Editorial: Talk About Climate Change: Your Neighbors Are Listening

Pictured above: Using this newspaper as sheet compost when you’re done reading it is just one of thousands of things you can do to lower your carbon footprint.

You’ve probably heard many times that actions speak louder than words, but you’ve also probably also heard many times that the pen is mightier than the sword. How are both of these things true?

The truth when it comes to climate change is that talk is a form of action. We are all observing the weather changing around us, whether we simply make mental note of it or even if we change the channel when we see extreme weather on television. It seems almost futile to even bring this situation up with our friends and neighbors. After all, we may think, there’s nothing any one of us can do to change the situation.

But when we don’t talk with our friends and neighbors, we’re depriving all of us of the web of connections that are so vital now, and that will continue to be more and more vital in the years ahead. We need to grieve together for what has changed, but then we need to get to work. There’s nothing like seeing your neighbor pick up a tool and go to help to inspire you to do the same.

“The most complex, radical climate technologies on Earth are the human heart, head, and mind, not a solar panel,” says Paul Hawken, one of the founders of Project Drawdown, who spoke at a virtual festival sponsored by local climate activists at the Southampton Arts Center in mid-January.

This message is gaining traction among climate scientists who are looking to inspire a sense of agency in a public that long ago became inured to the solutions to the crisis.

At the forefront of this message is Dr. Katharine Hayhoe, the chief scientist at The Nature Conservancy and a Texas resident, who puts her Christian faith at the center of her messaging. She lays out most of her ideas in a 2018 TED Talk, “The Most Important Thing You Can Do to Fight Climate Change: Talk About It,” which is readily accessible on the internets.

There is no reason why climate change needs to be a partisan issue, she says, but most Americans’ beliefs about climate change are an extension of their political stripes. But the climate affects the things we all care about, and that’s where she says the conversation should start.

“I’m a mother, so I care about my child. I live in West Texas, where water is scarce,” she says. “I believe the Pentagon when they say climate change is a threat multiplier.”

“Fear is not going to motivate us for the long-term sustainable change we will need to fix this thing,” she says. “We need rational hope. We need a vision of a better future, with abundant energy, a stable economy and resources available for all.”

There’s no silver bullet that will fix climate change, she adds, but there’s plenty of silver buckshot.

The Drawdown Festival, sponsored by Drawdown East End and hosted by the Southampton Arts Center over the weekend of Jan. 21 through 23 was filled with concrete and inspiring things we can each do to change the trajectory of climate change. And the organizers are hoping that when our neighbors see us doing these things, we can include them in the conversation too. That’s when this snowball will start moving in the correct direction. 

We’ve touched on just a few of the suggestions highlighted in the festival in our pages this month, but these are really just the tip of the iceberg.

To tune in to taped sessions from the conference, visit drawdowneastend.org. Join a local Carbon CREW at carboncrewproject.org or read “2040: A Handbook for the Regeneration” or “Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming.” Don’t be shy to get out there and start a conversation. Plenty of your neighbors are already on board and itching to talk about what we can do together to solve this problem.

Beth Young

Beth Young has been covering the East End since the 1990s. In her spare time, she runs around the block, tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

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