When the pandemic + fire hit my family
Facts: New facts agree with old facts. Feelings: When the pandemic + fire hit my family. Action: Find your climate peeps.
Hello friends! I’m glad you’re here at We Can Fix It. The best time to live out climate facts, feelings, and action was 30 years ago, but the second-best time is now!
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Let’s dive in!
Facts: New Facts Agree With Old Facts
The Big Bad Mothership of Climate Facts came out with a new report last month, so picking which Facts to cover for this edition was kind of a gimme. When the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) drops one of their massive Fact Tomes, with a summary compiled by all-star scientists and approved line-by-line by the world’s governments, I am here for it.
On IPCC launch day, I girded my climate loins. I shared resources for focus, courage, and action, which we need every day, not just every IPCC day (<0.01% of the days). Here’s my complete advice.
As a We Can Fix It subscriber, you already know the fundamentals of what’s in the IPCC report, because you’ve seen these facts in my Climate Haiku, at the bottom of this email, and baked into Under the Sky We Make — but here’s what’s new:
It’s warming, it’s us, we’re f***ing sure
“It is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land.” (IPCC AR6 SPM, Statement A.1)
Yep! Science has been saying it’s warming and that humans are causing it (spoiler alert: BY BURNING FOSSIL FUELS, as Emily Atkins made clear) for a long time. What’s new is the level of confidence: “unequivocal” means “leaving no doubt; unambiguous”.
Human-caused warming is a fact. There’s really nowhere to go in the next report after this, except maybe “FFS, like a million percent sure.”
It’s bad: Climate change makes heatwaves & other extremes worse
“Human-induced climate change is already affecting many weather and climate extremes in every region across the globe.” (IPCC AR6 SPM, Statement A.3)
Since the last report, hardworking scientists have made big advances in finding the fingerprints of human-caused warming in specific events. For example, they found that the terrible, record-shattering heat in the Pacific Northwest and western Canada this summer would have been “virtually impossible” without human-caused climate change. :(
To look under the hood of attribution science, check out this great Carbon Brief piece, and follow the fast, thorough research of World Weather Attribution.
We can fix it: Yes! But we’re not, yet.
“Global warming of 1.5°C and 2°C will be exceed during the 21st century unless deep reductions in CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions occur in the coming decades.” (IPCC AR6 SPM, Statement B1)
Oh IPCC, why do your rallying cries for fixing it sound like this?? It’s not exactly a catchy slogan, but it does say: It is physically possible to limit global warming to the Paris Agreement targets. Current climate policies are too weak to stop warming; we need much stronger climate policies to slash emissions NOW. Stopping warming requires that humans completely stop adding carbon to the atmosphere. Which we know how to do (refresher on all this: We Can Fix It, May 2021). Let’s get on with it.
Feelings: When the pandemic + fire hit my family
Last summer, my hospitalized father tested positive for COVID-19, and I made an emergency trip home to California. I am forever thankful that my dad made an excellent recovery. But just when he was settling in back at home, the latest round of catastrophic fires started, sending a massive cloud of smoke up from the hills above my parents’ house, and me into a blind panic.
I wrote about when the climate emergency + the pandemic collided for me and my family last summer for Elle Magazine in a piece called, “My Father Was Sick, But It’s My Home That’s Dying.” Please have a read, and let me know what you think.
Action: Find Your Climate Peeps
I hear from a lot of folks who feel alone in the climate crisis. They know and care so much, but they don’t see people around them acting with the necessary urgency. They don’t have friends they can talk to about All the Climate Feels.
If this is you, I want your first climate action to be building community. Do not pass Go. Do not go ballistic over heat pumps. Do not try to rail against this global problem on your own. That is a recipe for frustration, burnout, and despair.
You need to find your Climate Peeps. These are:
(1) people you enjoy hanging out with, and
(2) people you enjoy talking about climate and doing Climate Things with.
You don’t have to ONLY focus on climate with your Climate Peeps; you can talk about everything else too! Climate just has to be on the menu of Possible Topics We Discuss.
Your Climate Peeps are the folks who you can text when you read a scary headline, see a funny meme, or want to share good news. They are the ones whose courage you admire and whose baking you devour, who you’ll pick up when they’re down, and they’ll do the same when you need them.
Our students put it beautifully:
Possible actions to find and connect with your Climate Peeps:
Who do you already know and like who cares about climate? Is there someone at work who’s suggested revising your office travel policy to eliminate unnecessary flights? Do you have a friend who posts about climate on social media? Reach out to that person and make a climate date. Send them this newsletter if you need a conversation starter.
Host a climate book club (fiction, nonfiction, graphic novels, …). (Readers contributed wonderful discussion questions for Under the Sky We Make.)
Craft something about climate change, like these awesome knitters.
Writer Sofia Benoit has a friend she thanks for “freaking out about climate change with me on Mondays and Wednesdays.” Maybe you need a designated climate freakout time and buddy!?
Find a local group of human beings who are already doing climate work in an area you care about— your school, your neighborhood, on an issue that moves you. There are climate groups in every part of the world, and for every approach, so you might have to audition a few to find the right fit. Join their next meeting and see if you like the vibe. If you do, start figuring out how you can make yourself useful to the group. I promise you have skills that they need.
Find an online tribe. Talk Climate To Me is doing great work for women in Toronto. Every social media platform has climate channels, accounts, hashtags, communities.
I’d like to make We Can Fix It more of a community, where subscribers can talk with each other— you are an amazing group! Would you join a discussion thread, where I email out a short question that all can discuss?
Let me know in the comments, or by replying to this email, how you’d like to see this community evolve, what would make you feel supported, and please share your success stories for building your climate community!
Parting Thoughts and Tidbits
Kim on the Interwebs:
I got sassy on a podcast about promoting alternative proteins:
“I’m getting quite tired of …toxic positivity as a mantra enforced without evidence in climate circles.” - me on Sustainable Food Tech podcast.
Read: A Children’s Bible, by Lydia Millet. I devoured this incredible novel in a day and a half on vacation, and wanted to re-read it immediately upon finishing. It is so smart and unflinching and like no climate fiction I’ve read before. The Washington Post calls it “a blistering classic.”
Eat: This Hasselback al Forno by Jamie Oliver was a great Sunday roast, especially when I finally realized that the convection setting is key to getting roast veg crispy (thank you Maja!). Every recipe we’ve made from the cookbook that Miranda gave us, Jamie Oliver’s Ultimate Veg, has been a winner!
Move: I was excited to hit the Century Club (100 classes) on Peloton Yoga this week! Simon and I did a live class with Ross Rayburn to celebrate. Only slightly bummed that the people who got shout-outs were celebrating milestones of 400 classes and up (!!). Oh well, guess I’ll have to content myself with the physical and mental well-being sans social recognition. I’m @UnderSkyWeMake if you want to find me there.
Yes to the discussion thread!