Researchers are increasingly trying to understand both the emotions that
we experience in response to ecological crises like climate change and the ways
in which these emotions might be valuable for our (psychical, psychological,
and moral) wellbeing. However, much of the existing work on these issues
has been hampered by conceptual and methodological difficulties. As a first
step toward addressing these challenges, this review focuses on eco-anxiety.
Analyzing a broad range of studies through the use of methods from philosophy,
emotion theory, and interdisciplinary environmental studies, the authors show
how looking to work on anxiety in general can help researchers build better
models of eco-anxiety in particular. The results of this work suggest that the
label “eco-anxiety” may be best understood as referring to a family of distinct,
but related, ecological emotions. The authors also find that a specific form
of eco-anxiety, “practical eco-anxiety,” can be a deeply valuable emotional
response to threats like climate change: when experienced at the right time
and to the right extent, practical eco-anxiety not only reflects well on one’s
moral character but can also help advance individual and planetary wellbeing.