Brain Food: The Emotional Impact of Climate Change

Nov 13, 2014

Thousands of scientists worldwide are studying the environmental impact of climate change. But now, two professors of English are studying its emotional impact. SueEllen Campbell and John Calderazzo are co-directors of a climate change outreach and discussion group at Colorado State University. And, they recently visited Northern Arizona University to share this message about the Earth’s changing climate:

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“We call it ‘It’s Everybody’s Business’ and our hope is that we have more and more people in the discussion so that they feel empowered to take part in helping to solve the problem,” Calderazzo says.

Calderazzo and Campbell’s program encourages university employees from all different departments and disciplines — as well as people from all walks of life — to openly discuss their feelings about climate change. SueEllen Campbell says a lot of people feel fear, guilt and sadness — not just about climate change in general — but about how their own behavior may be worsening the problem.

“It’s a good idea to go ahead and let yourself feel bad and recognize that yes, some of it is really sad and very worrisome, and that once you acknowledge it is true you can start thinking about what you could possibly do to help the problem. Then, I think, there’s lots and lots of things to do, but I think first you have to get yourself over the feeling that it’s too overwhelming and there’s no one thing anybody can do to fix it,” Campbell says.

Campbell and Calderazzo say visiting campuses like NAU helps get people talking about what they can do as individuals to address climate change. Whether it’s switching to more energy efficient light bulbs or joining marches and rallies, the English professors say it’s not too late to make a difference.