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Climate Change Depression and Why It Matters

January in Canada is not supposed to be like this. Tulips in my garden are coming up because they think it's spring. There isn't an ounce of snow on the ground, and you'd be perfectly fine going outside wearing only a light sweater.

It just feels wrong.

Perhaps it is the lack of winter or the overcast skies, but I've been feeling a bit down lately. This time though, it isn't the wintertime blues. I'm one of the few people who actually love winter. Snowflakes falling from the sky, ice skating, cross-country skiing, and warming up by the fire would all be welcomed activities at this point. I would love to have an actual winter - but I fear this is just a sign of things to come.

Climate change, what used to be called global warming a few short years ago, has been a concern of mine since I was a young teenager. I try to have as little of an environmental impact as I can. I take public transit. I work from home to reduce my carbon footprint. I do my laundry during off-peak hours and take short showers. I buy local as much as I can and keep a vegetable garden in the backyard. I turn off lights when I'm not using them...but it never feels like I'm doing enough.

The climate talks in Paris where a step forward, but the Agreement is not legally binding. If a world leader doesn't uphold their promise, they can be shamed into doing something - but there will be no legal repercussions for their lack of action.

News channels don't seem to think climate change is a priority anymore. I no longer hear anything about climate change, or governments funding alternatives to fossil fuels. Everything is back to "business as usual", and that is frustrating as all Hell.

I'm not the only one feeling frustrated about the general public's apathy. Some psychologists are using the term, "climate depression" or "climate anxiety" to describe the sinking feeling of despair some people feel about the future of our world. Climate scientists especially are depressed and beyond frustrated, since much of their findings are still falling on deaf ears. Brenton Mock of Grist thinks that scientists need to start using F-bombs to get their message across. He wrote, "Forgive my language here, but if scientists are looking for a clearer language to express the urgency of climate change, there’s no clearer word that expresses that urgency than FUCK."

Perhaps he has a point.

The apathy big corporations have about their environmental impact is truly staggering. Take the SoCalGas gas leak in California, spewing out at a rate of 100,000 pounds per hour for weeks. It is still happening, by the way, causing California to declare a state of emergency and evacuate nearly 2,290 households. Very little is being done to remedy the issue.

News like this is so damn depressing. I keep thinking, "What's the point? Why even try making positive changes when no one seems to care?"

I know there are others that feel the same way I do - that make small differences in their lives, even when it is difficult or inconvenient. I know there are small business owners like me who consciously try to deduce their environmental impact daily. Last year, for instance, Katrina Rabeler on the Climate Solutions blog wrote a beautiful article full of hope. She suggests that we stop feeling guilty for living, since it's a useless emotion and not conducive to positive change. She's right. There is no point in feeling like you are bad person when you have to drive your car, or use electricity in your home. Fossil fuels have made our modern lives possible...but it's time to move on.

Electric cars, solar panels, and riding your bike to work are wonderful tools for change. A dialogue is happening, and we can't escape how our climate and ecosystems are changing because of human impact. I truly believe small businesses and individuals are going to make the real change here. It is not up to the "world leaders", or politicians. They'd still be arguing about the wording of a tax bill...

It is going to take tons of small, mindful changes by millions of individuals to see real change. We can't reverse the damage that has already been done, but we can purposefully help make our future a little more livable.

At least, we can hope.

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