New Year, Same Climate Journey
By Tania Roa
January is a time for reflections and resolutions, often revolving around self-care, careers, and other individualistic goals. As a climate movement, we can use this time to reflect on what tactics succeeded last year, what we can improve on, and how to strengthen our collective efforts. If the struggle for climate justice is for a lifetime, then how can we ensure its longevity?
Here are a few ways we can ground ourselves and prevent burnout:
1. Remember your ‘why’
And not just recite the reasons but experience them. Spend time in nature – the very thing you’re trying to protect – and listen to the lessons the other species we share Earth with has to offer. Make space for joy and community to remind yourself of the abundant future we’re building towards.
2. Embrace the spectrum of climate emotions
Climate anxiety is only one type of climate emotion. Emotions can be used as fuel for action once we acknowledge how they show up in our lives. Despair, anger, frustration, worry, hope, and enthusiasm look different for everyone. When we validate all of these and more, we allow ourselves to dive deeper into our passions for the Earth and Humanity.
3. Develop a support system
The urgency and severity of the climate crisis calls for everyone to take action. Rather than having one hero carry the weight of the world on their shoulders, we can all come together and lift one corner of the world. Find the people that help you process your climate emotions. Uplift your climate crew, and you’ll soon see how invigorating it is to be a part of something larger than yourself.
With every passing year, the climate movement augments. To remain rooted in the environmental justice values that founded this movement, we can take the time to reflect. Reflection requires courage. Only when we immerse ourselves in vulnerability will we gain the knowledge needed to approach a new year of climate action. Just as we take the time in January to reconnect with our minds, bodies, and souls, we can take the time to take care of fellow climate advocates.
“Rather than having one hero carry the weight of the world on their shoulders, we can all come together and lift one corner of the world.”
Same Climate Crisis, Different Mindset
What leads to burnout is advocates thinking they alone need to save the world. When we believe we have to be the ‘best’ environmentalist, we put more pressure on ourselves instead of the corporations, governments, and other entities lacking in climate action. And when we don’t meet those unrealistic expectations, we feel shame. Striving to be zero waste or plant-based is noble and should be celebrated, but it shouldn’t be a requirement. Everyone can be an environmentalist, even if they’re not those things. It’s important to remember that we are all forced to navigate corrupt, profoundly embedded systems while we simultaneously try to transform them. It’s okay that we’re not perfect.
Not only is being the ‘best’ environmentalist impossible – it oversimplifies the climate justice message. Changing the oppressive systems that led to the climate crisis in the first place requires more than sustainable practices. We are trying to sew an entirely new fabric for society. To achieve true liberation for all living things, we need absolutely everyone. People in every sector, from finance to fashion, are welcome. Let’s share the responsibility so that we may also share the glory.
Year of Change
Many of us are tired of witnessing the negligence of authorities worldwide. Time keeps running out, yet the drastic changes we need seem to happen few and far between. This year, how about we shift our focus to what we know we can do – with or without the support of large corporations and governments? We can restore ecosystems, innovate community-led renewable energy systems, and amplify each other’s stories. This isn’t to say we can’t continue to fight the system, but it’s important to recognize that combat drains energy – energy we need to protect if we’re in this for the long term. This year, we’re no longer remaining on the defensive side. It’s time to go on offense. We, the youth inheriting this planet, are designing the future we want to see right now. We’re not waiting for permission. Today, we create the reality we want to see in the world so that all people may find peace.
For my fellow climate justice advocates:
For people and planet
We’re acting on climate
The future starts now
We’ll bring back nature, somehow
By prioritizing community
We’re stronger, collectively
We stay rooted in joy, not anger
We process climate emotions – together
There’s nothing we can’t do
In 2023, life will renew