Climate fear, and the cure for it

The bad news is coming at us faster and faster, it seems. Just today, the Carolina Public Press released this story about climate research going on right here in our region. The Asheville-based North Carolina Institute for Climate Studies warns that we can expect increasing threats from our changing climate.

The frightening predictions about our climate can be overwhelming. I admit it — for years, I have read or listened to these warnings then just kind of hoped they’d go away. Maybe it’s not as bad as the scientists predict, I thought. (It is.) And like with so many other challenges we have created, poor and marginalized communities will suffer the worst effects. It’s getting too hard to ignore.

I’ve been searching for a word in the English language to express this formidable mixture of fear and grief that we experience when we let the reality about climate change sink in. I think the reason we don’t have this word is that we’ve never had to grapple with a challenge this big.

I haven’t found a word for it, but I think I’ve found a cure for it: work. Getting to work on the solutions has been a way to channel all the negative feelings into something positive. And as it turns out, the guilt we feel about our own personal choices isn’t all that useful. To do this work, we have to work together. This cure is best summed up in this New York Times article.

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