How to Not Feel Totally Miserable About Climate Change

Writing by Eve Dangerfield // Photograph by Adrianna Wojciechowska

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Sadness. Futility. The realisation that rich dickholes will keep mining fossil fuels, supressing alternative energy sources and make us plebs pay for it until the earth is a deadened husk. Such is the curse of being a person with a functioning brain in 2016.

To tell you the truth, my brain is depressed. People have said I’m brave for talking about my rape. Honestly I think I’m braver for not becoming a sad clown with chalky clown make-up perpetually dripping down my clown cheeks in the face of all this reef-bleaching, snow melting, mammal extincting misery.

I don’t want to eat Soylent Green. I don’t want to watch all animals except feral cats and the miserable bastards in zoos go extinct and I don’t have the upper body strength to fight in a thunderdome-style battle to the death. I will curl up on the ground and cry until someone in metal boots comes along and squashes my head. To be honest after reading the news about climate change i.e. our government is doing next to nothing about it, I kind of want someone to squash my head.

What can I do about this? Well, I thought about hibernating for the next ten to fifty years but as Gandalf told Frodo when he wishing none of the LOTR shit was happening ‘So do all who live to see such times but that is not for them to decide, all you have to decide is what to do with the time that is given.’

Our time is an era of earthly destruction and we have to crack on as best we can. So, here is my best advice for any fellow humans who might feel, as I do, a bit nervous.

Climate change depression is for real. This article backs it up. Lots of people are prone to it, especially the scientists who dedicate their lives to researching our melted icy-pole globe only to be shouted down by complete and utter dillholes accusing them of, I dunno, making it up for lolz or something.

For me, knowing climate change sadness is an actual phenomenon helps.

Embrace the fear. When all is said and done, fear of climate change is ultimately fear of the unknown. Accepting it means accepting the future might be very different from now. Worse even. Hearing this freaks the majority of us out because life is hard enough without the added horrors of war, famine and the death of all marine life. But sadly as Gandalf pointed out, we don’t have the luxury of face-planting in the sand, ostrich-style. We have to face facts. And one of those facts is that a long prosperous life for us and our descendants was never a guarantee. Because…

Destruction is natural. My sister studies native animals and their rapidly dropping numbers EVERY DAY, a job I couldn’t do without crying my actual eyes out. Here’s her advice; whenever she gets sad about climate change she looks at the big picture. The planet we live on has grown and evolved over millions of years. It will continue to do so long after we’re dead. In the wake of climate changeapoolooza our planet might be reduced down to a bacterial level and then start all over again, slowly evolving the conditions to create life. And that’s okay.  That’s natural.

“Just look at dinosaurs,” she says with calm serenity after I embark on another tearful rant about all of us getting cooked under the ozone-less sky. “I doubt they were keen to go extinct but they didn’t get a choice. Wherever there’s growth there’s destruction and then more growth. It’s the way things are.”

This is why she’s a scientist and I’m not.

Because either way we’re all going to die. Yes, even young, sexy people like ourselves. Western culture, in its ongoing effort to be the worst thing ever, has blocked many of life’s realities (sickness, death, old age and inevitable misfortune) from our cultural narrative. We’re encouraged to put our elderly in nursing homes, let loved ones die in hospitals, regard illness as an anomaly and think if we are SUPER proactive about diet, exercise, personal safety and insurance we can prevent any and all bad things from EVER happening to us. Amazingly, this is not true.

People suffer. We suffer because we’re alive. We get sick, we age, we watch our loved ones get sick and age. We don’t get what we want. We do get what we want and realise it doesn’t make us happy.

Our pets die, our loved ones die and then we die. That’s not me being a pessimist that’s the stone cold fact. Reality 101. I don’t think we do anyone, even young people, especially young people, any favours by pretending this isn’t the case.

So where does climate change fit in? Well I’ve found the more you think about your death (it gives me weirdly excited chills) the less worried you are about the future, or anything really. Lost $50 in a club? At least you’re not dead. Huge pimple? You’re still not dead. Boyfriend dumped you? One day you and he will both be dead, but it’s not today and thank god for that.

Death and pain are not a bug they are a feature. Life is not one good thing after another. It never was and it never will be. Human existence is a mixture of good and bad and then you shuffle off this mortal coil for realms unknown. But that reality doesn’t have to make us miserable. As the Zen monk Thich Nhat Hanh said “wilting flowers do not cause suffering. It is the unrealistic desire that flowers not wilt that causes suffering.

It’s a tall order but when you accept that death and pain aren’t boxes you can choose not to tick on the continental breakfast menu that is your life fear, ironically, diminishes. That’s because when bad things happen it doesn’t punch you in the tits so hard when they do. Think about it.

Strive to be part of the solution. I carry a travel mug for my coffee. I walk whenever I can. I donate a little money every month to environmental groups like The Wilderness Society. I recycle. I compost. I participate in tree planting days and waste pickup days. I’m a member of my local Landcare. I sign petitions supporting more action on climate change. I forward them to my friends. I know doing this in the face of a global meltdown might amount to applying a Frozen-themed Band-Aid to a cancer patients knee but I find contributing in whatever way I can is a lot more empowering than saying “Fuck it! Bring forth the apocalypse!”

Because if we act now, who knows? We might be okay. Climate change could be the kick in the butt our species needs to evolve into a more intelligent race of upright monkeys. Until now it’s been all rampant consumerism, patriarchy and war. Maybe boldly staring our pending destruction in the face will inspire us to unite in equality and love.

And hey, our corporate overlords could wise up and change their ways before they go down on the SS Dead-Earth Titanic with us. If any of them are reading this (lol) I’d like to point out there’s no Elysium in the sky yet you 1% jerks and if you start construction I will personally dedicate my life to burning it to the ground. Still, my arsonist aspirations aside I really have been trying to be more positive. I figure as long as I’m not actively denying facts and doing what I can to help out, I can dream everything might be okay. Not good, (see earlier point about inevitable suffering etc.) but okay.

Talk about it. For a long time I kept my fear of climate change turning Australia into a Mad Max style hellscape balled up inside. But as any sufferer of mental illness could tell you, ignoring your fears in the hopes they mysteriously vanish is as helpful as a grave robber in a crematorium. What is helpful is discussing said fears with my sister, friends, partner, writing about it, drawing about it and generally just processing what you think and feel. And look this scientist agrees! So go ahead chat with loved ones and see what happens. Chances are you’ll feel better.

Love more. When I look at my mum and think “one day, you will die” I hug her so tightly. I love her more. I appreciate the fact that she’s here, now, telling me to let go of her because her neck hurts. Similarly when I look at the world and think “one day you might be a barren shell,” I love it more. I smile at every tree and river. I appreciate what we’ve been given. In the face of Mother Earth’s pain what can we do but love her more deeply? In his Climate Change statement for the United Nations Thich Nhat Hanh said “our love and admiration for the Earth has the power to unite us and remove all boundaries, separation and discrimination.” Love the earth. Love it for giving us the conditions for us to be born and to live in relative peace and prosperity. Love it and hope for the best. That’s all we can really do. That and be grateful we’re not dinosaurs.

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Eve Dangerfield

Eve Dangerfield has loved romance novels since she first started swiping her grandmother’s paperbacks. Now she writes her own sexy tales about complex women and gorgeous-but-slightly-tortured men. Eve currently lives in Northcote with her lovely sister and a rabbit named Billy. When she’s not writing she can usually be found drinking, dancing or making a mess. Check out her website.

Adrianna Wojciechowska

Adrianna Wojciechowska is a twenty-year-old student of Polish philology living in Poland. Her works are for her a form of therapy, a way to manage with excess of emotion, not only those negative. She is interested in literature and art. She loves summer mornings and autumn nights. Her works are available on Flickr and Facebook.

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