I’ve been eco-outraged for years. Science says that’s just fine.
Eco-anger might be the only state of mind that’ll get people to do what’s urgently necessary to avoid climate crisis catastrophe.
New science from researchers at three Australian universities says so.
Samantha K. Stanley, Teaghan L. Hogg, Zoe Leviston and Iain Walker recently studied “…how different negative emotions (anger, anxiety and depression) evoked by climate change each relate to mental health and pro-climate behavior.”
I learned about their report, “From anger to action: Differential impacts of eco-anxiety, eco-depression, and eco-anger on climate action and wellbeing,” thanks to an Instagram post by Future Earth featuring Amy Westervelt’s take (click on the graphic). She’s a California-based freelance environmental reporter, founder of Climate Confidential and producer and host of the Drilled podcast.
There’s much to the researchers’ findings, including:
“Eco-anger may be a healthy and adaptive form of expressive coping…”
That’s good news for people like me.
As any regular reader of this blog knows, I’ve been eco-livid for years. In fact, writing IV Words posts about the climate crisis, environment, global warming, lukewarm or non-responses by governments and self-serving actions of politicians is one of the few ways I manage to cope.
Click images to visit the websites.
I write climate-crisis posts to draw attention to the literally life-threatening problem, to inform people who don’t already understand about the dangers of staying on the same path, and to call out the people who are simply standing by or, worse, making things worse through their actions and inactions.
Writing about global warming and climate change keeps my eco-anxiety at bay (to an extent) and helps ward off eco-depression. As we get closer to multiple critical tipping points in the climate crisis, staying on top of anxiety and limiting depression become more important every day. We have to stay engaged and capable of continuing the fight to do anybody any good, including ourselves.
And there are good reasons to be angry, anxious and depressed about what’s happening and not happening with the climate crisis. As Yale Environment 360 reports –
“Some of the most alarming science surrounding climate change is the discovery that it may not happen incrementally — as a steadily rising line on a graph — but in a series of lurches as various ‘tipping points’ are passed. And now comes a new concern: These tipping points can form a cascade, with each one triggering others, creating an irreversible shift to a hotter world.”
So, yeah, I’ve been more than a little pissed.
I’d begun to worry about it, too. Seriously.
I’m instantaneously infuriated when I think, read or hear about politicians who continue to pander to fossil fuel companies and take their money; encounter someone who still, after all the science-based evidence, says they don’t “believe” in climate change; or a denier attempts to argue there’s not a “consensus” on the climate science. It doesn’t matter what they believe, consensus has never meant 100 percent agreement and, goddamn it, every one of these imbeciles is putting my children’s future at risk!
(See what I mean?)
Can this be healthy? The Australian research says, why yes, it can.
As relieved as I am to learn my eco-anger is not necessarily a bad thing, and is possibly even productive, the researchers reported something else that caught my eye:
“Our results suggest encouraging eco-anger may promote positive pro-climate behavior change while preserving mental health… those advocating for climate action, as well as public communication and education campaigns, may be more successful if they rely on anger-based messaging. Meanwhile, messaging that makes people feel anxious or depressed about climate change may be unsuccessful, or potentially dangerous for community wellbeing.”
These insights about messaging are valuable; I can apply them here and in my other work.
In a recent guest post on the Something to Ponder About blog, I wrote about the importance of being positive while communicating about the climate crisis. Turns out being angry doesn’t hurt, either.
Rather than being detrimental to the cause, eco-anger actually furthers it. To which I say…
If you aren’t already, it’s high time to get mad about global warming and the climate crisis. Shout it from the rooftops to the mountaintops. Because, my friends, this is the only ecosystem we’ve got.
RAGE, RAGE against the dying of our species!
Featured image by Luz Fuertes via unsplash.com.