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This browser extension counters climate anxiety and doom scrolling

If you download this irreverent browser extension, whenever you read a doom and gloom climate story, you’ll receive a small call to action accompanied by an amusing snarky comment. Finally, pop-ups we can get onboard with.

As someone whose job it is to follow every minute detail of the existential crisis that is climate change, take it from me: doom scrolling can feel exhausting.

Every morning you’re trawling through stories describing worsening natural disasters, perishing biodiversity, and manmade crises like oil spills and plastic waste. All the while, fossil fuel conglomerates continue to expand their empires and consumerism reigns over us all.

Would you look at that, I’ve become part of the problem too.

On a serious note, nearly half of those aged between 16 and 25 describe having frequent bouts of anxiety due to climate change. As the headlines get more horrifying, and we edge towards ‘irreversible’ tipping points, nihilism and a sense of helplessness can start to creep in.

Thankfully, there are small adjustments you can make (especially online) to begin feeling more empowered and less overwhelmed about the whole situation.

Take, for instance, this new Chrome extension called UnF*** the Future, currently in beta development by eco-start-up Remark. Once installed, its savvy algorithm will lay dormant until you stumble across a climate story that may have once ignited feelings of helplessness.

At this point, in a neat little sidebar, a pop-up will appear with an irreverent satirical jab at the heart of the particular issue. For example, a story with the UN secretary declaring ‘code red for humanity’ prompted a message reading: ‘Congress is a toddler and you have to repeat basic things often, so tell Congress to support investments to protect nature and clean energy.’

Corporate sideswipes aside, each little tidbit offers up a genuine call to action too – whether that’s link to a survey, petition, or a template to write a government official/company executive.

The regular use of profanity is also fun, no matter how old you are.

The thinking behind the whole concept, is that physically contributing to a solution, no matter how minor, may help to alleviate the feeling that climate problems are insurmountable.

Highlighting this aim as a driving force behind the project, Remark CEO Jessica Lybeck said: ‘We want to make an impact with the things that we do on a day-to-day basis. And it feels good to be able to take some of that restless, helpless energy and be able to do something about it.’

According to those developing the extension, it’s working too. The average user now utilises three of the suggested actions per week, and there are calls to make alerts pop even more regularly.

I for one will certainly make the extension a staple of my morning browsing from now on. But, if you’re looking to be even more proactive, the Remark mobile app offers up ways to easily reach companies with feedback on sustainability. At which point the swearing is all personal preference.

UnF*** the Future is definitely a message we can all get onboard with, and at a minimum, the extension will hopefully provide us with a laugh or two when we feel like crying.