Generation Dread: Finding Purpose in an Age of Climate Change

Britt Wray | Generation Dread: Finding Purpose in an Age of Climate Change

Reviewed by: Barb Mills

The Author: Dr. Britt Wray is an author and leading researcher into climate change and mental health. She is currently a Human and Planetary Health Fellow at Stanford University and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

The Book: Generation Dread is an important resource for anyone with the courage to look the Climate Crisis in the eye and strive to do something about it. When we confront the reality of our precious, deteriorating planet, we are often assaulted by overwhelming feelings of fear, anger, dread, or grief. Ignoring such distress can lead to denial, numbing, and failure to effectively do our share in averting disaster.

In her engaging book, Britt Wray seamlessly merges scientific knowledge and emotional insight to show us why our intense feelings are a healthy response to the world we live in. She explores the internal ecology of climate anxiety with insight and sensitivity. She provides a thoroughly researched perspective on the impact of the deepening climate crisis on mental health and coping. The extensive research that informs her book was primarily focused on young adults, people who question whether they dare bring children into an ever-deteriorating world or whether studying for a career is worth it anymore. But her findings are relevant to all of us who strive to address this crisis.

Wray analysed a variety of mechanisms that people have used to process their overwhelming feelings of eco-anxiety. She concluded that the crucial first step towards becoming an engaged steward of the planet is to deeply connect with these troubling emotions. Wray suggests we should see them as signs of our humanity, and learn how to live with them. She argues that only by processing our fears, grief, and anxiety, can we truly be capable of moving into meaningful climate action. Only then can we be effective in changing the deeply ingrained, widespread reactions of denial and disavowal that have ushered humanity into this alarming era of ecological decline and disrespect for the Earth.

Dr. Wray consulted counselling professionals and research programs that have been effective in treating Eco Anxiety. She observed that methods which engage community groups in guided, respectful, therapeutic dialogue were more effective and realistic than methods that involve traditional, individual, therapeutic approaches. 

Wray concludes that if we hope to live fully, and contribute to the changes needed for this precious Earth to survive, then we must first address our ubiquitous, immobilizing emotions. Coming together as a community to process our feelings, and to collectively support each other, is the best way to do this. 

“Now is the time to transform humankind’s relationship with the natural world 

and with each other. And we must do so together.”

Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary General 

Please fill out the form below to receive news from us.