Climate Anxiety Counseling: Day 16

Weather: Sunny, almost hot, breezy and cooling off later

Number of people: 16 stoppers, 3 walk-bys, 2 bike-bys

Number of dogs: 2, Dusty and Lulu

Number of hecklers: 0!

Pages of notes: 8

Conversations between people previously unknown to one another: 5 or 6, a banner day

People who asked (and received) permission to take a picture: 3

People who took a picture without asking: 2

People who mentioned the ProJo article: 2

People who mentioned the Phoenix article: 1

Media recommended to me: Gasland; The End of Suburbia; Flow; 99% Invisible

Money raised for Environmental Justice League of RI: $6.56



People often don’t distinguish between climate and environment, which, yes and no. (More about this later in the week, probably.)

Other themes of the day: public transit and getting from place to place; government control and conspiracy; putting the weight of climate anxiety on kids.

Put up booth mainly one-handed–other hand holding a Like No Udder vanilla soft-serve cone.


Some conversations:

[These two came up together.]

Him: I was talking to some of the folks at Clean Water Action and they told me something I didn’t know, that distressed me, which is that the Bush administration gutted the Clean Water Act and their campaign is to restore some of its protections. How could Congress approve that? How could the Democrats let that go by? And another thing, I was reading the news every day during that time, and it was not covered. It was a completely silent action.

Her: I worry about gas prices going up, that this suburban lifestyle we’ve been living —

Him: — is unsustainable.

Her: Is unsustainable. We need to change our way of living. We should consider public transit — though sometimes you do need a car. And the other thing I’m anxious about is the water problem.


You don’t wanna die but you don’t wanna see what’s coming. At this point I’m more like, I’m not gonna worry about that, I’m just gonna go home and feed my cat. I’m not at the stage of not buying green bananas — you know that expression? I’m still buying green bananas. I was reading all the EcoWatch articles, Food and Water Action, MoveOn. My anxiety was off the charts. I wanted to do something. Then I found out about Mercy Ecology — have you heard of them? They do environmental education and eco-spirituality. They’re all retired nuns — well, they’re still nuns, but they’re in their 70s and 80s. I went to Catholic school, I know about that nun with the habit and the ruler, but they’re not like that. They’re out in the garden, with their hands in the dirt. I’m redoing their website, so they can reach more people. 


I don’t have any new anxieties since last time.


We changed everything in the house to energy-saving. The car that I drive is half-and-half–hybrid.

What made you make those changes?

So much stuff that’s happening around the environment, even sickness. I’m very sensitive, it affects me, and it affects humanity too — how people think and react. 


I’m also a scuba diver, and I’ve seen those things, those plastic things–

Like for cans?

Yeah, wrapped around the neck of turtles. And I’ve taken them off them. But with fish, they get caught in the, the gills. It’s despicable. [Sees organism cards with pickerel and bluegill on them.] Oh, I’ve seen these! 


What bothers me about the climate is that people don’t throw their trash in the cans. They just go throw it on the ground.

Why do you think that is?

They don’t wanna take the time to throw it in the garbage can.

Is that what you think it is, a time thing, like it’s too much work to find a trash can?

Maybe there’s not trash cans where they are? I’m gonna tell my daughter about you, she’ll love this. Hopefully she will be a good advocate. That’s what I hope. 


I’m a little afraid of becoming a junior [in college]. I’m not afraid to grow up, but I don’t know what the future holds for me … I was just reading an article about how people use “climate change” versus “global warming”, how global warming is scarier. 


The government’s controlling the weather. If you know how nature works, it usually has seasons, and it didn’t this year. There were no April showers, May had all the showers. And the birds left in March, they know how it’s supposed to be. It doesn’t add up to me. The way animals are behaving — and the trees and stuff, we’re not gonna have oxygen to breathe.


[Both of these people know me, but didn’t know each other before.]


Person 1: Getting hit by cars on my bike. I almost get hit every day. Cars and potholes. And you know, in the first decades of cars, people were against them. I was just listening to this podcast at 99% Invisible about anti-car activism in the ’20s. The roads had been slow up to that point, and kids would run into the street. And these pamphlets were like, “Do mothers have to sacrifice our children to the motorcar?”

Person 2: I was just reading about how after World War II, the government could have chosen to support public transit or cars, and they chose cars. And Firestone bought up all these railway tracks and tore them out.

Person 1: Right, GM and Firestone bought up railway tracks and streetcar tracks and shut them down. That’s why the G train in Brooklyn is the way it is — there used to be streetcars [that went other places people needed to go]. LA sprawl was enabled by streetcars.

Person 2: And now a lot of cities are trying to get it back.

Person 1: Right, and they’re going to have to spend millions of dollars. 


[Person 1 in the conversation above is Person 2 in the conversation below. Sorry about that.]


Person 1: I heard a Republican minister was telling his congregation that global warming was the sign of the Second Coming of Christ.

Person 2: Like all things being made new —

Person 1: — Instead of all things being burned to a crisp. Impending glory instead of impending doom. I think the kids are the ones who really feel it. In schools, they’re exhorting kids to save the earth.

Person 2: Oh yeah, I remember — did you have that book in school, 50 Things Kids Can Do to Save the Earth? It was like, “Turn the water off when you brush your teeth,” and that’s good, but it’s not gonna save the earth.

Person 1: That’s too much.  Don’t put that on them, saving the earth. Just teach them how to live right, to do the right thing because it’s right.


Today’s poem: 

Hope comes later locked

into the body of someone

younger like an achievement

you push it forward

your job is making

their I mean mine

I have always said

I’m sending them out

it isn’t enough

a fragment of hope

lodged in each chest

wall like shrapnel to do

something about later

the children of later

the people of

the future locked in

a molecular chain

as long as the whirlwind

and bound to itself

the need we breathe

the need we give birth

I’m thinking about it

I’m still thinking about it

here comes the lock

locking you to the future

I mean I mind

I have always said

this is a job

for someone else


6 thoughts on “Climate Anxiety Counseling: Day 16

    • Hi Jim, nice to hear from you!

      I hope it’s NOT only me, though. Check back here next week for some of my thoughts on how it could also be other people.

      Thanks for reading and responding. I hope you’re very well.

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

  2. Pingback: Alternate Histories: 6/1, 4/20 | climateanxietycounseling

  3. Pingback: Climate Anxiety Counseling: Reflections on Week 4 | climateanxietycounseling

  4. Pingback: Alternate Histories: 6/4, 6/13 | climateanxietycounseling

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s