Climate change is often framed as a scientific or technical issue. But for many, it’s an emotional one too.
It can be almost unbearable to witness entire towns obliterated by wildfires and islands leveled by storms. To see photos of koala bears singed by flames and dead seabirds washing ashore by the thousands. Or to read the latest confirmation that nations are woefully underperforming on their pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“It hits you in the heart before it hits you in the head,” said Jennifer Atkinson, a senior lecturer in environmental humanities at the University of Washington in Bothell.
Our reactions to these grim facts take many forms, including sadness, despair, hopelessness, anger and anxiety.