VIDEO: Diane Ackerman on the Unprecedented Challenges of the "Human Age"

The World is Changing. But at What Cost?

Diane Ackerman

Between new developments in science, technology, and medicine, we live in exciting times. But according to poet, essayist, and naturalist Diane Ackerman, author of The Human Age: The World Shaped by Us, these advancements also come at the expense of our environment's health, and our mental health. With threats of terrorism, cyber attacks, and climate change looming daily, we've reached what Diane calls "a whole new level of identity crisis."

"It's very easy these days to feel doomed," she says. "Compounding the normal emotional turmoil of relationships, marriage, and children, the media showers us with so much bad news, catastrophes our brains are hard-wired to heed." But therapists, Diane adds, play an integral role in helping people work through their newfound anxieties in this often puzzling new era.

In the following video clip from Diane's Symposium keynote address, "Imagining Tomorrow: Hope and Healing in the Human Age," she explains the challenges of the "Anthropocene"--The Human Age--as well as what we can do as healers to meet its demands and soothe our collective anxiety.

Diane Ackerman is a poet, essayist, naturalist, and teacher. For decades, she's been writing scientifically informed books. Her latest book, The Human Age: The World Shaped by Us, explores the ramifications of the current Anthropocene Age--the first time humans are the dominant force of change on the planet.

As Diane notes, there's plenty to worry about. But there are small steps each of us can take to move the world in a better direction. Between buying food that’s been grown locally, to recycling, to volunteering to help plant trees or create a wildlife corridor, Diane believes our new era holds room for enormous optimism, excitement, and abundant curiosity.

For our clients, she adds, we can address anxieties about our changing times by being open, honest, and positive about the challenges that lie ahead. Because global issues are casting a long shadow over everyday life, it’s important to talk about any feelings of powerlessness and anxiety related to them, she says. "More than ever, we need people like therapists," Diane adds, "who can help us find our inner courage, to imagine what we desire for our futures as individuals and as a species."


Stay tuned for more of Diane's clinical wisdom in our upcoming video blogs!

Did you enjoy this video? You might also like Diane's article, Nature, Pixelated, in which she explains the unprecedented influence of technology on our brains and how it's impacting how we see the natural world. Or, check out what our other Symposium Keynoters have to say, in The Colors of Tomorrow: Highlights from Symposium 2015!

Topic: Cultural, Social & Racial Issues

Tags: climate change | earth | environment | environmentalism | environmentally conscious | human psychology

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1 Comment

Friday, December 9, 2016 1:49:02 PM | posted by Paula Marcolin
Excellent!! So much truth in presenter's talk! Bravo to speaking out.