Greenie Weenie Alarmists Need Mental Therapy And AA

Who knew that trying to get Other People to Do Something could be so stressful?

Let’s face it: If you care about the environment, you’ve got a lot of reasons to be bummed out. Is the sorry state of the planet dragging you into the dumps? John Fraser, a psychologist, architect, and educator with the Institute for Learning Innovation, is one of a small group of psychologists interested in the mental health of conservationists themselves — how professional activists, environmental educators, and conservation-oriented researchers handle the daily evidence of environmental destruction.

Environmentalists, Fraser says, often aren’t aware of the emotional toll of their work. “Talking to environmentalists can be like talking to a bunch of macho cowboys,” he says. “A lot of people will say, ‘I’m fine, I’m fine,’ and I’ll say, ‘I don’t know how to tell you this, but you’re really not looking healthy.'” The result, he says, is that many environmentalists unconsciously express their stress in meetings or classrooms — sometimes sabotaging their own mission.

Maybe if they ate a more balanced diet, and stopped sniffing all the paint while making their protest signs.

Fraser’s varied research interests include U.S. attitudes toward bison conservation, training programs for teachers living in Central American jaguar habitat, and the effect of literature and poetry on conservation thinking. He spoke with Grist about the under-recognized emotional trauma of environmental work — and how environmentalists can and should recapture their sense of humor.

Did I miss the part about him actually Doing Something to protect the environment? Getting outside and protecting bison, instead of looking at attitudes? Anyhow, here we go

I was at a high-level conservation conference recently, and someone who was transferring into the field looked at me and said, “Boy, people here drink a lot.” I said, “Yeah, they do.” That’s a symptom of what’s going on — it’s a way of escaping, but it’s not a healthful way of escaping. I’m not saying environmentalists shouldn’t drink liquor. What I’m suggesting is that within the community, there’s probably a higher level of self-medication than is really helpful.

Wait, booze is “bad for the environment”, especially beer, which releases lots of CO2. And all that water used to make booze, the degradation of soil to grow grapes for wine, the exploitation of minority/immigrant workers….Prozac should work better and be less damaging to Gaia.

Crossed at Pirate’s Cove. Follow me on Twitter @WilliamTeach.

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