Climate Anxiety Counseling: 5/26/16

Weather: Hot and muggy at the beginning, cooler at the end. Small breeze. Faced east again for shade. This was a short shift, 3-5.

Number of people: 6 stoppers, 1 walkby

Number of hecklers: Maybe 0.5? Very mild.

Pages of notes: 5

People known to me, and I to them, from previous sessions: 1

People who commented on the Peanuts reference: 1

Pictures taken with permission: 1

Number of dogs seen: 2

Number of dogs pet: 0

Money raised for Environmental Justice League of RI: $0.47



There’s a face people make to protect themselves from me. I can’t describe it, but if you come visit me at the booth (I’ll be there today through Monday, 3-6pm), I’ll try to do it for you.

Lots of people said hi to me today without stopping, just being friendly; a few were people I’d seen yesterday.

Themes of the day: veganism and the movie Cowspiracy  which, I’m glad it was pivotal for you, but that is a terrible title. I have never seen it.

Two bike cops rode through at 4:30.

The person I screwed up the conversation with also stopped by. She had a great hat on, and she asked me what kind of data I was getting. I told her about the first conversation below, and it developed that she’s a math teacher. I’m so grateful to her for stopping and talking with me.


Some conversations:

[These two came up together, and are pretty clearly friends]

Person 1: I don’t like the hot. I get hot and aggravated and sticky and I wanna jump in the ocean.

Person 2: But the ocean’s mad cold!

Person 1: I want it to be cold!

Person 2: But you’re gonna tan!

Person 1: How I’m gonna tan under the water?

[There was a transition here that I didn’t note.]

Person 1: They say the water’s getting higher, the ice in Antarctica is melting.

Person 2: The penguins and the polar bears are all gonna die.

Is that something that bothers you a lot, or does it seem far away?

Person 2: No, it’s gonna happen mad soon! We’re not gonna be able to tell our kids about polar bears ’cause they’re gonna be extinct … The birds, they’re all dying. There’s mad crows, crows are everywhere.

Where did you guys learn about these things?

Person 1: My old science teacher. She was talking about winters getting warmer, summers getting hotter, snow when there shouldn’t be snow, or not enough snow so there’s a drought.

Do you talk to other people about it?

Person 1: I would talk to my science teacher.

Is she good to talk to about stuff like that?

Person 1: About anything.

Person 2 [laughing]: All the animals are dying!

Can I ask you, I’m not trying to be rude, but I notice that you’re laughing when you say all these things. Can you say why you’re laughing?

Person 2: It’s like a nervous laugh. Like, it’s gonna happen.

Do you imagine it? Do you picture it?

Person 1: It kinda resembles the apocalypse. It’s like this movie, The Book of Eli … he has to go through the desert and eat rats, through all these ghost towns.

Person 2: Because they’re gonna break out in war. It’s like this [gestures around] but it’s all gray, all the buildings broken, all the statues broken.

It sounds like you guys like watching movies like this. How come?

Person 2: It’s showing you what life’s gonna be later.

Person 1: And there’s usually a character trying to save life, save their family.



Basically animal agriculture is what I’m most concerned about. It’s kind of destroying the planet. It’s not sustainable at all. This is a new discovery for me: I watched this film Cowspiracy … It’s definitely a personal journey for me. I’ve used social media to put the message out there that we need to be concerned about what we’re doing on this planet. How could I have been so ignorant to this beforehand? We’re just part of a bigger system, and it’s hard to detach from that and see how things really are. There has to be a personal want and desire to take care of the planet.

When you make these changes, or try to encourage other people to make these changes, do you feel better?

Yeah … Even if your voice is not as strong, you still need to speak up.

Can you think about how you might help other people make some of these changes, how you might make that path smoother for people?

When I was going through this change, I had a lot of support from–not my family and friends, they think I’m crazy, but from people on YouTube, on the internet, a community of reassurance and support. Something to that effect is what I’d like to do for other people.

It sounds like you had almost a conversion experience, and I’m wondering if it’s possible for people to change what they’re doing without that conversion.

Well, they’re working on various technologies, like for scrubbing carbon from the atmosphere. They’re looking for ways to solve problems through engineering, but with engineering they’ll cost billions of dollars, and it wouldn’t cost [nearly as much] to change the way we eat.


People dying every other day.

Are these people who are dying close to you, are they people you love?

Cousins, people younger than me or a little older. They’re dying more regular now. They say, live a sober life, be sober and deal with this, but it’s not something that we as children are warned about. They tell you, Oh, you gotta go to college, you gotta get a good job, but they don’t tell you this.


I definitely am [anxious]. I’ve been vegan for 8 moths because of that. I worked on a dairy farm in New Zealand, and then I saw this film Cowspiracy and I found out that dairy farming is basically the worst thing we can do. Cows are so inefficient. New Zealand used to be 90% forest, now it’s almost all dairy farms. I’ve only been back for a week … If we don’t change, we’re fucked.

Can you say more about what “fucked” looks like here?

By 2050 we’re gonna have 9 billion people. They’re gonna have to eat the food we’ve been feeding the cows. It’s not sustainable.

But what do you imagine though?

Wars, climate wars. They’re saying 2 degrees Celsius, but around the equator it’s gonna be [much worse]. Places like Canada and Russia are gonna be full of rich people ’cause they’re colder. There’s gonna be a mass exodus from the equator–the war in Syria is pretty much directly caused by climate change, but they don’t say that on the news because it doesn’t feel good. We’re totally fucked unless we change, and we’re not gonna change.


2 thoughts on “Climate Anxiety Counseling: 5/26/16

  1. Pingback: Climate Anxiety Counseling: Kennedy Plaza/Burnside Park, 6/28/17 | climateanxietycounseling

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