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Forecast of increasing climate change anxiety

Climate change anxiety is growing across the world, and Wairarapa people haven’t been excluded.
Masterton-based counselling service ChangeAbility manager Jeremy Logan recently joined the newly formed Aotearoa Climate Psychology Alliance [ACPA].
The alliance said its founders were a group of Aotearoa-based psychotherapists and counsellors who were deeply alarmed about rapidly unfolding climate and biodiversity crises.
It said it wanted to contribute to and advocate for climate justice in Aotearoa.
Logan said recent Passenger Rail protests in Wellington showed there was desperation surrounding a perceived lack of action from the government to respond to the climate crisis.
He said there was also heightened anxiety in Wairarapa’s farming community with increased government regulations connected to climate change.
“What we are seeing is a real increase in people experiencing anxiety surrounding climate change.”
Logan said people were often unaware of the fact that climate change was causing them anxiety.
“We can’t be seeing stuff like the fires in Brazil, Australia, and Greece or hearing about the biodiversity loss without an internal experience.”
Health Navigator New Zealand said climate change anxiety was a sense of fear, worry, or tension linked to climate change.
“That anxiety can come from the pressure to take individual action while seeing societal inaction.”
It said excessive worrying about the climate could affect your mental health.
“The reality of climate change can feel overwhelming. This is why it has been labelled a crisis.”
Health Navigator New Zealand said younger people were more affected by climate change anxiety because it was more relevant to their lifespans.
Logan said now the world was beginning to experience the effects of climate change, it was going to provoke more anxiety and extremes in emotions.
He said those extremes could drive behavioural issues that were inappropriate, like attacking people or angry outbursts.
Logan said he saw two responses to climate change; anxiety and a complete shutdown.
“To deal with [climate change anxiety] you can shut it out and be in denial about it, but that is then going to lead to issues of depression when you shut down your emotions and emotional response.”
He said shutting out emotions about climate change could make people become intolerant, reactive, and very polarised.
Logan said social media was having an impact on polarisation.
“It’s feeding fear to people and information that fits with their views and understanding.”
People experiencing anxiety can contact Anxiety New Zealand at any hour for support at 0800 269 4389.

Grace Prior
Grace Prior
Grace Prior is a senior reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age with a keen interest in environmental issues. Grace is the paper’s health reporter and regularly covers the rural sector, weather, Greater Wellington Regional Council, and coastal stories.

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