A New Year’s Resolution for Living with a Climate Crisis
By Cybelle Shattuck

My New Year’s Resolution is to foster the resilience necessary to thrive during the life-long endeavor to address the world’s climate crisis. This begins with giving myself permission to acknowledge my grief and lostness over damage to the ecosystems where I feel most “at home.” Also, permission to feel great anger for the suffering of climate refugees, especially those who neither contributed to, nor benefited from, the fossil-fuel economy that has made their homes unlivable.

Second, I will craft a mental narrative of collective efficacy by seeking out stories that nurture hope and creativity. The media paralyzes us with stories about catastrophes and gridlocked legislatures, creating a climate crisis narrative in which our only options seem to be denial or despair. But there are many other stories that center progress and accomplishments if I look for them! I will seek a mix of narratives about technology change, community building and social justice.

Technology matters, and reading Solutions journalism helps counter the media narrative of doom. Knowing that over 80% of the electricity installed around the world in 2020 was clean energy gives me hope we can mitigate carbon emissions in time to prevent unmanageable climate disaster. But it is equally important to learn about effective social campaigns because climate change is a social justice issue that intersects with poverty and power, with access to housing, food, water, health care, education, and jobs. There is inspiring leadership emerging from BIPOC communities with visions of a just and sustainable future.

Finally, I will take lessons from long-time social change leaders who model how to be persevere by being intentional about where they put their energy. The list of actions I “should” take to live more lightly on the earth is long and the number of groups asking for my help seems endless, while my energy, time, and financial resources are limited. I will remind myself that there are nearly two million organizations working on environmental and social justice issues—a glorious interconnected web of collective effort. That means I can choose to focus my efforts where my gifts will be most useful, whether through academia, advocacy, or church, and let other people with different gifts do tasks for which I am poorly suited.

To use my resources intentionally, I will engage in climate action through my job and a manageable number of committees. I will support a mix of social justice and environmental organizations, focusing on local opportunities to build resilience in my community. And I will help protect natural areas, the refuges for human and other-than-human beings that restore my mind and body and help sustain me in this work.

So this is my Resolution for living with the climate crisis in 2022: Acknowledge the feelings, revise the mental narrative, be intentional with personal resources, remember I am not alone.

What is your resolution?

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