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TikToker addresses panic over the controversial 'Willow project': 'It will not be game over for the planet'

"There is no way we can win the war if we give up now."

TikToker addressing Willow project

Photo Credit: @thegarbagequeen / TikTok

The potential effects of the so-called "Willow project" are sending waves of panic across news, media, and social platforms, including on TikTok, where one user (@.definitelynotray) posted a video lamenting their future.

The video sparked comments and replies from across the app — and one TikToker shared an impassioned argument for staying positive in the face of bad news. 

The Willow project

One of the world's largest oil companies, ConocoPhillips, proposed a massive petroleum drilling venture called the Willow project on the Alaska North Slope that would last decades. Supporters claim this new project would be a new source of revenue for the region.

But opponents of the Willow project fear the effect of carbon pollution from the hundreds of millions of barrels of oil it would create. ConocoPhillips expects the Willow project to produce 600 million barrels of oil over its life.

Peace of mind

Alaina, known as The Garbage Queen (@thegarbagequeen) across social media platforms, is a sustainability scientist and climate communicator based in the Appalachian Mountains. She's dedicated her platform to educating the public about climate science and solutions.

In one of her most recent posts on TikTok, she responded to the panic over the Willow project.

@thegarbagequeen #stitch with @.definitelynotray This is really scary stuff we're dealing with, so it's okay to feel what you're feeling. Just don't let it lead to inaction — or to give up on your future. Together we will address it — no matter what happens with Willow. Don't feel like you have to carry the weight of all of it in your shoulders though. This is a team effort, and our team is growing in numbers and power every single day. Don't give up the fight, but don't be afraid to take steps to protect your mental health. #StopWillow #StopTheWillowProject #WillowProject #ClimateAnxiety #ClimateChange #ClimateGrief ♬ original sound - Alaina | Good Climate News

"Take a deep breath and just know that even if Willow gets approved, it will not be game over for our planet," she says to start the video.

Wood goes on to acknowledge that the grand scale of the Willow project has overwhelmed many people online.

"Yes, it will make it more difficult to address climate change," Wood admits, "but not impossible."

She then explains that addressing climate change is like a war, and "we may lose some battles, but we are also winning some."

The victories in these so-called battles are numerous — from policies like the Inflation Reduction Act, which provides thousands of dollars for each American to reduce their carbon pollution, to everyday actions we take to create cleaner air, such as using public transportation over a car.

"There is no way we can win the war if we give up now," Wood adds.

Admitting that she too feels overwhelmed, anxious, scared, and angry about the Willow project, Wood offers an important concession. 

"What I do to help is take breaks and know that the war will still be there when I get back," she explains. "Please, do whatever you need to take care of yourself and continue to fight no matter what happens with Willow."

While we wait for the Biden administration to release a decision on the Willow project, it is critical to be mindful of the progress we have made and will make, connect with nature, and find your reasons to take action.

In the caption of her video, Wood wrote: "This is really scary stuff we're dealing with, so it's okay to feel what you're feeling. Just don't let it lead to inaction — or to give up on your future."

For many viewers, Wood's video provided a break in a seemingly endless doomscroll of terrifying news. 

"I'm still a kid, and I was spiraling thinking about how restricted my future will be because of climate change so I really needed this, thank you," one user commented. 

Another user agreed with Wood's sentiment, commenting, "the moment you adopt the idea that 'nothing matters' is when you are actually doomed!"And our actions matter — one of the easiest direct actions you can take to halt the plane-overheating carbon pollution that will result from the Willow project is to sign petitions from Change, Action Network, and Daily Kos.

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