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Tribal advocates keep up legal pressure for fair political maps; 12-member jury sworn in for Trump's historic criminal trial; the importance of healthcare decision planning; and a debt dilemma: poll shows how many people wrestle with college costs.

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Civil rights activists say a court ruling could end the right to protest in three southern states, a federal judge lets January 6th lawsuits proceed against former President Trump, and police arrest dozens at a Columbia University Gaza protest.

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Rural Wyoming needs more vocational teachers to sustain its workforce pipeline, Ohio environmental advocates fear harm from a proposal to open 40-thousand forest acres to fracking and rural communities build bike trail systems to promote nature, boost the economy.

NY faith leaders help people address 'ecological grief'

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Tuesday, March 5, 2024   

As the impacts of climate change grow, New Yorkers and people across the country are grieving for the environment.

Ecological grief, also known as "solastalgia," has become an increasing response to climate change. A 2020 American Psychological Association survey finds almost 70% of people feel climate change is affecting their mental health.

The Reverend Chelsea MacMillan, New York organizer with GreenFaith, a multi-faith climate action organization, says the group hosts grief circles for people to commiserate about climate change.

"People are grieving the decline of bird populations, longhorn sheep that are dying in the Sierra Nevada due to extreme weather conditions," she explained. "There was heavy snowfall there this past year."

MacMillan added people are also grieving shorter and warmer winters. She sees a growing sense of hopelessness in these circles, in response to a lack of political will.

Countries worldwide are moving to a climate-friendly future, but it's uncertain how effective these efforts are. A 2022 United Nations report
finds global greenhouse-gas emissions are declining. However, it isn't fast enough to limit global temperature increases to 1.5 degrees by the end of the century.

While the grief circles concentrate on environmental issues, they sometimes open up to ongoing current events as well. MacMillan said people also are distressed by the growing sense of apathy about the world. She noted this distress has even led some to question their faith.

"I think they see a lot of clergy and faith leaders not responding to these crises, and instead focusing on the afterlife or focusing on their homogenous communities, and how do we protect our homogeneous communities from these perceived threats in the world," MacMillan added.

MacMillan feels times of crisis can strengthen a person's faith. She thinks faith isn't about waiting for God or some higher power to save the day. Rather, it's about being an active participant in heeding the cries of the world.

Disclosure: GreenFaith contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Energy Policy, Environmental Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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