If you’re among the handful of people who tell me I’m spending too much time talking about climate, let me respond bluntly: You’re wrong. If anything, I’m not spending enough time talking about it. At this pivotal moment in human and planetary history, if the current trajectory of increased fossil fuel consumption continues, Earth will be unfit for human habitation.
If your home was on fire, that’d be the only thing on your mind, right? Well, our world is on fire. As the climate crisis accelerates, I’m truly dumbfounded that it’s not the lead story in the news every single day; shocked that it’s not the top item on every politician’s list of priorities; dismayed that every single one of us doesn’t wake up saying, “Shit! What are we going to do? What am I going to do?”
It’s encouraging that more and more people are arriving at that “Holy shit!” moment. Yet the risk is that it will paralyze instead of mobilize, that instead of grabbing the firehose and exerting all our effort to extinguish the flames, we’ll stand there, frozen in fear, doing nothing.
And doing nothing is morally and functionally unacceptable. It negates part of what it means to be human — that quality of empathy without which the wars and witch hunts that pockmark the darker side of human history would have long ago snuffed out our species.
Yet it’s also not possible to feel some level of fear and despair. I understand completely. As Dahr Jamail writes in a Truthout column this week about the increasingly rapid thawing of the Arctic, “I’ve aimed to be fully present, and I’ve had my heart broken, and I’ve now had enough practice at this that I have seen, repeatedly, the transformational qualities of despair and grief. In the face of our overwhelming climate and political crises, that grief is transformed into a new clarity of vision, and a depth of passion for action that was previously inaccessible.”
Please read Jamail’s piece. It’s both sad and powerful. Most important, it’s true. Hopefully, it will inspire you to engage, to take action, to do your part now before the opportunity to act has passed. If you’re inspired to work with me and my colleagues at Bold Iowa to bird-dog presidential candidates to prioritize the climate crisis, we enthusiastically welcome your involvement. Our workload is heavy, and more hands are needed.
If you’d like to support Bold Iowa’s work financially, one way to do that is to buy my book, Marcher, Walker, Pilgrim. Others have found it inspiring, and maybe you will too. All proceeds from the book support climate action.
As my good friend and fellow climate marcher, Miriam Kashia, reminds me, “Action is the antidote to despair.” And action — both changing our individual lives and pushing relentlessly for collective transformation — is what may yet see us through the difficult times that lie ahead and are, in fact, already upon us.