What Can I Do About the Climate Crisis?
By Ken Sloane
I recently attended the American Climate Leadership Summit 2022, a gathering of scientists, authors, and activists from the United States and other countries working to help accelerate the response to the damage being done to our environment and the resulting climate change. Sponsored by the nonprofit agency ecoAmerica, the summit provided four days of creative virtual meetings and idea exchanges, fascinating (and sometimes very disturbing) discussions about the problems, talk about what is being done and not done to meet the problem, and discussions about what might be done.
In many of the presentations I attended, there were discussions focused on responding to the question, “What Can I Do About the Climate Crisis?” There are a lot of ways to respond to that question: recycle more, throw away less; walk more, drive less; plant more trees, use more green products. The answer I heard most often might surprise you: “We need to talk more about the climate crisis – every person, every day, at every opportunity!”
Could it be that simple? Could mere conversations about climate change really lead to change?
"We need to talk more about the climate crisis – every person, every day, at every opportunity!"
As followers of Christ, we are part of a movement that has touched every part of the globe. That movement began in a small country in a faraway place, with a man who died a criminal’s execution and rose from death in a borrowed tomb. Witnessed by only a handful of people but fueled by conversations about what they saw and heard, people shared their testimonies and experiences with others even when it put their lives at risk. The world was radically changed because followers were willing to talk about Jesus, even when they didn’t know how others would react to what they said!
In a blog post from earlier this year, ecoAmerica shared statistics from the American Climate Perspectives Survey. When asked the question “How concerned do you think other people around you are about climate change?” only fourteen percent answered “very concerned.” Yet in response to the question, “How concerned are you about climate change?” forty-five percent responded “very concerned.” Could the feeling that others don’t think climate change is an issue be raising the anxiety of concerned people to keep them from engaging with people around them? Or do we feel that we just don’t have the tools to start a conversation on this subject?
ecoAmerica has produced a wonderful guide to help people be more effective in communicating and conversing about climate change: “5 Steps to Effective Climate Communication.” It offers great advice for individuals who want to do something positive to slow down the climate change that we are already experiencing! You can download this two-page document by clicking on the link.
Church leaders, lay and clergy, who would like to facilitate conversations in congregations (small groups, Sunday School classes, etc.) will find a helpful tool in Courageous Conversations About Climate Change from Discipleship Ministries.
It’s easy to be immobilized by a problem as big as climate change. How can we possibly have an impact on changing the destruction of the planet’s atmosphere or the rising temperature of the oceans? The place to start is to find another person and talk about it. That’s the way change starts!
Ken Sloane is the Director of Stewardship & Generosity for Discipleship Ministries of The United Methodist Church.