Skip to content
Home » Dispatches » Dharma talk on climate anxiety, trauma and justice

Dharma talk on climate anxiety, trauma and justice

Earlier this year, as part of the excellent work they’ve done to bring their meditation community online during the pandemic, Upaya Zen Centre hosted a series of talks on social and environmental justice. The speakers were all excellent, combining expertise in environmental science, Buddhism, and social change. You can click here to check out all of the lectures in Upaya’s online dharma talk resource. One in particular, by Zen priest and environmental scientist, Dr. Kritee Kanko, explores climate anxiety, trauma, and justice, as well as grief. Recognizing what we’re losing, what we’ve lost, and how that’s not distant, but happening right now to people in our communities, is why the tagline to this blog refers to our “beautiful sinking island”. The world is small. We’ve already lost so much. We will lose much more. Touching the pain of eco grief will be important for all. We can mourn and appreciate that loss and support those already affected heavily by it.

Listen to Dr. Kanko’s talk here: Social and Environmental Justice (Part 3 of 4)

How can you be a little less overwhelmed by climate anxiety?

During my live streams, people have been asking about what they can do when faced with eco anxiety and climate grief. There is no easy answer to that question but Dr. Kanko shared a simple, supportive idea for action in her talk:

  • Gather a friend group of 5 to 8 people. You don’t have to meet in person. It might just be that you setup a Whatsapp group between some close friends spread out around the world.
  • Meet every two weeks. Don’t turn this into a constant thing where you all just end up doom scrolling constantly. You’ll burn out. 
  • Intentionally commit to sharing and digesting troubling news in the world. Discuss the pain and grief you feel. It doesn’t need to be confined to stories about the environment. When we see news about the unmarked graves of indigenous children at Canadian residential schools, or news of migrants drowning in the Mediterranean, or an Instagram story about a restaurant owner in Beirut spending the day trying to find petrol so she can run her generator that night and serve customers–those stories are all part of the same interconnected systems. 
  • And this part is key: decide how you’ll take action together. It doesn’t need to be something big. Taking action in small groups is powerful. We’re not taking on a massive challenge alone.
A town on the Mekong River Delta, Vietnam. There is brown water with plants floating in it. And then buildings crowded around the edge of the water. The water goes right up to the homes. Any rise in water level and they would all be flooded. They are so low that their TV antennas are all nearly double the height of the houses so they can pick up a signal.
Mekong River Delta, Vietnam, photographed in 2007. Ecological destruction from climate change makes the future of communities in the Delta very uncertain.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *