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Natural Awakenings Naples and Fort Myers

Letter from Publisher: Climate Grief

Lately, I’ve felt like I’ve lost my best friend—as if someone I love has received a terminal diagnosis. Natural Awakenings has sounded the alert on the effects of climate change for years, but walking my beloved nearby Gulf of Mexico beach amid dead sea life while coughing from red tide has been heart wrenching. We’re all grieving this tragic loss of wildlife, our once pristine environment and the future of South Florida.

Researching climate grief and eco-anxiety on the Internet reveals that thinking daily about such dire implications can be a crushing psychological burden. A 2017 American Psychological Association report found the phenomenon is causing stress, anxiety, depression and relationship strain, leading to feelings of fear, helplessness and disengagement. Those physically impacted by climate-augmented crises fare worse.

I discovered a Salt Lake City initiative named the Good Grief Project at that holds meetings to boost community involvement and give people a place to converse about what they’re experiencing in a safe, nonjudgmental context. They’ve found that when anxiety and fear pop up, we tend to bury it. Given the opportunity to grieve and talk about our emotion helps move us from feeling paralyzed into taking some action and thus feeling more hopeful.

Guilt over being part of the problem—of which I’m blatantly reminded every trash day—comes from recognizing how entrenched I am in the very practices I know are damaging and destructive. I’m now more determined than ever to step up my zero waste game, applying tips from this month’s Green Living article on page 25.  

Meanwhile, I too, point fingers at big polluters and decades of purchased or cowardly policymakers that could have helped prevent this latest situation. Working together, we can help turn around this tsunami of death, beginning with upcoming elections.

Ecological problems brewing for years now have our urgent attention. Local environmental groups and concerned citizens are populating town meetings, holding hands along the coastline and putting pressure on policymakers, determined to find solutions to save the state’s precious core ecosystem.

Like me, I trust you’ll be inspired by Linda Sechrist’s local feature story, “South Florida’s Water Crisis Dilemma,” which highlights what local environmental groups are doing and how you can get involved (page 22). No one can afford to sit this one out, so let’s meet up at the Southwest Florida People’s Climate March on September 8 at Centennial Park in downtown Fort Myers as a next step. It’s one of thousands of rallies taking place worldwide to demand that local leaders commit to building a fossil fuel-free world.

If we all pull together as if our lives depended on it, because they do, we can require change across the globe—a radical cultural shift, and one to which we can all contribute through our daily actions. Now that’s reason for hope!

Here’s to rising to the occasion,

Sharon Signature

Sharon Bruckman