Well-timed for Earth Day, I am pleased to share the new episode of the American Psychological Association’s Speaking of Psychology Podcast. I had the honor of guesting, along with Ashlee Cunsolo a well-respected Canadian climate change researcher and expert on climate impacts on Inuit people of the far north.

I have corresponded with Ashlee over the years and it was inspiring to reconnect with her. Ashlee has been a leader in bringing attention to issue of climate grief, as experienced by indigenous groups in the Arctic, and increasingly by many of us the world over.

In our free-ranging dialog with host Kim Mills, we discussed the mental health effects of climate change, climate emotions like grief and anxiety, and in Kim’s words, “what can we do to cope and build resilience in ourselves when prospects for the future of the planet seem so bleak.”

Along the way, I was able to explain several concepts I use to help people deal with climate angst such as how to cope as a “climate hostage;” the process of “validate, elevate, create” when dealing with problems; having a well functioning “emotional compass;” and recognizing when “despair is fatigue in disguise.”

For her part, Ashlee shared several inspiring ideas including her concept of “gritty” or “earned hope.” She gave guidance on how grief and anxiety can be related when coping with climate change as we simultaneously mourn losses and worry about future threats. She also described how First Nations people honor their ancestors even as they take responsibility for their own present challenges.

I think the talk was a great snapshot of modern interdisciplinary thinking about addressing the mental health impacts of climate change at the personal and societal level.

Listen below and see a transcript on the APA’s Speaking of Psychology Website.

Published by Thomas Doherty

Psychologist Thomas Doherty's work on environmental sustainability and health has been featured in publications like the New York Times and in talks worldwide. Thomas consults with individuals and organizations through his business Sustainable Self. He was the founding Director of the Ecopsychology Certificate Program at Lewis & Clark Graduate School and Founding Editor-in-Chief of the peer-reviewed academic journal Ecopsychology. He lives in Portland, Oregon.

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