'When the Glaciers Disappear, Those Species Will Go Extinct'

A ghost forest along and a debris flow field along part of Tahoma Creek at Mount Rainier National Park in Washington state, Oct. 20, 2018. America’s glaciers are losing ice as the world warms. As they shrink and meltwater eventually declines, changes in water temperature, nutrient content and other characteristics will disrupt those natural communities. (Max Whittaker/The New York Times)

“Eco-anxiety” is a growing psychological issue, bringing both positive and negative effects.

The term refers to feelings of depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress syndrome or panic attacks related to overwhelming concern about an environment crisis.

Plenty of reasons for anxiety exist; it’s a rare day that doesn’t see a new article about the impact of rising temperatures on our planet.

The outlook is not pretty: deadly heat waves, vast tracts of land unable to support agriculture, flooded regions and areas of severe drought, frequent serious storms, forced migration of people, loss of animals species ... the list goes on.

The feeling of doom seems especially heavy among young people, some of whom are even starting to question whether they should have children. Should they bring kids into a world that would be so inhospitable, where life might be much more difficult than it is now?

A Yale University and George Mason University survey taken this year shows 69 percent of Americans are “somewhat worried” about climate change and 29 percent are “very worried,” the highest percentages since the surveys started in 2008.

That means 98 percent of Americans have at least some concern about the environment. And we worry about that other 2 percent. At this point, climate-deniers are not just ignorant; they are dangerous, because they are an obstacle to action.

The tide of bad environmental news is leading to depression, but we can’t let a feeling of helplessness create inertia.

The tide can be turned. Increasing armies of citizens are demanding action from their governments. Look at the groundswell of voices protesting the burning of the Amazon jungle, where social-media outcry and news stories led to action by world leaders.

Change must happen on an individual and local scale, as well, and progress is being made in the City and Town of Plattsburgh toward reducing the carbon footprint of this region’s biggest community.

Scientist Owen Gaffney, who co-authored a paper that details achievable steps that governments, businesses and individuals can take to slow global warming, recently told the BBC that eco-anxiety is “the right response to the scale of the challenge.”

Gaffney said people should remain positive. He believes the world will rally to take on climate change if individuals do their part to raise awareness and adjust their own lives.

“We live in an age where people have more power than at any time in history. Look at your sphere of influence — employer, networks, family — and influence them. We don’t need to convince 100 percent of people, only 25 percent; then an idea can go from marginal to mainstream,” Gaffney said.

He points out that the methods needed to tackle climate change are known.

“The science is loud, clear and simple: We need to halve global emissions of greenhouse gases by 2030. All the solutions exist to do that, and if we implement them, then more people will be living in cleaner cities, eating healthy diets and working in resilient, buoyant communities.”

So we encourage a positive but strong and swift approach to climate change.

The time to take action is now, and the United States needs to be a leader, not a hindrance, in the effort to protect our planet’s health.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.