Dealing with Climate Anxiety
“We are on a highway to climate hell with our foot still on the accelerator”, stated United Nations secretary general Antonio Guterres at the COP27 climate change summit. That sounds terrifying, doesn’t it? The effects of climate change are becoming tangible for a growing number of people. There also appears to be a corresponding rise in the number of people experiencing climate change-related psychological distress. ‘Eco-anxiety’ or ‘climate anxiety’ includes feelings of worry, guilt, shame, hopelessness and despair. Is climate anxiety common or not? Is there an optimal level of anxiety that motivates people to engage in environment-friendly behaviour? And what if it becomes all-consuming?
During this evening, we will hear different perspectives on climate anxiety, with environmental researcher turned activist Ernst-Jan Kuiper, professor in Developmental Psychology Peter de Jonge (RUG) and environmental psychologist Valentina Lozano Nasi (RUG). After short introductions by each speaker they will participate in a debate about the matters at hand. There is also room for the audience to take part in the discussion.
Peter de Jonge is professor in Developmental Psychology and one of the top researchers in the Netherlands on the interface between psychology and psychiatry. The main topics of his research are the development of depression and anxiety in a lifespan perspective. In recent years, he has focused his attention on climate anxiety.
Ernst-Jan Kuiper obtained his master's degree in Climate Physics, after which he focused on research into the dynamics of the Greenland ice sheet. Kuiper currently works at Milieudefensie on the appeal against oil giant Shell. He also is one of the spokespersons for Extinction Rebellion Netherland - an organization that wants to force the government to act on the climate and ecological crisis by non-violent, disruptive action.
Valentina Lozano Nasi recently completed her doctoral studies in Environmental Psychology, specializing in the psychology of climate change adaptation. In her PhD journey she introduced 'transilience': the perceived capacity to persist, adapt flexibly, and positively transform in the face of an adversity. Her research investigates whether people perceive they can adapt to climate change by challenging the status quo, rather than merely maintaining it. This offers a fresh perspective on, not only surviving, but also thriving in a changing climate.
This event is organised in collaboration with the Green Office of the University of Groningen in the context of the Sustainability Week (9 to 13 October).