Eco‐Anxiety, Tragedy, and Hope: Psychological and Spiritual Dimensions of Climate Change

Zygon 53 (2):545-569 (2018)
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This article addresses the problem of “eco‐anxiety” by integrating results from numerous fields of inquiry. Although climate change may cause direct psychological and existential impacts, vast numbers of people already experience indirect impacts in the form of depression, socio‐ethical paralysis, and loss of well‐being. This is not always evident, because people have developed psychological and social defenses in response, including “socially constructed silence.” I argue that this situation causes the need to frame climate change narratives as emphasizing hope in the midst of tragedy. Framing the situation simply as a threat or a possibility does not work. Religious communities and the use of methods which include spirituality have an important role in enabling people to process their deep emotions and existential questions. I draw also from my experiences from Finland in enabling cooperation between natural scientists and theologians in order to address climate issues.



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