Katharina von Bronswjik in conversation with Dieter Kassel

Fire damage after devastating forest fires in Greece: Climate change produces disturbing images (picture alliance / dpa / Eurokinissi | Tatiana Bolari)

The fear of the climate is there. Psychologist Katharina von Bronswjik advises not to be paralyzed and to translate fear of the uncertain future into political action.

Record heat in Sicily: 48.8 degrees. Devastating forest fires in Greece. Scientists warn: global warming is progressing faster than expected and international targets can hardly be met.

No wonder some people are now lowering their heads. A new term is slowly but surely making its way into the debate over the future of the earth: climate fear. This resonates with the fact that all efforts are in vain.

Psychologist Katharina von Bronswjik advocates accepting this fear – but not being paralyzed by it. She points out that fear is a daily occurrence and is there to warn people of the dangers. But it is important not to stop there. Instead, you have to watch, “How can I put this into action now?” “

Climate change as a collective problem

In the climate change debate, the collective problem is often broken down to the individual, criticized von Bronswjik. It is claimed “as if it is an adjustment problem for the individual. But we have a problem which affects society as a whole, which we also have to resolve in society as a whole”.

Climate change cannot be stopped by changing the behavior of individuals, explains the spokesperson for the organization “Psychologists for Future”. The changes at the individual level were not enough: “It shows us this feeling of helplessness. He says: It’s not enough if I do without this schnitzel, it won’t save the world either.

The saving of CO2 individually is also important, but not decisive. Instead, systemic change is needed. Here, one might ask: “What reception points do I really have on this system?” For example, one could write letters to the editor, go to demonstrations, speak to politicians or vote accordingly, advises the psychologist.

“What looked like a gigantic task”

“Of course, it’s exhausting. Working against the system sounds like a gigantic task,” says von Bronswjik. But there is no alternative: “We have to make sure we get the right laws. There is also a lot of strength in the recognition that the people are sovereign in a democracy.

Several thousand environmental activists want to take to the streets again today in Frankfurt am Main for more climate justice. This time, you call attention to the financial sector, which, according to “Fridays for Future”, is partly responsible for the climate crisis through investments in fossil fuels such as coal and oil.