Worried about climate change? You’re not alone, new local study finds

·2 min read

Local nonprofit group The Resilient Activist has released the initial findings of a study on climate anxiety in the Kansas City and Lawrence areas. In partnership with the University of Kansas Department of Psychology, the group surveyed 46 local climate activists and community members about their experiences.

While the sample of participants surveyed was small and partially self-selected, the study’s initial findings help demonstrate the prevalence of climate grief and fear among “environmentally engaged” locals. Here are some of the key findings.

What emotional toll is the climate crisis taking on Kansas City?

The vast majority of participants reported feeling sadness and frustration in response to climate change and environmental degradation. These were by far the most common responses to a question on emotions related to the climate crisis.

Other responses included hopelessness, anxiety and guilt, while a small number of participants reported feeling hopeful about the future.

“It saddens me to think that humanity can be this disinterested or blind to the consequences of our actions,” one participant said. All quotes from participants in the study are anonymous for privacy reasons.

How are local environmentalists responding?

Participants were also asked what they do to respond to their climate related emotions. The most popular answer, shared by nearly twenty participants, was seeking nature.

“It’s so important for me to spend time in as many green spaces as I can,” one participant said.

Tied for the second most common coping mechanisms were “incremental progress” and “seek like-minded others.” Here are some of the small steps you can take at home to help combat the climate crisis. Reducing harmful waste is a great way to help the planet: our recycling guide and composting guide can help you get started.

“Having that self-compassion [helps me] because I feel the weight of all those things,” said another participant. “[Have] the compassion for yourself that we can only do so much.”

What can you do to help combat the climate crisis in Kansas City?

Researchers asked participants what their communities can do to support sustainable well being in the face of climate change. The most common answer, shared by 35 participants, was “Community action.”

There are many ways to engage with the Kansas City community in service of sustainability and climate action, from participating in trash cleanups to contacting your elected officials about climate justice. Check out our guide to environmental volunteer opportunities to get involved.

“Figure out, what can I sustain as an individual? And then find the form of activism that fits who you are,” another participant said in their closing remarks. “Because this is not going to go away. And so, [figure] out the thing that moves you.”

Do you have more questions about sustainability efforts in Kansas City? Ask our Service Journalism team at kcq@kcstar.com or fill out the form below.

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