Connect thru climate

What is climate change? and what is climate anxiety?

As we write these words, agriculture is driving deforestation, global temperatures are increasing, and sea levels are rising. Our climate is changing at unprecedented levels, whether we care or not. Indeed, our climate changes through natural processes, but this extreme change is undoubtedly anthropogenic: human-caused. Global warming fuels climate change, what NASA describes as “the long-term heating of Earth’s surface observed since the pre-industrial period (between 1850 and 1900) due to human activities, primarily fossil fuel burning, which increases heat-trapping greenhouse gas levels in Earth’s atmosphere.” These rising temperatures have widespread effects on the natural world. 

Although scientists have created countless models to predict the future of our planet, there is still significant uncertainty around the impacts of global warming and climate change. Experts warn of climate tipping points: thresholds in climate systems that, once we cross, the system tips into an entirely different natural state. The problem is that once these systems tip, they are at the point of no return; they have irreversible and catastrophic impacts on our planet. The idea of tipping points is where the goal of keeping temperature rise under 1.5 ℃ emerged.

This uncertainty, clouded with doom, has inevitably led to worry and, in many cases, anxiety. In 10 countries, 10,000 young people (aged 16-25) responded to a survey to collect thoughts and opinions on climate change. 59% reported being very or extremely worried, and 84% said they were at least moderately worried (Marks et al., 2021). This study focused on climate anxiety, what The American Psychological Association (2017) refers to as a chronic fear of environmental doom.

The topic of climate anxiety is what inspired this project. Many people are not aware of the mental health crisis that is climate anxiety, and we believe that by educating people on the topic and fostering a sense of community, this problem can be, at least partially, alleviated. Our team collected data from students at the University of Colorado, Boulder (aged 18-22) via survey; the survey results are in another post. We also created an Instagram account, @connectthruclimate, where we post student interviews and more information on climate anxiety. This project aims to help you feel less alone and more willing to fight climate change.