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Two words put together that sound like being tired of zombies, apocalypse and fatigue have come together in recent years to refer to an overwhelming feeling that many of us feel,

even if we didn’t know there was a name for it. Apocalypse Fatigue refers to the tendency of the public to avoid engaging with or trying to contribute to issues surrounding the impending doom that we are bombarded with following recognition of the environmental situation we are currently living in. In other words, it’s the feeling of exhaustion and helplessness that we feel when anyone talks about environmental problems.

It’s easy to feel hopeless about the big problems we are faced with, especially when there seem to be so many human problems that need fixing. Most of us didn’t ask for all of our food to be sold in plastic, for enormous sections of ancient rainforest be cut down to make way for coal mines and cows, and most of us certainly didn’t ask for ships to spill oil or fishermen to fish too much. Daily news stories and campaigns about the Climate Crisis, the Anthropocene, Biological Breakdown, and the Biodiversity Crisis are enough to depress anyone, but particularly those that care about it all in the first place. In fact, it is clear that most people didn’t want it to happen and would do things differently to how the world’s leaders and biggest companies are doing things.

If you didn’t know what Apocalypse Fatigue is, don’t worry. It’s not a clinical illness, but you can catch it, and you can pass it on. It’s as infectious as laughter, but it has the opposite effect. We know that individuals can set and change the tone of a room, just with a conversation starter, or a couple of mannerisms like a smile or a judgemental gaze. Unfortunately for us, Apocalypse Fatigue is a feeling that can be shared amongst households, work places, schools, and entire communities. It has been cited that some countries even feel this more so than others. 

According to the World Economic Forum, various parts of Asia and Latin America are some of the most optimistic populations in the world with regards to Climate Change Progress, whilst Western Europe is top of the most pessimistic! The Office for National Statistics published in 2021 that three quarters of adults in the UK feel worried about Climate Change, but many of these people also shared a feeling of helplessness in the situation. The problem with these shocking statistics is that enough people in the UK are informed enough to be worried, but not enough to know what to do to make things better in the wider context of the situation, or even for themselves. If 75% of our nation care about the future of the living conditions on Earth for future generations and the wildlife around them, but none of them can cope with the worry or know what to do about any of it, aren’t we missing out on some incredible people power?

Imagine if 3 in every 4 adults in this country contributed to conserving natural places, supporting local wildlife, making sustainable choices everyday, and showing their children all the things they CAN do to make things better for the world around them and for their own wellbeing? It’s a thought that makes us wonder if we need to wait for governments and multinationals to get everything to be ship-shape. What if we just fought off apocalypse fatigue together and shared as many solutions to the Earth’s problems as we can, encouraging everyone, everywhere to make better choices and protect the wild?

Some people do indeed have the solutions. There is patented technology that can remove microplastics from the ocean, there are protected reserves all over the world boasting increases in abundance in endangered species, we do have a list of changes we can all make at home to reduce our consumption of the harmful stuff and support those producing the sustainable stuff. We are even lucky enough to live in a country covered in projects run by the likes of the Wildlife Trusts, predicting climate changes that will directly impact each region in a different way, working to mitigate these effects and support natural systems through change.

There are lots of factors we can’t control as individuals, but we can reframe ourselves on apocalypse fatigue. Next time you learn about something environmental that makes you feel helpless, spend just 5 minutes looking into who is trying to fix the problem and you’ll quickly come across a simple way you can help them. It’s 2023 and we have the solutions to most of our problems, so remember that you’re not alone!

For your own state of mind, remind yourself that being outside in nature, even taking a 30 minute walk outside, can reduce the feelings associated with this fatigue we feel for the rest of the day! Nature is our medicine, but we need to remember to look after it and ourselves in equal measures. All hope is not lost!



Article written by Native to Earth Founder, Jordanne Wood
Facts and statistics were correct on the publication date.
Sources available upon request.