Massive wildfires in California, flooding in Europe and Asia, 109 degree heat in Portland, and more hot days here in Los Angeles– climate change has moved from a distant abstraction into our daily lives. As frightening as it is, the worst part might be that it can creep from your backyard into your mind, making you feel anxious, depressed, or hopeless – like there’s nothing you can do about it.

As psychotherapists, we know that anxiety of any kind can send us down a rabbit hole. It can lead to feelings of frustration and rage, or sadness and hopelessness. Maybe you just feel numb. Anxiety over the climate can compound the daily stressors that you already live with, and sometimes even the most avid activists can find themselves in a state of anxious paralysis.

What to do?

One way we’ve found to calm our climate anxiety is to take an earth- friendly action. Eat a vegan meal! Tear up some turf and plant succulents! Check out the possibility of rooftop solar! Taking these personal actions is soothing because you start to feel powerful again. You’re no longer helpless.

But you may wonder, do these personal actions save the planet? You might ask the same question about voting: I’m only one person. Does it count? Will my vote make a difference? The answer is that both voting and fighting climate change count—more so if your actions are part of a collective movement. If large numbers of people take that same step, we can create real progress.

Sometimes personal action still feels futile, though, even when it is part of a larger collective. After all, we are trying to save an entire planet! That’s where curiosity enters the picture as part of the cure for climate anxiety. We’ve asked ourselves, “What can we do in a collective way to help keep the earth livable?” Investigation turned up some facts that few people are making noise about. For example, several bills with bipartisan appeal have been introduced in Congress that would set a strong price on carbon, which would cut emissions sharply and quickly.

Even if no one around you is aware of these actions, you’re not alone! These carbon pricing policies are supported by economists of all political stripes, 3500 of whom—including 27 Nobel Laureates—signed an open letter in the Wall Street Journal in 2019. A carbon tax, they said, is the most effective way to reduce greenhouse emissions at the scale and speed necessary to save us.

Here’s a piece of good news: not only are both our CA Senators environmentally-minded, but Senator Diane Feinstein has even cosponsored legislation, the Save Our Future Act, puts an annually increasing fee on coal, oil, and gas. It also puts a price on fossil fuel co-pollutants like nitrous oxide, sulfur dioxide, and fine particulate matter that are plaguing too many of us – especially in low-income areas and communities of color — with asthma, heart disease, and cancer.

Some of the revenue from both kinds of fees would go to help families cope with any rise in consumer prices, and to compensate coal miners who lose their jobs.

Our newest Senator, Alex Padilla, agrees fighting climate change by reducing carbon emissions is a moral imperative. He believes there is urgent need for action.

In a time when climate anxiety can be a daily downer, these stands by our Senators are cheering. However, turning good intentions into law isn’t easy. That’s why we’ve recently joined more than 20,000 concerned citizens in reaching out to our members of Congress, including Sens. Feinstein and Padilla, asking them to include a price on carbon in the climate package they’re now putting together for the upcoming budget reconciliation bill

And we’ve also turned to our Representatives, many of whom are environmentally-minded as well. We’re urging them too to include carbon pricing in the budget reconciliation package when it reaches the House.

Joining in these collective actions, we find, gives us hope—a welcome balm for our growing anxiety in this shrinking window of time to save our planet.

The authors belong to the LA West Chapter of Citizens Climate Lobby, a national organization working to put a price on carbon.

Loree Fahey and Hannah Masters