11.16.2010

I'D LIKE TO KNOW: HOW DO YOU STAY HOPEFUL?

I've just re-posted an article by Joe Romm from his website, Climate Progress, to share with all of you. I'm the kind of person who loves to get clippings from friends and family; I'm not only interested to see what catches their eyes, but also to see what they think might expand my world. Those of you who have been following Slow Love Life know that climate change (perhaps I should start saying climate disruption) is the social/political/economic/moral issue I feel most strongly about--and though I could be bombarding you daily, I resist the urge.

Slow Love Life is meant to be a place to gather and think about other things-----ahh, but there's the rub....

What other things are there, if we are slowly polluting our planet to catastrophic levels? Slow Love is about making the time to cherish the smallest, daily moments of life in our world--and learning to listen to and learn from each other. If you truly love the world, you don't want to defile it. If you truly love a person, you don't intentionally violate their sense of well-being.

It is one thing not to have known, not to have understood, the danger of our ways--and we didn't know, when we set out on this highway, what the massive burning of fossil fuels would do.

But once we know that what we are doing is wrong, don't we have a moral imperative to demand from our leaders massive--global--change? And change our own small ways?

And then, another important question, one I think about daily. What can one person do? Climate change is a vast, overwhelming catastrophe. If I think about it too much, I get massively depressed. I feel impotent. How do I keep believing that I--that each one of us--can make a difference?

Part of my answer has been to write about the issue for the Environmental Defense Fund. It still doesn't feel to me as though I am doing enough--and that is one of the things I'll be pondering as the year closes: what more can I do?

Green Tea Party, anyone?

How do you keep from feeling overwhelmed by thoughts of global catastrophe--and remain a responsible, conscious person in this world? (I'm not talking about going into denial here--the Just Say No, anti-science attitude. What on earth has happened to our trust in--and respect for--science? Since when is science something you have to "believe" in?)

I'm asking about how we stay in a place of hope.

Your thoughts?

33 comments:

Madgew said...

I do what I can by giving money, by lowering my carbon footprint and trying to let others everyday who have less than I. I try to live everyday as it is my last, settling up and making sure I spoke my truth and hurt no one while doing so. I honor myself, my family and my friends and my world.

Melanie said...

Here in northern British Columbia Canada winters are no longer cold enough, -30 celsius, for as long as they used to be. Consequently the Mountain pine beetle, (MPB), Dendroctonus ponderosae, has not been killed like it usually is over the winter, and instead has survived to devastate hundreds of thousands of hectares of pine forests. Further north in the Canadian arctic the Inuit who depend on a long winter to get around via ice roads and bridges cannot depend on them to be safe anymore or in some cases there isn't enough ice and snow to build them, thus their communities are increasingly becoming more isolated.
Depending on governments and world leaders to get us out of this mess is futile. We need to band together and do it ourselves. I grow as much food as I can in my garden. Buy locally whenever possible, etc. We all know what to do. Devising strategies for adapting to a warmer world is what we need to concentrate on.

Tree said...

It is overwhelming. Which is why many turn to numbing and dumbing activities to disconnect from the interconnectedness of it all.

We must remain hopeful. Hope exists in the individual before the collective, and what we believe we create. We must believe we can take positive action.

To that end, conscious citizen writers, like yourself and Terry Tempest Williams, are lights in the tunnel. Please lead us.

pve design said...

Blue Skies
Fresh Water
Bouncing Babies
Silent snowfalls
Musical chairs
Falling leaves
Resilient people
Working hard
Creating small works
Joining hands
full of Hope~
that is how I remain hopeful!

Ashling said...

By talking to my adult sons, two wise young men who devote countless hours to making the world a better place; by watching how many people are embracing microfarming and buying local food; by knowing the Earth will keep spinning long after we're gone; by reading your blog and others of a similar ilk and knowing that when the right words genuinely touch people, they are motivated to make change.

Tricia O'Brien said...

Dominique,
This is such a good question and one that I have really been contemplating for the last two years on a daily basis, as my life was turned upside-down from the economic downturn. Sometimes its easy to "forget" about the bigger picture because the daily grind, so to speak, is so unspeakable. I started working in an office two years ago and it has completely flattened my emotional well-being. Not only am I bored, but sitting is probably the worst thing a person can do for themselves day in and day out. It takes away your energy and enthusiasm for actual living. Moving, seeing, doing, and creating have been my main mantra for all of my adult life. Combine it with children leaving home for college and peri-menopause setting in and its a combination for disaster. Do I stay in my marriage? Do I leave the country for a different lifestyle altogether? How will I support my lifestyle in this economy or any other?
I believe that we all have a rich inner life and if we cannot tap into it, then we fall. If we don't practice it, then we fail. I am just trying to get back to my practice. I do think that meditation and yoga do help to re-focus the brain and heart to the current moment. String enough moments together and you have got a whole day, a week, etc.

My children give me hope that a new generation can make change, but we aren't dead yet and we all have much to contribute. I suggest volunteering every month, set aside funds for organizations we really believe in, and do something for ourselves everyday, like walking, yoga, or anything that gets you to move and appreciate nature. It is a most inspiring way to live. Thanks for this forum.
Tricia

Everyday Goddess said...

I think we need to support the brightest thinkers who are putting these issues into focus, people like Rob Hopkins. You can watch his TED talk here: http://www.ted.com/talks/rob_hopkins_transition_to_a_world_without_oil.html

And as for that Green Tea Party, where do I sign up???

Dominique said...

Fantastic comments so far, thank you all. Love the title Everyday Goddess. That's what we all must strive to be, no?! That list of things that bring joy--and hope--is lovely. I'm going to start making my own list too...a great exercise. d

Anonymous said...

I don't have to see a solution to know it exists. We are remarkably creative. And knowing that what's focused upon expands makes it possible for me to stay on the side of watching with anticipation for what solutions are coming down the pike.

c said...

The only way for me to not get thoroughly depressed about our current state of affairs (yes, I do mean our daily political bickering, which leads nowhere, combined with our elected leaders' selfish power hungry lives, and a citizenry which cannot seem to be bothered to worry about anyone but themselves) I do what little I can as an individual:
I refuse bags everywhere and carry my own,
never buy bottled water,
drive a hybrid and walk whenever possible,
re-use more than re-cycle as much as possible,
lower thermostat in winter and wear nice comfy sweaters more often,
make the call and stop all catalogs in the mail, (check them out on-line instead),
replaced all lightbulbs already,
support local farmers' market,
things like that.

Small things, really. But if more and more of us are being "mindful", it spreads, and I hope we WILL make at least a tiny contribution.

Now, how do wean ourselves from meat products and embrace a vegetarian lifestyle? I read somewhere that global livestock production accounts for 1/5 of ALL greenhouse gases. More than transportation!

And I do hope ...

Dominique said...

All these individual changes could add up to a sea change. And yes, having a meatless dinner even once a week will make a big dent not only in your families carbon footprint, but in your saturated fat intake. Get this: Animal agriculture is responsible for a shocking 51 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions--according to Laurie David, who writes about Meatless Monday in her new book: The Family Dinner. (Terrific recipes too.)

c said...

Exactly! So keep spreading the word. You have a following, your word means a lot to many. You probably are not even aware of the power YOU have.
And you do put it to good use. THANKS!!

Sometimes the "science" is just too dry to read. And so many statistics merely make for a boring read.

Check out Mark Bittman's Food Matters. Sounds similar to Laurie David's. I'll check her book next :-)

Väva! Veve! said...

It brings me hope just to read everyone's entries of hope and solutions here! After reading Joe Romm's piece, I felt lost. I thought of my children and wept. "What have we done?" I thought. But it occurred to me, Dominique, that your blog here is of significant importance. Some people may think it is a way of 'escaping' from the insane urgency that we face with our Mother Earth, but I think differently. I think that taking moments in the day to appreciate the small things, the delicate things, the momentary things . . . will train us to yearn for those things instead of the huge, powerful, flashing, loud intrusive things that seem to only whet our appetite for consuming more of the same. I think if we train our appreciation muscle to slow down, we will consume less by default. If we can become conscious of and focus on those small but critical things in our lives we will perhaps be able to sate the ravenous beast of consumption and waste. We need you and others to continue to demonstrate how it is done.

You are the voice for that part of us that had just about gone extinct! Please continue helping us appreciate those things we would otherwise not even see and help us regain proper focus!

Stephanie said...

You can go radical and say, don't hope, just do. That allows you to turn away from fear.

Not being original here, take a look at the words in Orion Magazine by Derrick Jensen - already 4 years old.

http://www.orionmagazine.org/index.php/articles/article/170/

It's a very pragmatic way to live your life in difficult circumstances, whatever yours may be.

Tonya said...

I talk to my four children about the effects of climate change and do what I can to show them the best way to live. They are the future and they will pattern themselves after how my husband and I live. We spend a lot of time outdoors, and I've made a conscious effort to teach them about where their food comes from, and we tend a garden. I hope it is enough.

Michelle Stratton said...

I guess I hope we'll have enough time to convince those in power that we need to move faster. I hope there is enough of a window that it isn't too late by the time everyone wakes up.

Personally, my husband and I decided to have only one child. Zero population growth. I'm also investing in Blue Sky, buying shares of wind generated power.

Lastly, I blame religious ideologies for the fix we are in. Religion teaches its followers that "it's never too late," and that we are all just waiting to go "home." What incentive is there in that type of mindset to live for today and the future of our planet? What if this is the only home we'll ever have? Hopefully we will fix things before it's too late.

Anonymous said...

Our collective voice needs to be heard. How do you feel about beginning a national petition? A petition not so far afield from Thomas Paine's Rights of man. What could be more an inalienable right than a healthy planet. I've asked climate progress if there is a clearinghouse for scientific data on climatic changes recorded and analyzed from all parts of the globe. I never got a response nor can I find one place to see various types of research and results. If congress spends less than 3% of it's time reading the bills it passes how are we to hope for comprehensive or serious action? I remain a product if the 70's. Hopeful that we as a large cohesive group can rally local and national attention to this very serious issue. Maybe environmental defense fund will cohost a rally in Washington
to get big oil, coal and other large corporations out of congressi

William said...

I strongly recommend for all: 'COOL IT: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming' by Bjorn Lomberg

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

I wish I could tell you that I always remain hopeful. The truth is, sometimes I despair. These days, I cannot look at a polar bear without feeling that awful constricting of the throat and prickling of the eye. I feel that it's helpful to focus on one area and really give it your all. Otherwise, one is left with such an overwhelming concern that is difficult to shift from desperation to enthusiasm. By focusing on one issue, or worthy organization, be it the NRDC or the EDF, one can feel a small part of the solution. A bit.

Dona M said...

Thank-you for continuing to bring up difficult issues that need to be talked about and acted upon. We can all do small changes in our habits everyday, using less, wasting less and pushing for changes toward a cultural identity that cherishes our land, our freedom and each other.
Personally I keep looking for ways that I can live compassionately with a loving energy that can be shared with others to counter the depression, anger and helplessness that drags us all down. Green tea Party, I like that!

Cori said...

I am stunned. You say that there is nothing you can do, yet you will be climbing on a plane in February because you have always wanted to see India? I haven't flown in 25 years (yes, some of us saw this coming a while ago)and do not anticipate flying for the rest of my life. I help arrange my children's lives so that they are not required to fly. As a biologist this is only one of dozens of ways I address living a responsible life Of course you feel hopeless, you want this problem to go away, but you are unwilling to truly, radically, change your own behavior. They say that travel is broadening. Try staying in one place, and go for depth, instead.

Lines of Beauty said...

It is amazing that animal agriculture is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than cars. There is so much that we all can do on a personal level. Imagine what a impact closing down all the malls in america would make! Human consumerism is at the core of so many environmental issues. Places like Toys R Us are so disgusting with all that plastic...

How do I keep from feeling overwhelmed by thoughts of global catastrophe? I do what I can- I drive a hybrid etc and I grow more & more conscious about what I can do to help our planet on a personal level. There are a lot of things that we can get overwhelmed about in this world. It's about changing the tape that runs through our heads, and the lens we look through. Hanging out in nature, and reading blogs like this one helps.

britta said...

I feel hopeful when each spring the grass turns green by the sun and the flowers bloom once again.

I strive when I graduate college and land a career that I will save up for a hybrid car, and slowly change things in a house I may buy or build someday. Each little thing adds up!

The Architect said...

It's not hard to be hopeful.

You could start by reviewing Professor Richard Lindzen's testimony before the House, yesterday.

http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/lindzen_testimony_11-17-2010.pdf

Anonymous said...

I have no hope and wish that I am long gone before it gets bad. Seriously.

Most people are phenomenally wasteful. Who eats ALL the food they buy at the grocery store? If you really want to have an impact are you willing to stop eating meat? Is it necessary for only two people to live in a 6,000 sq ft house and to gut/renovate it every couple years just because they can afford to do so? Until society deems the future is more important than the present, we will have desert communities like Las Vegas where water is wasted in fountains like the Bellagio's that can shoot water up 11 stories.

I love your blog and enjoy your writing style. It is your blog so you can write about what you want but I don't read your site for politics. I want escape... obviously others do too and that is why you had more comments about your long hair than anything else.

I am sorry to be so blunt but this really hit me the wrong way - in one blog you ask people to meet you in India to the tune of $8,500, airfare not included, and then this entry.

Shannon

William said...

I think the biggest difference anyone can make in this country is to commit to never setting foot in a Walmart, Kmart or Target store again and if something says 'Made in China' put it down and walk away. China is doing more global environmental damage than any other country or source and we are paying for it. We are the largest consumers of garbage on the planet - for instance all those lovely festive Xmas decorations everyone will ooh and aah at in the coming weeks 99% are made in China in industrial plants that spew toxins the world gets to enjoy for free.

karensandburg said...

one of the things i do to stay sane is adapt a little slow love into my day. right now big crows and some smaller birds have landed on the leafless tree across the street. the air is misty and white and the invisibility cloak of leaves are all gone from the trees and i can see through them to the hill beyond. all i hear right now is the sound of one vocal crow as a contingent of different birds gather to take in the cool misty morning.

Anne at Oh My Yes! said...

My small hopes come from caring for my piece of the world; organic gardening (and teaching others about it), putting out food in the snow for the birds and creatures (and being rewarded by a visit from a dozen juncos I'd never seen before at my feeders!), trying to 'exist lightly.'

My larger hopes come from the existence of people who have the energy and resources to affect some larger scale remedies (and giving them financial support) but ultimately, from the fact that this planet will outlive us all, and heal itself.

Anonymous said...

This is just the bomb!

Dona M said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JesseJoy said...

I read success stories about things that really have improved, thanks to rabble-rousing ordinary citizens. That gives me a road map.

Try Steve Palumbi's new book about how one ecosystem went from devastation to health, shows that the earth can recover if we give it a chance - and sustainable ecosystems lead to sustainable economies.

http://deathandlifemontereybay.stanford.edu/index.htm

Steve is also studying "supercorals" in Samoa that can resist climate change, and ways to conserve them.

All is not lost; we just need to pay attention to what has worked, and do more of it!

Jola Grajski said...

"How we stay in a place of hope..."

Apropos your post, and given your background as a writer and editor, I thought you would be particularly interested in this item...

Tone Matters When Talking about Global Warming

A new study from Robb Willer, UC Berkeley social psychologist, that’s slated for publication in the January issue of the journal Psychological Science, shows that the majority of people tune out or become skeptical when faced with dire or emotionally charged warnings about the consequences of global warming. Individuals are less amenable to reducing their carbon footprint when the impacts of global warming are cast in “scary messages,” according to a release from the University of California, Berkeley.

“The scarier the message, the more people who are committed to viewing the world as fundamentally stable and fair are motivated to deny it,” said Matthew Feinberg, a doctoral student in psychology and coauthor of the study.

However, the researchers found that if scientists and advocates can communicate their findings in less apocalyptic ways and present solutions to global warming, most people can get past their skepticism.


http://www.polarfield.com/blog/

I'm far from being a climate change skeptic, but this item clicked with me because I have found a tendency in myself to tune out when faced with apocalyptically-toned scenarios. It renders me feeling utterly helpless - & thus hopeless. I feel more grounded, and positive, when I think about little actions I can take, what my neighbors are doing - in other words, trying (from a lay person's point of view) to take it from a very local perspective.

I enjoy your blog very much, Dominique - Happy Thanksgiving!

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