Climate anxiety can be alleviated by life cycle thinking.
“The idea of life cycle thinking is to look at things in their context rather than as isolated phenomena. Complex climate feedback makes this approach a challenging one, yet it is inevitable if we are to find wise solutions,” Associate Professor Arto O. Salonen from the Department of Social Sciences says.
“Life cycle thinking allows us to take a comprehensive look at reality: to see it as it is. This calls for systems thinking, which is essential when we are dealing with issues of manufacturing and consuming on a finite planet.”
According to Salonen, people’s attitudes towards climate change are linked to their conception of reality.
“If human life is seen as something unique and intrinsically valuable, climate change is without a doubt an ethical issue. Having reduced opportunities for a dignified life – mostly as a consequence of human activity – is an example of stupidity,” he says.
“Individuals are the building blocks of society. Big rivers are born from small streams, and small streams from single drops of rain. Becoming part of the solution is a greater justification for one’s existence than remaining part of the problem and pointing a finger of blame at others.”
Salonen points out that governmental policies can lead the way to a good future.
“Finns have got their values right. No one is advocating climate change, but practical measures to mitigate it are often difficult to implement. Wisely formulated policy measures create conditions where climate change mitigation is easy.”
Would it make a difference if five million Finns decided to stop flying altogether?
“Setting an example has a considerable impact. Our actions are being monitored and followed, thanks to Finland being one of the world’s most successful societies according to dozens of different indicators. When talking about well-organised societies where citizens thrive, the world turns its gaze to Scandinavia.”
According to Salonen, it is tempting to integrate selfishness into actions to save our planet, as that’s when the question is no longer about giving something up.
“Favouring a plant-based diet has immediate beneficial effects on one’s own well-being as well as on that of the planet, and the same is true for walking and cycling more. The more we do something we feel is right, the more content we are with our lives. Looking in the mirror, we see someone who is happy about doing what needs to be done,” he says.