Can we overcome Eco-Anxiety?
By Samantha Miller
After 3 years of studying environmental economics, health, and policy I have learned that environmental academia is in need of a serious reboot. One of the most challenging aspects of the environmental field is the insurmountable amount of challenges that face us. Sadly, my teachers have not given me the tools to come up with creative solutions to our problems. I've gained a deep understanding of the issues regulating climate change and pollution, but the constant focus on these problems started to create a mood of pessimism that I felt I couldn’t move past. I understand that to be effective in the real world, we need to have a grounded understanding of how various environmental issues intersect with each other, and how these issues demand we respect social equity, environmental justice, and human communities.
For a while I had considered changing my major, believing that despite my passion, I could never find ways to make the changes I dearly wished possible. This aura of hopelessness is also felt by many of my peers, but I have learned that though we can’t control what our professors decide to teach us, the inspiration we seek may need to come from alternative sources.
I credit my growing positivity, passion, and excitement to be in the environmental field to RE-volv. Founder, and American University alum, Andreas Karelas spoke to all the solar ambassadors about how to overcome the dreaded “eco-anxiety” that we all felt. He showed us that there are always places to look for inspiration. Though we won’t see the advancements made by local communities and other nonprofits in the news in our textbooks, we can’t underestimate their significance. There are millions of people taking action in their communities, and there are a million more who just need the tools to reach their goals. Through RE-volv we can empower people, families, and businesses to reach a shared goal of a country run on clean energy. During my time in this organization, I have found a renewed sense of capability, and I feel that though I am still an undergraduate student, I have skills that can serve my community.
The eco-anxiety that many of us feel is rightly felt, but I now know there are ways to overcome this. If any other students share this feeling of despair or hopelessness regarding the state of our environment, I would tell them to find their own pathways to inspiration. There is an incredible amount of power and positivity that can be gained from taking action in our communities. Whether it be volunteering our time at an urban community garden or by joining campus environmental clubs, there are many ways that we can overcome eco-anxiety.
When I decided to join RE-volv, I knew that my actions could be traced to tangible benefits. My brand of environmental activism is highly dependent on producing results that I can be proud of. I am now an active participant in the solar revolution, and it feels great. My work with RE-volv is how I have been able to overcome my eco-anxiety, and I am grateful to have a passion project that continues to renew my faith in environmental activism.