Consciousness and caring in the face of climate crisis
Written by: Brianna Aspinall
Fully digesting the impacts of climate change can be overwhelming. The implications of the climate crisis can reach deeply into our personal life, into our belief for social justice, and into our fight for the natural world. It is easier to push those thoughts aside and get swept up in our day-to-day lives.
We can so easily fall into a cycle where we do not face the realities of climate change; where we avoid thinking about it or believe it is someone else’s responsibility to fix. I used to be stuck in that cycle. Unfortunately, no solution can be reached that way.
Facing the reality of the climate crisis can be scary. It means we are aware of challenging emotions of fear, anxiety, sadness, or anger. When we accept and pull through these feelings, we can emerge with an injection of motivation and purpose. That is what Carbon Conversations TO is designed to do: to create a safer space for us to reflect on climate change, our individual environmental footprint, and a plan of action.
If you are willing to explore this dialogue, here are some tips to consider:
1) Remind yourself why you care. Is it because you want a better future for yourself; for our youth? Is respecting nature a core value to you? Are you devastated when you see the most vulnerable with the least contribution to climate change feel the consequences? Do you love solving challenges and using human creativity for the good of humankind? Find your own motivation and hold that close to your heart.
2) Understand how you are connected to climate change and what your personal impact is. We recognize that governments and business need to act and have a lot of responsibility and power to change. At the same time, we are part of the system. Our actions matter; our actions can motivate others and ourselves, and we create culture. A tool you can use here in Ontario to understand your carbon impact is Project Neutral’s calculator.
3) Once you measure your carbon footprint remember to be kind to yourself. Celebrate what you are proud of and reflect on what you and society will have to change in order to reach a low carbon lifestyle. Think about other times in your life where you have had to change. What did you need to do to make it happen? What stopped you from change? How did it feel when you achieved this change?
4) Find a community of people who will support your journey. You might find this with your friends and family, or through an amazing organization that you can volunteer with or follow. By connecting with others, you can find a place to communicate and share your feelings about climate change and the actions you are working through. It is time to break the silence - you are not alone in this journey. Remember when engaging with others regarding climate change that it's important to allow them room for their own space and reflection along the way, as they might have different motives, different realities, and be at a different place in their journey.
5) Finally, as you understand your personal journey, reconnect to collective action. As Dr. Dianne Saxe says: “Individual action is a great place to start, but it would be a terrible place to stop”. This could involve choosing to talk more about climate change, demanding government to act as we are in a climate crisis, learning more about climate justice, or starting or joining a green team at work. With so many great organizations out there, the options are endless.
Facing the climate crisis will feel like an emotional roller-coaster, and that is okay. It will have highs and lows, but one thing is for sure - you will be moving forward and you will find others who are also on this journey. You are not as alone as you might think.
Brianna founded Carbon Conversations Toronto in 2017 and works as a project manager at Park People. She is most interested in supporting and facilitating moments where we can all find our way to contribute to making our communities better. Most recently through Carbon Conversation Toronto, Brianna and her team offer workshops that help individuals explore their own emotions, values, and motives to act on climate change.