Climate change. Three hundred fifth parts per million of atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide. Melting glaciers. Rising sea levels. These words are so big and loaded that even the most calm and even-keeled among us can get weak-kneed at their mere mention; so unnerving and existentially threatening that they make your body freeze like a deer in the headlights. It’s like that sinking feeling you might get from a sputtering jet engine a mile up in the air, or the word “cancer” coming out of your doctor’s mouth. Only in this case, the whole world is ablaze and you are standing there with a fire extinguisher in your hand.
Opening yourself to the full emotional weight surrounding climate change and the larger-than-life ramifications inherent in the term can be like walking into a mental snake pit. There is, on one hand, the irrefutable evidence — aka The Science — that pounds you into submission with scary graphs any time you’re not in full eco-freakout mode; and on the other a militia of naysayers who’ve made it their mission to sabotage and ridicule any notion of anthropogenic global warming. Getting caught in the crossfire can leave you feeling anywhere from angry and afraid to exhausted and depressed.
From theory to lived experience
Some may say this is all just a bunch of fluff, but these are the acts that turn intellectual exercises and theoretical models into human experience — which is the only thing that can inspire the kind of conscious and engaged spirits that will change the cultural and political paradigm. Making personal changes is hard enough for most people, so browbeating and shaming them for destroying the planet is always counterproductive.
If we’re told that our carnivorous ways are causing global warming, we get defensive; but if a friend cooks us a delicious vegetarian meal, we’re all over it. If we’re admonished for driving to the store, we get indignant; but if our secret crush asks us to come on a sunset grocery stroll, we can’t wait to put on our walking boots. There‘s something about being inspired that changes not only the world inside us, but the world around us.
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