Eco anxiety

I am not kidding, it is actually a state of mind where people think the world is spiralling towards an environmental doom and nothing they do will ever stop it. I had a minor case of it last Saturday on the well published Earth Hour.. As the hour neared I was in a wee bit of panic. I mean there are so many electrical outlets that I was not sure which ones I had to pull the plug on. Are the fridge, Internet and phone connections meant to be switched off? What if somebody calls me and I have no idea they are calling? What if the frozen many-things rot? I would be committing a bigger crime by throwing away perfectly good food. It got to me. I am not a person who stresses about things, neither am I callously ignorant about them. I would like to think I have a perfectly balanced opinion of the world and yet I am not sure how balanced I can be when it comes to greening the planet. I am a political Science student. I am aware of the politics of being green. Everyday we are bombarded with views so contradictory and alarming, it is but natural to get anxious of what is right and what is wrong. I try to do things that I can in small ways to reduce the waste I generate, in being sensible about my needs and taking steps like recycling, using recycled papers and plastics, bulbs and lights, saving water, electricity, gas and everything. I realise now that those small steps are the best way to start.
The more I do these things, the more I realize how green we were in India even under normal circumstances. Eating on banana leaves in big festivals – banana plant is a fast growing and one of the only plants in which every part is used up. The stem, leaf, flower, fruit, everything. Waste water from the kitchen and baths were diverted to coconut trees. Amma always had a bag when she went to market. Glass bottles were washed and recycled for groceries. Corner shops gave groceries in recycled newspapers, vendors went around town in bicycle and taking the public transportation was a fun chore. People made attempts to sit in the same room, if not for saving electricity atleast for chatting and playing and doing things together. Everyone ate together and washed their dishes. And the electricity board cut power every week for two hours atleast 😉 This is not a comparison exercise. It is just a small act of realization that in small town India, where people don’t understand the loaded concepts of global warming and environmentally friendly ways of life, life is still green because of the natural respect that they have for environment. Anything above means and westernized in some ways was considered wasteful and unnecessary. I still get it from my grandparents. There needs to be a collective effort in reminding people that in some little ways, being normal and Indian is not bad. Having this argument with someone who comes from the city, I found that their view is different. I mean he wants to be amongst the people who are jumping on the bandwagon of capitalized, fast developing India, where hummers, land rovers and Jaguars will soon make a show. I am not one to condemn the development of my country, all I want in return is a responsible development. This is the best time that India has to show how being one of the fastest growing countries on the planet doesn’t mean that we also have to top the biggest polluter list. I do not know how the balance can be achieved and it is a complicated situation. Rajendra Pachauri of the Climate change commission has mentioned that India will need a different treatment given the diversity and cultural differences within the country. It will take time, and yet I cannot but feel anxious whenever the topic comes up. I know that my step in the right direction will make a difference, but my need to see results now personality is finding it difficult to stop, breathe, cough and say the change will come.


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3 responses to “Eco anxiety

  • Sarah Edwards, Ph.D. LCSW

    What a lovely blog you have. I appreciate your feelings about eco-anxiety both from a personal and professional point of view. I’m so glad that you too see it as a normal and natural reactions to a real threat for all of us.
    I provide CEU credits for helping professionals on eco-anxiety and write an eco-anxiety blog ( You might be interested to know that a recent Gallup Poll here in the US shows:

    Thirty-six percent of the U.S. population worries “a great deal” about global warming, according to a recent Gallup poll. Another 26 percent worry “a fair amount.” When asked what will be “the most important problem facing our nation 25 years from now,” Gallup respondents listed the environment third, just behind “a lack of energy sources” and Social Security, and way ahead of terrorism, education, unemployment, race relations, and the budget deficit.

    I personally believe you and those who are living as you describe your life there will have a much easier time responding to the huge changes that will be taking place in all our countries than we here who live on the fast-track capitalist bandwagon … and truly don’t have a clue how to get off. I worry a great deal given that I live in a small community the mountains an hour for any urban area, no local farming and few services. I believe we could develop these necessities, but it is very hard to gather people together to actually work on such things as a community garden and a solar electric system. As anxiety increases though I trust it will be easier.

    All our steps in the right direction do matter. Patience it seems, though, is the word of the day.

    Wishing you the best.
    Sarah Edwards

    @ Sarah: I am very glad you stopped by. It is the small communties that face the immediate risk of eco disasters. Patience is the key. The problem of a government not being expressly concerned in unique however to the US amongst all the developed capitalist countries. The more people, project like yours cangather around and make them aware that small steps can make a difference, the easier it is to postpone eco disasters. Thanks a lot for commenting. It is greatly appreciated.

  • Never Mind

    Thats a nice post. I agree with you on the idea that we india were green for the most part without trying too hard. May I add the handing old clothes to younger siblings and of course at home my mom used to always give the left-overs away to the maid, using a bucket-full of water for daily bathing rather than a shower etc. Yet even to this day, we in India dont worry about a lot things that are considered important in the US. We have never heard of the ill-effects from Asbestos or DDT or Benzene despite all of them being proven carcinogens!?!. Yet, as a scientist in training in the human exposure and risk assessment field, I find it hard to believe that risks are over estimated. I guess it is more an issue of relative risks and risk perceptions.

    You don’t worry about global warming when you have a more pressing struggle for survival and existence I guess. But it is important to know that not acknowledging the risk does not take it away.

    Great post and sorry for hogging so much of your comment space!

    @Never mind: I welcome the space hogging. Makes me feel heard 😉 I have found that for a lot of people here and elsewhere it is a case of scknowledged ignorance. They realize things have consequences, but think that if they close their eyes for long enough or ignore the issue, the issue is then not a problem. There is also the struggle for existence speaking. But even in all this there is a way of making people realize the effects and consequences of chemicals or even simple things like plastics. the problem I have found out in a lot of these cases are that the given factors of consequence are so large and incomprehensible for the farmer or sometimes even regular blue collar workers that it is but impossible to totally grab their attention. Sensationalizing is often seen as the only way and te beauty of that wears of immediately. I am glad you could stop by.

  • DotMom

    First time visitor. Love the template. I agree about being eco-sensitive. I have differning views about Climate Change, but yes, we need to be reduce, reuse and recycle!

    @DotMom: Glad you could stop by. Climate change is a controversial thing. It is difficult to recogonize the hoopla from actual science and the panic mode that many people and authors get into from the rational way of dealing with it. And even with all the science, it is just so enormous and implausible a concept that it becomes a difficult task to wrap our brains around. We had a whole semester of class around it, and it is still difficult a thing for me acknowledge full. What is your opinion about climate change? I mean as a scientist I am interested in your opinion. I encourage differeing thoughts, arguments rev my brain. I have read on your blog that you are interested in philosophy and political theories, so I am just interested in your opinion.

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