Climate Anxiety is a Normal Response to a Terrifying Problem

With the climate emergency increasingly in the headlines, we’re seeing a rise in climate anxiety, with 68% of young adults (18-29), and 57% of adults ages 30-49 saying climate change makes them feel “afraid”.

Climate anxiety can manifest in many different ways, including:

  • DespairBanksy-Heart-Balloon-Graffiti
  • Fear
  • Grief
  • Hopelessness
  • Helplessness
  • Numbness

You might feel one or two of these,  or you might feel them all. You might feel different feelings at different times. This is all perfectly normal. These feelings are, in fact, a valid response to a terrible problem

But what do you do? How do you live with these feelings? Can you drown yourself in distraction? Should you throw yourself into climate action?

There’s no quick fix to these feelings (the ‘fix’ would be for the climate emergency to be solved), but through inner – and outer – work, you can stop their paralytic hold over your life and move into taking action.

Person holding a

Embracing Your Feelings

There are a few steps to this journey, which I outline in my book, but one of the most important is to embrace these feelings. You may have heard the saying “you can’t heal what you can’t feel.” As a psychologist, I know this to be true for most things, including problems as large as the climate emergency.

One of the best ways to get comfortable with embracing your feelings is to talk about it with others, especially with those who understand.

Throughout my career, I’ve talked to dozens of people who say they don’t – or feel they can’t – talk with their friends and family about the climate emergency.

This isn’t okay.

You are in pain, and you deserve to be heard.

Talking with Others Can Help

Thankfully, there are resources out there to help you connect with others about the human experience of living through this ‘age of crises’.

  • If you’re looking for a longer-term, group connection, I highly recommend the Good Grief Network. They run online, 10-week sessions to help participants build resilience in the face of the crisis.
  • If you like to write or journal, check out The Climate Journal Project. They hold bi-weekly collective journaling sessions based around a different theme or prompt.
  • If you want to share your experience of the climate emergency with the world, consider submitting a blog, a story, photo essay, poem or video to Eco Anxious Stories. You can also browse their offerings to see what others have shared.
  • Finally, if you want to connect with others soon and in a low-commitment conversation, I strongly encourage you to check out my own Climate Emotions Conversations. These free, small group, 1.15-hour conversations are available to anyone with a laptop or desktop computer. Offered weekly, you can register for one right now.

Check these out and begin your journey today.

However, it is important to say that these will not “solve” your climate anxiety altogether; I’ve been doing this work for over 7 years and the anxiety/fear/grief are still present within me. 

But they will help! As one participant of a Climate Emotions Conversation said “It didn’t make the problem go away, but it’s made me better resourced to deal with it by speaking and listening to [my group].”


Margaret Klein Salamon, PhD
Founder and Principal, Climate Awakening