Climate anxiety is hitting me all at once. How do I go about my normal life?

I really love birds and birdwatching. My understanding is that many bird species are going to go extinct this century unless certain trends are reversed. The biggest one is climate change, and habitat loss is another one.

I’m wondering if God wants me to do something about this. I’d like to do what I can to prevent the extinction of many bird species. Right now my current job doesn’t have anything to do with what I’m passionate about.

I mostly kept myself ignorant on this topic because I didn’t want to give myself more anxiety and pessimissm than I already have in my life. I also find the necessary changes that we need to make to be quite daunting. No use of plastic and no flying on planes are hard sells for a lot of people, and I’m not at a point in life where I can afford to make either of those changes.

What am I supposed to do in my regular life to make people realize that many animal species will got extinct unless they make some changes? How am I suppose to reach other Christians when most of them think they have to buy into every Republican talking point, including the idea that climate change is just a myth?

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There are a handful of things that you can do that’s not to difficult.

  1. If you have a yard you can start to grow native plants. Native plants host native butterflies and moths. These plants host them because they coevolved together. The caterpillars can eat the foliage ( leaves ) and metabolize the chemicals the leaves use for their defense. Like milkweeds can be eaten by monarchs and pawpaws can be eaten by zebra swallowtails and so on. Have you looked at the ecological relationship with native plants and insects? So I’m bringing this up because almost all birds feed their chicks caterpillars.

Also create snail habitats. Birds eat snail shells and it helps strengthen their eggs.

You can also get in touch with your local native plant society. Get in touch with your local bird watching groups and so on. They most likely know more about your local rights.

  1. If you have cats keep them indoors. It’s safer for them and it helps prevent them from killing everything around.

  2. Get your friends interested in nature. Does not matter if it’s bird watching, mushroom foraging, seed collecting, hiking, kayaking or whatever. The more people who enjoy nature means more people who cares about it.

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I think a lot of us are in a similar place, where we grieve the loss that occurs in our world due to our collective decisions. I think the suggestions made by @SkovandOfMitaze are great. Provision of habitat and water sources go a long way. Like the starfish story on the beach, it may not save the world, but it makes a difference to those birds and people in your neighborhood.

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Episode 420 of “‘In Defense of Plants”’ called “Botany in the Big Apple” talks about the use of native plants even in highly urbanized areas and how to create habitats there.

Katharine Hayhoe always says the first step is learning all you can and talking about it with people. Also, I’ve found many Christians aren’t motivated by the extinction of other species because they are pretty anthrocentric, but if you can convince them climate change is a big deal because it is harming the poor and vulnerable people of the world and contributing to injustice and violence, then the next step is getting them to care about the other inhabitants of the ecosystems humans depend on.

There are things people can do even in suburban or urban areas to support local food webs, plant flowers that attract pollinators, and aid birds in their migration and winter survival. You could start with those things. I think it’s normal to feel like we can’t make all the changes or get everyone to make all the changes. But we can change one thing this month and maybe we can convince someone else to make a change with us.

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I echo Christy’s recommendation above and subscribe to Katharine Hayhoe’s (free) newsletter which balances some “good news” about climate change actions with some “bad news” and then offers some suggestions of what to do. I think the link for subscribing is here.
https://www.talkingclimate.ca/

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How can one go about first convincing them that climate change [or CoViD vaccines or whatever, for that matter] isn’t just a conspiracy by [someone bad] to effect [something sinister]?

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Welcome to the forum @Praying4Calm . These are all great suggestions.

You might also look at Frequently Asked Questions – Katharine Hayhoe in the section “How can I have a positive, constructive conversation about climate change?”. Dr. Hayhoe makes the claim that “dismissives” only make up about 10% of the population. Of course they may not be uniformly distributed, and you may run into a high concentration of them in one place :grimacing:.

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That’s a good question. I think you need people they trust to tell them. So are you someone they trust? It gets complicated when even mentioning that you think climate change is real automatically puts you in the category of “people we can’t trust,” but that’s kind of where we’re at. We can’t take everyone we wanted to come on the journey. So another question is when do you just decide to leave some people behind and make new friends.

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Then depending on your age, motivation and skill set you can also get a degree or change careers, or even open up your own business. The backbone to every habitat is plants. Plant are hosts for insects and fungi. Plants are the food source for the bulk of life which then is the food source for predators. Some fields have the power to really utilize this. Such as landscaping or running a small plant nursery. Small niche native nurseries can generate a decent income. At one time I had 10 baby pools in my backyard that I collected seeds and cuttings of wetland and aquatic plants that ranged typically around $35-50 and i sold around 500 a year. Took about 10 hours of work a week. Other than the collecting which I did while hiking. It’s not super easy. Really have to stay on top of making sure they are disease free so that no one places it in their garden and affect their fish and stuff. You can collect native seeds of trees. An oak growing from an acorn is not that hard to grow. For the first 1-5 years they don’t get too big and can be moved around easily. I’m thinking about tracking down acorns for roughly 20 species of oak. I’ll sell some, I’ll use some in “ Guerrilla gardening”
and I’ll give some to friends and family or swap at native plant swaps.

If you go the landscaping route and design your own gardens it’s your choice to use what plants you want. Many nurseries have limited native plants but you can use plant brokers, shop online at native plant nurseries or specialized nurseries in advance to have what you want for the client and grow some of your own.

There are really many ways you can help birds from your porch and cheap to degrees or what work you do. Some tiktokers even inspire others to get out in nature by simply recording their hikes, identifying the things they come across and doing small natural history lessons.

But as others have mentioned, unfortunately with so many in the world not caring about the poor or caring about animals caught up in the cycle of slaughter or about ones in the wild, the world will probably have to break in order for everyone to get on board to heal it. The good news is that wildlife will survive. It’s been making it on land for at least 425 million years in the Devonian period with Choanata getting closer to becoming tetrapods. Crawling out on a terrestrial landscape with wingless insects and small lycopod ancestors that got bigger and bigger peaking as towering tree like forms in the Carboniferous.

I did a related post years ago. It was not really in-depth.

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I just scoff at that claim these days because in my conservation work I observe item after item from the climate models built where I attended university decades ago: rainfall shifts, temperature shifts, rising sea level effects, and the results of those including some species thriving while others struggle, and plant and animal species both migrating to new ranges. I just list the changes and point out that they were predicted.

A big change is the survival rate of native species I plant: eight years ago, if I planted 100 Pinus contorta contorta, shore pine, I could count on ninety to ninety-five surviving through the next two years; now, if I plant 100 I can expect that eighty to eighty-five will die. This really impacts people because shore pine is known for being very hardy, but the climate changes have resulted in a situation where if I plant them with a gallon of good soil mixed in, water them with root stimulant, and then water them through the summer, I can’t even count on a fifth of them surviving.

I spent several days a couple of summers back hiking through coastal dunes pulling tansy plants and leaving milkweed. I’ve even transplanted milkweed taken from my flower beds into pots for planting out among the pines.

This reminds me to check the apartment building my dad used to own. Someone there kept feeding feral cats and ripping off the heavy screen covering openings to under the buildings. I made a point for several years to put up new screen and remove all feed dishes, and I should start doing that again.

Though I also wish there were some way to make all cats like a neighbor’s cat – it’s 3/4 Russian blue and is incredibly mellow, including not chasing birds: where other cats charge out after birds in a yard, this one curls up and just watches them; I even caught it purring one day as it watched a crow chasing a pair of pigeons.

Twenty years ago starfish were endangered along the Pacific Northwest coast, so huge fines were put in place to protect them. They’ve recovered to the point that after a good storm I can fairly well count on finding at least one washed up on the beach near my conservation work.

I can’t recall what city it was but I saw a piece on the tube about one where there are a lot of “skywalks” connecting buildings on the third, sixth, and ninth floors, and some organization had gotten the city to alter the roofing so each skywalk roof could be covered in plants.
Then there are the places where old freeways are being turned into pedestrian gardens.

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I’ve started making sure I mention bunnies: a lot of people come to where I do conservation work and really don’t care about the wildlife, but some love the chance to see the local elk herd so I tell how its habitat is suffering; some will care about deer suffering; a bunch will care about there being fewer bird species; but when I tell how habitat for rabbits is shrinking hardly anyone fails to react.

Find out the negative effects where you live. If there are bad things happening where they live, even if those have to be pointed out, people tend to respond.

I don’t even use the term, I just tell how things are changing here and mention that these changes were predicted using a model designed by people at the nearby university. Often someone will say, “Oh, you mean climate change?” I say, “I guess, I just know things are changing and we need to do somethiing”.

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That’s astoundingly true out where I do my conservation work. It’s easy to show, too; I can walk people to where they can see where a coastal blue spruce has grown, and point out the wedge of area behind it where the wild peas (three species), wild strawberries, and evergreen huckleberries grow in the shelter of the spruce. If I could get a solid line of spruce along the 1970s foredune, the area behind it for fifty meters would change radically.

I also carefully pull dandelions when I do yardwork: around my house, they’re an annoyance, but they can actually be a pioneer species on the lee side of dunes. They tend to die before they get much larger than twenty centimeters across, but the dead leaves catch some sand and remain in place, thus cooling the surface a tiny bit. Plus the decaying root feeds soil bacteria, and those dead leaves shelter a few small bugs. So any time I find dandelion seed clusters I harvest them and mix them into a tub of grass clippings and river sand to spread in select spots so I get a big patch of dandelions.

I figure I’ve scattered a good two thousand cones and five thousand seeds, and I’ve learned that there’s something about the scotch broom that inhibits germination: only where there’s no scotch broom around have any of those resulted in new trees!

I also collect California poppy and foxglove seeds; everyone is encouraged by seeing wildflowers and it inspires some people to help.

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Most of the anthropogenic effects right here are habitat loss, the weather getting warmer and more variable, and the ridiculous amount of skyglow considering how far away the nearest cities are to us (all of which anyone who has lived here for multiple decades already knows). The weather getting warmer is easily observable in winter–it snows about every two years now, instead of a couple times per year the way it did a few decades back.

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About some things at least. Probably too much in regards to agreeing with them.

That’s the weird thing with some of the people I know–they trust me to be much more knowledgeable about science than them, but are very confident of their own views about certain parts of it (I haven’t tried finding out how they would react to hearing me make statements disagreeing with their views more than very slightly). I usually just don’t mention anything about my hobbies outside of academic settings unless I’m asked.

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We’ve had that since two very large low-income housing apartment complexes were completed; both have brightly-lit grounds. I noticed just last night that I can no longer see the entire Ursa Major or Ursa Minor.

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We used to have significantly snowy winters that tracked with the solar cycle. Every eleven years we’d get a foot or more of snow and it would last over a week; the years before and after had a third to half that and it stayed for three or four days. That cycle broke down in the late 1990s; winters have been just enough warmer to eliminate the snow while summers have become more cool and drier. I’ve long loved snow as well as brief heat waves, so I’m much less happy about the weather here now.

I also catch myself stressing over my location since the elevation at the street is only fourteen feet above sea level – I’ve even had nightmares of half of the Greenland ice sheet collapsing resulting in high tides overtopping all the river dikes and storm surges reaching my yard.

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This is a coincidence! I just read this post and then went to one my regular daily sites and this was at the top: Climate anxiety around our changing planet is real. Here’s how to cope. - Vox

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I saw a similar article recently. Both articles emphasized having a reaction plan for catastrophe, but the catastrophe that my home faces isn’t one that any plan can deal with: I’m fourteen feet above sea level (according to the county surveyor’s map; twenty according to whatismyelevation.com, twenty-five according to google, and a hundred according to mapdevelopers.com which I think is an error; it would be reasonable if the thirty-one meters was actually thirty-one feet, though still an outlier; twenty-three feet according to calcmaps.com), so how do you plan for rising sea level?

I am going to probably ruffle some feathers on this topic…however, i do this because i too am very concerned about climate change and extinction and i care deeply about the environment.

Sometimes i think that we must shock others and bring to the surface some very robust feelings on these topics as it forces individuals to make a stand one way or the other.

I think this is a topic which causes one to seriously consider ones philosophical world view and the implications of choosing one that has considerable inconsistences…in this case the likes of Naturalism, Uniformatarianism and/or associated variants! Even YEC Christians would do well to seriously consider the idea that God doesnt demand of us that we protect all creation and not damage or pollute the environment!

Just to ensure that those on this forum understand i am genuine in my caring…i post a photo of some friends of mine who i havent seen in 3 years (this is my wifes rental property about 1000km away from where we have lived for the last 3 years.)

I hand feed these guys and their friends every day.

ok…so with the above caveat:

As a YEC, i find it rather suprising that those who susbscribe to evolutionism worry at all about climate change.

Why would an evolutionist even be worried? Its been happening for millions of years and is part of the natural order of things. Mankind is still a part of nature despite his pillaging of its resources. The earth will figure it out wont it?

Below is why i make the above statement:

More than 99% of all species that ever lived on Earth, amounting to over five billion species,[1] are estimated to have died out.[2][3][4][5] It is estimated that there are currently around 8.7 million species of eukaryote globally,[6] and possibly many times more if microorganisms, like bacteria, are included.[7] Notable extinct animal species include non-avian dinosaurs, saber-toothed cats, dodos, mammoths, ground sloths, thylacines, trilobites, and golden toads.

Through evolution, species arise through the process of speciation—where new varieties of organisms arise and thrive when they are able to find and exploit an ecological niche—and species become extinct when they are no longer able to survive in changing conditions or against superior competition. The relationship between animals and their ecological niches has been firmly established.[8] A typical species becomes extinct within 10 million years of its first appearance,[5] although some species, called living fossils, survive with little to no morphological change for hundreds of millions of years.

As one can find from the above reference in wikipedia, according to the naturalistic world view, a stong case can be made for not even worrying about climate change.

Also, i know that Christians have been blamed for a similar error in that they supposedly claimed that God is going to destroy and remake this corrupt sinful world so who cares!

Now i want to finish my post by stating again…

I am a climate change convert. I love nature, i value all of what i see around and i came to this conclusion as a result of flying paragliders…seeing nature from just above the treetops is one of the most wonderful thing i have ever done and I have been truly humbled by the experiences.

Below is an image i took I think it was just before COVID while flying my paraglider North of Wollongong Ausralia. It is looking at Bald Hill, the world famous Stanwell Park paraglinding site (the clearing above the small beach in the upper portion of the image)

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