You might have seen Renee Lertzmann's Ted Talk about climate anxiety in my first article. Here, I try to answere these follow-up questions to it: what resources can I use to learn more ? What are the baby steps I can take to start acting for the climate ? I believe the easiest way to apprehend our role in the matter is through the interactions that we have with the world - all in all, with our environment, made of the same atoms we are made of. This means understanding how we can adapt our interactions with others, with our surroundings, but also with ourselves.
I created the "Resources on Climate" category on the Climate Thoughts blog; this page will serve as a recap of the section, meaning I'll try to update it when I find new and better resources! They'll still be organised via the following 3 ideas; click or scroll!
"Me, myself and I": resources to think and feel about the climate
I can be quite hypersensitive sometimes, which means that I have a low threshold for social and environmental issues, and that I am easily overwhelmed by important events. Being overwhelmed on occasion is a strong indicator of what we feel is important, but, most of the time, we need a break from that. Here are a few resources I found helpful, with a positive view on climate action, and insightful ways to think about it in the healthiest ways !
Learning the basics: The Climate Fresk (group workshop / English & French). Several schools and companies have implemented the Climate Fresk to raise awareness of their members. This workshop consists in a group work aiming to understand the mechanisms of climate change and the ways to act. Many also choose to become animators of the Fresk (which only requires 1 session and 1 training).
What I find is the best part? You're in this with other learners, that most likely feel the same way you do! There are also specialised fresks (food, mobility, numeric, biodiversity, oceans...) that you can participate in.
Positive Thinking: Les 2030 Glorieuses, Julien Vidal (podcast / French). This podcast is the follow-up to the "Ca Commence Par Moi" ("It Starts With Me"). I undesrstand Julien Vidal's philosophy is constructive optimism: exploring initiatives and success stories of motivated personas of climate action.
What I find is the best part? When he asks them to imagine the future, and dares realistic utopia and positive thinking. So often, dystopia takes the lead when it comes to talk about social causes. My opinion is that environmental causes differ, because it's not a group of people that are mistreated, it's all of us, and we struggle to have a vision of a better world, a world that goes beyond society. Utopia can help us create these visions.
Accepting eco-emotions: Coping with eco-anxiety, Karine St-Jean (book, French). The psychologist goes through our thoughts about psychological issues, asking us to reflect on our feelings and think mindfully about them. I'm working on finding a similar book in English, as I discovered it only exists in French for now...
What I find is the best part? She guides us through our most complex eco-emotions, and teaches us how to practice attunement with ourselves and go at our own pace. I honestly didn't finish the book yet, but it's helpful even in the first parts.
Finding out the impact of our individual actions
Even though I do study climate change academically, I believe that it's less important to acquire extensive knowledge about the issue right away than learning how to act from healthy and trustworthy sources, to which you can relate to. Not only can understanding solutions help us understand the mechanisms of the problems, it can also empower us, by bringing our locus of control a little bit back to us.
Self-evaluation: Carbon footprint calculators. Nos Gestes Climat (French - I liked Goodplanet's carbon calculator for English & French for example) is a great one if you want to know your individual impact, and the concrete and numbered ways you can improve your consumption!
What I find is the best part? It gives you concrete numbers on your impact, and the impact of simple actions you can take, adapted to your consumer profile. The example from Nos Gestes Climat just below shows the suggestions for a 6 tons of CO2/year emitter, and the impact this person can actually have by changing their habits.
Appropriation: Books, books, books. Learning about the environment can make you find the personal ways you want to start acting! Mine, for example, was zero waste consumption and reducing meat consumption. If you have no idea what your thing would be, you can also start by checking out mainstream literature on ecological steps, or the WWF's app We Act for Good (French).
What I find is the best part? You can choose your own path. And it makes great conversation topics and ideas for gifts!
Choosing what information comes to us: Social media and the news. It's not a secret that we and our behaviours are inflenced by the media. However, the media in general is failing a great deal to communicate about the climate. Some tools can therefore come in handy when it comes to customising our information flows so that it would include the environmental transition topic. My two favorites are Instagram accounts and news aggregators (like Feedly). You don't have to limit yourself to the environment, or even fill your news with catastrophic news. I believe the important part is that your "feeds" - that feed you - represent what's important to you and to the world. It can help you make sense of your actions and discover other ones that people who support the same thing as you have taken. A few ones I like for now - and I'll try to comment them in a more detailed fashion:
@jemerecycle (French), for ideas of simple zero-waste actions;
@chicksforclimate (English), to discover ecofeminism;
@goodful (English), for general mental health article;
@edgarsmission (English), if you're supporting animal welfare, or simply think sheeps are cute! Baby animals often trigger positive emotions for us; mixing a cause and a dose of cuteness overload can be really satisfying!
The challenge of the collective (in progress...)
Even when we're fully commited to the environmental cause, we can feel as though our actions have no repercussions. Some of us can even feel isolated or judged for our new lifestyles, especially if the people around us won't consider adopting the same one (on the top of my head, if you're a vegetarian or a vegan, you get what I'm saying). Influencing our social and economical environment is a strong and challenging key to enhance the environmental transition (Griessinger, T.). My next goal for this section is to identify the keys to help understand our place as a cog of society, as well as finding tools and resources - or create some, in this category - to act on our surroundings. The three axis of my study are:
Talking to skeptics. One of the most frustrating things for someone who's committed to a cause is people who don't understand it, and won't even consider opening themselves up to it (if you're a vegetarian or a vegan, I'm looking at you...). However, understanding why many of us are still not acting, whether we are aware of the issue or not, can - I assume - be a key in solving climate inaction.
Knowing and changing the environment of our everyday situation. We are all doing a job, going to a school or frequenting circles that don't always match our values. Sometimes, we can decide to change them - take on a new career, a new academic path, joining new social places - but very often, we have to tolerate this dissonance to continue enjoying what we're doing, as we want to stay. In those cases, it might be possible to change things anyway, and work on making the situation match our principles.
Change to the greater scale ? Very often, we believe we're not important enough to change things on a global level. In this section, I'll approach global societal topics like political involvement, cultural media, and press communications.
Requesting your help
This particular article aims to help people who are interested in acting for the climate understand what their next step is. It started out with my favorite resources and methods to use, but I hope that it will evolve to match more of your needs and expectations. Please tell me in the comments or using the contact form of the website what would be most useful to you!
Karine St-Jean (2020), How to Cope with Eco-anxiety and turning your eco-emotions into an engine for change.
Thibaud Griessinger, 2019: Notre Cerveau Face A La Crise Ecologique. [Video]. Ted Conferences. Watch Online.
Morten L. Kringelbach, How cute things hijack our brains and drive behaviour. [Article] The Conversation. Read Online.