The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a new report today and, as expected, it’s pretty bad. (This is me having read the NYTimes reporting, not the report.) It also includes an interactive atlas so you can see how the changing climate will affect your region. How should one respond to this information?
- Feel your feelings. And I don’t just mean identify them. I mean hold that fear or grief or rage (or all of the above) and give it a serious hug. Talk about how you feel with someone who can be in that space with you. Resist the urge to slip into sarcasm or numbness or the cave of apocalyptic despair. Groups like the Good Grief Network are great, particularly if you don’t feel like your current community is able to be with you in those heavy emotions. Know that you are not alone in these feelings.
- Notice what’s happening in your brain and your body. Where are you tense? What is your brain saying to you?
- Take meaningful action. Only you can know what that means for you.
- The team at How To Save a Planet recommend creating a Venn diagram of what you’re good at, what gives you joy, and what area of the crisis you feel most called to work on. Find what overlaps and do that. As, I believe, climate scientists Katharine Wilkinson and Katharine Hahoe have been saying, there is always time to work on this problem. We cannot avoid everything but every action we take can save human and more-than-human lives and the places that we love.
- I also recommend the How To Save a Planet episode, “Is Your Carbon Footprint BS?” which gets into what impacts individuals can have.
- Last, data show that the #1 thing concerned people can do right now is to talk about those concerns with the people in their lives. The topic of global warming and its related emotions is sort of socially taboo and yet knowing that people they love care deeply motivates others to care as well or to be more open about the caring the also feel.
“Everything is beautiful and I am so sad.” — Mark Nepo, “Adrift”