There’s power in talking about climate change
June 2019—The norm used to be to avoid talking about politics and religion in social settings. Somewhere along the line, talking about the science of climate change was added to the list. But talking about it is how we prepare our society to do something about it, how we learn what else needs to be addressed at the same time. In a complex system, there is no “one thing” or “one action.” That’s why we can’t just fix the climate without also addressing social justice. That would be like the Apollo program building the rockets and no landing craft.
This Scientific American article shares a bit about a recent public dialogue called Our Climate Crisis. It shows how humor and diverse perspectives can help us weave a tapestry of understanding and collective action. This is one of my favorite passages:
KM: People come up to me at parties, and when they find out what I do, they’re like, “You must be so depressed,” and I’m like, “That’s rude.” I feel like people are sometimes disappointed that I’m not more depressed…. I don’t think hope is required. Can you imagine if Lord of the Rings were like, “Well, that seems like a really hard thing. Let’s just give up right now”? It would’ve saved a lot of pages, but the hero’s journey is not the hero demanding assurance that everything’s gonna be okay in the end. These stories are really meaningful to us because we know that if you know what the right thing to do is, it doesn’t really make sense to demand proof that there’s gonna be a happy ending before you start out on the path.
RGW: Honestly, this work has made me probably more hopeful than any other area that I’ve worked on. It’s made me gentler. Mostly, what gives me hope is seeing how hard people are fighting. When I look at the school strikes, when I see Greta Thunberg telling journalists to their face, “I don’t need hope, I just need action. Please go,” and I’m like, yes, Greta. One of the things that we do is try to figure out how this will happen which means that we have to bring lots of experts from lots of areas together, and I have seen people that had direct beef with one another stay in the room, because they’re like, this is what we have to do.
We need to tell the stories to draw everyone into this epic hero’s story of how in the early 21st Century we avoided a climate apocalypse.