Environmental Studies Program


Date of this Version



Environmental Studies Undergraduate Student Thesis, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 2020.


Copyright 2020 Luke Andersen


While it is known that our changing climate is predicted to have dire consequences, there is less discussion taking place about the potential mental health effects and outcomes of those consequences. Many articles outline the mental health consequences of climate change, but they all discuss similar ideas and theories that don't necessarily generate further topics to explore. A topic that remains unexplored is that of ecological grief, which is our emotional response to ecological loss. The hypothesis being tested in this research project is that people will feel relatively strong grief-related emotions (i.e. anger, sadness) when imagining the loss of a certain plant or animal, and that the strength of those emotional responses will be greater for animals than plants. The first two sections of the survey captured participant demographics (i.e. race, gender identity, state selection). The later sections of the survey found that participants experience similar perceived emotions (e.g. sadness, indifference, anger) across species when asked to think about the loss of that species. With those emotions, they were more intense for the animals than plants, and participants believed those emotions were related to grief more so with animals than plants as well. In conclusion, it appears that animals affect our emotional well-being more than plants do when it comes to perceived ecological loss.