, but a less obvious consequence has now caught the eye of experts. They suggest that the escalating environmental emergency has put a strain on people’s emotional wellbeing. Psychologists warn that the impact is debilitating for the growing number of people who feel overwhelmed by the scientific reality of ecological breakdown. Some may have already lived through traumatic climate events.

Psychologists have coined the intense feeling of climate change despair as “solastalgia“. It often hits people following adverse environmental events and natural disasters such as wildfires and floods. Individuals who are vulnerable to developing solastalgia essentially face a barrage of negative information and worrying trends. The more they engage with the subject of climate change, the more they realise the sheer scale of what needs to be done. The intense emotions can then spiral into disempowerment, as the person feels that it is simply beyond their capacity to enact any meaningful environmental change. The emotional consequences of this issue can be pretty dire, potentially leading to anxiety, burnout, and depression.

Worryingly, experts find that the younger generation of people suffering from climate change despair is not just the older teenagers or those at high school, but also those in the first grade of elementary school. Children as young as six are experiencing environment-related stress and anxiety, wondering if we are winning the war against climate change.

There is no way to shield children from climate change issues altogether, and it may even be counterproductive to do so. After all, global warming is a very real and pressing issue. But there are ways to prepare ourselves for conversations about the topic with younger people to help them to feel comfortable speaking about their concerns. Ideally, they should also feel empowered to take action against climate change.

When it comes to living with the pressures of climate change despair, tackling climate anxiety and tackling the climate crisis are inherently linked. Psychologists generally suggest that the best way to appease this kind of anxiety is the same method that’s required to deal with climate change at large – taking action. So we need to get out there and do something to help with the problem.

How To Ease Climate Change Despair

Infographic of people concerned about climate change with modern industry in the background.

Addressing climate change is not down to one individual, and it is not sustainable to be working on solving climate change 24/7.

You can take some proactive measures to ease the adverse effects that solastalgia may be having on your mental health. When we feel detached from the Earth, which solastalgia highlights, we should search for ways to reconnect by visiting places and locations that make us feel secure and safe. This could mean finding a special place in the park that gives you a sense of safety and comfort (and is easily accessible so you can visit there as often as you need). Reconnecting with nature can help bring back a sense of balance that’s required to get through each day when experiencing signs of climate change despair.

Talking about how you are feeling with other people can also help provide some comfort. Being part of a community and going through solastalgia together can bring more people together to make a positive impact. For example, you could try to tackle some of the climate change issues together as a group. You could consider how you could help rescue animals or raise money for the charities that are pricing materials and delivering goods to the people who need them. If you have the time, you could also get involved in an eco-friendly organisation to help work on any related climate change issues.

Getting involved and engaging in environmental issues that are important to you (and being active in your community) can help you achieve a sense of purpose. In addition, doing whatever you can do to create positive eco changes is one of the best ways to combat feelings of powerlessness and overcome solastalgia.

However big or small the difference you make, it’s important to make the conscious effort of recording your actions and celebrating the change. Nobody is too small or too young. Making connections with other people is essential, along with realising that you will not fix the problem on your own. Addressing climate change is not down to one individual, and it is not sustainable to be working on solving climate change 24/7.

Spend Money Where It Counts

If you are in a position to make investments and want to ensure your money is having a positive influence on the climate crisis, renewable energy is one to consider.

You may not have the spare time to get involved in a community eco group or attend environmental rallies. But having limited availability does not mean you do not care just as much about the environment. Most likely, you’ll still want to do your bit to fight climate change. It is not about breaking the bank or making life-changing choices. Instead, you can help through small everyday spending decisions.

Choosing a sustainable way of life can have a positive impact on climate change. For example, opting to buy energy-efficient white goods, reuse and recycle products, and eat less meat can all benefit the environment (and even save you money). Here are some examples of the green choices you can make to play your part in fighting climate change and keeping solastalgia at bay:

  • Approach your utility provider – For only a little more money per month, the average household can help boost their national renewable energy sector. By contacting your utility provider, you can ask them about their green energy packages and run your home off renewable energy sources. You can even ask to have clean power added to the grid on your behalf.
     
    Fossil fuels are the primary cause of global warming. By switching to clean energy sources such as wind energy, solar energy, and hydropower, we can reduce our reliance on polluting power sources and help repair some of the climate change damage.
  • Organic food choices –  Sourcing all of your groceries organically can be expensive, but if you are in a position to buy organic food, it can help fight climate change. Organic farming does not depend on synthetic pesticides and fertilisers throughout the growth cycle. It also requires 30% to 50% less energy during production.
     
    The American non-profit Rodale Institute found that if all cropland ventures converted to organic practices, this switch would counteract the world’s yearly carbon dioxide emissions. So, even if you are unable to fill your basket with organic produce due to the high price point, choosing organic options wherever possible will still have an impact.
  • Eat less beef – Compared to other popular meats, beef has a substantial toll on the environment. A study by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reported that beef requires over 25 times more land to produce than chicken or pork. It also needs 11 times more water and produces five times more greenhouse gases (including methane).
     
    By substituting your minced beef for free-range chicken or turkey mince, you can help fight climate change. It is not only a greener choice, but it may also be better for your health. If you are happy to take it one step further, you could even try a plant-based option like minced corn. There are many tasty beef alternatives on the market.
  • Flicking the switch – Many people do not know that standby energy could cost you money and waste electricity. The Australian consumer advocacy group Choice found that the annual standby cost for an inefficient large air conditioner was $25, while the cost for a Blu-ray player was $18. You could be paying up to $100 or more per year for unnecessary power and contributing more than 1000 kilograms of greenhouse gases.
     
    One solution is to switch off the wall sockets in your house that are plugged in but not in use (or simply unplug them). It does require a bit of adjustment, but it’s also a step towards fighting climate change and saving you money. If you prefer, some power-saving products are available that sit between the wall socket and the powerboard and allow you to disconnect power from multiple appliances in one go – almost like an eco-friendly version of a multi-plug extension socket. Whichever method you go for, try not to waste energy.

As we mentioned above, there are plenty of things you can do to make a difference, no matter your situation. However, if you are in a position to make investments and want to ensure your money is having a positive influence on the climate crisis, renewable energy is one to consider. In the next section, we will look into how renewable investments can possibly make a difference to climate change despair.

Invest Where It Matters

The majority of renewable energy sources release little to no global warming emissions.

Rather than despair about climate change, you can take action and make investments where it counts. Every major economy has an industrial zone, such as the Port of Rotterdam (Europe’s largest seaport). Anything that can be made from crude oil is made at the Port. Although this facility provides occupations and the essentials that currently support modern life, it also plays a part in climate change.

Depending on your perspective, these types of ports may fill you with a sense of hope and opportunity. However, if you are concerned about the environment, these projects might make you feel a sense of despair and helplessness. How investors feel about the impact that central industrial zones have on climate change often determines where they choose to put their capital.

There are many industrial hubs that recognise the importance of becoming carbon neutral, and these hubs often have green investment opportunities. The Port of Rotterdam is becoming one of the world’s most sustainable industrial clusters. It aims to reuse carbon, with the general target of reducing emissions to 50% of 1990 levels by 2025. These goals and initiatives are crucial when places like the Arctic are in crisis, as the consequences will affect lives across the globe.

The Arctic is warming at a staggering rate of two times the global average. It was recorded in 2020 that the Arctic as a whole had its warmest year ever (or at least since temperature data collection began in 1979). There were also record temperatures reached in Siberia over the summer of 2020, where territories reached 38° C, resulting in wildfires that released a never-before-seen amount of emissions.

One of the most helpful ways to address climate change on a personal level is to invest in renewable energy. The majority of renewable energy sources release little to no global warming emissions. Even when taking the “life cycle” emissions of clean energy into consideration, the global warming emissions associated with renewable energy are minimal. People are often concerned with the emissions associated with each stage of a renewable technology’s life (manufacturing, installation, operation, and decommissioning), but it is a drop in the ocean compared to non-renewable sources.

Similar to industrial centres, renewable energy sites can generate jobs and provide lucrative economic opportunities. When compared to fossil fuel energy production, which tends to be mechanised and capital intensive, the renewable energy industry requires more labour. Solar panels, for example, need humans to install and maintain them. On average, more employment opportunities are created per unit of renewable electricity generated than by fossil fuels.

In addition to the jobs being directly created by the renewable energy industry, the growth in clean energy production can also create a positive economic “ripple” effect. This can apply to local governments that benefit from clean energy in the way of property, taxes, and other payments from renewable energy proprietors. Landowners associated with renewable projects often receive lease payments varying from $3,000 to $6,000 per megawatt of installed power, in addition to any charges for power line easements and priority access to roads. There is also potential for landowners to earn royalties based on the renewable project’s annual revenues.

UCS analysis found that a 25-by-2025 national renewable electricity standard would stimulate $263.4 billion in new capital investment for renewable energy technologies. This type of development may also generate $13.5 billion in new landowner income, biomass production and wind land lease payments, and $11.5 billion in new property tax revenue for local communities.

Closing Thoughts

It is common knowledge that the global energy demand is not slowing down. Driven by emerging economies and non-OECD nations, total worldwide energy usage is expected to grow by nearly 50% by 2050. Fossil fuels are expected to remain a considerable source of power, the growth in renewables will be impressive. This projected growth is worthy of a portfolio position for savvy investors.

If you are someone who struggles with climate change despair, you may wish to speak with a professional who can offer you support and encouragement. You can also take action by investing in renewable energy. This may provide you with the reassurance that you are helping make a change and taking advantage of a long-term investment opportunity. It is the best of both worlds. Choosing to invest in renewables over fossil fuels does not mean that your investment will be less lucrative by default.

FAQs

What is climate change?

Climate change is the long-term shift in the average weather patterns across the Earth. It is estimated that since the mid-1800s, humans have been contributing to the release of carbon dioxide and various other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. This has caused global temperatures to rise, resulting in long-term changes to the climate.

 

How is climate change caused?

The leading cause is burning fossil fuels to produce energy. As you may know, this combustion process releases harmful greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous monoxide. Over time, large quantities of these destructive gases have built up in the atmosphere. Once they are in the atmosphere, greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide, form a ‘blanket’ around the planet. The blanket traps the warmth from the sun and causes the Earth to heat up.
 
Over the years, scientists have ruled out natural events such as volcanic activity, changes in solar activity, or natural sources of CO2 as the leading cause of climate change. These may have, however, had a negligible effect on top of human contributions. In their most recent report, the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states that human activity is highly likely to be the leading cause of climate change.

 

Why do some people deny climate change?

At the centre of it all, climate change denial is a dispute between facts and values. People sometimes deny the climate crisis because, to them, it just doesn’t fit right. Acknowledging climate change involves accepting specific facts. Taking the next step to be concerned about climate change involves connecting these facts to values. It builds bridges between the science of climate change and peoples’ various causes, commitments and convictions. Denial happens when climate science rubs people the wrong way. Instead of making people want to address the climate crisis, it makes them resist the very thought of it as the facts of anthropogenic global heating clash with their personal objective

 

What is the difference between climate change and global warming?

“Global warming” refers to the rise in worldwide temperatures mainly due to the increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. On the other hand, “Climate change” refers to the increasing, measurable changes in the climate over a long period of time. This includes precipitation, temperature, and wind patterns.

 

How can we stop climate change?

It is not possible to stop global warming overnight or even over the next several decades, but we can slow down the rate and limit the negative impact caused by humans. This can be done by reducing human emissions of heat-trapping gases and black carbon. Once this excess heat radiates out into the atmosphere, the Earth’s temperature should stabilise. One of the main ways we can personally help reduce carbon emissions is through investing in renewable energy and making everyday green choices such as eating less meat.

 

Westbridge Energy Corporation

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