Opinion | Climate Change Anxiety and Therapy – The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Anxiety Over Climate Change Lands on the Therapist’s Couch” (front page, Feb. 7):

Just as physical activity can alleviate anxiety and depression, climate activism can counter feelings of helplessness and despair.

Participating in demonstrations or writing to lawmakers is a start. Even better is working on specific projects with a group of other activists. Action with other people lifts the mood and lets individuals feel agency and meaning.

Bonus: Activism moves the needle on addressing the climate crisis itself.

Stephanie Doba

To the Editor:

I felt tremendous relief reading an article that brings awareness about the existence, increasingly common, of “climate anxiety.”

I’d like to highlight Dr. Thomas Doherty’s emphasis, mentioned in the article, on the corporate construct that cleverly shifts the responsibility of a carbon footprint onto each individual. This is similar to the way the petrochemical and plastics industries have shifted all responsibility for recycling, particularly of the packaging they create, onto the individual, although the responsibility for recycling plastics should lie with the manufacturers.

Mary Englert
Portland, Ore.
The writer is a retired licensed professional counselor.

To the Editor:

The world’s children are making a tremendous difference by speaking out about the crisis of climate change. But it is on us, the adults who have watched the evidence of climate change mount for decades, to do our share to help solve it.

Encouraging the mind-set that only corporations and elected officials can solve this is weak and illogical. Who elects the elected officials? Who buys from the corporations? Do we not have choices? We can bring about more climate-friendly corporate and government choices by choosing, supporting and speaking up for the ones that are already available.

Taking constructive action to solve problems is good for our mental health.

Tom Flynn
Larkspur, Calif.

To the Editor:

On a bad day, I can’t fight the feelings of frustration and anxiety about the climate catastrophe humans have brought about. Even on my good days, I know that the big polluters are still running amok.

What keeps me going and motivates me to work every day for a restored climate? A number of promising carbon dioxide removal (C.D.R.) solutions are in various stages of development and deployment. Combined with the mitigation of new emissions, restoring our climate by bringing carbon dioxide back to levels at which humans and ecosystems thrived for millenniums is possible.

Whether through technological means like directly capturing excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and turning it into synthetic limestone for concrete, or through natural means like kelp forests, we are already beginning to restore the climate.

Opinion Conversation The climate, and the world, are changing. What challenges will the future bring, and how should we respond to them?

The “realistic hope” that keeps my anxiety at bay comes from the many people around the world working to get C.D.R. processes up to a global scale. It’s time for elected officials at all levels of government to take decisive action to eliminate carbon dioxide emissions and to put into place policies that will allow C.D.R. solutions to flourish.

Rick Wayman
Santa Barbara, Calif.
The writer is the chief executive of the Foundation for Climate Restoration.

To the Editor:

An important point of the article in The Lancet that was cited in the Times article is that youth distress is directly related to the experience of governmental dismissal of and inaction on climate change. Young people are essentially reporting that their governments are gaslighting them by dismissing and devaluing their concerns, and by falsely stating that they are taking necessary action.

This has significant political implications. Multiple reviews of the mental health effects of climate change (this is not a new topic in academia) all predict civil unrest and conflict as the long-term outcome. Politicians have a chance to correct course, honor their young constituents’ fears and act decisively. While therapy matters, preventing climate catastrophe matters more.

Mary G. Burke
San Francisco
The writer is a professor in the department of psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco and a member of the university’s Climate Change and Mental Health Task Force.

To the Editor:

Re “Families Settle Gunmaker Suit for $73 Million” (front page, Feb. 16):

For the Sandy Hook parents, winning the lawsuit against Remington provides some small comfort that it will change its marketing strategies. But what about the other gun manufacturers?

In November a young man, Kyle Rittenhouse, was acquitted of murdering two people and wounding a third. He used a Smith & Wesson semiautomatic gun. Mr. Rittenhouse thought his gun “looked cool.”

A Field & Stream article about “The 30 Best AR-Style Rifles for Hunting and Personal Defense” laments: “AR rifles often get a bum rap. They can look a bit menacing.” However, it goes on, “the AR is one of the most capable, adaptable, and appealing firearm platforms on the market today.”

Appealing? A bit menacing? Kyle Rittenhouse would likely devour articles like this one.

But maybe the Sandy Hook lawsuit will give all gun companies pause about how they market their products. Because words matter, and guns are deadly.

Jo Trafford
Portland, Maine