Transforming Climate Anxiety into Action
You’ve probably noticed that the weather is changing – hotter sooner, more storms, higher winds, unprecedented firestorms, floods, and droughts. We humans are mammals first. Even for those of us who live mostly in-doors, we sense when there’s a deviation from normal and it makes us uneasy. If you’re a gardener, hiker or hunter, you'll have noticed that flowers bloom sooner, and normal patterns for planting, harvesting, and wildlife movements are disrupted.
Scientists have measured, mapped and reported these changes through the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (UN IPCC). They’ve made it clear that human actions, including extracting and burning large quantities of fossil fuels, systematic deforestation, and concentrated animal agriculture, among other practices, have greatly accelerated dangerous levels of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere, thereby increasing the heat retained by the land and oceans and releasing methane previously frozen in thawing tundra. This leads to a range of disruptive consequences, including making weather more volatile and contributing to rising sea levels.
Children around the world are on strike for action on the climate, inspired by young Swedish activist Greta Thunberg. Greta said “Adults keep saying we owe it to the young people to give them hope. But I don't want your hope, I don't want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic, I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act, I want you to act as if you would in a crisis. I want you to act as if the house was on fire, because it is.” – Speech at World Economic Forum, Davos, January 22, 2019
At the level of policy and the economy, we should declare that burning fossil fuels is damaging the biosphere and is a threat the climate stability that successful civilizations require. We must set a date by which fossil fuels are outlawed, just as we have outlawed slavery, stoning, and other medieval practices.
What Can I Do?
As individuals, we may wonder what difference can one person make? We ask ourselves questions like, “Can I influence the systemic change we need to create an economy that does not despoil the earth in our pursuit of comfort and wealth?” Just slowing or stopping GHG emissions is not going to be sufficient to stop or reverse climate change. In order to restore the climate to conditions before mass industrialization, we will need to remove huge amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere and sequester it in locations such as soil, calcium carbonate enriched concrete, or deep in the ocean, and we need to restore polar ice and reflectivity.
Support action for climate restoration
You can donate to or volunteer for organizations such as:
● Ice911, which is developing an intervention to protect and rebuild polar ice.
● The Foundation for Climate Restoration is working to advance ice protection as well as methods for removing carbon.
● Climate Interactive has created an easy to use simulator to let policymakers, corporate leaders and concerned individuals experiment with a range of levers to reduce future temperature increases to less than 2℃. Learn more about its upcoming training webinar here.
● The Climate Mobilization is calling for reorganizing our economy at the scale and speed we did to enter WWII. With massive investments in clean energy, transportation, infrastructure and more, yielding green jobs and an equitable and just transition to a sustainable future.
Make your vote count
Vote for and help to elect candidates who have declared that we are in a climate emergency and place a high value on meaningful action to address and reverse climate disruption. Or consider running for office yourself! Talk with your families, friends, neighbors, co-workers and everyone else you know. Find out what they know about the climate and whether they are concerned. Ask them what they are doing. Share what you’re doing and encourage each other to do more.
Help build a movement for resilience and reduce your carbon footprint this summer
● Talk with (and listen to) our friends, neighbors, co-workers and family members.
● Start a soup group (cook batches of hot or cold soup to exchange with others), to build community and reduce the amount of time you need to spend cooking each week.
● Share tools and equipment, such as camping supplies, that you do not use frequently.
● Grow your own food (join a community garden, grow herbs and lettuce by your window or in a greenhouse).
● Invest your savings in greener funds or investments.
● Buy offsets for your travel, and consolidate trips. Some options:
While green actions are important, they’re not sufficient on their own. Concerted joint action is required to create a sea of change in political will that we need to transform our economy and to protect our planet.
As each of us faces the future with courage and honesty and then takes action, we inspire others to join us.