Making a Human-Scale Difference About the Climate Monster on the Planet

By PATRICIA HINKLEY

Like millions of people, do you feel frozen in place at the mere mention of climate? Do you want to put your head under a pillow and ignore it all? What if you could understand how important you are to our world?

Urgent warnings about climate change repeatedly fill the news, as a warming world reveals itself over and again, its effects both far and near.

Friends and families may live in the path of fires, hurricanes, or droughts. Increased asthma, diminished crop yields, eroded beaches, seawater seepage onto city streets, and intense summer heat may have affected you in ways which challenge any ignoring.

Normal life is being altered more frequently and more fiercely, but what to do, what to do? The problem is huge, and how can we possibly begin?

We people, one by one, have a chance to contribute meaningfully. I don’t know about you, but my practical actions pull me out of simply fretting and hiding; I feel better. When I listen to others about their feelings and share what I am doing, my confidence about the future infects them with the very real potential to make a difference too. Together our solo behaviors build, and before you know it, the numbers of us changing our habits becomes many. We are no longer alone in our quest: each small action builds momentum to where millions of us together lessen the carbon heating the atmosphere. Such people power is a momentous step toward influencing responsible leadership on climate change.

But you ask, how to begin? Each one of us can take many simple actions. It’s all about changing habits and becoming aware of what we do. Think of the effect of leaving lights on when you leave a room. The electric meter keeps spinning. Consider the wasted energy of a thermostat turned high so you can wear short sleeves in winter. Adjusting your clothing to the seasons is an important habit change.

The important piece here is that these contributions to a positive future lead us to feeling gratified about our place in the world. Most of us have collectively turned away from the climate-change issues for much too long. Let’s bring what is overwhelming down to human scale and talk about it with friends and family. It’s time to develop a new habit of feeling good about our place in the world and to speaking about it.

Rhode Island resident Patricia Hinkley is the author of “Climate Sense: A Practical Guide to Finding Solutions and Keeping Your Cool.”