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According to the American Psychological Association, eco-anxiety refers to the "chronic fear of a doomed environment ." [1]

This fear links to changes in the material conditions of existence, which is a phenomenon that has been known to several groups for a long time. Their discourse, however, has largely been ignored by the Global North. For a long time, inhabitants of several communities of the Global South, and Indigenous communities in the Global North, have seen their living conditions deteriorate in the face of destructive colonial and capitalist behaviour.

The frightening future imagined by eco-anxious people are the historical realities of the Haida Nation and so many other Indigenous peoples ." -Joseph Weiss [2]

Individuals today are struggling to stay alive in the midst of war, conflict, pandemic, drought, famine. No one cares about climate change [while there are emergencies in their immediate environment].” -Ateeqa Riaz [3]

Examples of Eco-anxiety

The Global North

Those who are not experiencing the more direct and intensive effects of the climate crisis may experience anxiety related to what will happen when the effects more directly reach them, or anxiety related to the disaster being faced by frontline communities. 

It is important to think about eco-anxiety in this social context:

  • Currently (and historically), several activities (deforestation, mining extraction, and various other forms of exploitation) by the Global North contribute directly to the destruction of the material conditions that support the existence of the Global South and Indigenous communities in the Global North.
  • This is part of the broader context of climate crisis, the responsibility for which is largely attributable to practices of the Global North.

The Global South and frontline communities

Unsurprisingly, those experiencing the direct impacts of the climate crisis experience more worry and greater impact on functioning in their daily lives.

  • The Philippines, for example, is on of the most directly affected countries by climate change. A global survey revealed that the Philippines has the greatest number of young people experiencing high levels of climate anxiety and negative emotions (e.g., anger, hopelessness, frustration, etc.) associated with the climate crisis. [4]

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