Anxiety to Action
A Teenager Faces a Warming World
Photo credit: Belinda Kranjcic.
For the longest time, I have always been astounded by creation. I find impossible to not be enticed by the seemingly simple harmonious existence between flora and fauna and delicate intricacy of the natural world. Throughout my life, this awe of creation has manifested in a significant passion for environmental conservation.
There was no specific turning point at which I knew to look after the natural world: I believe that responsibility is intrinsic to my character because of my Christian faith. However, there was a point at which all the empathy for living creatures I had, combined with a more honest learning of the climate crisis as I moved into high school, catalysed in an intense and tangible lament for the state of our world
|Photo credit: Belinda Kranjcic.|
After the 2019/20 summer bushfires, it was evident that we were amid an inescapable death sentence. Like many, in June I watched the numbers of Australian towns haunted by premature fire seasons creep up. In September, I suggested to my friends that January would bring the worst fire season we’d have lived through. In November, I watched as suburbs not 100km from my—usually temperate—area fell victim to the fires. In December and January, I prayed for my friends trapped by the fires, unable to leave, get food or supplies due to road blockages. Some were in Paynesville and Mallacoota: campsites I was due to join them at only a few days later. The fear and pain were simultaneously distant and unimaginable, yet right on my doorstep. My family was safe and unharmed, and obviously, my experience was nothing like what those thousands of people displaced by the fires experienced. Yet, this small taste of disaster impacted me more significantly than I realised.
In the months after the bushfires, I felt a perpetual pit of anxiety and fear. Whenever I thought of the future, my chest would tighten and my stomach drop from the despair and destruction I saw the future to contain. During the day, I had no motivation to do anything because what was the point of living if the world was going to end in a series of natural disasters caused by us anyway?
One night in June, I dreamt of the world a decade from now. People and animals dying from a toxic atmosphere, landslides, hurricanes of fire, and any that survived these events eventually drowned as the sea rose. I woke in tears and sweat. It was after this event that I realised I had climate anxiety.
As the name suggests, this phenomenon is anxiety related specifically to the climate crisis and its effects and is particularly severe for people in developing countries where they are feeling the effects of climate change most severely. My dose was small, yet enough to realise that if I wanted this hollowness and pitiful feeling to go, I had to commit to advocating for action.
I wrote letters to my local MPs and joined School Strike for Climate where I met many other young people with similar stories to mine. And as I committed to this space of environmental conservation, the all-consuming negativity dissipated. I believe God placed this compassion for the environment on my heart to inspire me to use my energy and gifts to honour God in this way. In Genesis, the first purpose God gives us is to take care of the land and the animals. By caring for God’s creation, we honour and praise and exalt God above all things. This is the pinnacle of where my Christian faith and environmental conservation intersect, because I worship and serve God by caring for his creation and committing to a massive passion of mine. As Christians, we are all called to care for our world, and now more than ever, standing up to demand change and be the change is essential for a prosperous future.
Charli (18) is a Year 12 student and School Vice-Captain at Camberwell Girls Grammar School. She has a strong passion for environmental conservation and has channelled this significantly in the past two years through joining the student-led organizing team at School Strike for Climate Melbourne.
|The author being interviewed by the media on strike day. Photo credit: Belinda Kranjcic.|