A recent study conducted on 2,066 individuals in Germany has found that overall environmental knowledge and climate-specific knowledge are negatively related to climate change anxiety. The research suggests that enhancing environmental knowledge may help reduce anxiety levels related to climate change.
In other words, people who know the least about global climate science are most likely to suffer from so-called “climate change anxiety.”
Climate change anxiety — or “eco-anxiety” — is a phenomenon that has received more attention in recent years from academic researchers at American universities as well as U.S. health officials.
Left-wing media have also hyped the supposed condition, with National Public Radio offering a helpful guide with “5 tips to manage those feelings” when you’re anxious over climate change.
NPR’s tips include gems like “Let yourself feel the feelings — all of them” and “Find a way to reset and calm your central nervous system” and “Find someone to talk to, and we don’t just mean a therapist.”
But if the study from Germany is accurate, then the best way to mitigate psychological duress over global warming and rising sea levels might be to crack a book and learn a little more about environmental science.
The study was conducted by Hannes Zacher and Cort W. Rudolph and published March 23 in the journal “Climatic Change,” an academic journal that describes itself as an “Interdisciplinary, International Journal Devoted to the Description, Causes and Implications of Climatic Change.”
The study’s hypothesis was based on the idea that the lack of knowledge on a subject leads to uncertainty and anxiety, while greater knowledge reduces these feelings.
The findings support this hypothesis, showing that people with greater overall environmental and climate-specific knowledge experience less climate change anxiety.
Conversely, individuals with less knowledge tend to experience higher levels of anxiety.
This research fills a gap in the literature, as previous studies have examined the relationship between motivational predictors of pro-environmental behavior and climate change anxiety, but not the connection between environmental knowledge and anxiety.
The findings imply that interventions aimed at increasing environmental knowledge may be a valuable tool for reducing climate change anxiety and promoting mental well-being.
“In terms of practical implications, the main finding that environmental knowledge is negatively related to climate change anxiety suggests that efforts to improve environmental knowledge, for instance through educational and training interventions, may help reduce such anxiety,” the researchers conclude.
Although, they note, some climate change anxiety may be a good thing if it is channeled into “pro-environmental behavior.”