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Facing the Climate Crisis: A Journey from Denial to Active Hope (Part 2)

Facing the Climate Crisis: A Journey from Denial to Active Hope (Part 2)
Königssee, Schönau am Königssee, Germany - Credit to S Migaj

By Alice Brunton - also available on Medium

In the first post, we covered Stage 1, Denial, and Stage 2, Gratitude.

Stage 3: Facing Reality

The noise of the climate crisis is getting increasingly harder to ignore (for those of us in the Global North able to ignore it), and this summer’s record-breaking heatwaves and wildfires mean more of us are starting to face reality. But we need to look beyond the headlines.

We need to know what’s going wrong and why, in order to shake ourselves out of our stasis (or natural “stifling effect”). But where should you look to learn more? The most detailed source on the current status of climate change is the IPCC, but their reports are understandably focused on the scientific assessment of the problem. The mainstream media’s coverage of climate change is very mixed. The BBC and the Guardian now have dedicated climate sections (unlike many others), but these also focus on what’s going wrong, which can send you back into a spiral of despair…

Sometimes facing reality means changing your perspective - Credit to Casey Horner

So where can you inform yourself about not just the problem, but also the solutions? Over the next few posts I’ll share some of the best resources I’ve found so far, including some informative and inspiring podcasts (a great way to ensure you hear from a diverse range of voices) involving discussions about how we can create a more sustainable and equitable way of life.

  1. Mikaela Loach: Climate communicator and medical student. The Yikes podcast: “Yikes is a podcast which leans into the Yikes of the world rather than letting it overwhelm us. We breakdown the issues in an accessible intersectional and nuanced way to guide us towards action together. “ Episode 19: What is climate justice? Also recommend Episode 36 ‘Choosing Hope not Fear with Hassan Akkad’ (available on other platforms too)
  2. Dr Katharine Wilkinson: Author, strategist, teacher. A Matter of Degrees podcast, with Dr. Leah Stokes: “they tell stories about the powerful forces behind climate change — and the tools we have to fix it. Give up your climate guilt. Sharpen your curiosity.”
  3. Not a podcast, but I recommend Project Drawdown for climate positive solutions on how we can draw down carbon from the atmosphere, and also effective actions individuals can take. Katharine Wilkinson is a co-founder.
Water-break-its-neck, Presteigne, UK - Credit to Dan Blackburn

Stage 4. Dealing with Climate Grief

Once you face reality, you may well go through a stage of grief. I know from experience how depressing it can be, learning not just how bad things are and will become, but also how fossil fuel companies knew about the risks and decided to continue, whilst funding climate denial and suppressing the truth. It can make you angry. It made me feel like my generation onwards had been handed a world irretrievably broken by the pursuit of profit at any cost. The natural world upon which we all rely cannot sustain endless growth, and ‘profit’ at any cost is not profit in the end. The corporate world is realising this, but it can feel like it’s happening all too slowly.

A male pheasant during the Autumn, Northumberland UK - Credit to Joe Straker

How do you deal with this grief?

Join a group of like-minded people. It might be a Friends of the Earth or other NGO group, or a local community group working together to save a cherished green space. Talking with people on a similar journey, who are taking action despite the grief, is so helpful. I’ve found my way into various groups, both local and online, by saying ‘yes’ to invites and opportunities where I felt I could use my skills to help protect Nature.

A good example is Lawyers for Nature itself, whose aim is to share environmental legal knowledge with the public through a mix of casework, education and outreach activities. Working on LFN projects has helped me to focus on taking action, rather than just the problem.

I’ve also been working for UKELA, the UK membership organisation for those interested in environmental law, helping them refresh their public information website, which will relaunch later this year.

A white dandelion in Summer near Southern Bug River, Ukraine - Credit to Olena Ivanova

As I was processing all I’ve learnt about the climate crisis, and working or volunteering with people on a similar journey, I realised I was also gaining knowledge and power. The power of understanding, however painful, is what allows us to take informed action. Facing the reality of the climate crisis is necessary, in order for us to counteract our “stifling effect”, and regain a feeling of empowerment. As Active Hope powerfully puts it, “when the activating siren…is no longer muffled…something gets switched on. It is our survival response.”

I invite you to look beyond the headlines, don’t look away. And start to take action. See my next post for the final stages in moving from Denial to Active Hope…

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