We Need to Talk About the Emotional Impact of Climate Change

These days, it’s easy to feel helpless, lost, and a little depressed. The climate is changing, and there is only so much a single person can do.


Some recent studies are showing that climate change is literally impacting people’s mental well-being. And while that’s cause for concern, people can combat or address their emotional distress in a number of ways, says psychologist Renee Lertzman, who specializes in environmental melancholia, that specific psychological response people are experiencing due to environmental crises.

The thing about environmental melancholia, though, is that people don’t necessarily connect the existential crisis they’re feeling to the climate. That requires people to, well, talk about their feelings. Not surprisingly, talking is an important first step to dealing with mental health issues stemming from climate change and other environmental problems.

People can also take action, Lertzman told Earther, to address climate change and help themselves feel more proactive. Action can look differently for different people. I, for example, write and report on climate change. For you, it might look more like art, or organizing, or just riding a bike.

The key is to figure it out—with the help of your friends.

Yessenia Funes is climate editor at Atmos Magazine. She loves Earther forever.


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Earther videos are really well done. Yessenia and Mr. Michaels (forgot his first name) really have chops. Keep ‘em coming.

On that note... we’ve been fine tuning communicating about environmental degradation for at least as long as I’ve been alive. I’m old.

Environmental remediation can be explained, be it restoration of mined lands or climate change mitigation and adaptation, by a steaming pile of shit the family dog just took. Such as:

The dog skulks away knowing it was bad to have taken a dump on the living room floor. Mom tells, in general, to clean up the dog’s shit to her kids. Mom bolts to the grocery store. Oldest kid takes on management and communications roles of all siblings. Second oldest and brightest, but vagueish, discusses how the steaming pile of shit makes her feel and then finds the dog to give it a hug. Then takes it for a walk. All the while thinking about death and dying and the human condition. Third oldest doesn’t want to take direction from oldest - practices piano. Fourth oldest comes up with a dogshit pickup technology and writes a plan in his journal - upstairs away from the dogshit. Youngest and dumbest walks in after fucking around the neighborhood. Oldest tells youngest to pick up the dog shit. Youngest picks up the dog shit.

All environmental protection and remediation, like climate change investigation, mitigation and adaptation is exactly that. Getting society to pick up dog shit or mitigating climate change shouldn’t be that hard. The problem may simply be that a few humans with means like to know that most other humans lives suck. People are assholes.

Note: made several edits post publishing, i.e. word salad remediation.