Conflicted about emotions: ecological grief, love and truth

Emotions are important in explaining our motivations and behaviour but have been left out of the discourse on climate change. Mental health impacts of climate change need to be acknowledged. We need a collective mourning of what we are losing so we create space for the new, better ways of living

Our emotions are inextricably linked with our motivations: they direct our attention and guide our behaviour, but in the rational, scientific culture which dominates official discourse on climate change, they have largely been left out.  Nadine Andrews, a member of the Climate Psychology Alliance and new Green House core group member, describes her experience of working with the IPCC to bring a psychosocial perspective to their work.  “Facing the facts of climate change and ecological crisis involves encountering powerful feelings that can be difficult to bear. How we deal with these feelings shapes how we respond to the crisis, and will be critical in determining whether our responses are ultimately adaptive or maladaptive”.  Mental health impacts of climate change need to be acknowledged: not just the trauma from extreme weather events but the grief felt at experienced or anticipated loss of species, ecosystems or landscapes.  Nadine explains that she has “come to the view that one of the most important projects of this moment is to work on creating new social norms for expressing our feelings about climate and ecological crisis”.  We need a public and collective mourning of what we are losing, so we can let go of what is lost and what no longer serves us, thereby creating a space for the new, for better ways of living - with each other and the Earth.

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