Hope, Courage & Climate Action

Philosopher, writer, and environmentalist Kathleen Dean Moore is quoted as saying “Your life’s work should be at the intersection of your greatest gifts and the world’s greatest needs.” Take a breath and ponder that.

Our busy lives of the recent past made it easy to ignore and dismiss our failing systems and structures. And now, the pandemic has forced us to a pace hopefully allowing for serious contemplation of the great needs of our world. Specifically our eco-system. I’m revisiting my conversation with writer/environmental advocate, Mary Heather Noble because it feels so relevant now. Especially after listening to a recent Climate One discussion with Katherine Wilkinson (Project Drawdown & co-author of All We Can Save…) and Eric Holthaus (meteorologist & author The Future Earth: A Radical Vision for What’s Possible in the Age of Warming), focusing much thought and discussion around how to move forward and be effective in a time of extreme climate stakes. My conversation with Noble centered on this very topic: how do we bravely proceed with the sober knowledge of the environmental challenges facing us? Holthaus puts it bluntly: “Anyone from the ages of twenty to ninety is now in the driver’s seat on making reparations to our faltering environment. There will not be a generation after this age bracket that can save us.” A sobering reality to be sure, but one we must look squarely in the eye

Katherine Wilkinson speaks to the “tragic gap” – the uncomfortable position in which we find ourselves – between cynicism or denial and opportunity and possibility. Both Wilkinson and Holthaus concur that the answer is Courage. Holthaus defines courage as understanding the stakes and the hard work necessary to make a difference. “We really don’t have the luxury of hope at this point because hope requires a denial of fear.”

As Bill McKibbon, environmentalist and co-founder of 350.org, is famous for saying – it’s not a question of knowledge, but a lack of leadership. We’ve known the facts and supporting science around climate change for nearly a half a century. What we have lacked is the will and leadership to make significant changes in behavior and industry. And now we find ourselves barely on the other side of an administration that has rolled back natural resource protections and scuttled technical climate solutions (think renewables) at every opportunity.

It is vital at this juncture that we recognize the interconnection of our most pressing existential issues. The simultaneous consideration of climate, environment, social and racial justice, economic justice, and healthcare access is essential. Maybe hope does require a certain amount of the denial of fear, but with a new leadership willing to take serious all that threatens our country (and Earth!), we might be able to muster some hope. Which doesn’t suggest an abdication of personal responsibility. 

In other words, thanks for voting – now all hands on deck!

(I hope that you find this post of my conversation with Mary Heather Noble enlightening. Mostly, I hope that it inspires courage.)

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Here at Jenny Green Jeans, by sharing success stories and easy-to- implement tips, I hope to inspire and empower you to continue to make sustainable choices in your life and watch how far the impact goes. Contact me with any questions or suggestions you may have.

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