Feeling hopeless about climate change? There's a class for that (at UW Bothell)

BOTHELL, Wash. -- A new class aims to give hope and comfort to scientists, educators, and activists feeling utterly depressed about climate change.

The University of Washington Bothell is offering "Environmental Grief & Climate Anxiety," a class for those who feel "increasingly hopeless about mass extinctions, melting ice sheets and dying oceans."

The class will teach ways to cope with depression and anxiety related to climate change, as well as develop a "climate survival kit" to help with the emotions.

As the ice caps continue to melt and temperatures heat up, climate change anxiety has been on the rise worldwide, according to a new study.  There are stories of young adults refusing to drink water in hopes it would help the climate, and scientists not returning to past worksites, out of fear of how drastically they've changed.

Near-term human extinction support groups have even popped up around the Puget Sound, lending ears for people who feel the human race will be gone in a few decades due to drastic habitat loss.

Jamen Shively, a former Microsoft executive, president of radish.org and abrupt climate change believer, says he knows plenty of people who feel depressed.

"A lot of people deal with the thought of abrupt climate change and near-term human extinction by getting depressed and put it out of their mind, but that doesn’t really work," Shively says.

Shively says rising temperatures and other problems will "lead us to near-term human extinction" within the next 10 years. Shively follows the lectures of Guy McPherson,  a professor at the University of Arizona who believes habitat loss and increased CO2 are indicative of the end of humanity.

Climate change and thoughts like these can be a downer, Shively says, but he sees groups like the UW Bothell class as a way to combat anxiety.

"The most effective ways (to combat climate change anxiety) is joining support groups, talking with friends and family," Shively says. "And taking positive action and joining one of the many projects around the world working on finding innovative solution to these problems."

Shively says he is a member of an online support group, appropriately named the "Social Club at the End of the World." There, he talks about  possible climate solutions, such as geo-shading, re-freezing the Arctic and building bio-domes.

The UW Bothell class may be the initial step needed, Shively says, in raising awareness about climate change and the mental road-blocks associated with it.

"The university is a perfect setting for a students, faculty and other resources to come together and begin to address this in a systematic way," Shively says.