Climate Anxiety Counseling: Day 13

Weather: Balmy, sunny, breezy; got a little chilly toward the end of the shift.

Number of people: 12 stoppers, 5 walkbys

Number of hecklers: 0!

Pages of notes: 8

Conversations between people previously unknown to one another: 1

Packets of Small State Seeds given away: 3 (we still have some left, come tomorrow!)

People who asked (and received) permission to take a picture: 1

People who recognized and commented on the Peanuts reference: 1

Money raised for Environmental Justice League of RI: $5.37



Today was the first day that someone made an “only one person” comment in a sincere way. 

A couple of people called the booth “funny” or “cute” today and I realized, talking with a friend about it, that that’s intentional on my part: I want to seem odd, but unthreatening.

This shows up really explicitly in the first conversation below, but I think it’s true for a lot of people: “the world” is always here, and “the environment” is always somewhere else.


Some conversations: 

I don’t know how I’d survive a natural disaster, what I’d do in that situation. I guess we need to reconsider our entire way of constructing buildings, to have safer and more renewable homes–if at any time you’re gonna be swept away, you need to design things differently.

Is there anything you really love that’s particularly vulnerable to climate change?

The rainforest. It’s kind of like this environmental paradise. I’ve always wanted to see it, and I’m afraid it’ll be gone before I can see it–all this great biodiversity, all the things the world has yet to discover will be gone.


Crime, how the law deals with crime. And then they don’t prosecute, they put away so many non-guilty people, and other people get away with it. When they say something’s not admissible and it’s the only evidence they have …  I work for an international company, and I worry about agents we send to other countries. It’s laws and crime in all the countries, not just here.

What do you do when you feel anxious about this?

Just quit watching the news. You wanna know, but you don’t wanna know. And there’s nothing that a single person can do about it. There are organizations, I’ve been part of them, I’ve signed petitions, but it’s just still a slow, slow process. 


Other people’s energy that they give off. What they expect of me. I try to calm myself down, but I usually end up either smoking, which isn’t good, or staying by myself, which isn’t good. Other people expect me to be somebody else, and then my heart starts racing.

What’s your true self like?

Humble, non-materialistic. I don’t try to act all cool. I take my time with everything I do in life. 


I’m extremely disappointed that we’re driven by economics and politics rather than what’s right. The motivation of the fossil fuel industry is greed, and the government continues to subsidize it. Even though they’re subsidizing renewable energy now too, they’re still going to subsidize oil, I think they even subsidize coal …

What could you see getting them to change their direction?

A big carbon tax. Let’s pay what it really costs — well, you can’t pay what it costs, because it kills people. But if you go to Europe, gas is $10-$11 a gallon, and people drive less, they drive smaller cars. You have to change the way people behave. 


Social unrest and collapse because of food and water shortages. They’re saying corn is going to be a luxury. Especially with kids, it’s very concerning. If I were alone I wouldn’t mind so much, I could just jump in the river with rocks in my pockets.

Why is killing yourself better than dying in one of these other ways? 

I think it’s a fear of what’s gonna happen. You can say well, we all die anyway, and if we die in a flood, we all just go at once, you don’t have to grieve … Part of having a kid is it’s forcing me to become more aware in the moment, more present, more spiritual, and consider spirituality even more. I think of spirituality as the bigger picture, bigger than economics or politics — it encompasses everything. I keep hoping for this worldwide awakening. 


[These two were friends.]

Friend 1: Drowning, getting blown away by a hurricane, the rest of the world dying of thirst while I’m drowning, wishing I could tip the world so the water could go somewhere else. What else am I anxious about?

Friend 2: I haven’t seen you in a while.

Friend 1: It’s the same ones.

What do you do when you start to feel these anxieties pressing on you?

Friend 1: Eat candy, or do something else not that healthy. Or I just go into denial.

Who else do you talk about it with?

Friend 1: Everybody. My partner, my friends, we all talk about it. The conversations usually end with despair, hopelessness, lack of ideas about what to do.

Friend 2: Maybe we need something like the despicable LinkedIn–six degrees of separation from people who actually have the power to do something. How close are we to people who have a role, who have influence? My brother works for [redacted] and he has cute children that he loves desperately, but he thinks they’re gonna find a scientific solution.


Today’s poem: 

The first day will be

the hardest ground to break

the hardest news

to bear the first

week will be the deal

we make with thinking

it’ll get no worse

why are you angry

I’m angry because you’re going

to take everything I love

away from me and kill it

and I don’t know where you are

and I don’t know how to stop you

the first year will be

the hardest the harvest

that isn’t what it should be

but what it

will be the first few

years the hardest

singing their whisper song

like a belt radio

slung into a thicket

a lack of replacement

with nothing to lose

the first 10 years will

be bearing down hard

like a monstrous birth

with no I.D.

and no idea

 what to do now

or to have done





2 thoughts on “Climate Anxiety Counseling: Day 13

  1. Pingback: Climate Anxiety Counseling: Looking Back and Looking Forward | climateanxietycounseling

  2. Pingback: Alternate Histories: 5/29, 4/17 | climateanxietycounseling

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