Burning questions... answered

Confused? We take on common questions that youth have when starting out in environmental action and shed light on a few myths along the way.

All this talk about the climate crisis is making me feel anxious, angry, and sad. Does taking environmental action mean having these emotions all the time?

We’re going to be honest: distress, anger and despondency do hit those working with the environment at varying levels.

The psychological impact of fearing an ‘environmental doom’ has been documented in a survey of 10,000 young people in 10 countries. The highest proportion of respondents who reported feeling ‘very worried’ or ‘extremely worried’ by climate change came from the Philippines (84%), India (68%) and Brazil (67%)—these are also nations that have been worst hit by climate change.

When asked how they dealt with such emotions, several young environmentalists in Malaysia said seeking support from a close network of friends and mentors helped them through the dark times.

Another way is to break down the huge environmental crisis into smaller, actionable chunks. For example, the problem of capping worldwide global warming to a maximum of 1.5°C seems insurmountable. But running a 3R (reduce, reuse and recycle) programme in a local neighbourhood is much less daunting.

Some also found success in transforming their anger and anxiety into action. The good news is that 90% of young people in Malaysia are overwhelmingly confident in their abilities to make a difference with regards to climate change, according to the National Youth Climate Change Survey Malaysia by UNDP and UNICEF.

Still, if you are experiencing overwhelming emotional distress or are having suicidal thoughts, please call Befrienders Malaysia (24-hours) at +603-76272929 for free or email them at sam@befrienders.org.my. Their phone lines are manned 24/7 by trained volunteers who are ready to listen and provide support.

You can also call Buddy Bear, which supports children and teens experiencing emotional distress. They are available at the toll free number 1800-18-2327(BEAR) every day, from 12pm to 12am.