The climate crisis is not simply an environmental problem; it is a human problem. We have caused it, and only we can act to avert this emerging catastrophe. The human aspects of the crisis are preeminent, and a full response to the climate crisis must encompass the moral, emotional, psychological, and spiritual dimensions of this daunting new reality. Preserving a livable climate is a fundamentally moral and ethical challenge.
What Do We Face?
Climate destabilization is accelerating more rapidly than scientists had predicted. Tipping points have been passed. Extreme weather events are now routine, and their intensity is growing. Technology alone cannot save us. We must face these challenges creatively, with resilient spirit, together.
The human family has never faced a crisis of this magnitude before. Emotional and psychological resilience have become indispensable survival equipment in the quest for a livable future.
Fear and despair thrive in these circumstances. Those who are brave enough to step into the void created by our culture of denial often face indifference, hostility, isolation, and burnout.
For the climate movement to gain traction and sustain itself over time, a new kind of bravery is called for. We must find the courage to face the impacts not only of extreme weather, but of the powerful emotional storms that are endemic to this challenge: denial, fear, anger, despair, loss, and grief. We must learn, also, to be brave enough to cultivate compassion for those who have taken refuge in denial and fear. Many of our friends, neighbors, and political adversaries simply don’t know what else to do. The reality of what we face is simply too overwhelming.
This is a time to take the conversation deeper, to build honest reflection into our commitment to action.
Cascadia is taking national leadership in the quest for a livable climate. With the help of local organizations like Climate Solutions and Sightline, state and city governments in Washington have been on the front lines in crafting policies to curb carbon emissions. In addition, the coal export battle has given rise to a powerful grassroots movement, led by groups like 350.org and Power Past Coal.
A gathering place
Climate activists, planners, business leaders, and grassroots organizers who are committed to this effort need a place to come together for reflection, conversation and deepening collaboration. The Whidbey Institute is emerging as a home for this work.
In April 2013, the Whidbey Institute invited sixty climate leaders from around the Puget Sound region to a seed conference to invite this deepening conversation and encourage emergent networks and strategies. KC Golden, Policy Director at Climate Solutions, gave a compelling keynote, and a range of individuals offered inspiring “flash talks” on such topics as dealing with denial, re-framing the global warming meme, taking effective direct action, addressing despair, and cultivating personal resilience. The result was extremely promising. Participants found the day practical and grounded, provocative and inspiring. Overwhelmingly, they urged us to offer it again for a longer period to take the conversation deeper still.
We will hold another invitational climate conference in the spring of 2014.
To learn more about the Cascadia Climate Collaborative, join the conversation at our new Facebook page or email us. We also invite you to view either the short or extended version of this compelling video: