Opinion

A Life On Our Planet

This post is going to be a little bit different from my usual posts and it’s definitely scary to move out of ones comfort zone! While I love to write poetry, on mental health and psychology, I am also a scientist and it’s very important for me to communicate about science at times. Today, I watched ‘David Attenboroug A Life on Our Planet’ and it was incredibly sad and moving. This man has spent most of his life documenting wild life and so, he’s seen first hand the effect climate change is having on this planet. I can imagine how haunting this would be, because for most people we go throughout life not having the privilege to notice these changes in nature. He’s 93 and a lot of the changes to the climate has happened within the span of his life. I was greatly inspired, so for this post, I want to share thoughts, feelings and facts in regards to climate change.

Thoughts and Feelings

Before I speak about the my perception of the general public’s thoughts about it, I’d like to share my thoughts and opinions on it. Personally, I think we are getting to a point of no return and this is based on tons of evidence. There’s a so many factors that disrupt the balance of Earths climate and we are indeed causing it. In terms of the general public (those in non scientific fields), it seems to be quite divided. There are people who believe in climate change, as well as those who work to combat it in their daily lives and then there’s outright deniers.

I want to have a discussion on climate change deniers purely because when science becomes political, that’s when problems arise. We live in a world bombarded by media and it seems at times, that it’s there to fulfil a political agenda as well. I know in the United States it is prevalent and even in Australia. My overall understanding of it is that the media tries to sway an audience in favour of parties that don’t care about climate change. And of course there’s different types of media out there. I also don’t want to make generalisations but in my country we have the liberal party who are known to tailor to the rich. My biggest fear in voting such parties in is having this mentality is that people will think climate change is adaptable for humans. And that may be true to a certain extent, it is adaptable but only for people in developed countries and those who tend to have a high income. Even so, adaptation is only temporary.

The people climate change will mostly effect initially are those in poverty, farmers and many more. Sea levels will rise. Earths soil will become harder to cultivate and these people will be put out of the job. Even the chance of a pandemic occurring is significantly increased. It’s a very selfish thing to put the lives of people who are the foundations of society at risk and in one way or another it will catch up to the top of the class system.

This was just my interpretation and please if you have another understanding of it share it! Science should be an open discussion and about education, not throwing facts in other people’s faces.

How does it all tie in together?

Climate change is an interesting topic and it’s one that is continually evolving. In the past climate change was known as global warming. To a certain extent it is, however it was changed for a reason. People like to take the current weather and state ‘it’s too cold for global warming to exist’, and even going so far as to use that as evidence. While the earth is warming, that doesn’t mean the whole earth is going to be constantly a couple degrees warmer. There’s different climates everywhere and it’s a very fluid thing. Overall we will see an increase in global temperature (land and ocean), but that also means there’s going to be colder winters. Warmer temperatures in the Arctic will cause cold air to move down to North America resulting in colder winters. Everything ties in together and Earth has a lot of complex systems that work with one another.

You may be wondering what I mean by everything and here’s a brief run down. Deforestation results in less trees to store carbon and thus there will be increased carbon emission. Eating beef regularly is a massive issue because if we have billions of cows in the farming industry they all need to fart. And I know it sounds comical, yet their farts contain methane which has an even bigger greenhouse effect than carbon dioxide. These farms also need much more land and resources than vegetation farming. This need for land causes more forestation. What makes this worse is that the population is increasing at a high rate and we will need food to live. There’s also issues with plastic. Plastic releases greenhouse gases when in sunlight and well there’s so much plastic out there. These are just a few of the things that can tie in together. So, what can we do about it?

What can be done?

Firstly, I want to go through what can be done at an individual level. One of the easiest things to do is vote in politicians who care about climate change. I think it’s important to understand the flow of funds and take note of what companies politicians are loyal to. Another way could be to reduce beef intake. I know that going vegetarian and vegan is not realistic for everyone. But there are ways to do this realistically. Eat meat only on weekends. Vegetarian food is great and quite diverse. I am vegetarian throughout the week and it’s very doable. You can replicate Smokey flavour and you can replicate meat texture too. Even ordering beyond meat patties. There are many components to a burger that add flavour and meat is just one. In doing this, we can see a decrease in the need for cattle farming. At the end of the day if demand is reduced then the issue is reduced. I think we have to shift our mindset from ‘it’s all or nothing’ to ‘small lifestyle changes will help’. Energy is a different story.

I remember in the early 2000’s we started to go more energy efficient and while that is progress, the real problem lies in how we create energy. It’s incredibly amusing how in my country it is up to the consumer to get solar power. We have a whole desert out there and it’s not being put to use. Sustainable energy is here, is it perfected? No, but it is usable and it’s the best we have. Even if we want to wait and develop new and better renewable energies, nuclear power allows for that. Nuclear power produces no waste that is harmful to the atmosphere. It does produce radioactive waste, however that can be used in nuclear medicine, agriculture, research, amongst other things. While it requires Uranium, an element that is in limited supply on earth, it buys us valuable time that we need to produce better renewables. And who knows, we could possibly be mining uranium from an asteroid one day. It does present safety concerns at times, however a lot of issues have arisen because or improper protocol or natural disasters. There are options available to us now, yet still very little is being done. We need to address this because the planet isn’t here for us, it will continue when humanity is long gone. If we destroy it and cause our extinction, it will bounce back eventually. Life will continue, humanity won’t just be in it.

Thank you all for reading! This isn’t like my regular posts but I really wanted to discuss an important topic like this. I feel that a scientists and just people in general’s biggest mistake can be in communication of information. At times we are fuelled by emotion, and as a result offer condescending information to one another. It doesn’t help, in fact it can do the opposite. That’s why I’ll always advocate for education through discussion, sharing ideas and understanding one another. I hope you enjoyed this article! And please be sure to watch the documentary.

Advertisements
One-Time
Monthly
Yearly

Just a uni student who loves to write, any donations are greatly appreciated!

Make a monthly donation

Make a yearly donation

Choose an amount

$1.00
$3.00
$5.00
$5.00
$15.00
$100.00
$5.00
$15.00
$100.00

Or enter a custom amount

$
——

Your contribution is appreciated.

Your contribution is appreciated.

Your contribution is appreciated.

Opinion · Review

Communication of Mental Health in Social Media

Recently, I watched a video about why Elsa from Frozen is a terrible character. I was incredibly frustrated by the video for the points they were making because to me, they couldn’t see the finite details. As someone who has experienced trauma and depression, I thought it was a horrible message to give to an audience. In this post I want to discuss the portrayal of mental health and people’s reaction to it. I’ve found that society is aware of mental health, yet there is still a disconnect, so let’s explore.

Firstly, I’d like to start with the opinion of the narrator in which Elsa was described as bland and lacking personality. A comparison was then made to other Disney princesses that are quite energetic, loud and proud, however comparing Elsa to their personalities is similar to contrasting a cat to a dog. They’re both quite different. People are allowed to dislike someone’s character, but saying they’re terrible based on the personality of another is highly toxic. Drawing comparisons is quite harmful in society and what adds to this lethality is the fact that Elsa has undergone trauma and suffers from anxiety and depression. People who suffer from anxiety and depression can at times shut down, it isn’t a bland personality, it’s a mental health issue. While Elsa is a fictional character, the likes and comments on this video were quite upsetting because people agreed with these points of the argument. The audience of a youtuber is quite vast and when you have thousands of people condemning a character who clearly has mental instability, what message does this send others?

Frozen has always been a target for hate because it’s a popular movie, I personally love it because it sends an important message. While a person has every right to dislike it for their own reasons, it’s inappropriate to spread hate for a character for their traits that can be explained by mental health or trauma and ride it off as poor writing. My biggest fear is the cascade effect this can have. Society loves to hate on things and cancel them. Frozen was incredibly popular so of course people are going to get sick of it. However, people who are influential have the potential to feed that hate and in the process ride off mental health of as being bitchy or a horrible person. People behave the way they do for a reason and if society truely wishes to support mental health, it starts with not creating hate for the small things like a persons character. I want to discuss some aspect of Elsa’s personality so we can really grasp what severity of these kind of comments.

Shutting Anna Out

In the film Elsa avoids Anna because she fears her powers. She harmed her once before and she’s afraid she will again. In the video, the narrator stated ‘why didn’t she tell Anna once the parents died?’. And then goes on to say ‘hey Anna I have magic ice powers I can’t control and that’s why I stayed away from you….why couldn’t she just say that?’. This is an extremely ignorant and damaging thing to say. Trauma exists. Victims of trauma have to try very hard to overcome aspects of it. People cannot get over it as a whole and it takes a lot of time and energy. When Anna states “I can’t live like this anymore” and Elsa responds “then leave”. The narrator says ‘no rational person would say this’. Elsa clearly looks distressed in this scene and it’s very difficult to let people in as well as it’s very easy to shut them out. Calling it irrational is incredibly hurtful and can make someone think with anxiety or trauma believe that their fears are invalid. The narrator then goes on to state people with anxiety and depression can often act irrational and shows sympathy. While compassion is important and key to understanding people with mental health, why downplay it previously as irrationality? Singling a group out can be detrimental to that group as well as children.

The Movie is Not Teaching Kids to Shut People Out

Elsa needed space to reflect on her thoughts. She created a safe space to do this in the form of an Ice Castle. Progress isn’t linear and the song Let it go was only a representation of one aspect of it. If the movie was showing kids to shut people out there would not have been any resolution. The narrator states ‘why couldn’t she have let love in before’ the resolution rather than avoid others. Once again, mental health is a process and it takes a lot of energy that people don’t have to do this. At the end of the day, isolation isn’t key, but it is a step in battling trauma, depression and anxiety through reflection. Everyone needs to take a step back and think, that’s how life works.

Elsa Needs Anna

The narrator stated the movie didn’t show that Elsa needed Anna. I think it definitely demonstrated overcoming the fear of loving her sister. The only connection Elsa made to love was accidentally hurting her sister while they were playing as kids. For her letting love in mean’t hurting the ones she loved. The act of hurting Anna was another step in overcoming this as it allowed her to see she can hurt Anna at any time and that it doesn’t come with letting love in. Once again, trauma is at play and the entire journey was about Elsa overcoming that fear due to her mental health and showing Anna love. Elsa needed Anna to help her through that.

At the end of the day, it’s definitely up to you to like a character. However, downplaying mental health creates a message in society. While the narrator could identify some aspect of mental health, it still felt offensive. Being irrational is scary to people with mental health problems and commenting on it like that can be damaging. It pushes negative views on mental health onto an audience and can be triggering. Each of these opinions lead onto each other and demonstrated ignorance when it comes to understanding a person, as a result trauma felt like something someone can just get over. We still have a long way to go in order to understand mental health and communicate it. I hope in the near future people will learn to stop criticising others in such a way.

Thanks for reading! Please be wary on the internet, some places are definitely safe zones but some can be quite triggering. I also wasn’t sure whether I should link the video or not, while I don’t agree with an opinion I would rather not create a negative space elsewhere.