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If you feel sorrow, anger, or fear about global warming, you’re not alone. Immersing yourself in the subject can take an emotional toll.

It’s something Laura Schmidt knows firsthand. When she was an environmental humanities graduate student at the University of Utah, she felt emotionally burned out from what she learned about the dire consequences of climate change.

Laura Schmidt

Schmidt: “Well, if I’m feeling this despair and I’m seeing four species an hour go extinct, then how can I help make the world a better place without shutting down? If I’m feeling it, I know other people are probably feeling it too.”

So Schmidt launched a program intended to support activists, scientists, and other concerned citizens going through what she calls “climate grief”.

Using the Alcoholics Anonymous program as a model, her multi-step program takes people from admitting there’s a problem to committing to the work that needs to be done.

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She started a small support group that meets weekly in Salt Lake City to discuss their feelings about the climate crisis. It helps people understand that they’re not alone in their grief.

Schmidt: “I want to help people feel like they’re empowered. And that’s what I think this step program can do for people.”

For Schmidt, helping others stay positive and devoted to the work is a critical part of fighting climate change.

Reporting credit: Analeah Rosen/ChavoBart Digital Media.
Image graphic: Created by David McCarthy.

Sara Peach

Sara Peach is the Senior Editor of Yale Climate Connections. She is an environmental journalist whose work has appeared in National Geographic, Scientific American, Environmental Health News, Grist, and...