When following national climate news, it can be extremely exciting to read articles about progress being made, and feel like real change is happening and that there is hope for the future. However, when bad news arises, it’s also easy to get demoralized. With a truly global catastrophe such as climate change, it often feels like nothing we do individually matters, and that with Trump in office, we are all doomed. However, outside of legislation, the reality is that all change happens on the local level. There are no national solar panels that are built when legislation requiring more solar panels to be built is passed. There are only local solar panels that contribute to national trends. Climate movements like the Sunrise Movement, US Youth Climate Strikes, Extinction Rebellion and Earth Strike are comprised of individual chapters that work to make local change. Without individual members taking action together, there would be no national headlines. There’s no magical national force that is working to stop greenhouse gases from being pumped into the atmosphere. Instead, there are small groups of people who come together to block pipelines, train tracks and coal barges. Individuals taking radical action for the causes they care about create the change that leads to global trends.
This means all of us have a part to play in tackling the problems created by climate change. When we work to improve our local communities, we are doing the fundamental labor critical to preventing climate catastrophes. When you go to help clean up a local park, protest against companies in your area that are pollute our environment or visit your representatives to do things like create subsidies for solar panels, you are taking the necessary steps to prevent climate change. When you take action, and those around you take action, eventually the problem will be fixed, and although one community alone isn’t enough to stop the sea levels from rising, one community with many others all fixing their own problems truly does make an impact.
In the end, the critical aspect of this movement is to remain hopeful and active. Trump doing things like pulling out of the Paris Climate Accord does not mean that we should stop working to make our communities greener. Perhaps it means a loss of funding for some efforts, which is, of course, a problem (and a reason why you should still vote), but it is by no means a death sentence for climate movements. Thinking locally, the reality of change and how it can impact individuals in our community becomes clear when we look at collective efforts like the struggles of the Tufts Dining workers. Through community action and individuals working together to demand a fair contract, it eventually became a reality. When we fight against climate change we must think the same way. We are fighting not only within our communities but also for the members of our communities. And as it was often chanted in support of the dining workers’ contract, “when we fight, we win!”