“It was scary to look outside and see the smoke invading my childhood memories,” she said. “It’s everywhere in my hometown and the place I grew up, where all my childhood memories are — it’s almost claustrophobic.”
Now 16, Dooley has been increasingly worried about the changing climate, fearing the world may be completely different only a few years from now when she embarks upon adulthood.
“I think in today’s world of climate change, it’s terrifying to be growing up in it ... I just feel like it’s this thought that’s in my mind all the time,” she said. “I have two years until I graduate and it’s really hard to try and follow my dreams when I don’t know what the world will look like.”
Claire is one of a new generation determined to love the Earth while they can because they believe it will be gone all too soon. Climate change has created a generation that feels what experts are calling ‘ecological grief.’
More researchers have been looking into the psychological effects of climate change, especially since experts have warned that the cycle of fires and floods in B.C. appear to be here to stay. A 2017 recent study on health impacts of a smoky summer in Yellowknife showed that people demonstrated feelings of fear and isolation due to the rapidly changing climate, calling the feeling “ecological grief” over the loss of the environment they once knew.
Byran Buraga, a 19-year-old public policy student and former director of Kids for Climate Action, has seen the B.C. climate shift in a worrying direction in the past few years, and said he is “absolutely” concerned about climate change.
He grew up in Vancouver, and while he is now going to school in Montreal, he has returned to B.C. for the past two summers expecting a season of beautiful weather. But now memories of wildfire smoke are prominent in his mind, prompting fears that the summer climate in B.C. may be forever changed.
“This year, once again near the tail end of the summer, one the of last memories I had was super-smoky conditions and not being able to enjoy the B.C. environment,” he said. “I’m worried this indicates the start of a new pattern and it will affect the way of life and increased health problems for people.”
One of the things Buraga enjoyed was going out to Kitsilano Beach with his family. He worries those beach days may now be a rarity, for him and future generations.
“I liked just laying down a mat and taking in the sights in the water from the beach, having a nice picnic and seeing the view,” he said. “But because of the wildfires, there’s no more sun and you can’t do that. Those experiences of going out to enjoy nature, I’m worried I won’t be able to share that with my kids.”
Dooley’s view of the world is wildly different from just two generations before, when the major generational fear was the threat of nuclear invasion. Jean Swanson, a 75-year old anti-pipeline protester and Vancouver city-council candidate, said that climate change is one of the many issues that the current generation has inherited from the past.
Its no wonder why kids today are so f-cked up, their parents are f-cked up.