I generally stay away from new year’s resolutions. As I get older, they seem less aspirational and more shame-based at some level… lose 10 pounds, exercise more, eat less junk. That sort of thing. But nothing will make me 21 again and resolutions can seem too prescriptive.
I’m more of a long term goals person. Probably a good thing since “climate” is a long term problem. But I thought I would offer a few modest resolutions for those for those who follow my climate communications blog and are interested in improving how we talk about climate.
I’m putting these in the first person because one of the things I’ve discovered is that we can’t tell anyone anything. Adopt what you like.
- This year I’m going to tell more climate stories. I like the idea of talking about all the people I see doing heroic work in our local communities. I like the idea of talking about the progress we’re making.
- I resolve to stop using primarily facts and reasons to convince people that climate change is real. We know it’s real, we know we’ve caused it, and we have the answers for solving it. We’ve been trying to convince people using facts and reasons for 40 years. It’s not working. This isn’t to say that facts and reasons aren’t important. But I’ll try not to use a fact or reason when a story will do.
- I understand we’re all going to die. As we get older this comes into sharper focus. But knowing this doesn’t help or change our behavior (i.e. losing 10 pounds). While we understand we will die, no rational person really believes they are actually going to die. So, I am not impressed by the dozens of social media posts and emails I get every day telling me that we are going to die from the climate crisis. Many of these communications omit any solutions and imply that someone else should do something about climate. It’s overwhelming and demotivating. I will drop the doom and gloom and use of fear in an attempt to motivate.
- I find that when I am triggered by some politician or climate denier that it’s time to change the narrative. A good indication of this is when I feel the need to argue. So I resolve to pivot to our narratives and values. When some fossil fuel advocate tells me about all the jobs from some new pipeline or natural gas export terminal, I’m going to change the subject and start talking about the health impacts or the justice violations.
- In 2024, I will talk more about our vision. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr didn’t say “We have a problem.” It’s about the dream! We deserve clean air, clean water and a safe secure future for our families and communities. We have the solutions. We can use clean energy to power our homes, our communities, and drive on sunshine.
- Speaking of those fossil fuel barons, I resolve to name climate villains and the reasons they are standing in the way of progress. The continued use of fossil fuels is morally corrupt, their profits are obscene and their ideas are bankrupt. Do we really need a new LNG terminal so some gas company exec can buy another vacation condo, or some politician in his pocket can get a donation? I’m going to try to be better at calling out their motives and why they are violating our values. ExxonMobil shouldn’t get to determine our fate.
- When I understand their motives, I will understand and call out the propaganda and correct the misinformation fossil fuel companies spew out. But I also resolve to avoid feeding what I fight. I can do this by pivoting to our narratives (#4) and by refraining from using the negative. Coal Is NOT Clean, doesn’t work. All our brains hear are the words Coal and Clean. That neural circuit is reinforced the more we talk about it. Rather I will be direct, Coal is Toxic. Or better, solar and wind are clean.
- I’ve come late to the realization that climate is a political issue. All politics are about right and wrong. So it is now a political issue. It shouldn’t be, but it is. Climate is the moral issue of our time. We are on the right side of this. But we stand to risk everything by ignoring the political aspects. So I resolve to do everything in my power to work for climate champions in the elections this year. When I tell more stories (#1), I help this effort.
- It’s easy to get fatigued and worry about things over which I have no control. So I resolve to work on actual local solutions. It’s easier to make and measure progress. By doing this, I can build identity for more climate action in my community. Action is the antidote to despair. It attracts others. In doing so, I also take care of myself. I am part of something bigger and more important than myself.
- Hmmm? As I read back over this, I am not suggesting I or you can do all of these. Maybe a few. But what did I miss? I’d like to hear your ideas and resolutions.
Thanks for all you do. You are true climate heroes and leaders.
We are all connected. Savor the Earth!’™
L. Hobart Stocking