Climate Corner: Ecological grief

Mar 11, 2023

Vic Elam

A few years ago, I reviewed the results of a survey of people from inner cities who were asked a number of questions about natural areas and their relation to them. One interesting takeaway from that survey was that even people who never traveled outside of the city and experienced nature, supported the protection of natural areas, and take comfort knowing that these areas exist.

This revelation leads me to believe that even people who don’t experience nature suffer from a phenomenon referred to as ecological grief. I feel certain that most people whose lives are closer related to nature must suffer much more so from ecological grief.

I think that it is human nature to throw up your hands in despair and feel that there is nothing that you can do to prevent the calamity of ecological destruction impacting ourselves, our environment, and the wildlife that we share this planet with. Although, I feel that it is important to be aware of the damage we are causing, and keep pushing for better, we should step back and take stock in our progress.

Most people now understand and accept that climate change is a real modern human-induced condition. Renewable energy technological breakthroughs are finding new and more efficient ways to harness energy at a blistering pace. The promising outlook for new, better-paying, clean energy jobs that offset those lost is encouraging. You see more electric vehicles on the road every day. Even when disaster strikes such as the train derailment in East Palestine the public outcry is louder and the demand for change so much stronger that it feels like change is in the air.

Yes, we have a long way to go to undue the damage wrought by our fellow humans acting without regard for their fellow man, and we will continue to have setbacks. But miring ourselves in ecological grief will not help the situation. We need to keep a positive attitude. I recommend that if you find yourself discouraged about the state of the environment, take a hike in the woods, take up a hobby such as birding, or just sit quietly in a park, open your senses and you will see that all is not lost, there is still much to save. Please join in the effort, for each of us making a small difference adds up to a huge change.

We all know what needs to be done, let’s get to it.