A professor who teaches climate change classes — a subject some would question as a legitimate area of study — said she has seen students who suffer fear, grief, stress, and anxiety about the future.
“A student in Wendy Petersen Boring’s climate-change-focused class said she woke at 2 a.m. and then cried for two solid hours about the warming ocean,” CNN reported.
“This is a computer science major,” Petersen Boring said.
Peterson Boring is an associate professor of history, religious studies, women and gender studies at Willamette University in Oregon also has taught climate change classes for more than ten years.
“In that short time, she has watched her students’ fear, grief, stress, and anxiety grow,” CNN reported.
”Back in 2007, it was the mouse in the room; then, it became the elephant in the room,” Peterson Boring said. “By 2016, those concerns and fears began to flood over.”
CNN bolsters her claim by citing polls it says show many Americans are worried about global warming without linking to any of those polls.
But the media outlet does link to a 2007 abstract on a federal website that puts a name on the so-called climate change anxiety.
“There’s no clinical definition, but climate anxiety and grief or solastalgia — ‘the distress that is produced by environmental change impacting on people while they are directly connected to their home environment’ — has become such a concern that the American Psychological Association created a 69-page climate-change guide to help mental health care providers,” CNN reported.
“Increasing adoption of active commuting, public transportation, green spaces, and clean energy are all solutions that people can choose to support and integrate into their daily lives,” the 2017 report stated. “These climate solutions, among others, can help to curb the stress, anxiety, and other mental illnesses incurred from the decline of economies, infrastructure, and social identity that comes from damage to the climate.”
And groups have sprung up to address the phenomenon, including Good Grief in Salt Lake City, “created to help people build resilience while discussing ‘eco-anxiety,’ despair and inaction on the environment.”
CNN notes that some people are so distraught that they have decided to join groups like BirthStrike, which advocates for not having children because of the grim future they would face because of climate change.
CNN does not question conclusions reached by the United Nations, including human activity causing the extinction of as many as a million species and that it could be just a matter of years until mass death and destruction if no action to stop climate change is taken.
“It’s going to take an enormous global effort to keep the planet from that catastrophic point,” CNN reported.
Then the news outlet blames the election of President Donald Trump for an increase in anxious students in Peterson Boring’s classes.
“With the Trump election, the change in my students, the sense of grief and fear and paralysis in the room, became palpable,” Petersen Boring said.
“Anxiety is something people feel more and more when they get closer to an anti-goal, meaning a negative result, like the destruction of the planet,” Janet Swim, a psychology professor at Penn State said in the CNN report.
CNN’s report includes a list of things people can do to lessen their climate change anxiety, including becoming a climate change activist, adopting a “plant-based diet,” walk or bike instead of driving, and bring your own coffee cup and utensils to work or the local coffee shop.
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