By Aimee Oliveros
February 25, 2023
I distinctly remember a time when I was praying and crying so hard for my father to get home from his work outside of Baguio, as I was gazing outside the window and looking at the rushing flood water from the streets. I did not know and understand climate change then, but I was aware that we were responsible for the flooding due to the cutting of trees in Baguio and the amount of waste that we generate. It was an overwhelming feeling of fear, worry, guilt, and helplessness which I recently felt again after the onslaught of severe tropical storm Paeng in the Philippines.
Eco-anxiety is characterized as the overwhelming feelings of fear and worry about the climate change impacts and the effects of extreme disasters and weather events, affecting our way of life and daily functioning. It can also be associated with feelings of guilt about our actions that impact the environment, as well as feelings of helplessness, and even hopelessness in fighting climate change.
When we celebrated National Mental Health Month last October, I asked Climate Reality Leaders (those who have completed the Climate Reality Leadership Corps training) from Luzon for tips on how to cope with eco-anxiety:
“To cope with eco-anxiety, we must accept the true purpose of our being alive. In my younger days being an orphan, I suffer a lot from anxiety and there I learned from the famous author Leo Buscaglia who says, “To accept death is to accept life and truly live.” We must live each day as if it is the last and do what we can now with hope and full dedication. Remember that the state of the environment will be passed on to the next generation and doing whatever we can no matter how small is very important.
Love yourself, live life, and share that love with others and the earth.”
As the effects of climate change are getting more intense and more evident, especially in climate-vulnerable countries such as the Philippines, it’s expected that more cases of eco-anxiety would be experienced, particularly by the youth. It is critical to equip ourselves with as much information to learn about this and find ways how to effectively cope and still hope.
Aimee is a human resources professional with over 10 years of corporate work experience in different local and multinational industries. With her experience in organizational development, training, and employee engagement, Aimee is deeply passionate about promoting learning and wellbeing. She is a Climate Reality Leader having joined the 2020 Global training which solidified her inner passion for community work and service. Being an advocate for the environment, she co-founded RE-Store MNL, a small shop promoting refill and reuse in Paranaque City. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Sciences at the University of the Philippines Baguio.
ABOUT ELEVENTH HOUR
This article was originally published on The Climate Reality Project Philippines’ weekly column for the Manila Bulletin called Eleventh Hour.
This column serves a digital space to discuss our organization’s work on supporting the country’s just transition into a clean, affordable, and self-sufficient energy system; advancing sustainable urban mobility to highlight the issues of equity and democracy; and raising public awareness about the need to phase out single-use plastics. It also serves as a platform for Pinoy Climate Reality Leaders to share your stories, promote your climate initiatives, and provide critical insights to issues that matter to climate action, environmental protection, and sustainable development.