Happy Earth Day: Feeling Connected to the Earth and Coping with Eco-Anxiety
CPAWS Northern Alberta
The first Earth Day was in 1970, a day to celebrate and support environmental protection. Since then, the world has rapidly changed… remember an era when email was new, or reading this article would have kept others from using your landline?
Yet, despite huge advances in technology, we have seen a mass acceleration in the twin crises: the climate crisis and the biodiversity crisis. Thinking about the widespread effects of the twin crises can be overwhelming. Large-scale changes do not happen overnight but as a result of smaller incremental changes.
For us at CPAWS Northern Alberta, we focus on how we can move conservation forward in our own community. Keeping in mind to reach these international goals of 30% of protected areas by 2030, changes must happen at the systemic level and through community action. Over the past few years we’ve seen several environmental wins in Alberta: ‘Wildlife’ status for wild wood bison herds in Northern Alberta, the reversal of the Alberta Parks ‘optimization’ plan, a pause in logging plans in Moon Creek caribou habitat, and a stop to coal activity in the Eastern Slopes.
This year’s theme for Earth Day revolves around the topic of eco-anxiety, and how we are ‘sick of seeing the world sick’.
How do we take our wins in stride without letting those feelings of eco-anxiety sink in? We’ve asked the team how they stay connected to the Earth and keep those feelings of eco-anxiety at bay.
Kecia, Executive Director
Eco-anxiety is always with me and drives us to keep doing what we do, but it can be overwhelming and I know that I am of more value to the cause if I am not overwhelmed or burned out. Having a sense of humour about all of it and sharing in that with our team and community helps. But primarily I stay connected to the Earth with regular walks in the River Valley and obsessing over my garden. I take time each day to recognize the wonder and gratitude I have for nature.
Chris, Conservation Analyst
I stay connected with nature by going on frequent, quiet walks in the forest, kind of like the Japanese concept of ‘forest bathing’. Perhaps in contrast, my mindset around eco-anxiety is set within a military mindset (Chris has a military background) – one soldier does not win a war; it takes many people with different talents and backgrounds working together towards a common goal to achieve success. Even if as individuals we might occasionally stumble, together, we can improvise, adapt to and overcome the challenges we face as a global community.
Gillian, Boreal Program Manager
For me, what helps with eco-anxiety is community and feeling closer to people and that’s what also makes me feel closer to the Earth. Keeping our actions focused on community is what will make the greatest impact.
Tara, Program Director
I try to remember that I am only one person, and the entire weight and responsibility for addressing the climate and biodiversity crisis is the responsibility of us all. The changes that we need are on a systemic level, which can be driven by each of us, but cannot be done alone.
Nature is so many things, but most of all its magic is in reminding me that we are just a small part of this world. I balance the challenges of our conservation work by dedicated part of my time to spend outside with friends and family. I love a challenging remote outdoor adventure, but refreshing time in nature happens every day. I spend time around the backyard firepit with my neighbors commenting on the birds enjoying our canopy, noticing the leaves come and go as seasons change in the park near my house, or being fascinated by the sprouting seeds in our garden plot.
Ryan, Conservation Analyst
I feel pretty connected to the Earth when I take my dog, Lucy, on a walk. Observing dogs at the off leash park playing, and sniffing around reminds you there is so much joy and discovery in nature.
Elise, Communications Coordinator
Connecting to the Earth to me means making memories in nature and to keep learning. To keep my eco-anxiety at bay (and I’ve got a lot of it), I think of how much impact we can have through our own circles and through conversation. We’re human and we look for connection – the Earth connects us.
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