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Due to many intersectional injustices, Black people, Indigenous people, and People of Color are more severely impacted by catastrophic weather events and ongoing environmental shifts driven by climate change. The United States, like most industrialized countries, isn’t cutting emissions fast enough to meet the United Nation’s 2030 climate goals set forth in the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.

I’m learning to fight to elect leaders who will enact policy changes that drive the usage of clean energy and position our country to be a leader in climate stewardship. My efforts include supporting the presidential candidacy of former Vice President Joe Biden, who’s pledged to re-join the Paris Agreement that President Trump has abandoned.

More specifically, I’m embracing and recommending these five action steps to drive policy changes for the sake of increased climate stewardship and slowing down climate change.

  1. Research and Learning (Including Data Gathering): Make an ongoing effort to educate yourself on the facts, history, complexities, and nuances of climate change. Keep links, notes, and data handy so that you can be informed when you interact with others or on social media. This tracker can help you with those efforts.
  2. Equitable Relationships with Members of Historically Underrepresented Groups (HUGs): There’s no substitute for getting to know and spending time with people who are different from you, especially those with less privilege than you enjoy. It’s crucial that these relationships are built on equal footing, without the person with more privilege positioning themselves as the “helper” or, worse, “savior.” The person with more privilege should also do most of the listening and a lot less of the talking.
  3. Speaking Against Injustices: When you hear or see injustice taking place, whether it’s right in front of you, explained to you by others, or observed through media, take a stand and speak out against it in a compassionate, skillful manner. These engagements can often be awkward, uncomfortable, or downright scary. Sometimes speaking out costs you a relationship or changes how people perceive you.
  4. Communication With Elected Officials and Signing Petitions: Regularly comment on posts from elected officials or others in positions of power, and create and share posts that address the actions of these individuals. Sign well-organized petitions that can influence climate policy changes by such elected or appointed individuals. And do so, again, with compassion, skill, and non-violence.
  5. Contributions of Time, Money, and Resources: Being an effective activist who helps to influence meaningful, sustainable climate policy change will cost you something. Contribute as much as you’re able to, depending on your individual circumstances and interests. This includes supporting non-profits that are doing effective work on issues that matter to you.

Regarding non-profits, here’s some organizations doing great work to drive policy changes to curb climate change:

  • Climate Solutions: Climate Solutions’ mission is to accelerate practical and profitable solutions to global warming by galvanizing leadership, growing investment, and bridging divides.
  • Climate Science Legal Defense Fund: This organization protects the scientific endeavor by providing support and resources to scientists who are threatened, harassed or attacked for doing their jobs.
  • Soul Sister: Soul Sister invests in women’s clean energy businesses in off-grid communities in Africa. The organization places clean power in the hands of the people
  • One Earth Sangha: This group recognizes how climate change places unprecedented demands on human psychological and sociological capacity. The founding premise of One Earth Sangha is that the Buddhist tradition offers significant, largely untapped resources that can support us in bringing wisdom, compassion, courage, creativity, flexibility, and a steady resolve to our inter-related ecological and social crises.

Self-Care and Mindfulness

Advocating for climate stewardship is a long game, a marathon that requires a lot of strategy, self-care, and support from others. A key part of my own self-care and ongoing personal growth is practicing the “Five Mindful Trainings,” derived from Buddhist teachings and compiled by Vietnamese Zen monk and activist Thich Nhat Hanh and summarized here by me:

  1. Reverence for Life: Eliminate all forms of violence against one’s self, other human beings, animals, and nature.
  2. True Happiness: Practice gratitude and generosity and avoid stealing from or exploiting others.
  3. True Love: Cherish and celebrate others and practice sexual virtue in romantic relationships.
  4. Deep Listening and Loving Speech: Practice active listening and kind, helpful speech in order to facilitate equitable and peaceful relationships.
  5. Nourishment & Healing: Eat and drink in a manner that avoids bringing toxins or diseases into the body, and consume media of all forms in moderation.

 

John M. DeMarco is a writer, executive coach, and activist based in Nashville, Tennessee.