Please note: The following post discusses eco-anxiety and climate-related emotions, which may be triggering for some readers. Please do not feel compelled to read this post at all, in its entirety, or in one session. Take breaks, as necessary, and please refer to these climate anxiety resources for support. Private coaching sessions are also available (and, the first one is free!) I love you, human. Let’s transform this place together.
Inhale, slowly… exhale, with care… Loosen your muscles and breathe…
For a middle school project one year, my class was tasked with creating an entertaining skit based on a historical event. And while I cannot completely recall what our works’ parameters were, I do remember my team and I building a scene in which we hosted Queen Latifah and Hillary Clinton on the Tupac Shakur show - to discuss the Kyoto Protocol of course. And though my scientific understanding at the time was limited, all of us children knew that there was a big environmental problem we may have to address "one day".
Fast forward a little over a decade, after increasing my planetary knowledge, and (you can see) I was a ball of stress with limited direction for all this climate anxiety. Watching mass deforestation, experiencing multiple snowpocalypse/ snowmeggedon events, witnessing hurricane severity drastically increase with large imbalances in the government's response, seeing a planet on fire, and countless other natural disasters occurring at unnaturally alarming rates started to evoke feelings that I had no names for.
Looking around and hearing about previous weather patterns, I couldn’t help but think, “this is not normal, it shouldn’t be this way...” Do a quick search for “climate change timeframe,” or “climate and health outcomes” and it doesn’t get much better.
What does the future look like for me? Where will I live - and how? Should I invest in water transportation? Should I move north? How much plastic is already in my body? Will I be able to be a biological mother? Would that be an ethical decision? How much time do we have?
The questions were (are) endless and pervasive. I experience very heavy eco-related emotions on a daily basis, but much has shifted since that middle school presentation. First, I started to ask questions outside of myself:
Is anyone else seeing what I’m seeing?
Is anyone else feeling what I’m feeling?
Mainly sensing that I must do something about this and wondering, "does anyone else feel called to act?"
I used my feelings as fuel and started to take action - beginning with increasing my knowledge and searching for “my people” (i.e. climate justice activists).
As a trauma-informed being, I recognize that emotions are simply energy in motion and are also our greatest teachers of where we should direct our attention. There's a Mike Wallz line in Lizzy Jeff's Cloud 9 Freestyle that sums it up best:
"It's easy to tap in, man -
Everything that feels good is right for you
Everything that feels bad is contrast
The contrast's not supposed to last - it's supposed to be a lesson"
Thus, if something feels good, it generally is good for me. If a situation feels disruptive, it should be investigated with care, but it is probably in contrast with my purpose.
Researching the climate crisis solo without daily action didn’t feel good to me - it felt even more overwhelming. Educating myself within a group, however, felt good - especially with a space for adaptation discussion. Volunteering my authentic voice felt good. Joining like-minded organizations felt good. Being in a book club felt good. And through all of those actions, I increased my environmental knowledge while also cultivating a conscious group of emotionally supportive individuals. In doing so, I felt, and continue to feel, safe taking further environmentally-supportive actions. “As Christine Nieves Rodriguez, a Puerto Rican climate leader, says in her essay in All We Can Save, ‘community is our best chance for survival.’” And while every day provides the gift of presence and a chance to give back to our communities and the planet, Earth Month in particular, offers a much larger opportunity for impact with millions of hearts and minds simultaneously focused on the same goal.
For the past few weeks, I have been even more consciously aware of my actions in relation to our home. Since deepening my scientific understanding of the climate crisis, my intention is to be as environmentally-supportive as possible in all that I do. How this specifically manifests evolves with each situation, but overall that means:
Doing no harm to others or the planet;
Caring for and uplifting all beings, especially those without a means to effectively advocate for themselves; and
Viewing myself as an extension of Earth, and therefore loving Her as I love myself.
In practicing loving kindness towards our planet, just as I love and care for myself, for Earth Month I decided to take the following actions:
1. ate plant-based (per usual) 😋
2. reduced my energy + water usage
3. reviewed the latest IPCC report (well, the policymaker summary!)
4. brought reusable bags
5. shopped at local farmers markets
6. traded clothes instead of buying new
Although I recently purged a lot of my wardrobe in preparation for my move across the country, I recognized that I was still holding onto some items that I have not worn in years (specifically, attire I wore in my previous professional career that no longer resonates with me). As I was preparing to donate these pieces, I was made aware of a community “clothing swap,” which was an ideal way to liven up my wardrobe, especially given how unsustainable the entire fashion industry currently is, with nearly 92 million tons of clothes-related waste being discarded globally each year. For reference, this is enough to fill the Empire State Building 1 ½ times every single day! Obtaining cute, “new to me” clothes with no additional textile dyes and nothing ending up in a landfill was a win-win-win.
7. recycled all possible packaging
8. attended a climate change + health networking event
9. walked to my destinations as my primary transportation method
10. contacted members of Congress
11. spent time near trees, sand, and water - practicing gratitude for all that is and all that once was
12. picked up trash at the lagoon
If you have visited a public beach in the past several years, you may have noticed an increase in trash on those sandy shores. Cigarette butts, plastic bottles, and food wrappers top The Ocean Conservancy’s list for garbage collected across the planet’s oceans and (unsurprisingly) the US is a top contributor to coastal plastic pollution. In 2015, 1.8 million deaths were attributed to water pollution and contaminated water sickens about 1 billion people every year.
My loves, it doesn’t have to be this way.
Whew, that was a lot of info. Let’s take a mindful break.
Deeply breathe in… hold for 3 moments… then slowly breathe out...
Drop your shoulders…. Unclench your jaw…. Relax your booty cheeks 😉 You’re okay.
Beautiful human, I now offer a four-part invitation of simple things you can do now to help slow mass extinction. No matter where you live, what your career is, or what your personal life looks like, you can take climate action every day. (Make it automated!)
What could that look like?
1. staying current on climate news
Get environmental info delivered directly to your inbox by signing up for any (all!) of the following:
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) offers a Top of Mind Weekly Newsletter delivered Tuesday mornings.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s Environmental Justice Listserv regularly sends info on grant funding opportunities, public hearings, and proposed environmental rulemaking comment periods. Sign up by sending an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org or learn more: epa.gov/environmentaljustice
Get regular updates from The New York Times' Climate Fwd newsletter
Inside Climate News has four different newsletters to browse:
Breaking News (delivered daily)
Today’s Climate (delivered Tuesday/ Friday)
ICN Weekly (delivered Saturdays), and
Inside Clean Energy (delivered Thursdays)
For specifically heat-related news, subscribe to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s Heat Beat newsletter by emailing email@example.com
You can also explore your local news outlets to see if they offer regular climate info relevant to your geographical location, like the city of Palo Alto’s monthly Sustainability Newsletter.
2. using your voice
Start talking, babes! I was so shocked to recently learn that “an estimated 72% of adults think that global warming is happening, but only 35% discuss it at least occasionally.” Yikes! We cannot fix the problem if we don’t even consider it.
Speak up in your community, with your friends, and on social media so your people know this is important to you and can support your efforts.
From simple resources by NASA for those young family discussions to climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe’s guidance on How to Talk About Climate Change - we can all add to the discussion regardless of who our audience may be.
Additional tips for talking about climate change
3. deepening your knowledge
Want to go further? Sign up for a FREE class or enroll in a certificate program. You can search for certificates, workshops, + climate training courses provided by:
U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit (trainings)
South Central Climate Adaptation Science Center (trainings, workshops, and free certificate programs for educators)
Yale School of Public Health (Climate Change and Health Certificate)
Climate Reality Leadership Corps (trainings and workshops)
Citizens' Climate Lobby (Climate Advocacy training)
Coursera (workshops and courses on climate change's impact to every aspect of society)
4. holding policy makers accountable
Your policy makers are supported by your tax dollars. These individuals are supposed to represent you, advocate for you, and protect your interests. Do they?
If you’re not sure, find your local elected officials’ info and reach out to their offices about the climate issues that concern you and your community the most (water pollution, carbon pricing, just energy transitions, etc.)
Don’t feel comfortable calling their office? You can also reach out via email or social media and sign petitions from:
Food and Water Watch offers ready-to-sign petitions and easy text campaigns with one of my favorite climate action slogans, “Fight like you live here”
Stop fossil fuel drilling, support an end to single-use plastic, and contact the President - all from the Greenpeace website, which typically has over a dozen petitions to sign at any moment
If you’d prefer to take action within a (youth) community, look into phone banking with Sunrise Movement
Sign the The Nature Conservancy Climate Action Pledge
Have a different recipient in mind? Explore Fossil Free's Sample Petitions
Finally, a note to my fellow vegans and climate activists:
Remember to give yourself some grace. Your actions will not be perfect. Our systems have been so expertly created to encourage the exact opposite of environmentally-supportive embodiment, that your life and the actions you take cannot be 100% supportive 100% of the time. You may own a piece of technology that hasn’t been made from recycled materials, you may consume foods without any knowledge of their carbon or water footprint, or possibly you may live in a place that is powered by fossil fuels - and you have no say in the matter.
None of this is inherently supportive to Mother Earth - and guess what?
None of this is your fault. Unless you are Jeff Bezos, an Exxon exec, or distantly related to Andrew Mellon, not a damn thing about our current climate crisis is your fault. But you can make a difference.
I mention this because it’s true, but also to alleviate any sense of overwhelm. Sometimes when a problem is so colossal that it seems not one person can do anything about it, as individuals, we end up doing nothing at all. We experience negative energy levels, feel anxiety and despair, and what results is inaction. I get it, babe. I do. But you are alive at this precise moment in human history for a reason. It is your responsibility to charge forward.
Please know that you are not alone in this fight against mass extinction. I’m here with you and I’m gently inviting you to be the courageous, intrepid, and adaptable living being you were created to be - that you already are.
I love you. Thank you for being here. Let’s co-create a loving, feminine-empowered, livable future for all.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post and explore my site.
May you have the courage to liberate yourself.