Transcript: Dealing With Existential Dread | Jan 10, 2020

Steve sits in the studio. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a blue suit, white shirt, and striped lavender tie.

A caption on screen reads "Dealing with existential dread. @spaikin, @theagenda."

Steve says BRUSH FIRES RAVAGING
AUSTRALIA.
RISING TENSIONS AND TRAGEDY IN
IRAN.
TUMULTUOUS POLITICS EVERYWHERE.
IT CAN BE DIFFICULT TO REMAIN
HOPEFUL WHEN THE WORLD SEEMS SO
CHAOTIC.
IT CAN EVEN LEAD TO A KIND OF
EXISTENTIAL DREAD THAT MAKES IT
HARD TO FACE THE DAY.
HERE FOR SOME INSIGHT INTO
DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY BROUGHT
ON BY GLOBAL EVENTS SEEMINGLY
BEYOND OUR CONTROL, WE WELCOME:
KATIE HAYES, A CLIMATE CHANGE
AND MENTAL HEALTH RESEARCHER...

Katie is in her late forties, with chin-length straight blond hair. She's wearing a blue blouse and a golden pendant necklace.

Steve continues AND STEVE JOORDENS, PROFESSOR OF
PSYCHOLOGY AT THE UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO.

Steve Joordens is in his forties, clean-shaven, with short curly gray hair. He's wearing glasses, a gray plaid suit and a purple shirt.

Steve continues WE ARE DELIGHTED, EVEN THOUGH
THE SUBJECT MATTER IS SOMEWHAT
GRAVE, DELIGHTED TO WELCOME YOU
TWO BACK FOR SOME HELP FOR
THOSE, UM, WHO ARE FINDING IT A
DIFFICULT, DIFFICULT TIME TO BE
AN ENGAGED CITIZEN IN THE WORLD.
WE MENTIONED, STEVE, OFF THE
TOP, A COUPLE OF STORIES THAT
HAVE BEEN VERY PROMINENT IN THE
HEADLINES AS OF LATE, EVENTS
THAT DON'T SEEM TO HAVE ANYTHING
IN COMMON WITH EACH OTHER, AND
WHICH ARE PRETTY MUCH BEYOND THE
SCALE OF INDIVIDUALS TO DO
ANYTHING ABOUT.
WHAT WOULD BE THE NORMAL HUMAN
RESPONSE TO NEWS LIKE THIS WHEN
YOU HEAR IT FOR THE FIRST TIME?

The caption changes to "Steve Joordens. University of Toronto."

Steve Joordens says YEAH.
WELL, I MEAN THERE ARE SORT OF
TWO LEVELS WE CAN TALK ABOUT.
ONE IS THE KIND OF
STRESS-ANXIETY LEVEL IS AND THE
OTHER IS KIND OF THE DEPRESSION
LEVEL.
ON THE STRESS LEVEL, WE HAVE
THIS SYSTEM THAT IS IN PLACE TO
HELP US DEAL WITH STRESS.
BUT THIS SYSTEM ASSUMES THE
THREATS ARE SHORT TERM.
SO IT ASSUMES A PREDATOR HAS
EMERGED FROM A BUSH OR SOMETHING
LIKE THAT AND THAT KICKS IN WITH
WHAT'S CALLED OUR SYMPATHETIC
NERVOUS SYSTEM, IT MAKES OUR
HEART BEAT FASTER AND FIGHT OR
FLEE.
THE THING IS WE FIGHT OR THREE
AND WE'RE DONE.
WHEN IT'S A CHRONIC THREAT LIKE
THIS, IT STAYS ENGAGED AT A
CHRONIC LEVEL AS WELL, AT A
LOWER LEVEL, WITH YOU IT IS
CONTINUALLY PRODUCING STRESS AND
ANXIETY AND THAT CAN LEAD TO
HEALTH ISSUES OF THE SORT THAT
CAN BE PHYSICAL AS WELL.

Steve says WELL, FOLLOW UP.
SUCH AS WHAT?

Steve Joordens says WELL, I MEAN, A LOT OF THE
WORK WAS DONE BY HANS SELLIER,
WHEN HE LOOKED AT HOW SENSITIVE
YOU ARE TO FLUS, TO COLDS, TO
VIRUSES, TO THINGS... YOUR
IMMUNE SYSTEM BASICALLY GETS
TAXED IF THIS THING IS ACTIVE
FOR TOO LONG, AND THAT JUST
MAKES YOU MUCH MORE OPEN TO ALL
SORTS OF HEALTH ISSUES, REALLY.

Steve says BUSH FIRES,
AUSTRALIA, HAS BEEN IN THE NEWS
VIRTUALLY EVERY DAY.
IT'S, YOU KNOW, PROBABLY THE
MOST DRAMATIC EXAMPLE OF THE
EFFECTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE THAT
WE HAVE SEEN, YOU KNOW, MAYBE
EVER, BUT CERTAINLY IN A VERY,
VERY LONG TIME.
WHAT DO YOU THINK THE NORMAL
APPROPRIATE HUMAN RESPONSE TO
SEEING THAT IS?

The caption changes to "Katie Hayes. Climate Change and Mental Health Researcher."

Katie says WELL, I THINK
THAT MANY PEOPLE ARE FEELING
DISTRESSED, ANXIOUS, WORRIED,
CONCERNED ABOUT THE FUTURE,
CONCERNED ABOUT THEIR PRESENT
STATE, AND SO WE'RE HAVING THESE
VERY TERRIFYING REACTIONS TO AN
EVENT THAT DOES SEEM OUT OF OUR
CONTROL.

Steve says AND HALF THE WORLD
AWAY.

Katie says AND HALF A WORLD AWAY.
BUT FOR MANY PEOPLE HERE AT HOME
IN CANADA, WE MAY FEEL THE
RESONANCE WITH THE WILDFIRES
WE'VE EXPERIENCED IN THE
PRAIRIES, AND SO THAT CAN BE
VERY TRIGGERING FOR MANY PEOPLE
WHO HAVE BEEN EXPOSED TO SIMILAR
EVENTS, AND TO SEE THIS TIME AND
TIME AGAIN IN THE NEWS AND
SEEING WHAT'S HAPPENING IN
AUSTRALIA AND THEN WONDERING
WHAT OUR FUTURE IS GOING TO BE
LIKE UNDER A CHANGING CLIMATE.

Steve says WHAT, TO YOU, FEELS
LIKE A HUMAN RESPONSE THAT
BORDERS ON UNHEALTHY?

The caption changes to "Katie Hayes, @Katieahayes."

Katie says SO THAT'S A VERY... A VERY
INTERESTING QUESTION BECAUSE
WHEN WE THINK OF OUR MENTAL
HEALTH, IT EXISTS ON A SPECTRUM,
OF COURSE.
WE HAVE WHAT ARE CONSIDERED
NORMAL OR TYPICAL RESPONSES TO
ABNORMAL EVENTS.
AND THEN THERE'S ALSO ATYPICAL
RESPONSES.
SO THINGS LIKE, THERE'S A CASE
IN MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA, IN
2009, OF A 17-YEAR-OLD BOY WHO
REFUSED TO DRINK WATER ANYMORE
BECAUSE OF HIS CONCERNS OVER
CLIMATE-RELATED DROUGHT.
SO THAT AFFECTED HIS DAY-TO-DAY
LIVELIHOOD.
AND SO THAT WAS CONSIDERED A
PATHOLOGY.
AND SO I THINK IT'S IMPORTANT
THAT WHEN WE CONSIDER, DOES THIS
AFFECT OUR DAY-TO-DAY LIVES,
DOES IT AFFECT OUR ABILITIES TO
GET UP AND GO TO WORK, THOSE ARE
WHEN WE HAVE TO START TO REALLY
GAIN SOME CONCERN OVER THESE
ANXIETIES AND THESE FEARS REALLY
TAKING OVER OUR LIVES AND THEY
CAN BECOME MORE OF THESE
PATHOLOGY EXPERIENCES.

Steve says STEVE, YOU COULD
ARGUE THAT A 17-YEAR-OLD YOUNG
MAN WHOSE BRAIN HAS NOT FULLY
DEVELOPED, YOU KNOW, TEENAGERS
MIGHT BE PARTICULARLY
SUSCEPTIBLE TO MORE EMOTION
AUTOMATICALLY THAN LESS
EMOTIONAL REACTIONS TO WHAT'S
GOING ON.
ARE THERE OTHER PEOPLE ON THAT
LIST?

The caption changes to "Steve Joordens, @SteveJoordens."

Steve Joordens says I'M NOT
SURE ANYBODY'S REALLY IMMUNE.
THERE MAY BE A MORE OR LESS.
THERE'S ANOTHER SORT OF
INSIDIOUS THING THAT HAPPENS.
WHEN YOU THINK AT HUMANITY AT
ITS BEST, WHEN WE'RE GOING TO
THE MOON, ASPIRATIONAL KIND OF
THINGS, THOSE ARE MARKED BY WHAT
WE CALL EMPOWERMENT.
HUMANS FEEL, WE CAN DO THIS.
THAT IS A VERY STRONG, POSITIVE
EMOTION.
WHEN WE'RE CONSTANTLY EXPOSED TO
SOME SORT OF TRAUMA REPEATEDLY,
THAT CAN ERODE THAT.
IN FACT, THERE'S SOME REALLY
INTERESTING EXPERIMENTS DONE IN
THE '60s ON A CONCEPT CALLED
LEARNED HELPLESSNESS.
I'M AN ANIMAL LOVER, AN ANIMAL
ETHICS GUY, AND I HATE TO TELL
THIS STORY BUT I'LL TELL IT
ANYWAY.
IT WAS RESEARCH WITH DOGS.
THEY WOULD PUT THEM IN A
COMPARTMENT WITH A DIVIDER.
SHORTLY AFTER A LIGHT CAME ON,
THE FLOOR UNDER THE DOGS WOULD
ELECTRIFY.
SO THE DOGS WOULD QUICKLY LEARN,
LIGHT COMES ON, ESCAPE AND GO
OVER IT.
BUT THEN THEY RAISED THE
BARRIER.
THEY PREVENTED THE DOG FROM
ESCAPING.
THE DOG WOULD SEE THE LIGHT COME
ON.
ORIGINALLY IT WOULD TRY TO
ESCAPE BUT AT SOME POINT IT
WOULD STOP TRYING.
IT WOULD SIT IN THE CORNER AND
TAKE THE SHOCK.

The caption changes to "Connect with us: Twitter: @theagenda; Facebook, agendaconnect@tvo.org, Instagram."

Steve says BECAUSE IT FELT
HELPLESS.

Steve Joordens says IT FELT HELPLESS.
IF YOU REMOVE THE BARRIER, IT
CONTINUES TO STAY THERE.
IT'S LEARNED THIS FEELING LIKE,
I CANNOT CONTROL THE THINGS THAT
ARE HAPPENING TO ME IN LIFE.
AND SO WE SAY THE LOCUS OF
CONTROL HAS MOVED TO AN
EXTERNAL, WHERE THINGS JUST
HAPPEN.
I HAVE NO CONTROL OVER IT.
AND WHEN THAT HAPPENS, THAT'S A
HALLMARK OF DEPRESSION.
THAT'S WHERE PEOPLE START TO
FEEL, YOU KNOW, LITERALLY
POWERLESS, AND THAT HAPPENS TO
ANYBODY.

Steve says IT CAN.
I UNDERSTAND AN ANIMAL UNDER
TEST CIRCUMSTANCES MAY FEEL THAT
WAY BUT HUMANS WHO ARE
PRESUMABLY MORE INTELLECTUAL AND
CAN SEE THAT THE BARRIER HAS
BEEN RAISED AND I HAVE OPTIONS,
EVEN WE LEARN THAT HELPLESSNESS
AS WELL.

Steve Joordens says IN A BARRIER SITUATION, WE
MIGHT DO SOMETHING WHERE WE CAN
SEE IT.
IMAGINE A PERSON WHO HAS TRIED
TO QUIT SMOKING THREE TIMES AND
HAS COME TO THE OPINION I CAN'T
DO THIS OR WEIGHT LOSS ATTEMPTS
OR ANYTHING LIKE THAT, WHERE
SOMEBODY CAN TRY SOMETHING, AND
AFTER A FEW ATTEMPTS, IT DOESN'T
WORK, THEY CAN JUST GIVE UP THAT
POWER.
YOU KNOW, MAYBE THERE'S A NEW
WAY TO DO THINGS OR WHATEVER,
BUT THEY MAY JUST STOP EVEN
EXPLORING AND THEY MAY JUST
ACCEPT, I CAN'T DO THIS, I'M
GOING TO SMOKE THE REST OF MY
LIFE.

Steve says KATIE, FOR THOSE
WHO... LET'S TAKE THE BUSH
FIRES FOR EXAMPLE AGAIN.
FOR THOSE PEOPLE WHO HAVE BEEN
GLUED AT THE TELEVISION SET
TRYING TO FIND OUT EVERY SCRAP
OF INFORMATION THEY CAN ABOUT
AUSTRALIA AND, YOU KNOW, MAYBE
THEY MAKE A CONTRIBUTION OR
MAYBE THEY DO SOMETHING TO TRY
TO AMELIORATE THE SITUATION,
WHATEVER THEY CAN DO, IF THEY
FEEL OVERWHELMED BY IT ALL, WHAT
SHOULD THEY DO?

The caption changes to "Coping skills."

Katie says WELL, I THINK
THAT'S A COMMON FEELING.
WE WANT TO BE ABLE TO DO
SOMETHING ABOUT IT.
AGAIN, THAT SENSE OF CONTROL AND
ABILITY TO SUPPORT AND HELP, AND
I THINK FOR MANY OF US, WE FEEL
LIKE, OKAY, WE'VE DONE THAT
DONATION, BUT WE STILL DON'T
FEEL BETTER, AND THE SITUATION
IS NOT IMPROVED.
SO WHAT DO WE DO NOW?
AND I THINK IT'S REALLY
IMPORTANT TO STAY ENGAGED AND
ALSO TO REALLY FOCUS ON OUR OWN
SELF-CARE AS WELL, BECAUSE WE
KNOW CONTINUOUSLY WATCHING THE
NEWS AND SEEING THESE STORIES,
ESPECIALLY FOR PEOPLE WHO HAVE
BEEN EXPOSED TO A SIMILAR EVENT
OR WHO MAY HAVE PREDISPOSED
MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES AS WELL, IT
CAN BE VERY TRIGGERING FOR THEM.
SO IT'S REALLY IMPORTANT TO FIND
THAT BALANCE, AND THAT BALANCE
WILL BE DIFFERENT FOR EVERYONE,
TO REALLY FIND HOW THEY CAN KEEP
THEMSELVES WELL BUT ALSO KEEP
ACTIVE AND ENGAGED IN THE ISSUE
BECAUSE THIS ISN'T GOING TO GO
AWAY.
YOU KNOW, WHEN THE CAMERAS STOP
ROLLING IN AUSTRALIA AND THAT'S
NO LONGER THE NEWS STORY OF THE
DAY, THERE'S STILL GOING TO BE
WILDLIFE AND HUMANS AND
INFRASTRUCTURE THAT'S GOING TO
TAKE YEARS AND YEARS AND YEARS
TO REBUILD.

Steve says I'M INTERESTED THAT
YOU SAY WE HAVE TO STAY ENGAGED,
BECAUSE I DON'T WANT TO TELL YOU
HOW MANY PEOPLE I HAVE SPOKEN TO
OVER THE PAST THREE YEARS WHO
SAY THINGS SUCH AS: TRUMP MAKES
ME SO CRAZY, I GET HOME, I CAN'T
WATCH CNN.
I JUST HAVE TO TURN IT OFF
BECAUSE I'VE LITERALLY HEARD
PEOPLE SAY IT'S BAD FOR MY
MENTAL HEALTH TO BE EXPOSED TO
THIS TRAIN WRECK, YOU KNOW, HOUR
AFTER HOUR AFTER HOUR.
BUT YOU SAY STAY ENGAGED?

Katie says WELL, I THINK IT'S REALLY
IMPORTANT, ESPECIALLY WHEN WE'RE
TALKING ABOUT THE ISSUE OF
CLIMATE CHANGE, FOR EXAMPLE.
STAYING ENGAGED REALLY CAN HELP
PROMPT SOME OF THAT ACTIVISM.
YOU KNOW, SOME OF THE REMARKS I
OFTEN GET IS, YOU KNOW, ISN'T
CLIMATE DENIALISM ONE OF THE
BIGGEST ISSUES OF OUR TIME?
I SAY THERE ARE INDEED CLIMATE
DENIERS BUT THERE ARE A FEW.
THERE IS CLIMATE DISAVOWAL.
THAT IS SEEING THE PROBLEM WITH
ONE EYE OPEN AND CLOSING THE
OTHER EYE AND WANTING TO TURN
OFF THE TV, DISTANCE OUR SELF,
CREATE THAT SPACE AND NOT SEE
BECAUSE IT FEELS OVERWHELMING.
BUT THAT NOT SEEING CAN ALSO
PROMPT INACTION AND HOW ARE WE
GOING TO ADDRESS THE ISSUE IS BY
GETTING ENGAGED AND IT IS BY
TAKING SOME FORM OF ACTION.

Steve says ISN'T AT SOME LEVEL,
STEVE, DISENGAGEMENT
SELF-PRESERVATION, THAT YOU HAVE
TO DO?

The caption changes to "Watch us anytime: tvo.org, Twitter: @theagenda, Facebook Live, YouTube."

Steve Joordens says I THINK SO.
THERE'S THAT SAYING, YOU KNOW,
HAVE THE WISDOM TO KNOW THE
THINGS YOU CAN CHANGE AND THE
THINGS YOU CAN'T.
I THINK IN THE CASE OF SOMETHING
LIKE THE ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUE,
HOPEFULLY WE HAVE NOT GIVEN UP
ON THAT YET.
I'VE HEARD A LOT OF PEOPLE
ESPOUSING, HERE'S LITTLE THINGS
YOU CAN DO.
I'VE NEVER BEEN A LITTLE THING
PERSON, MORE A BIG THING PERSON,
PUT SOLAR PANELS ON, GET RID OF
GAS POWERED VEHICLES.
THERE ARE BIG THINGS WE CAN DO.
STILL, THERE ARE THINGS WE CAN
DO.
WHEN IT COMES TO SOMETHING LIKE
DONALD TRUMP, HE IS SO RANDOM,
HE IS SO SEEMINGLY
UNCONTROLLABLE, THAT I THINK WE
DO ALL NEED A BREAK FROM HIM
BECAUSE I DON'T KNOW IF THERE'S
ANYTHING ANY OF US CAN DO THAT
WILL CHANGE THAT SITUATION.
AND SO IN CASES LIKE THAT, IT IS
CERTAINLY TRUE THAT BECOMING
MINDFUL, YOU KNOW, LITERALLY
REALIZING HOW MUCH OF THE
THOUGHTS I'M HAVING EVERY DAY
ARE NEGATIVE THOUGHTS.
IF YOU HAVE TOO MANY NEGATIVE
THOUGHTS, YOU ARE GOING TO STEER
TOWARDS DEPRESSION.
THAT IS A HALLMARK AGAIN OF
DEPRESSION.

Steve says YOU WOULD MAKE A
DISTINCTION BETWEEN STAYING
ENGAGED ON ISSUES BUT
DISENGAGING FROM, YOU KNOW,
WE'RE USING THE EXAMPLE OF THE
PRESIDENT HERE, DISENGAGING FROM
THE PRESIDENT'S ANTICS WHEN YOU
FEEL THE NEED?

Steve Joordens says YEAH, AND TO THE EXTENT YOU
CAN AT LEAST BALANCE SOME OF
THAT.
I'LL GIVE YOU ONE EXAMPLE AND
IT'S SOMETHING CALLED COGNITIVE
BEHAVIOUR THERAPY.
WHAT WE'LL OFTEN DO WITH
DEPRESSED PEOPLE WE KNOW THEY
FIRST OF ALL ORIENT TO NEGATIVE
THINGS AS OPPOSED TO POSITIVE
AND THEY CONTINUE TO RUMINATE ON
THE NEGATIVE EVENTS.
ONE OF THE VERY SIMPLE THERAPIES
IS TO SAY, YOU KNOW WHAT?
AT THE END OF EACH DAY I WANT
YOU TO WRITE DOWN THREE POSITIVE
THINGS THAT HAPPENED TO YOU
TODAY.
AND THAT'S ALL I WANT YOU TO
WRITE DOWN.
THAT'S ALL I CARE ABOUT.
IF A PERSON JUST HAS TO DO THAT,
NOW AS THEY GO THROUGH THE DAY,
FIRST OF ALL THEY'RE MORE
MINDFUL ABOUT THE EVENTS THAT
ARE HAPPENING, THEY'RE PERHAPS
NOTING THE POSITIVE EVENTS,
THEY'RE PERHAPS THINKING, THAT'S
SOMETHING I CAN WRITE DOWN AT
THE END OF THE DAY.
SO IF WE CAN REBALANCE THE
THOUGHTS IN THEIR MIND, WE
LITERALLY HAVE AN EFFECT ON THE
SYMPTOMS.
WE CAN CHANGE THEIR THINKING,
CHANGE THEIR ATTENTION, AND SO I
THINK WE ALL HAVE TO KIND OF DO
THAT TO OURSELVES AS WELL, YOU
KNOW, ENGAGE TO THE POINT WE CAN
BE INFORMED AND FEEL EMPOWERED,
BUT WHEN IT'S SITUATIONS... WHEN
IT DOES START TO FEEL LIKE, I
CAN'T WATCH THIS GUY ANYMORE, I
CAN'T LOOK AT THAT ANYMORE, YOU
PROBABLY SHOULDN'T.

Steve says LET'S DO THE CLIMATE
CHANGE EXAMPLE.
IF YOU FEEL PARTICULARLY
CONNECTED TO WHAT'S GOING ON IN
AUSTRALIA THESE DAYS, MAYBE YOU
VISITED THE PLACE, MAYBE YOU'VE
GOT FAMILY OR FRIENDS THERE, AND
YOU SEE WHAT'S HAPPENING, HOW
DIFFICULT IS IT TO, AT THE END
OF THE DAY, SAY, OKAY, I DID SEE
THREE POSITIVE THINGS TODAY.
EVEN THOUGH THIS ENTIRE
CONTINENT IS GOING UP IN FLAMES
AND IT'S OVERWHELMING?

Katie says IT DOES BECOME DIFFICULT.
OF COURSE IT DOES.
I THINK THAT EVERYONE IS GOING
TO DEAL WITH THESE SITUATIONS IN
DIFFERENT WAYS, AND I THINK THAT
IT IS REALLY TRYING TO FIND THAT
SPACE OF SELF-PRESERVATION, OF
CARING FOR YOURSELF AS WELL AND
MAINTAINING YOUR OWN WELL-BEING,
AND HOW WE DO THAT IS GOING TO
LOOK DIFFERENT.
YOU KNOW, I FEEL AS THOUGH, YOU
KNOW, FOR ME PERSONALLY, IT IS
ABOUT TAKING A DEEP DIVE AND
REALLY LOOKING AND ENGAGING IN
ON THAT TOPIC AREA.
BUT I KNOW WHAT MY TOOLS ARE TO
KEEP ME WELL ALONG THE WAY.
YOU KNOW, I OFTEN READ THE
POPULAR PRESS AND THEN I'LL LOOK
AT THE GOOD NEWS SIDE OF THINGS,
YOU KNOW, SEEING WHAT'S
HAPPENING IN AUSTRALIA IN TERMS
OF, THERE'S A PHOTOGRAPHER WHO
HAS GONE AND TAKEN SOME
PHOTOGRAPHS OF SOME EMERGING
BIODIVERSITY, THAT EVEN AFTER
ALL OF THE WILDFIRE DEVASTATION,
HE'S TAKING SOME SNAPSHOTS OF
SOME GREENERY THAT'S COMING UP
AND POSTING IT AS A GOOD NEWS
STORY SO THAT PEOPLE CAN ALSO
ENGAGE ON THE TOPIC AREA BUT
ALSO HAVE SOME SEMBLANCE OF
HOPEFULNESS AND A SENSE OF
REEMERGENCE AS WELL.
AND I THINK THAT THAT'S REALLY
IMPORTANT, IS TO HAVE THAT
BALANCE AND TO KNOW WHAT THOSE
NETWORKS ARE FOR YOU AND TO KNOW
YOUR NETWORKS OF CARE BECAUSE
THAT'S ULTIMATELY GOING TO BE
WHAT SUPPORTS US THROUGH MANY OF
THESE DIFFICULT EMOTIONS.

Steve says YOU SPEND A LOT OF
TIME PERSONALLY ON THE CLIMATE
CHANGE ISSUE, HOW DO YOU GET OUT
OF BED EVERY DAY, KNOWING
EVERYTHING THAT YOU KNOW ABOUT
HOW DESPERATE THE SITUATION IS
RIGHT NOW.
SO THAT'S ONE TRICK YOU HAVE.

Katie says YES.
MANY OF THEM.

Steve says ARE THERE MANY
OTHERS AS WELL?

The caption changes to "Action versus inaction."

Katie says I THINK IT'S IMPORTANT.
IN MY RESEARCH, I DON'T ONLY
FOCUS ON WHAT ARE THE RISKS AND
IMPACTS, I DON'T ONLY FOCUS ON
THE NEGATIVE, WHAT ARE THE GRAND
ISSUES OF OUR TIME, BUT WHAT ARE
WE DOING ABOUT IT?
THAT'S ALWAYS BEEN A FOCAL POINT
OF MY RESEARCH, IS LOOKING AT
WHAT'S BEING DONE.
WHAT'S BEING DONE AT THE
COMMUNITY LEVEL, WHAT'S BEING
DONE AT THE POLICY LEVEL.
BECAUSE I THINK THAT'S WHERE WE
ALSO NEED TO FOCUS ON.
SO MUCH IN MANY OF THE
COMMUNICATIONS THAT I PROVIDE IS
SAYING, YES, WE NEED TO BE
ALARMED, BUT WE NEED TO PARE ANY
MESSAGES OF ALARMIST RISK WITH
WHAT WE CAN DO ABOUT IT BECAUSE
WE DON'T WANT TO LEAVE PEOPLE IN
A HOPELESS STATE OR A HELPLESS
STATE.

Steve says STEVE, LET ME GO TO
YOU ON THIS.
THE ISSUE OF CONTROL.
THESE ARE THE STORIES WE TALKED
ABOUT HERE, U.S.-IRAN AND THE
AUSTRALIAN BUSH FIRES.
THESE ARE TWO STORIES FOR WHICH
THE AVERAGE PERSON IN THIS
COUNTRY UNDOUBTEDLY FEELS THEY
HAVE ZERO INFLUENCE.
ZERO CONTROL.
AND EVEN AUSTRALIANS I SUSPECT,
WHO I THINK THE STATS ARE,
CONTRIBUTE TO, YOU KNOW, FOSSIL
FUEL BURNING TO THE TUNE OF 1.3 percent
OF THE WORLD'S PROBLEMS.
EVEN THEY FEEL THIS IS AN ISSUE
BEYOND THEIR CONTROL.
HOW CAN ONE CAPTURE A SENSE OF
CONTROL?

Steve Joordens says IT IS IMPORTANT TO GET A
SENSE OF NOT... I WOULD LOVE...
YOU KNOW, THAT TIME WHEN... I
LOST THE GUY'S NAME, ELON MUSK,
I GUESS, LAUNCHED THE ROCKET
WITH THE CAR, THE BRIEF LITTLE
POINT WHERE THE CAR IS GOING
THROUGH SPACE, WAS THIS
ASPIRATIONAL MOMENT THAT I
HADN'T FELT I DON'T THINK SINCE
THE MOON LANDING, YOU KNOW, WHEN
I WAS A VERY YOUNG CHILD.
AND I THINK THE ENVIRONMENTAL
CRISIS, FOR EXAMPLE, HAS THE
POTENTIAL... I HAVEN'T QUITE
SEEN HUMANS TAKE THAT ON YET AND
SAY WE EMBRACE THE IMPOSSIBLE
AND THEY SAY IT'S IMPOSSIBLE TO
REVERSE THIS.
LET'S TAKE THAT AS A CHALLENGE
AND LET'S ATTACK THAT.
WITH THAT SORT OF MENTALITY, YOU
CAN DEAL WITH THE PROBLEM.
AS SHE SAYS, LOOK AT WHAT PEOPLE
ARE TRYING TO DO, WHAT'S
WORKING, WHAT'S NOT WORKING?
THAT AT LEAST IS DOING
SOMETHING.
WITH A LOT OF THE GEOPOLITICAL
STUFF, THAT'S A VERY DIFFERENT
CAN OF WORMS.
SO I KIND OF SEE THOSE AS TWO
DIFFERENT THINGS.
I AGREE WITH YOU THAT IN MOST
CASES WE FEEL POWERLESS IN BOTH.
I WONDER IF WE NEED TO FEEL
POWERLESS IN THE ENVIRONMENTAL
ONE, WHEREAS THE OTHER...

Steve says I WONDER IF OUR
DESPONDENCY HASN'T REACHED A
LEVEL... I WAS 9 YEARS OLD WHEN
THEY LANDED ON THE MOON.
YOU'RE RIGHT, THE HOPEFULNESS IN
THE AIR WAS JUST... FOR US, OF
COURSE ONLY TWO YEARS
AFTER THE EXPO, IT WAS A VERY
GOOD TIME TO BE CANADIAN AND A
CITIZEN OF THE WORLD.
I CAN REMEMBER WHEN... BOY, WAS
IT VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN
SUGGESTED WE'VE GOT TO GO TO
MARS NEXT?
AND PEOPLE LAUGHED.
LIKE, THE NOTION OF THE BIG
PROJECT TO STEER US IN A
POSITIVE DIRECTION SEEMED SO
BEYOND THE CAPABILITIES THAT
PEOPLE LAUGHED AT IT.
IS THAT WHERE WE'RE AT NOWADAYS?

Steve Joordens says WE HEAR THE TOWN SQUARE HAS
DISAPPEARED KIND OF THING, THAT
EVERYBODY HAS BECOME POLARIZED.
CERTAINLY WE LIVE IN A WORLD NOW
WHERE, IF YOU BELIEVE SOMETHING
THAT'S KIND OF ODDER OR STRANGE,
YOU USED TO COME INTO CONTACT
WITH OTHERS AND YOU USED TO HAVE
TO DEFEND THAT POSITION ON A
REGULAR BASIS, AND NOW YOU CAN
FIND OTHERS WHO BELIEVE WHATEVER
IT IS YOU BELIEVE AND YOU CAN
HANG OUT WITH THOSE.
AND A LOT OF PEOPLE ARE DOING
THAT.
AND THAT'S MAKING IT HARD FOR
PEOPLE I THINK TO HAVE RATIONAL
INTERACTIONS ABOUT STUFF AND TO
WORK IN COLLABORATIVE WAYS.
ONE OF THE FAMOUS EXAMPLES FROM
PSYCHOLOGY IS THE ROBBERS CAVE
EXPERIMENT... IT WAS ABOUT
PREJUDICE BUT IT REALLY
EMPHASIZED THE POWER OF A COMMON
ENEMY TO BRING PEOPLE TOGETHER.
EVERY NOW AND THEN SOMETHING
LIKE THE ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUE IS
A COMMON ENEMY.
I MEAN, WE'RE NOT SAVING THE
PLANET.
THE PLANET WILL BE FINE.
WE'RE SAVING US, OUR POSITION
THAT WE HOLD IN THIS PLANET.
SO, YOU KNOW, IF WE CAN EVER
COME TO THAT AS, THIS IS
REALLY... IT'S UNCLEAR HOW
SERIOUS DOES IT HAVE TO GET
BEFORE THIS HAPPENS.
BUT AT SOME POINT I THINK IT
WILL HAPPEN.
IT WILL BE THE COMMON ENEMY AND
IT WILL HAVE THE POTENTIAL TO
BRING PEOPLE TOGETHER.

Steve says IT'S NOT A BAD
POINT.
THE PLANET ULTIMATELY, IF WE'RE
GONE... THE PLANET WILL BE HERE.
IT'S US WHO WILL BE GONE.
OKAY.
THAT'S OUR EDITORIAL FOR THE
DAY.
AT THE END OF THE DAY, KATIE, DO
WE JUST HAVE TO ACCEPT THE FACT
THAT THERE ARE SOME THINGS OUT
THERE THAT ARE BEYOND OUR
CONTROL, WE CAN'T DO A DAMN
THING ABOUT THEM, AND WE JUST
HAVE TO (a) LEARN TO COPE AND
(b) SUCK IT UP?

Katie says THAT'S ONE WAY
TO LOOK AT IT.

Steve says TWO WAYS, ACTUALLY.

Katie says TWO WAYS TO LOOK AT IT.
I THINK THERE ARE MANY WAYS TO
LOOK AT IT.
I THINK... I STILL BELIEVE
STRONGLY THAT THERE ARE LEVERS
OF CHANGE THAT WE STILL NEED TO
REALLY... TO ADDRESS AND TO PULL
ON THOSE LEVERS AND I THINK
WE'RE SEEING A LOT OF STRENGTH
AND A LOT OF LEADERSHIP FROM THE
YOUTH-LED MOVEMENT ON CLIMATE
CHANGE, FOR EXAMPLE, AND FOR ME
AT THE END OF THE DAY, THAT'S
WHAT GETS ME UP IN THE MORNING,
IS TO UNDERSTAND AND TO SEE THE
POWER, THE VIGOUR, THE
CONVICTION THAT IS COMING OUT OF
THE YOUTH LEADERSHIP ON THIS,
AND REALLY DEMANDING CHANGE IN A
NEW WAY.
AND I THINK THAT THAT'S A REALLY
IMPORTANT LEVER THAT WE STILL
NEED TO PULL AND WE NEED TO BE
ALLIES IN THIS AS WELL.
SO IN TERMS OF, AT THE END OF
THE DAY, DO WE JUST KIND OF GO,
OH, WELL?
THAT'S NOT THE POSITION I TAKE.

Steve says NO, TEMPTING,
TEMPTING TO TAKE THAT POSITION.

Katie says IT'S ABSOLUTELY TEMPTING.
IT'S TEMPTING.
I THINK IT STOPS BEING TEMPTING
WHEN IT'S AT OUR FRONT DOOR, YOU
KNOW, WHEN WE ARE IN THE MIDST
OF, YOU KNOW, THE WILDFIRES THAT
ARE TAKING SHAPE IN AUSTRALIA,
WHEN WE'RE IN THE MIDST OF
SOMETHING, IT BECOMES MUCH
HARDER TO IGNORE.
AND I THINK... IN PARTICULAR, WE
NEED TO REALLY ADDRESS THAT THE
POPULATIONS THAT ARE MOST AT
RISK ARE THOSE WHO ARE ALREADY
EXPERIENCING INJUSTICE AND
INEQUITIES, AND IT'S AN
EXISTENTIAL CRISIS OF OUR TIME
TO REALLY SEE THESE EVENTS
TAKING SHAPE, BUT IT'S ALSO A
POINT FOR US TO BE REALLY
REFLEXIVE AND TO UNDERSTAND WHAT
OUR ROLE IS IN ADDRESSING THESE
ISSUES.

The caption changes to "Producer: Meredith Martin, @MeredithMartin."

Steve says WHY DON'T WE LEAVE
THIS ON THAT VERY HELP HOPEFUL
NOTE?
THAT SEEMS LIKE A GOOD SPOT TO
LEAVE IT.
KATIE HAYES, CLIMATE CHANGE AND
MENTAL HEALTH RESEARCHER.
STEVE JOORDENS, PROFESSOR
PSYCHOLOGY UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO
SCARBOROUGH.
GREAT TO HAVE BOTH OF YOU HERE
AT TVO TONIGHT.
THANK YOU.

The caption changes to "Subscribe to The Agenda Podcast: tvo.org/theagenda."

Both guests say THANK YOU.

Watch: Dealing With Existential Dread