For me, the hardest part about the climate emergency is figuring out how to move forward. It’s not easy to immerse yourself in climate research because it’s sad, heavy and thoroughly depressing in many ways. The activist group Extinction Rebellion (XR) equates processing the climate emergency to learning that a loved one has been diagnosed with a terminally ill disease. You want to do everything in your power to help them, but there’s an extremely painful grieving process you must go through first.
Hearing that comparison hit home for me. I was having trouble engaging with anything related to the climate because everything just felt so painful. Not only did I need to remind myself that there are still parts of the environment left to save, but also I needed to grieve what had already been lost.
I don’t think that my climate-grieving process is anywhere near over. I still need to take a day any time I read about extinct species or the ice caps melting or the Amazon burning. However, what I do think is different now is that I’ve accepted the situation, and I’m not trying to hide from the news anymore. And now that I’ve accepted the situation, it’s a lot easier to see the importance of not giving up hope that we can turn things around.
But above all that, what’s been important for me is figuring out how to turn my angst into action. And you can too! Luckily, there are many groups out there doing that exact thing — for example, the next Global Climate Strike is this Friday, Dec. 6 in Boston!
There’s also the Sunrise Movement, which is an advocacy group pushing to get the Green New Deal passed, as well as to ban fossil fuels. My personal favorite is the aforementioned XR, a global movement that started in the United Kingdom with the goal of putting pressure on governments to tell the truth about the climate and ecological emergency. XR also demands net zero emissions by 2025, a just transition advocating for indigenous rights and environmental justice, and for a national citizens’ assembly to be elected to oversee this change.
XR uses creative, non-violent action in order to demand change and make a statement. For example, XRMass, the Massachusetts chapter of the organization, held a beach funeral over the summer to mourn future sea level rise. Personally, I think that’s one of the most iconic things I’ve ever heard.
In order for me to begin taking action on the climate and ecological emergency, I needed to both mourn the current situation and remind myself that it’s not too late for so much of the world. It’s an ongoing process, but the more I’ve gotten involved with climate activism, the more I’m confident that there are so many people out there who feel the same way. It won’t be easy, but we can do this thing: We just need everyone to get on the same page.