What are the consequences of climate change? In a rapidly changing world, the effects are far too many. They are felt in nations big and small. And while people have begun to engage in dialogues, they miss out on the most important aspect, that of psychological and social wellbeing of people severely affected by the changing climate. In her Ted talk, science writer Britt Wray quickly and expertly addresses this subject, throwing grim facts about the fate of the planet and its people.
“For all that’s ever been said about climate change, we haven’t heard nearly enough about the psychological impacts of living in a warming world,” Wray begins her speech. “If you have heard the grim climate research that science communicators like me weave into our books and documentaries, you have probably felt bouts of fear, fatalism and hopelessness. If you have been impacted by climate disaster, these feelings can set in much deeper, leading to shock, trauma, strained relationships, substance abuse and the loss of personal identity and control,” she says.
Wray goes on to say that she intends to evoke a feeling for why we need our actions and policies to reflect an understanding of how our changing environments threaten our mental, social and spiritual wellbeing. “The anxiety, grief and depression of climate scientists and activists have been reported on for years… The American Psychological Association says that our psychological responses to climate change, like conflict avoidance, helplessness, and resignation are growing,” she continues.
She further says that a significant amount of people have begun to wonder if they should have a child in the age of climate change. “There’s even a movement called BirthStrike, whose members have declared that they’re not going to have kids because of the state of the ecological crisis, and inaction from governments to address this existential threat… Some feel that it’s better to adopt children. Or that it’s unethical to have more than one, especially three, four or more, because kids increase greenhouse gas emissions,” Wray says.
She says that it is really unfortunate when people who want kids sacrifice their right to, because somehow, they have been told that their lifestyle choices are to blame, “when the fault is far more systemic”.
“Mental health needs to be an integral part of any climate change survival strategy,” Wray says in conclusion.