Join me in stopping global warming – Winnipeg Free Press
Nearly every time I read a news story about global warming or the dire state of the planet, I start to panic.
My heart starts beating so fast I can hear the thumps echoing in my ears, and I get the same sour taste in the back of my throat as when I’m about to throw up. My stomach becomes knotted, and I feel like my lungs become stiff.
I’m ashamed to admit this, but I have been teetering from sheer panic to complete denial about the climate crisis for as long as I can remember. I haven’t always done my part, and there are many ways I could be a better, more eco-conscious human. It has always been easier to pacify my anxiety with denial than to confront the issue and change my behaviour. Denial is a harder state to be in when the changes in the world have become so obvious.
I only recently learned the terms eco-anxiety and eco-grief to describe the feelings and mental toll climate change takes on a person. They are the chronic fear and sense of loss you feel when you realize or see the impacts of climate change. I think many of us have felt that doom, though it’s hard to articulate. For me, there is nothing more grim than the thought of my children’s future on fire.
There are plenty of scientists and activists who have been sounding the alarm for years about the climate emergency. A quick Google search will turn up countless articles that warn of doom brought on by the worsening crisis — full of sentences that get more dreadful with each word until the paragraphs become too heavy to read. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to stop reading because I was too afraid or depressed to continue. Sometimes I don’t go back to finish the article because the content is too grim, the outcomes hopeless. The problem is nearly too vast to understand.
The good news is, there is hope. I’ll say it again: There is hope.
Obviously, we need to make meaningful changes in our lives, such as eating less meat and consciously working to reduce food waste. We can work at cutting our reliance on fossil fuels, plastics and chemicals, and we can change our habits so we use less water. These are plenty of changes we can make. Policy makers also need to take more action against climate change, and we can use our voices and our votes to tell them that. Perhaps the first and biggest change we need to make is our perception of earth and how we view it.
I just started the University of Alberta’s Indigenous Canada course on the Coursera app. One of the first lessons is on Indigenous worldviews. It speaks to responsibility that we as human beings have to the land and to all the living things that inhabit this earth. We are stewards who are to treat the land not as a commodity to be exploited or used for its resources, but rather as our home and the place that we are supposed to care for and look after for ourselves and for future generations. We are borrowing this land from our kids.
I know I’m not an expert on climate change. I’m still learning, and I’m going to make plenty of mistakes in trying to get better. My intent in using my platform to write about this is not to scold or be judgmental, but rather to show anyone who carries the type of anxiety I do about climate change that they are not alone in those feelings and that they have hope to cling to.
I’m determined to keep learning and doing what I can to ensure that my kids and yours inherit a planet that is recovering, not burning, and that our earth — the heart of life — is treated in a way it should be. Please join me.
Columnist, Manager of Reader Bridge project
Shelley Cook is a columnist at the Winnipeg Free Press and manages the paper’s Reader Bridge project, which seeks to expand coverage of underserved communities.