Let’s reach for the sky and beat back climate change.
PSYCHIATRIC VIEWS ON THE DAILY NEWS
If you watch mainstream media, perhaps you heard the news. Sometimes called America’s weatherman, Al Roker, had his first grandchild—named Sky—and it did not take long for him to think about her future.
Like many recent or new grandparents, Al thought of the dark cloud of stormy and unstable weather. Holding Sky recently, he started to wonder: “What kind of world does she have?” To supplement that, he just gave a TED Talk in Detroit.
His epiphany reminded me of my own. Over 16 years ago, our second granddaughter, Hannah, was born. I went to the grocery story to get some stuff for her. When I got there and took the items to pay, the clerk asked: “Paper or plastic”? I froze this time. Usually, I quickly say one or the other, but that time I wondered, which would be better for the climate and environment for her future. The best answer was nothing or my own sack. That then led me to 16 years of activism, including starting the informal Psychiatrists for Environmental Action and Knowledge (PEAK), which morphed into the formal Climate Psychiatry Alliance (CPA), for which I was a cofounder. For an upcoming book on Nature Therapy, I have written a chapter on being a climate activist. Stay tuned.
Actually, the first blog I ever wrote for Psychiatric Times many years ago was about the climate and going green.
For Al Roker, the birth of his granddaughter was not the first time he conveyed concern. On March 16, 2021, for instance, he talked about the urgency of the climate crisis for PBS. He now conveys an even stronger concern for this urgent crisis. No wonder. Right now, the continuing sunny skies in the US are producing searing and dangerous heat in the Southwest and South, as well as the cloudy skies in the Northeast that just recently flooded Vermont, where another of our grandchildren was serving as a camp counselor for needy children. We were frightened, but all turned out OK.
It is understandable why public weather announcers have to be somewhat cautious about climate change, given the widespread rippling of their predictions. But the dangers are clear: to the environment, to our physical health, and to our mental health. For me, that means expanding our model to bio-psycho-social-eco.
Certainly, when such problems become personal, it is natural to respond with strong emotional concern. All of us, though, will not have such epiphanies, but just being human should be enough now to be active in protecting the future.
Let’s join Al and reach for the Sky to clear up climate change.
Dr Moffic is an award-winning psychiatrist who has specialized in the cultural and ethical aspects of psychiatry. A prolific writer and speaker, he received the one-time designation of Hero of Public Psychiatry from the Assembly of the American Psychiatric Association in 2002. He is an advocate for mental health issues related to climate instability, burnout, Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism for a better world. He serves on the Editorial Board of Psychiatric Times.