If you’re reading this, you’re probably very much like me. Specifically, you like to be well informed and you’re concerned about a great many world events, with the climate crisis being chief among them. Like me, you also tend to gravitate toward stories and publications that address this very thing. You probably also know that being well informed can be a frightening experience, to the point of terrifying, or even hopeless.
The scale of the climate crisis is staggering and the implications it carries are nothing short of cataclysmic. Rising sea levels threaten to drive the inhabitants of island nations to refugee status, and submerge parts of our coastal cities, if not wipe them off the map altogether. Species are dying out at a rate that heralds a sixth mass extinction. A warming world has accelerated destruction of plant and animal species, disrupting the food chain and throwing fuel on the fire of this troubling occurrence. Speaking of fire, do I even need to mention the effects that climate change is having on our weather? It’s no coincidence that hurricanes, wildfires, and droughts are getting more severe with each passing season, these are just some of the things that happen due to prolonged heat and lessened precipitation. Climate change is worse than inconvenient or uncomfortable, it is an existential threat to the very future of life on this planet.
If you’re following these alarming trends, and I’m sure you are, it probably isn’t news to hear that one person alone cannot solve this most urgent of catastrophes. So then, fellow climate advocates, what are we concerned individuals to do about it? Once we’ve sufficiently immersed ourselves in the overwhelming (and sobering) amount of information at hand, how do we shift our position from one of concern, maybe even paralysis, into tangible, meaningful action?
Luckily, in this era of peak content, there are resources for that as well.
One useful idea was suggested on the March 18th, 2021 episode of the How to Save a Planet podcast. All you’ll need to employ it for yourself is a pen and a piece of paper. The episode, entitled “Is Your Carbon Footprint B.S.?”, prompts listeners to draw three overlapping circles in the form of a Venn Diagram. One circle will list what you are good at, one lists what you enjoy, and the other lists what you feel needs to happen to confront the climate crisis. The areas where the three circles overlap indicate the spots you could focus on as you decide where and how to get involved. Writing this out is an effective way to take stock of your values and your skills, and everyone has something to offer. I’ve used my own experience with this exercise as an example.
I moved to New York to pursue a career in theatre and have since turned my attention from performing to playwriting, screenwriting, and satirical work. Writing and composition were a natural fit for me as I explored my own niche in climate activism. I believe that we need a change in the way we generate power and regulate our emissions. I also believe that we need elected leaders who take these issues seriously and trust the scientific merit of those who have been warning us about them for decades. To those ends, I became involved with both the Sunrise Movement and 350. Respectively, these organizations seek to implement a climate-focused agenda in our halls of government, and a transition to renewable energy. Today I am co-editor of the bi-weekly newsletter for 350’s Brooklyn chapter and I aid in coordinating their social media campaigns. I have also written grant request letters for the Sunrise Movement.
How do your own talents, interests, and viewpoints pan out in this exercise? What do you think needs to happen to confront, and ultimately reverse, the climate crisis? Well, as is the case with any job interview (which is what this is, really) take a look at your resume.
If you have experience as an events coordinator, organize a rally, actions at a town hall or city council meeting, or some other civil demonstration. If you are a lawyer or legal expert, apply for a job at groups such as Earthjustice or the Natural Resources Defense Council to fight for environmental regulations and preservation of our wilderness. If you’re able to provide your services pro bono, offer to help as a volunteer. If you are a filmmaker, podcaster, or another kind of media content producer, turn your attention to the climate crisis, and the human cost it exacts. We all have a story to share, and our collected voices will only amplify the urgency of this issue to those who occupy our halls of power. Ultimately, that is where the largest degree of change must take place.
The climate crisis does not recognize differences of political affiliation or business interests. This is not a matter of Republican versus Democrat, left versus right, or blue states versus red states. It is a matter of survival versus extinction. This may be horrifying, but that is what it is at stake, and we all need to approach this as if our lives are on the line—because they are. The worst thing you can do is despair, but the second worst thing you can do is think that you are powerless to enact any degree of change. Alone we can only do so much, but together we can create sea change. Do what you can, and use what you have, to make it happen. Right now.