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How Eco-anxiety Works


What Makes People Eco-Anxious?
Some people found the proactive message of "An Inconvenient Truth" to be debilitating.
Some people found the proactive message of "An Inconvenient Truth" to be debilitating.
Junko Kimura/Getty Images

Many say the media are driving eco-anxiety. And it's no wonder people are so anxious, with doomsday hea­dlines bombarding them on the Internet and through periodicals, while television news programs broadcast the latest global food shortages and diseases linked to toxic chemical exposure.

We can't even escape at the movies. In his 2006 Oscar-winning documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth," Vice President Al Gore warned us that we might be a mere decade away from a global environmental disaster. It was really time to be afraid -- very afraid.

In addition to working up the public, the media sometimes blow real environmental threats out of proportion, leaving many unsure as to the actual probability of a cataclysmic environmental disaster, according to some experts [source: CNBC]. We're also made to feel disproportionately guilty about our own role in the impending crisis, particularly if we've chosen to drive a big SUV or we often forget our reusable totes at the supermarket checkout line.

­The media are a big part of eco-anxiety, but psychologists say other elements are fueling our worry [source: Plenty]. A bi­g part of it is our growing sense of disconnectedness from family, friends and neighbors. When you're talking to no one but your computer, it's easy for your worries to spiral out of control. With so many environmental concerns occurring simultaneously around the world, it's also easy to get lost in the big picture and feel utterly helpless.