Being Able to Discuss Climate Change is Half the Battle

Cameron Katz

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November 28, 2022

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When Tori first learned about climate change, she wanted to talk about it. But a conversation about the climate emergency in her small hometown of Calumet, Michigan was often met with aloofness. “Whenever I wanted to talk about it with anyone, it was usually dismissed,” she said in an interview with the ACE team. 

Tori grew up as the third oldest out of seven siblings. She had a conservative upbringing, which oftentimes made it difficult for her to have serious conversations about climate change. “This is a very small town,” she said. “Many people are apathetic or not very worried about climate change. And that’s honestly a little frustrating sometimes.” Although Tori’s environment did not encourage her to speak about climate change, her passion for fighting the climate emergency helped Tori to develop her voice.

As Tori reflected on her journey of learning about climate change, she spoke about the anxiety she felt. Among young people, anxiety about the climate emergency is a widespread feeling. According to a recent study from the Journal of Environmental Psychology which surveyed 10,000 university students from 32 different countries, nearly half of young people said they were “very” or “extremely” worried about climate change. A separate study that surveyed 11 countries found that, for 45% of teens and young adults, anxiety about climate change affected their daily lives and ability to function.

For Tori, her worries concentrated on her future and her children’s future. “What do I have to look forward to in my future? If I have children, what do they have to look forward to in the future?” she asked. “Will they be able to have dreams? And will they be able to feel like they can follow their passions? Will they be able to feel like life is worth living?” Tori’s fears about her future family reflect a growing pattern of young people today.

This is a very small town. Many people are apathetic or not very worried about climate change. And that’s honestly a little frustrating sometimes.

The impact of climate change on an individual’s choice to have children has even risen up through the legal system. Fair Start Movement and Population Balance, two justice-oriented nonprofits, filed a complaint with the United Nations, arguing that the international body had failed to protect the ability of younger generations to have families – a right protected by Article 16 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. 

But Tori’s concerns spread beyond her own future and family. She also worries about those around the world who are already feeling the effects of climate change. “You have places that have extreme temperatures right now or natural disaster after natural disaster,” she said, expressing the urgency of addressing climate change. “I feel like so many families are torn apart by the effects, and it makes me really sad and really scared.” Many young people fighting against climate change share this global perspective.

Despite the challenging feelings associated with climate anxiety, Tori has found ways to cope. “I like to feel grounded through nature while I’m sorting through my feelings,“ she said. According to an article from Harvard Health Publishing, spending time in nature can be one of the most effective ways to combat climate change. Tori practices this form of self-care often. “I love hiking with my cat and my partner. Being able to get outside and spending time in nature, by the water, and just allowing myself to exist.” She also actively seeks out good news that gives her “hope for the future.”

Tori encourages other young people to continue the conversation about climate change and get involved. “It’s so important for young people to show up and take action in the climate movement because we are our future.”

To watch Tori’s full story, check out this video:

Cameron Katz

Cameron Katz

Social Media Intern

Cameron is a Social Media Intern based in Atlanta, GA who is passionate about using storytelling, creativity, great research, and a bit of humor to help others take action and understand the world a little better. She recently graduated from Emory University with a B.A. in English Creative Writing and a B.A. in History.

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