A forest fire in northern California and a mile-long glacier breaking apart appear in your news feed. The stark reminders of climate change are constant, and may cause additional stress to your daily tasks. For example, in surveying your shopping cart filled with wipes, sandwich bags, and packets of baby food, you may question your choices, knowing that the plastic in those items will never break down completely. You may feel guilty about driving the short distance to the store, or you may struggle to stop worrying about how your actions will affect future generations.
What is climate anxiety?
Climate anxiety, or eco-anxiety, is distress related to worries about the effects of climate change. It is not a mental illness. Rather, it is anxiety rooted in uncertainty about the future and alerting us to the dangers of a changing climate. Climate change is a real threat, and therefore it’s normal to experience worry and fear about the consequences. Anxiety about the climate is often accompanied by feelings of grief, anger, guilt, and shame, which in turn can affect mood, behavior, and thinking
How common is climate anxiety?
According to a survey by the American Psychological Association, more than two-thirds of Americans experience some climate anxiety. A study published by The Lancet found that 84% of children and young adults ages 16 to 25 are at least moderately worried about climate change, and 59% are very or extremely worried. This makes sense, as children and young adults will disproportionately suffer the consequences of environmental changes. A 2021 UNICEF report estimates that one billion children will be at “extremely high risk” as a result of climate change. Children and young adults are also particularly vulnerable to the effects of chronic stress, and climate anxiety may affect their risk of developing depression, anxiety, and substance use disorders.
As uncertainty and a loss of control characterize climate anxiety, the best treatment is to take action. On an individual level, it’s therapeutic to share your worries and fears with trusted friends, a therapist, or by joining a support group. You can also make changes to your lifestyle consistent with your values. This may include deciding to take fewer flights, joining a protest, or increasing public awareness about climate change through advocacy. Joining an organization like The Good Grief Network can help you process feelings related to climate anxiety and connect with others to take meaningful action.
How can you help a younger person?
Climate anxiety disproportionately affects children and youth. To be an ally for a child, adolescent, or younger adult with climate anxiety, you can consider showing your support in the following ways:
Validate their concerns. “I hear you, and it makes sense that you are worried (or angry) about this issue.”
Help direct their efforts to advocacy groups. Spend time together researching organizations that they can get involved with.
Educate yourselves on steps you both can take to minimize your impact on the environment.
Support your loved one’s decisions to make changes to their lifestyle, especially changes they can witness at home.
Spend time in nature with your family, or consider planting flowers or trees.
The bottom line
Climate anxiety is rife with uncertainty, but taking action may help you feel in control. Talk with others, join forces, and make lifestyle changes based on your values.
TAG ANSVAR FOR KLIMAET VED AT HJÆLPE JERES MEDARBEJDERE MED AT SPARE CO2
Undersøgelser viser, at mange medarbejdere gerne vil hjælpe med at spare CO2 på arbejdet og privat, men at de har brug for inspiration og viden til hvordan de konkret gør det.
I flere brancher er medarbejdernes CO2 udledning meget større end virksomhedernes egen CO2 udledning. Typisk 6-10 gange større.
Det er derfor en effektiv måde at tag ansvar for klimaet på, at hjælpe medarbejderne med at spare CO2.
SÅDAN FÅR VI ÆNDRET VANER
Vi tror, at en effektiv metode til at hjælpe medarbejderne med at spare CO2 er uddannelse og inspiration til hvad de selv kan gøre på arbejdet og privat. Samt hjælp til at måle hvor meget de sparer individuelt og i hele firmaet.
Ved helt konkret at måle hvor mange kg/CO2 medarbejderne sparer bliver det mere motiverende for dem at være med.
Medarbejderne oplever, at når mange går sammen i firmaet om at spare CO2, så kan man opnå store CO2 besparelser. De oplever, at hvis de ikke selv spare CO2 en dag så har deres kollegaer gjort det.
VI TROR PÅ FÆLLESKABET
Vi mennesker er flokdyr og derfor kan vi nemmere spare CO2, hvis vi gør det sammen med kollegaer fra arbejdet, hvis adfærd vi kan spejle os i og blive inspireret af.
Virksomheder har de sidste 20 år i stigende grad ladet arbejdsfællesskabet tag ansvar for individuelle adfærdsændringer i forbindelse med fx motion og sundhed. Hvorfor ikke hvordan vi spare CO2 ?
FORDELE FOR EN VIRKSOMHEDEN
Ved at hjælpe sine medarbejdere med at spare CO2 på arbejdet og privat kan en virksomhed over tid styrke sin Employer Branding og Employer Advocacy.
Unilever er en af de mest succesfulde virksomheder, når det kommer til Employer Branding og Employer Advocacy.
Fx nævner 50 procent af alle nye medarbejdere, der søger ind i virksomheden fra universitetet, Unilevers arbejde med bæredygtighed, som den primære grund til, at de ønsker at arbejde for firmaet.
“Nøglen til at skabe en levende og bæredygtig virksomhed er at finde måder at få alle medarbejdere, fra topledere til montagearbejdere, personligt engageret i virksomhedens daglige indsats for bæredygtighed”.
Vi har en målsætning om, at blive en mere bæredygtig virksomhed.
Som et element i den strategi har vi valgt, at give vores ansatte en app fra Climate Savior som hjælper dem med at spare CO2 både på arbejdet og privat.
Det gode ved Climate Savior er, at den helt konkret måler, hvor meget CO2 vores ansatte løbende spare individuelt og i hele virksomheden.
De ansatte har taget godt imod dette frivillige tilbud om hjælpe til at spare CO2. 50% valgte at være med fra begyndelsen og de har sparet imponerende 12 tons CO2 om måneden eller hvad der svarer til mere end 1200 træers årlige optag af CO2.
Ligeledes har vores aktionærer og flere kunder været positive overfor initiativet.
If you look at international CO2 consumption statements per capita, they will often be grossly misleading because they are calculated according to the method agreed in connection with the Koyoto agreement, ie they include the country’s direct and indirect energy consumption while citizens’ indirect CO2 consumption is not included. clothing etc. Therefore, the Danes’ CO2 consumption per capita is also only stated at about 5 tonnes per Dane in UN / WE tables.
However, Concito has made an alternative calculation, which also includes the indirect CO2 consumption, also the calculation suddenly sounds like 19 tonnes of CO2 per Dane, which unfortunately brings us to the top of the most CO2-emitting countries per capita. A somewhat different picture than the fake news picture we have so successfully sold abroad about the green Danish society. When you tell foreigners that, they are always very surprised.
Citizens’ indirect CO2 consumption thus constitutes 80% of the total consumption and therefore it is crucial to also focus on reducing it, but the typical systemic changes and project proposals thus only work to reduce emissions from scope 1 and 2, which thus “only” makes up 20% of the CO2 footprint per capita.
Our Climatesavior solution is targeted at reducing citizens’ CO2 footprint.
Shell and other Dutch multinationals donated over a million guilders – close to half a million Euros – to prominent Dutch climate science denier Frits Böttcher during the 1990s, documents from his personal archives reveal. Böttcher’s explicit objective: to question human responsibility for global warming.
“In the past three years I managed to coordinate the scientific opposition against the CO2-Hetze [hate campaign]”, Böttcher, who died in 2008, writes in a letter to Hubert Knoche, then secretary general of the lobby group of European oil refiners Europia. The year is 1996 and the emeritus professor of chemistry, although 80 years old, is at the height of his prominence in the climate debate.
In May of the same year he would appear before the Dutch parliamentary committee, investigating the causes and consequences of human-made climate change, to argue that the UN’s official advisor, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), had it all wrong. In Böttcher’s view, carbon dioxide had mostly positive impacts on plants and the greenhouse effect was an unproven hypothesis. The expected rise in carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere should not be feared, he stated on Dutch national television: “For the plant world, it’s only a small step in the right direction.”
He would repeat that message countless times in his publications, public lectures and statements to the Dutch and foreign press.
Although not a climate scientist, Böttcher’s reputation as an academic, former member of high-level public advisory boards, and “one of the founders of the Club of Rome” opened many doors. For years, he was seen in the Netherlands as a self-styled “leader of the opposition” against the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Böttcher attempted to unite other climate science deniers across Europe in his crusade against the IPCC, as he wrote in his letter to Knoche. “Together with two British friends [known to be Roger Bate and John Emsley] I founded the European Science and Environment Forum (ESEF). In March this year we launched our report The Global Warming Debate during an international press conference in Geneva. Our opposition against the IPCC conclusions drew much attention.”
The letter to Knoche is one of the thousands of documents in Böttcher’s personal archive uncovering his role in the climate science denial movement in the Netherlands and abroad during the 1990s. Personal notes, letters, faxes, e-mails and minutes of meetings with sponsors are stored in the provincial archives in Haarlem, where Böttcher’s legacy was moved after his death in 2008. The archive was recently discovered by Platform Authentieke Journalistiek (PAJ), a Dutch collective of investigative journalists, as part of the Shell Papers project, exposing the influence of the oil major on Dutch politics.
Close examination of the archives reveals Böttcher was paid by prominent multinational companies to spread doubt about the human causes of climate change. Between 1989 and 1998, he received at least 1.13 million guilders (worth around €784,000 today) from 25 different companies. His largest donors were Shell (fl. 271,849 or €195,823), steel producer Hoogovens, now Tata Steel (fl. 166,000 or €123,274) and chemicals company DSM (fl. 85,000 or €61,194).
The bulk of the money went towards the wages of Böttcher’s two, or at times three, personal assistants employed by his foundation, the Global Institute for the Study of Natural Resources. They assisted him in making meeting minutes, collecting literature, and maintaining his personal network of sponsors and like-minded climate science deniers from the Netherlands and abroad. A small portion of the funds covered Böttcher’s travel and dinner expenses.
Royal Dutch Shell: ‘Godfather’ of the project
Besides funding, Böttcher’s papers also contain details about how his work evolved through elaborate meeting minutes – to the point of mapping seating arrangements or recording the type of wine served.
When concerns about the greenhouse effect were on the international political agenda for the first time around 1979, Böttcher became a go-to expert for Shell and others that were looking for advice about this issue.
On 13 April 1979, Böttcher wrote in a letter to the scientific council of his Global Institute for the Study of Natural Resources, a small, privately funded research institute he founded in 1976, that his institute received “many enquiries about background material” about the “carbon cycle” and is “asked for guidance or for an opinion”.
In one document, Böttcher describes Royal Dutch Shell as the “godfather” of his “CO2-project”, as he labelled his climate work during the nineties.
The personal notes on the history of this CO2-project explain that people from Shell, for which Böttcher worked as a part-time research adviser between 1953 and 1983, contacted him in 1989, shortly after he published two articles denouncing the “defamation of CO2” in the Dutch newspaper NRC. “I allowed myself to be persuaded by a number of contacts – generally from Shell circles – to take on a CO2/greenhouse effect project”, Böttcher wrote.
Huub van Engelshoven, a member of Shell’s board between 1982 and 1991, approved the first donation for the CO2 project in 1990 of 60,000 guilders (worth approximately €47,500 today) on the condition that at least three more sponsors would join. Böttcher, who throughout his long career occupied board positions in 12 different companies and who was a well respected figure among the Dutch old boys’ network of business leaders, collected pledges from three other companies (AkzoNobel, Hoogovens and the ANWB) in a matter of weeks. In the nine years that the CO2-project lasted (1990-1998), at least 24 other firms, mostly Dutch, would join the list of sponsors.
The timing of the CO2-project and the involvement of Shell and other companies is no coincidence. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was founded in 1988. In November 1989, the Netherlands hosted the first international climate summit in the coastal town of Noordwijk. After the summit, the call for ambitious climate policies that could affect large industries grew.
Böttcher’s participation in the emerging climate debate was useful to Dutch industry, as Shell’s Huub Van Engelshoven would tell him in a meeting in June 1994. According to a report of the meeting from Böttcher’s archive: “Huub emphasized once again that I come across as more neutral as a scientist than people from the business sector.”
Böttcher’s documents also reveal that his relationship with his sponsors was more than financial, as his donors helped to disseminate his publications, find other sponsors and deliberated about the content of his future articles.
One of the first achievements of the CO2-project was the production of his booklet Science and Fiction of the Greenhouse Effect, published in 1992. The booklet – a fierce diatribe against climate science, the IPCC, and environmental policies – was distributed through his contacts within industry.
As Ian Christmas, chair of the International Iron and Steel Industry (IISI), wrote to Böttcher in April of 1994: “there is an appreciation of the value and quality of the contribution which the Institute is making to the debate on carbon dioxide and the greenhouse effect. Accordingly we would like to order from the Institute 100 copies of the report which we would distribute to all our Board of Directors who represent the major steel companies world-wide.”.
Lois Johnston, a press spokesperson for US oil company Texaco, did the same for several of Böttcher’s publications between 1995 and 1998, approaching her colleagues in the oil industry and her media contacts to disseminate the work, letters and reports of meetings show.
Meanwhile, Böttcher drew inspiration from and collaborated with like-minded climate science denial organizations from the United States.
A document listing his “contacts in Washington” mentions the notorious coal-funded Climate Council and its director Donald Pearlman (a “good friend”), Robert Jastrow and Frederick Seitz of the George C. Marshall Institute, and Fred Singer of the Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP). Though no evidence of direct funding from these organizations to Böttcher was discovered, correspondence reveals close collaboration with the groups. For instance, Böttcher served on the Scientific Council of SEPP since 1992, and regularly discussed his activities with its director, Fred Singer.
The global coordination of like-minded organizations was one topic of discussion between them, as a telefax sent by Böttcher to John Emsley and Roger Bate in June 1997 shows. It says Böttcher and Singer “exchanged ideas about the formation and functioning of an international network based on the Heidelberg Appeal [HA]. On April 17th Fred Singer and the originator of the HA, Michel Salomon (member of ESEF), founded a Washington-based organization, Heidelberg Appeal International Inc. They intend to coordinate various national organizations, including HA-US, HA-F, HA-D, and so on. Their common goal would be the realization of the aims of the HA by educating other scientists, politicians, the media, and the public.”
Böttcher’s papers also reveal ties with the US-based George C. Marshall Institute. The institute’s 1989 publication titled Global Warming: What Does the Science Tell Us? by Frederick Seitz – which, according to Naomi Oreskes in her book Merchants of Doubt, played a crucial role in fomenting US opposition to a binding climate agreement in 1989 – was an inspiration to Böttcher and he circulated it to others in the Netherlands.
In 1993, Böttcher proposed to his main contact at Shell, former managing director Huub van Engelshoven, along with Robert Jastrow, that he set up a European sister organisation of the George C. Marshall Institute, letters and reports from meetings show.
The suggestion was rejected in 1993, however, as the George C. Marshall Institute did not want “to lend its name to a European organization over which it would not have full control”.
From 1994 onwards, the ESEF would publish several books arguing against mainstream climate science and would recruit scientists sympathetic to the group’s position on climate change.
The publications would be disseminated through an ever growing network of companies and policymakers. Böttcher’s ties to mostly Dutch and German corporations including Thyssen Stahl, Bayer and Manabaft, as well as lobbying groups working on a European or global scale such as the World Coal Institute, Europia and the international Iron and Steel Institute, turned out to be particularly useful for spreading ESEF’s message.
Böttcher’s archive reveals the ESEF received corporate funding, directly and indirectly, contradicting public statements that the group “does not accept outside funding from whatever source, the only income it receives is from the sale of its publications”.
Böttcher’s letters reveal that contributions to the CO2-project from corporate sponsors were used to support his efforts to influence the climate debate, including his work for the ESEF. Minutes from ESEF meetings also show that hundreds of their publications were sold to private companies.
For instance, at a meeting in May 1996, a sales report included in the minutes shows that 1288 copies of their controversial The Global Warming Debate book were sold, worth £17,295. The buyers were mainly oil, coal, chemical and steel companies.
The sale of books appeared to be a useful way for both sponsors and the ESEF to provide cover for the mutual relationship. ESEF minutes from October 1996 state that certain companies want to “keep a distance” with the ESEF, “hence the sale of books”. A pre-order from Texaco is accompanied by the remark that it is placed “in order to make possible the publication.”
Eventually, the ESEF would be absorbed by the Foundation Heidelberg Appeal Nederland or “Stichting HAN”, a Dutch foundation founded in 1992 with which Böttcher collaborated closely. Stichting HAN was later absorbed by the “Groene Rekenkamer” [Green Accounting Office], which is still active today and collaborates with Dutch climate science denier organizations such as CLINTEL, launched in 2019.
Funding for Böttcher’s CO2-project dried up after 1998.
In various letters and personal notes, Böttcher observed that worries about public opinion and environmental movements drove sponsors to distance themselves from his CO2-project. Between 1997 and 1998, contributions from Texaco and Shell are filed as contributions to research on “sustainable development”, until they finally end their financial support after 1998.
Dutch chemical company DSM, one of Böttcher’s main sponsors, gives another reason for ending the financial support to his CO2-project in a letter in 1998. The company said it was grateful for Böttcher’s work in previous years and that the decision to end its funding “should not be interpreted as a lack of appreciation for your efforts around CO2 policy”. Damningly, however, DSM explained that its support was ending “based on our impression that the impact of your lobby is dwindling”.
They say a picture speaks a thousand words, so here’s the state of humanity in a single image. It’s the “Doughnut” of social and planetary boundaries and it could just turn out to be the compass we need for creating a safe and just 21st century.
The hole at the Doughnut’s centre reveals the proportion of people worldwide falling short on life’s essentials, such as food, water, healthcare and political freedom of expression – and a big part of humanity’s challenge is to get everyone out of that hole. At the same time, however, we cannot afford to be overshooting the Doughnut’s outer crust if we are to safeguard Earth’s life-giving systems, such as a stable climate, healthy oceans and a protective ozone layer, on which all our wellbeing fundamentally depends.
Safe and just space
If getting into the Doughnut’s safe and just space between these social and planetary boundaries is humanity’s 21st century goal, then – it comes as no surprise – we have a big job ahead. Many millions of people still lack life’s essentials, living daily with hunger, illiteracy, insecurity and voicelessness. At the same time, humanity’s collective pressure on the planet has already overshot at least four planetary boundaries: for climate change, land conversion, fertilizer use, and biodiversity loss.
In other words, today’s global economy is deeply divisive – riven with extreme inequalities – and it is degenerative too, running down the living world on which everything depends.
Inequality seems to have become the topic of our times, even though barely a decade ago it was politely kept off the agenda. Thanks to the past 10 years of ground-breaking analysis – including Wilkinson and Pickett’s The Spirit Level, Oxfam’s annual billionaire calculations and Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century – combined with the extraordinary rise of the 1%, the promise to tackle inequality now appears high on every policymaker’s list. We are daily offered “inclusive growth” and “an economy that works for everyone”. So what kind of economic mindset can help bring it about?
Certainly not 20th-century thinking on inequality, which was ruled by a spurious economic law of motion. And that law’s accidental creator, Simon Kuznets, would be the first to debunk the political narrative that has been built on the back of it, used to justify trickle-down economics and austerity politics ever since.
In 1955, Kuznets gathered together patchy historical data on income distribution in the US, UK and Germany, and he thought he saw a pattern: that as economies grew, income inequality rose at first and then fell. Plotted on the page, it looked like an upside-down U.
Kuznets was the first to acknowledge that this finding went against his intuition: given the dynamics of capital accumulation, he expected the rich to get richer, not the poor to catch up. So he proffered a tentative explanation based on the process of rural-to-urban migration – a hypothesis for which he later admitted he had “no evidence whatsoever”. He even openly acknowledged that his conclusion was based on “5 per cent empirical information and 95 per cent speculation, some of it possibly tainted by wishful thinking’, later adding that it should not be used for making “unwarranted dogmatic generalisations.”
So much for Kuznets’ caveats. The underlying message – that rising inequality is an inevitable stage on the journey towards economic success for all – was too good a story to doubt and the Kuznets Curve was taught to every student for at least the next 50 years. That matters because it wordlessly whispers a powerful message: if you want progress, inequality is inevitable. It’s got to get worse before it can get better and growth will (eventually) make it better.
So what new paradigm can replace this outdated myth and its accompanying intellectual graffiti? An old picture is best dislodged by a new one, so let’s start with a 21st-century image fit for tackling inequality: a network of flows.
Distributive by design
To transform today’s divisive economies, we need to create economies that are distributive by design – ones that share value far more equitably amongst all those who help to generate it. And thanks to the emergence of network technologies – particularly in digital communications and renewable energy generation – we have a far greater chance of making this happen than any generation before us.
As we do so, we should also deepen the ambition of the redistribution agenda. In the 20th century, policies promoting redistribution were largely focused on redistributing income – by raising taxes, increasing transfers, and implementing minimum wages – along with investing in key public services such as health and education. All are essential, but they still don’t get to the root of economic inequalities because they focus on income, not the sources of wealth that generate it.
Instead of focusing foremost on income, 21st-century economists will seek to redistribute the sources of wealth too – especially the wealth that lies in controlling land and resources, in controlling money creation, and in owning enterprise, technology and knowledge. And instead of turning solely to the market and state for solutions, they will harness the power of the commons to make it happen. Here are some questions that 21st century economists have already taken on to help create an economy that is distributive by design:
Land and resources: how can the value of Earth’s natural commonwealth be more equitably distributed: through land reform, land-value taxes, or by reclaiming land as a commons? And how could understanding our planet’s atmosphere and oceans as global commons far better distribute the global returns to their sustainable use?
Money creation: why endow commercial banks with the right to create money as interest-based debt, and leave them to reap the rents that flow from it? Money could alternatively be created by the state, or indeed by communities as complementary currencies: it’s time to create a monetary ecosystem that can fulfill this distributive potential.
Enterprise: what business design models – such as cooperatives and employee-owed companies – can best ensure that committed workers, not fickle shareholders, reap a far greater share of the value that they help to generate?
Knowledge: how can the potential of the creative commons be unleashed internationally, through free open-source hardware and software, and the rise of creative commons licensing?
Technology: who will own the robots, and why should it be that way? Given that much basic research underlying automation and digitization has been publicly funded, should a share of the rewards not return to the public purse?
By taking on such questions of distributive design, we’ll give ourselves a far greater chance of tackling inequality and of thriving in the Doughnut’s safe and just space this century. And that is nothing less than our generational challenge.