How do you cope with climate anxiety?

A great read for this week would be the latest report by Carbon Tracker.

We are in such a mess:

If you live in one of these hubs financing a 2.5C plus warming scenario, spread the news…

Unburnable-Carbon-.pdf (6.5 MB)

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Sure! Thanks for asking. I work with a non-profit organization, and we run some pretty neat programming for kids ages 5-18. My particular role is solely focused on environmental education in the form of urban agriculture, gardening, and teaching kids about low-tech ways we can process our waste and also store energy—things like composting, rainwater collection, making our own fertilizers and inputs, etc. A work partner and myself also plan outdoor excursions in the form of hiking, kayaking, Nature walks in the city, plant identification, and basically anything we think of related to ecology in general. Most of the kids in our programs are inner-city kids with no yards, no real exposure to the natural world, and most of them have no clue how food grows, what healthy food is, or how to be positive stewards of the environment. We also work with various community organizations, for example groups of individuals with developmental disabilities, or corporate teams that want to volunteer. This is a new area of development for the non-profit, so we are adding and building as we go!

It certainly helps me cope a bit with the looming environmental disaster because as I mentioned, it is very hard to change the minds of adults, it can be done, but with kids they get excited about things as simple as composting, and the possibility of them sharing it with their parents may be more impactful than me proselytizing. Composting is obviously a very easy thing for many people to do, even at a small scale, which can make an enormous impact. Even the simple act of collecting rainfall (depending on where you live of course) to water your garden helps reduce the strain on the infrastructure and energy required to provide municipal water. I try to pair this thinking with the system must be overhauled thinking as well, since the individually-focused marketing fed to us about things like recycling (see here) are just distractions as huge corporations and mega-greed wreak horrors at a scale unfathomable in comparison to individual habits.

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Finally, someone teaching something useful at school! It all sounds super-awesome, like an apocalypse survival camp. In fact, maybe that’d be good marketing …

Keep on hoping, that’ll stop those surge tides!

:scream:

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I found AN 5.78 inspiring and relevant (see AN 5.77-AN 5.80 on ‘future perils’):

Furthermore, a mendicant reflects: ‘Currently, there’s plenty of food, a good harvest, so it’s easy to get almsfood, and easy to keep going by collecting alms. But there will come a time of famine, a bad harvest, when it’s hard to get almsfood, and not easy to keep going by collecting alms.

In a time of famine, people move to where there’s plenty of food, where they live crowded and cramped together. When you live crowded and cramped together, it’s not easy to focus on the instructions of the Buddhas, and it’s not easy to frequent remote lodgings in the wilderness and the forest.

Before that unlikable, undesirable, and disagreeable thing happens, I’d better preempt it by rousing up energy for attaining the unattained, achieving the unachieved, and realizing the unrealized. That way, when it happens, I’ll live comfortably even though there’s a famine.’ …

Furthermore, a mendicant reflects: ‘Currently, people live in harmony, appreciating each other, without quarreling, blending like milk and water, and regarding each other with kindly eyes. But there will come a time of peril from wild savages, when the countryfolk mount their vehicles and flee everywhere.

In a time of peril, people move to where there’s sanctuary, where they live crowded and cramped together. When you live crowded and cramped together, it’s not easy to focus on the instructions of the Buddhas … That way, when it happens, I’ll live comfortably even in a time of peril.’ …

It’s interesting that the wording is ‘when it happens’, not ‘if’. If the Buddha knew of some social structure or form of activism that would ensure a stable and safe world and society, he would probably have shared it with the world.

Maybe this is selfish, but I would like to live comfortably even if the worst case climate change scenarios happen over the next 10-50 years.

The fact that, according to the Buddha, it is possible to be live comfortably even when the :poop: hits the fan, is maybe helpful for coping with the anxiety. Maybe even an inspiration to practice like one’s turban is on fire?

And just to be clear, I don’t mean ‘live comfortably’ as in stocking up a bunker with canned spaghetti and guns :stuck_out_tongue: but from practicing the N8P.

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Just look at any Mediterranean farmer / construction worker, they spend most of the day working outdoors, they enjoy nature like beaches and social gatherings when they’re not working, and natural unprocessed food, have a small home, drive an old beat up car, and are pretty happy.

I grew up around these kind of people, but there’s even a book comparing their lifestyle to the “American dream” lifestyle, the book is called “Travels with Epicurus: A Journey to a Greek Island in Search of a Fulfilled Life” by Daniel Klein

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How about just sitting mindfully, seeking nothing.

If anything you can do about it, you do not need to worry. If anything you cannot do about it, you do not need to worry either.

I feel the same as @Erik_ODonnell. I’m worried more about the contamination of my mind than the contamination of the earth. Samsara is pretty shitty anyway, climate change or not. To know that I’m practicing the way out of it (plus teaching and encouraging others to do the same) gives me peace of mind. So I have no climate anxiety because in comparison to samsara it seems to be a minor issue. Just like you wouldn’t really worry about a cut if you have some life-threatening disease. :slight_smile:

Still, you’d care and put a band-aid on the cut, so I do my things for the environment: being vegan as best as I can as a monk, having no children, living in a simple hut, keeping the heating low, trying to reduce my personal waste (using cotton handkerchiefs instead of tissues, soap bars instead of bottles for just about everything, having basically only 1 set of clothes), almost never going out the monastery, and if I do I go with the monastery car, and so on. In fact, there is little I think I could improve upon personally without moving into the jungle or something! :face_with_hand_over_mouth: But most of it I do mostly as part of my practice of simplicity, not that I think it will save the environment.

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I find this thread puzzling

Why would Buddhists possessed of right view – even if it’s only mundane right view – be anxious about climate change?

That emotion

I’ve never experienced such a thing in my life. Even if I knew that the destruction of the world-system by wind (in which every realm from hell up to Vehapphala gets wiped out) was going to take place at 3 pm tomorrow, it wouldn’t cause me any anxiety.

But if it did, then I would keep my equanimity intact by reasoning thus:

Anxiety is a hindrance.

All hindrances arise from improper attention, ayoniso manasikāra.

So what manner of improper attention on my part has given rise to this particular hindrance, and what should I do about it?

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Because it leads to suffering? For a lot of beings suffering is really physical. Their cattle die because there is no rain falling, their children are about to die, they have hunger, thirst, must walk endless to find some food and water. Are tired. Their existence is very hard.
What used to be their home, safety becomes an inhabitable place. They must migrate.

Some places become more and more flooded, wet. It all leads to suffering. I believe some atol islands will disappear and with that the homes of humans and animals.

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Be anxious about:

(Endless list here)

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One reason is that we haven’t really transcended our anxiety, we’re engaging in spiritual bypass when we claim we’re not anxious. I’ll share a link Bhante @Akaliko shared in another thread on spiritual bypass.

I’d also say searching this forum for “spiritual bypass” and reading Bhante @Akaliko 's posts offers a wonderful education on the topic.

Another reason has to do with practicing compassion. Another’s suffering moves us to action, and sometimes that action is to do something in the world. The Buddha’s teaching addressed everyone from people who became arahants to people he just wanted to help live a better life, with less suffering.

Interestingly, my experience is that some lay Buddhists can get hyper-focused on the idea this is all samsara - so nothing really matters - and jump from any concerns or emotions to telling people to focus on transcendence, on escape. My experience is senior monastics, who have devoted their life to the path, are much more flexible when dealing with the emotions of the world and us untutored worldlings. Their response is much more situation dependent - when is this particular person in this particular situation needing a shove to keep focused on the path, and when does this person need another approach.

So I would say a Buddhist with right view would be anxious when they are honestly feeling anxious, without trying to spiritually bypass those emotions. And a Buddhist would care about climate change anxiety in others because they are practicing compassion.

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This has been my experience as well.

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Then it’s not for you. If you’d like to discuss this further, perhaps you might want to start a new thread.

Indeed.

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Bhante, thank you for saying this. I needed to hear it in our current times :broken_heart:

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I have a completely weird and unusual take on this issue of intractable problems on this planet. I support the idea that as individuals, we can all do our part to minimize our impact on the planet’s health. We can also support politicians that are mindful of climate science and working to enact policies to mitigate climate change damage to the planet. Yet, at least in the US, my impact on mitigating climate change won’t affect the health and safety of the planet one bit, nor will the actions of family or friends that model this green behavior. In the US, people are bitter that fossil fuel prices are skyrocketing, and it’s likely that there will be a Red wave in the next election cycle. I note that there is a migration of population to “Red states” that are notorious for politicians ignorant/dismissive of climate science.

In 1994, there is an event where some schoolkids in Zimbabwe were visited by extraterrestrials The schoolkids who said they saw 'aliens' - BBC News ; the kids to this day (now adults) relate that the aliens advised them through mind-to-mind communication as follows:

In Mack’s interviews one fifth-grader tells how he was warned “about something that’s going to happen,” and that “pollution mustn’t be”.[1] An eleven-year-old girl told Mack “I think they want people to know that we’re actually making harm on this world and we mustn’t get too technologed [sic].”[1] One child said that he was told that the world would end because they are not taking care of the planet.[7]

MIT Ph.D graduate and former NASA astronaut Edgar Mitchell, not a man to suffer fools, once said : “Edgar Mitchell, the sixth man to walk on the moon, says aliens have been visiting the earth for the past sixty years.” (see at 03:30 of video: ed mitchell - YouTube ) See also Navy pilots describe encounters with UFOs - YouTube

The corroboration of alien life forms may impact humanity’s understanding of their place in the universe and change people’s attitudes toward global warming and Anthropocene extinction.

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/341822019_The_Possibility_of_Alien_Life_Forms_and_Unidentified_Aerial_Phenomena

There’s a body of people interested in UAPs that also meditate, hoping that by cultivating Metta or simply trying to absorb themselves into a state that expresses kindness to all out there in the universe, that one day these aliens, who seemingly have intervened in nuclear weapons depots and battleships and other weapons of war, might also intervene, as they warned in 1994 at the South African school, that we are killing our planet. Perhaps one day we have a closer encounter, and a roadmap that a higher form of sentient beings might offer us a way to save this dying blue dot.

Before anyone bookmarks me for a psych eval, please note that I am only interested in the science, and in what is workable in terms of human thriving, and of working to make this human life healthy and happier. Something the Buddha was also interested in, as we all are. So every so often, I do a small Metta Paritta for those sentient beings who may, or may not be, out there. Who seem to wish all of us to be well, happy, and peaceful. This is one way I cope with climate anxiety.

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You do indeed! But you have a great point: metta is for all sentient beings.

As unlikely as actual alien intervention is—and I do believe it is very unlikely—I personally believe that there is a greater probability that we will be saved by aliens than that the current approach will work. We have abundant evidence that what we are doing now is failing, yet we keep doing it. As for aliens, we just don’t know.

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Given that anatta adds up to being dead, gone, with another person inheriting your inheriting your remnants as a spiritual child of yours, why have anxiety about climate change?

We will not be here for the worst of it.

Of course, as a human being, who is part of the world I think it is natural to feel bad about the world not going on.

However, we aren’t going to be conscious of it not going on.

Is this actually true? I always hear about the migration of educated people away from (impoverished) Red States towards Coastal Economic Hubs™️ where they can find Knowledge Jobs™️. This is one reason for the increasing craziness of the Senate, since all the educated people are now found in just a handful of states, which still get only two votes, no matter how large they get.

Right?! Like… uh… you know the price of everything has to be like 10x higher to factor in environmental externalities, right? But especially fossil fuels. :roll_eyes: And now politicians are tripping over themselves to add more fuel subsidies?! In the middle of… :rage::face_exhaling: We’re so screwed. :sob:

Ah yeah, sounds like devatā to me… Just, “aliens” is less threatening to Materialism than “angels,” I guess.

Well, I am living abroad :thailand:, I’m pretty “out there” :crazy_face: and I do wish all y’all to be well :mending_heart: So, on behalf of all of us aliens: thanks! :slight_smile: And back atchya, brother! :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

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Bhante, it seems to be very true. Democrats’ most alarming problem

Democrats are likely to lose control of one or both houses of Congress in this year’s midterm elections. But they may face an even bigger danger: A steady flow of Americans out of traditional blue states on the coasts and in the upper Midwest into red states mostly in the South.

New Census data analyzed by the American Enterprise Institute shows that eight of the 10 states losing the most residents from April 2020 through June 2021 have Democratic leadership, while nine of the 10 states gaining the most new residents have Republican governors.

By losing control of the Senate, the climate change and gun control senators will essentially lose their voice, with no legislation on either issue gaining any traction for the next many years.

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Brother Bhante, thanks, and have yourself a peaceful and happy weekend!

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