By Nicole Pham-Quan
As an environment student, I am all too familiar with the feeling of eco-anxiety. Although the term is relatively new in student and activist discourse, academic scholars have defined eco-anxiety as the experience of chronic concern and stress about climate change and environmental destruction. Climate change is a real and pressing source of anxiety that can arise from witnessing environmental changes in your local nature spots or hearing endless news stories about government inaction, despite the urgency of the climate crisis. When coupled with activism fatigue, which for me results from constantly scrolling through negative news on social media, eco-anxiety often results in a sense of hopelessness in face of the environmental crisis and our fundamentally broken systems. Scholars have found evidence that due to increased exposure to information about climate change, youth and/or people in environmental fields are at a heightened risk for experiencing eco-anxiety.
This four-minute short film, which was produced by Natalie Elliott, Jayna Fuller, Beth Grant, Nicole Pham-Quan, and Rae-Ann Whiteman, discusses the experience of eco-anxiety and how to maintain courage in the face of the climate crisis. The film features four students in the Faculty of Environment at the University of Waterloo:
- Michelle Angkasa (she/her): 2B student in Environment and Business, editor of the Radicle, WUSA Sustainability Commissioner, and involved with Our Time Kitchener Waterloo, Future Majority, and Fossil Free UW
- Neha Lal (she/her): 1B student in Environment, Resources, and Sustainability and local activist for wetland protection of the Lower Duffins Creek
- Ben Muller (he/him): 3B student in Geography and Environmental Management and Mental Health and Wellness Director for the Environment Student Society
- Jenna Philips (she/her): 3B student in Environment, Resources, and Sustainability, founder of Clear the Air (https://ctablog.ca/ ), and involved with the Youth Action on Climate Change and the UW Sustainability Office
The film also includes the perspective of Dr. James Nugent, a professor in the School of Environment, Resources, and Sustainability.
Please consult the film’s resources if you are struggling with eco-anxiety and know that you’re not alone.
Link to the film: Eco-Anxiety (Short Film)
Featured image: Nicole Pham-Quan