What Can I Do About the Climate Emergency?

Not Too Late: Changing the Climate Story from Despair to Possibility is a climate anthology published last year and edited by Rebecca Solnit and Thelma Young Lutunatabua. They’ve just added a chapter to the book that’s available for free download that contains practical advice on how to involved in combatting the climate crisis: What Can I Do About the Climate Emergency?

The climate movement needs you. In this pamphlet, we outline some of the ways you can join it, and we share examples of how ordinary people have found their role, their power, their impactful projects, and their climate community. There’s a place for you in the crucial work of speeding the transition away from destruction and toward thriving. Figuring out where your skills are useful and what you can stick with is important. Identifying whom to work with and what to work on is crucial. Some of us are good at staying with a legislative issue for a season or a year or a decade. Some of us are good campaigners. Some like protests and are ready to blockade and risk arrest. Some of us are homebound but can make calls and write letters. It all matters.

One of the best and most challenging things about the climate crisis is that there is no one solution. That is, the solution is a mosaic of many changes. The way we get to a world that doesn’t run on fossil fuel and instead centers justice, sustainability, and community is happening in hundreds of thousands of ways — this coal plant shutdown, that methane-gas ban, these electric schoolbuses and bike lanes, that solar rooftop, these offshore turbines, that grasslands protection. These need to be sped up and amplified. National legislation and international treaties matter, but so do the countless small pieces that add up. It’s not just about what we need to stop but also about the rejuvenating work of building the world we want.

Discussion  4 comments

Jack Hays

I love this point of view. As someone who works in the solar industry and has for 15 years, I can easily say that 1) small things accumulate very quickly into massive change, and 2) the gains and successes of those fighting climate change are often overlooked or misunderstood, while doom and gloom gets top billing in the media. For example, I still see people talk about how solar and wind are too expensive and they'll never work to replace fossil fuels, while the reality is that they have gotten incredibly cheap in the past decade and already represent a significant portion of the US energy supply. It's really cool!!

Dan Cryer

Thanks for this! I teach environmental literature, and things can get heavy on the gloom and doom. I will definitely be adding this to the syllabus!

Lissa Pelletier

This reminds me of a really useful tool for figuring out the best role for you specifically in the climate movement. It's a venn diagram where you plot: What are you good at?/What is the work that needs doing?/What brings you joy and satisfaction?

I heard about it on the podcast How To Save A Planet and it's stuck with me as a good idea ever since. (For more info/source: https://www.ayanaelizabeth.com/climatevenn)

Dave Maize

I see so little about the idea of reducing or eliminating vacation air travel. So many people I know who are very concerned about climate emergency do not seem to grasp that it's a huge carbon emitter, or are in denial of that fact.

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