When Climate Change Becomes Heart-Wrenching
It’s not often that individuals imagine themselves 75 years into the future, living in a world deeply affected by climate change. Doing so, however, can prove to be an enormously powerful exercise, as a recent column in the New York Times illustrates. In the column, opinion writer Anna North tells her own story about what her life will be like come 2100. North explains how the places she’s spent time in — and the places she might move back to — will look and feel increasingly like Florida come 2100.
While changes in the weather and environment may not sound significant, North eloquently illustrates why exactly these changes are meaningful–and in some cases, heart-wrenching. North names the experience of watching one’s home environments change drastically and irrevocably as grief, a psychological phenomenon with clear implications for psychological health and well-being. To read more about the psychological impacts of climate change, and how communicators can engage and prepare the public for these changes, see ecoAmerica‘s latest research report: Beyond Storms & Droughts: The Psychological Impacts of Climate Change.
Anna North, Contributor to The New York Times
In 2100, I will live in Florida.
Let me backtrack: Unless longevity research makes some big strides in the next few decades, I’ll probably be dead by 2100. Nor do I have any plans to retire to Palm Beach in my late 110s. But if I somehow survive, and if I stay in New York City, my experience will be Floridian: According to an interactive map created by Climate Central, a Manhattan summer at the end of this century will feel like a summer in Lehigh Acres, about 90 miles south of Sarasota.
And what if in my extreme old age I decide to return to the city of my childhood, Los Angeles? As it turns out, Los Angeles in 2100 will feel like the Florida city of Fountainbleau. According to Climate Central at least, global warming is slowly turning all the places I have ever loved into Florida.
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