The Green13 POP-UP Festival kit was cocreated by educators and climate activists from around the world. We started with the Earth Day “Climate of Emotions” virtual conference, Then, through a series of online meetings, we collaborated to design and write the Green13 activities.

Above is a short video introducing the connection between emotional intelligence and climate action.

Background: What is Climate Grief?

Many of us are familiar with the stages of mourning following the loss of a loved one — denial, guilt, anger, depression and, ultimately, acceptance — but we don’t really have a vocabulary for the loss of the environment. Only recently have climate activists and mental health professionals started using a new term, “Climate Grief,” to describe the complex feelings people are experiencing about the environment.

Renee Lertzman, a research psychologist and author specializing in environmental communications defines Climate Grief: “It’s not like the kind of anger, sadness, and grief that we normally think about when someone passes away,” Lertzman said. “This is a whole different category: There’s an actual loss and sadness when you hear about a billion animals killed in a wildfire, plus an anticipatory loss. We’re already grieving what we understand is going to be gone, based on science’s predictions.”

Research: A Growing Issue

Research shows rates of strong emotions about climate is increasing: The 2019 edition of an annual survey by Yale University found 46 percent of Americans said they feel “outraged,” 45 percent said they feel “afraid,” and 66 percent said they feel “worried” about climate change. This represents a ten percent increase since 2014. More than half also reported feeling “helpless.”

Recent study by the APA (Feb 2020) indicates high levels of climate distress. Concerns about climate change may be having an impact on mental health, with more than two-thirds– (68%) adults saying that they have at least a little “eco-anxiety,” defined as, anxiety or worry about climate change and its effects. There seems to be a disproportionately high impact on the country’s youngest adults; nearly half (47%) of those age 18-34 say the stress they feel about climate change negatively affects their daily lives.

The November 2019 Washington Post/Kaiser Family Foundation Climate Change Survey  found six in ten teenagers (61%) say the issue of climate change is very or extremely important to them personally. They then polled teens emotions about climate change:

57% teen respondents feel Afraid

54% feel Motivated

52% feel Angry

43% feel Helpless

42% feel Guilty

29% feel Optimistic

20% feel Uninterested

To support children’s wellbeing today, and our shared home, we need to reverse the trend and empower young people as they’re working toward a healthy climate. The Green13 POP-UP Festival kit is one small step.