‘Just the knowledge of what’s happening to our planet, it feels almost disabling’
A theatre professor at the University of Colorado Boulder fights her “climate anxiety” by dressing and performing as a butterfly.
Theatre Professor Beth Osnes (pictured), who also teaches environmental studies classes, became “increasingly discouraged about the perilous state of our planet,” according to Colorado Public Radio. Her despair came while “she began doing research for one of her classes, Creative Climate Communication.”
“I started to get that terrible ooze feeling, that comes in like a sickness that you get from despair. It was like swallowing crude oil or something,” Osnes told the news station. “Just the knowledge of what’s happening to our planet, it feels almost disabling. It almost puts your heart on the ground. And we can’t address the climate crisis if our hearts are on the ground.”
“In fact, the emotions that Osnes is describing — feeling helpless and despair around the climate crisis — have a name: climate anxiety,” CPR reported.
She performs her “Butterfly Affect Experience” “to inspire a collective commitment to co-create a world that is equitable, sustainable, and conducive to thriving life and ecosystems,” according to promotional material for a recent performance.
Florida State University Professor Sarah Fahmy also partakes, according to the event description. Fahmy previously studied at CU Bould.er
Osnes also produced a “climate musical” for young people to perform, according to her faculty bio and founded a group “for female and non-binary youth vocal empowerment.”
The performance does help her cope with her grief from losing her spouse, as well.
“I was widowed two years ago and I had to do a complete re-changing of myself … We can learn from the natural world that change doesn’t have to be scary, it can be beautiful even after loss,” Osnes said.
Most of her scholarship focuses on the intersection between creative arts and climate change.
Published papers include, “Lens on Climate Change: Making Climate Meaningful Through Student-Produced Videos,” “A Laughing Matter? Confronting climate change through humor,” and “Examining Climate Change and Sustainable/Fast Fashion in the 21st century: ‘Trash the Runway.'”
Young America’s Foundation, which first reported on Osnes, commented that “‘Climate anxiety’ has been peddled by the Left for decades. Unfortunately, many young people are being misguided by their teachers and professors into believing that the world is going to end, and the only way to stop it from doing so is to fall in line with the Left’s climate agenda.”
“Climate anxiety” afflicts most of Gen Z, according to a 2018 Gallup poll. “70% of Americans age 18 to 34 worry about global warming,” the polling company reported.
However, at least one professor is concerned that most of the concern comes primarily from white people.
“[A] year into the pandemic, after the murder of George Floyd and the protests that followed, and the attack on the U.S. Capitol, I am deeply concerned about the racial implications of climate anxiety,” California State Polytechnic University Humboldt Professor Sarah Ray wrote in 2021, as previously reported by The College Fix.
“If people of color are more concerned about climate change than white people, why is the interest in climate anxiety so white? Is climate anxiety a form of white fragility or even racial anxiety?”
IMAGE: Center of the American West/YouTube