Abby Kaiser

Climate anxiety plagues students

September 22, 2021

Every year of inaction on climate is another year the average environmental UVM student feels a burden of responsibility.

A burden that the school does little to alleviate.

Younger generations bear the brunt of climate change responsibility.

Thirty-seven percent of Gen Z think addressing climate change is their top personal concern, according to a May 2021 Pew Research Center article.

Pew Research  stated two-thirds of adults think ordinary Americans, people outside the wealthy elite, are doing too little on climate.

At UVM, students feel immense climate guilt. We suffer from the guilt without being at fault for climate change.

As an environmental science major myself, and working with other environmental majors, I see first-hand the anxiety students face over climate.

My peers and I spend so much time dedicated to going zero waste, researching new diets and trying to act green when the battle is not an individual fight, it is a collective.

UVM was named the number four top green school in 2019, according to an October 2019 UVM Today article.

That wasn’t good enough for the student body. After protests from students, the University officially decided to divest from fossil fuels in July 2020, according to a July 2020 UVM Today article.

Students still protest, most recently UVM SGA’s committee on the environment announced a Climate Action March to take place on Sept. 12, but it got rained out.

The campus environment is green — we compost in our dorms, buy thrifted clothes, know our eco-reps by their first name and most UVM students try to be mindful of the environment.

But with inaction globally by the big carbon emitters, climate anxiety is the default for some students. When we do so much, but see little results from the rest of the world, we feel powerless.

Conversations among like-minded individuals aren’t enough, sadly, to quell the anxiety students face over climate.

Counseling and Psychiatry Services at UVM has drop-in appointments for those who want to talk, but there is more to be done.

UVM has 12 counseling staff members and two psychiatry staffers to serve 10,585 undergraduate students and 1,672 graduate students, according to the UVM website.

There should be more staffers, and there should be counselors completely dedicated to dealing with climate anxiety.

We are in a climate emergency, and with that comes a greater need for students to talk about their fears for the future.

Yet with such short staff, students are given the bare minimum when it comes to mental health care.

Climate anxiety is just another form of regular anxiety, therefore the University should have the resources to provide for its students.

If UVM wants to be a green school, they need to provide more resources to student’s to deal with the stresses that come with being green.

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