Coming out of the eco-anxiety closet: "Why does it have to be something private? Why do we carry the procession inside?"

More than half of children and young people under the age of 25 suffer negative emotions regarding the climate crisis, according to the only research carried out on a global scale on this topic, published by The Lancet. Most feel fear, sadness, anxiety, anger, helplessness, helplessness, and guilt. In addition, more than 45% of them say that these feelings negatively affect their daily lives.

"What I notice is a constant burden," admits Bruno Martín, a biologist by training, a scientific communicator by profession and one more victim in the statistics of eco-anxiety. “I prefer the term 'climate stress', above all so as not to frivolize those who really feel anxiety in their day-to-day lives,” he points out. He claims to feel worried and overwhelmed, “but anxiety as it is understood in the clinical context of psychology is more specific”.

To that feeling of overwhelm produced by bad news related to climate change, the passivity of political powers and the feeling of impotence, is also often added that of feeling misunderstood. 81% of young people surveyed say they have talked about climate change with other people and almost half have felt that they were ignored or rejected when doing so. Precisely, this taboo around climate concerns was the trigger for Bruno Martín to launch himself into the world of the podcast with Ecoinsomniacs, along with Mario Juárez and Pablo Izquierdo, also science communicators.

“You don't really go to work and say 'how bad I got up today because it turns out there was a hurricane and there are so many displaced people who are now living in sports centers', it's a super weird topic of conversation. Or if, suddenly, you ask at work or at home why we are using so many single-use objects or why we order everything through Amazon, people look at you as if you were a geek”, explains Martín.

It all started with a WhatsApp group in which the three friends exchanged news that affected them, messages of encouragement and voice notes, letting off steam and sharing concerns. They discovered in this group their best therapy against climate stress and decided to take it one step further.

“There came a time when the three of us realized that these conversations were happening more and more with people around us and we thought: 'Why does this have to be something private? Why do we take the procession inside? This has to be something that people know,'” recalls Martín.

“The first step is to overcome the silence, to come out of the closet. In fact, it seemed to us a very analogous situation to that of coming out of the closet because, in addition, the three of us are gay and it was a circumstance that we had experienced before: it is something that we have individually thought a lot about, we have talked about it with friends, but not we have made it known, why?” reflects the communicator.

In the description of Ecoinsomnes, you can read “refuge and ray of hope in a world on fire”. The intention of its creators is to turn the podcast into a place of conversation that not only helps them to let off steam, but also helps other people not to feel alone in their concern. But his ambition goes beyond dialogue: “We want to generate social agitation, raise awareness and create waves that reach more and more people. Once we have left the moment of hyperventilating, ask ourselves what we can do about it.

Although each episode begins with the statement of a real problem, the optimistic tone dominates the talk. “It is a conscious decision”, admits Martín, “the evidence on how people react to scientific communication suggests that an optimistic point of view has more long-term benefits than simply causing anger or fear”. several investigations, like this one from the University of East Anglia, in Norwich pick up on this idea that fear has the potential to draw attention to climate change in a first approach, but is ineffective in motivating genuine engagement.

“The message is that we are facing a very serious and extremely urgent problem, but that 'time is running out' does not help, because it seems that there will come a time when there is nothing to do and we are going to throw in the towel and not really: it will always be better to do something. Yes, perhaps the best time would have been yesterday, but if it is already today, we are going to do something today because tomorrow is not going to be better”, defends the communicator.

While fear paralyzes, the search for solutions and the imagination of better futures are the trademark, where the actions that are presented are at all levels: from changing the car for a bicycle to political activism for a government that takes climate policy seriously.

“Between one extreme and the other, there are a lot of stocks and they are all valuable. Everyone can look for what makes them feel good and where they think they can contribute something: a doctor may not be able to give up latex or certain single-use plastics, but he can promote changes in consumption in his family; If your passion is cooking, you could still open a TikTok of vegan recipes or set up a vegetarian kitchen in your neighborhood and do workshops. In my case, for example, communication is the only thing I feel I know how to do well and with what I can contribute”, explains Martín.

The motto "Think global, act local", so repeated among environmental activism, reflects this idea of ​​the importance of individual actions. However, the primatologist and activist Jane Goodall, used to turn it around to precisely avoid the pressure of climate stress: “Act at the local level first and, when you see that you can make a difference. you will want more and you will think globally. Those first steps will give you hope and create a feedback loop where you will inspire others to join you.”

Individual action thus becomes one of the great tools against eco-anxiety, as it can help channel stress, but does a tree make a noise when it falls if no one is there to hear it? Not losing sight of the collective context is vital in the climate fight. “This is not going to be solved with a person who stops eating meat and stops taking flights, it is going to be solved when more people join a different lifestyle and more people demand different climate policies”, underlines Bruno Martín .

For this reason, the idea of ​​the podcast developed by Bruno Martín is to make visible at all levels, with guests ranging from the 12-year-old activist Francisco Javier Vera Manzanareschild advisor to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child and founder of the Guardians for Life initiative in Colombia, to the journalist Azahara Palomeque or the young Harry Munt, who builds nest boxes for sparrows In the south of england. “The idea is to inspire and also give a voice to people from realities very different from ours, because we are very aware that we are three white men, CIS, communicators and with a similar background...”, says Martín.

Both he and Juárez and Izquierdo, aware of their privileges and how the climate crisis affects many populations unequally, believe that the solutions must go through social justice. "When we talk about ecosocial justice, we talk about a solution, a projection of the future, that leaves no one behind, that does not leave women behind, that does not leave racialized people behind...", says the biologist.

This symbiosis between the ecological and the social is one of the pillars of the podcast and is present in the challenges that arise. “For example, the four-day work week is a labor rights issue, which is also an environmental issue,” defends the communicator. “If I only have one weekend to go see some friends from the University in London, I have to choose between taking a flight to go away for three days or not seeing my friends, and that decision falls on one of them contributes to the burden ”, he argues. Martín criticizes that the work calendar forces us to prioritize the speed of the plane over the sustainability of the train, as well as the lack of an affordable high-speed train network that connects the large European cities.

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