Climate change protest in Palma. | Pere Bota


2022 in Mallorca has been characterised by heat waves of a duration never previously experienced, by a heat wave that was registered in the spring (the first one ever), by marine heat waves that went well beyond previous records, and by an all-time high temperature of 44.5C in Montuiri in August.

It was difficult to pass this off as 'one of those things', given the trend of the past decade - summers that have been consistently hotter, with the odd exception (2003 most notably), than those of the past. Climate change thus fed into the narrative regarding Mallorca's sustainability and so therefore all the debate about tourism.

The summer still a burning memory and attention was paid to documents produced for the Council of Mallorca. These were for Mallorca Strategy 2030, which is concerned with defining the Mallorca of the future, an island capable of surviving the challenges of overpopulation, climate change and economic and resource overexploitation. This strategy was an institutional advance on what had come before - declarations of climate emergency.

Experiencing the effects of climate change and exposure to a regular feed of information, such as those declarations, can heighten anxieties; actually, not can, do, as a recent survey of 9,000 young Spanish people revealed that 82% have suffered anxiety related to the environmental future.

At its most extreme, this has been dubbed eco-anxiety. Pere Joan Femenia, 23, suffers from eco-anxiety. "When I read news and reports about the effects of heat waves, the increase in temperature or when a climate catastrophe occurs, I empathise a great deal and I am aware of there being a great deal of concern but also a sense of impotence."

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An environmental activist, the spokesperson for Fridays For Future Mallorca and a member of the platform against the expansion of the airport, he is not the only one who suffers. "Among the group I see it a lot."

Psychologist Carme Aguiló explains that eco-anxiety is not a diagnosis as such but a type of anxiety. "Your life revolves around this subject, you have many recurring thoughts, a feeling of suffocation, seeing the future as catastrophic. When you see an issue that is so big and you feel like a victim of it, this is a sign that there is excessive concern." The American Psychological Association defines eco-anxiety as "the chronic fear of an environmental cataclysm and the stress caused by observing the apparently irrevocable impacts of climate change and by worrying about one's own future and that of future generations".

Aguiló adds: "Worry is one thing, which is justified - I myself am - but anxiety is another, which is a mental disorder. It is the same as healthy eating. It is recommended, but taken to the extreme there is an obsession with healthy food. Everything has a level. I also see a problem with the opposite position - denying important issues like this."

Femenia says: "People I know who have this type of anxiety are not typically going to a psychologist. It is something very new. You end up living with it, because you know that the problem will continue to be there."

Environmental defence therefore becomes a backbone of a person's life. Aguiló recommends avoiding information overload, limiting activism (not participating in a multitude of initiatives) and removing a feeling of wanting to be a saviour of the world. Acting local and thinking local she sees as positive, but if it becomes obsessive, she encourages seeking psychological help.