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WATCH
AND
LISTEN
under 10 minutes
After Denial: How People React to the Hard Reality of Climate Change
Bill Finnegan
An interesting and thought-provoking film about how we might move beyond denial as we grapple with the anxiety created when we really think about climate change. Organized according to psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross's stages of denial, the film was the 2nd runner-up in the 2016 Yale Environment 360 Video Contest.
(August 2016)

longer
Climate Anxiety in the Trump Era
Renee Lertzman
This conversation with psychologist Renee Lertzman is quite interesting. Lertzman enters at 15:30 with an overview of the importance of our emotions in dealing with climate change (and how they interfere with our cognition and ability to act); at about minute 30, she shifts to how creativity is a counterforce to anxiety; at 39, to how talking about feelings helps us; at 45, to climate justice; and finally, to better ways we might frame the work of fighting climate change.
(38 minutes, November 2016)

The Biggest Story in the World: Psychology
The Guardian
Number six in this series of lively and informative audio podcasts linked to the Guardian's series climate change/leave it in the ground campaign focuses on the question of why we find it so hard to think, care about, and act on climate change‒and what we might do to get ourselves and others past the many emotional and psychological barriers.
(22 minutes, 2015)


READ
books
The Green Boat: Reviving Ourselves in Our Capsized Culture
Mary Pipher, Riverhead Books, 2013, 219 pp.
This very helpful and companionable book might be described as two stories in one, joined by psychologist Pipher's own journey from despair and grief about climate change to what becomes life-enhancing, empowering, and hope-creating action. One, she describes how she and other Nebraskans organized to fight the Keystone XL pipeline (designed to move crude oil from Canada's tar sands to the Gulf Coast, crossing the Nebraska Sandhills and Ogallala Aquifer). Two, she shares her considerable professional understanding of how to face and then move beyond despair.
Here is a video of her good 19-minute TEDx talk about these subjects.

articles & essays
How Do People Cope with Feelings about Climate Change So that they Stay Engaged and Take Action?
Susie Burke, February 2016, post on "Is this how you feel?" blog
Dr. Burke, a senior psychologist at the Australian Psychological Society, has good things to say here about how we can best cope with uncomfortable feelings about this subject and keep active. The larger blog site is worth looking at, too. So is the short, easy-to-read, downloadable booklet she refers to, Let's Speak about Climate Change.

When the End of Civilization is Your Day Job
John H. Richardson, Esquire, July 2015
A moving and troubling story about the emotional toll on several leading climate scientists, who see what is coming but are all too often attacked rather than listened to.

For more responses from scientists, see this August 2016 Vox story about the Dear Tomorrow project, which invites them to write a letter to the future. An interesting piece in Scientific American, "Facing Down 'Environmental Grief'" (by Jordan Rosenfeld, July 2016), looks at the emotional effects of climate work on ordinary citizens, activists, and scientists in terms of grief at environmental loss. And for two excellent related pieces by journalists about the emotional toll of covering climate change, see Mashable's Andrew Freedman and The Guardian's Michael Slezak column, both columns from January 2017.

What is Climate Change Doing to Our Mental Health?
Joanne Silberner, Grist, July 2014
Focused on Australia but with global ramifications. A good quick picture of the issue.

Breaking the Climate Fear Taboo: Why Feelings Matter for Our Climate Change Communications
Renee Lertzman, Sightline Daily, March 2014
Lertzman has focused her research on climate change communication and psychology, and this short, efficient blog post offers a set of four categories with which we think about engagement with the topic. One of them, the one having to do with feelings, we tend to neglect, to our loss. Here she offers five guidelines for allowing people to have their feelings without fear of judgment.

How to Be a Climate Hero
Audrey Schulman, Facing the Change: Personal Encounters with Global Warming, Torrey House Press, 2013
What might change in our actions and our feelings if we thought about global warming in the context of what psychologists know about the "bystander effect"? Through a story of her own experiences with that effect, Schulman poses this the simple but eye-opening and potentially powerful question. Posted here with the permission of the press, editor, and author.

Learning How to Die in the Anthropocene
Roy Scranton, New York Times blog, November 2013
In this moving and provocative personal essay, Scranton brings to bear what he learned as an Army private in Iraq‒how to "own" rather than fear his end‒on our collective predicament (especially global warming) and its challenge to "our sense of what it means to be human."

Hearing the Call
Joanna Macy, from Stories of the Great Turning, eds. Peter Reason and Melanie Newman, Vala Publications, 2013; also published in Resurgence & Ecologist Magazine, March/April 2013
This short piece offers an introduction to some of Macy's influential work as a Buddhist ecophilosopher facing a planetary crisis, suggesting five guidelines that might help us "make friends with uncertainty" and to "pour [our] whole passion into a project when [we] can't be sure it's going to work."

Getting Real about It: Navigating the Psychological and Social Demands of a World in Distress
Susanne Moser, Sage Handbook on Environmental Leadership, 2012
Drawing from a very wide range of resources, Moser's thoughtful essay about what it will likely take to be an environmental leader in a climate-disrupted world is well worth studying. The demands on such people, she suggests, will include having to face reality, working with grief, framing loss as part of a transition, learning to be with others in distress, holding paradoxes, valuing both accountability and forgiveness, and committing to nonviolence and restoration. Excellent sources for further reading. See the Sage Handbook (eds Gallagher, Andrews, Christensen) for the final version of this essay, or Moser's own website (linked here) for a pre-publication version.

The Id and the Eco
Rosemary Randall, Aeon, December 2012
"Thinking about climate change makes people feel helpless and anxious‒but that's why we must talk about it openly": so psychotherapist Randall explains in this terrific article. Rich in insights about human emotions as they interfere with our ability to deal well with climate change, and some good ideas about what we might do to face and cope with these emotions.

Making Friends with Fatalism
Renee Lertzman, Climate Access, April 2012
A succinct account of the trouble caused by such strong emotions as fatalism with some important, basic suggestions for how we might better "meet our experiences with compassion," face the truth, and remain active and engaged. Lertzman has made this topic one of her research and speaking foci, and it is easy to find her other articles and blog posts and videos of her talks.

To a Future Without Hope
Michael P. Nelson, 2010
This short, challenging essay suggests that appealing to hope might be a distraction, not a motivator, a "sugary cereal . . . not protein." Instead, philosopher Nelson proposes, we can "replace 'I hope' with 'I resolve to do the work' or 'I will be this kind of person, I will live this kind of life' or any sort of utterance that focuses on virtue rather than on consequence"‒and thus keep from losing our motivation in the face of setbacks, limitations, or failures. Reprinted courtesy of Trinity University Press. This essay appeared in the book
Moral Ground: Ethical Action for a Planet in Peril, $18.95, published by Trinity University Press. For more information, please visit www.tupress.org.

Is There an Ecological Unconscious?
Daniel B. Smith, New York Times, January 27, 2010
This article looks at current theories and investigations of what might connect "the health of the natural world and the health of the mind," including in the context of climate change, and discusses the term "solastalgia"--coined by Australian Glenn Albrecht to denote "the pain experienced when there is recognition that the place where one resides and that one loves is under immediate assault . . . a form of homesickness one gets when one is still at 'home.'"

To Remake the World
Paul Hawken, Orion Magazine, May/June 2007
This profoundly (and contagiously) optimistic essay describes Hawkens' gradual realization that there are now hundreds of thousands of grassroots organizations in the world that work for ecological sustainability and social justice: "tens of millions of ordinary and not-so-ordinary people willing to confront despair, power, and incalculable odds in order to restore some semblance of grace, justice, and beauty to this world." For a visual version of this insight, see photographer Chris Jordan's 2010 work "E Plurabus Unum."

websites

TEACH
resources
Is there a Climate "Spiral of Silence" in America?
Edward Maibach, Anthony Leiserowitz, and others, September 2016
How often do Americans talk (or hear) about climate change, and with (and from) whom? These questions have startling answers, as this study report illustrates. For a briefer update based on a November 2016 survey, published in January 2017, see here. Very useful background to the emphasis in many of the resources on this webpage on the importance of talking.

Facing Difficult Truths: Climate Psychology Alliance
A good resource for those with relatively professional interests in this topic, created and maintained by professionals.

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