Rising eco-anxiety means we should address mental health alongside food security

Rising eco-anxiety means we should address mental health alongside food security

For over a quarter of a century, United Nations climate negotiations have failed to reach a legally binding treaty. For instance, the failed 1997 Kyoto Protocol was modeled after the success of the 1987 Montreal Protocol , which legally required all nations to phase out chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), a chemical used in refrigerators and air conditioners. An Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report on the impacts of global warming predicts that if the current trend of global warming continues there will be a major climate catastrophe within our lifetime . More than 11,000 scientists from 153 countries warn that climate change is threatening ecosystems and humanity . Biologists fear the sixth mass extinction of species . According to the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services , currently, one million species are at risk of extinction. Our food systems have become vulnerable due to the loss of biological diversity of plant and animal species : we are anxious about hunger and food security , safety and fraud. As a researcher who examines just and sustainable transitions in food systems, I clearly see that climate change puts additional pressure on already vulnerable food systems and populations. There is no shortage of commitments and declarations. Governments at different levels across the world have been declaring a climate emergency— over 1,000 jurisdictions and counting . On June 17, 2019, the Canadian House of Commons passed a motion to declare a national climate emergency . Escalating fear and anxiety The declarations of climate emergency might help to increase the mobilization of financial and human resources for climate actions. Additionally, the use of wartime language can exacerbate fear, panic and depression among those who are already vulnerable to other sources of anxieties. These sources include anxiety arising from chronic food shortages and ethical production and consumption. Eco-anxiety can further exacerbate food anxiety , which has been provoked by a range of food scares, food poisonings, distancing of food supply chains, hunger and farming crises . Disrupting food systems The IPCC Special Report on Climate Change and Land , to which I have also contributed, recommends eating less red meat. This report estimates that livestock, crop, fertilizer and fossil fuel use in agriculture account for about 21 to 37 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.



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