Squirrel Farts and Climate Action
I focus my blogs on climate communication. How we can tell better stories and create better climate messages. This subject floats my boat. I am passionate about it. But I am also concerned about immediate climate action.
In my recent post Losing Hope, I related how overwhelming the climate crisis is. This is especially true if we only focus on the big issues or look at climate on a macro scale. Who can keep the icecaps from melting?
There are lots of ways to work on climate change from civic disruption, to lobbying, to technology development. There is no one right way, because the problem is multifaceted. Focusing on climate messaging is a climate solution accelerator. Some of our activities need to focus on accelerators like strategy, finance, policy, messaging, psychology, and communications.
But a couple of years ago, I made a decision to take tangible action on a personal and on a local level. I did this because I got tired of reading articles and posts about ‘the conflict of capitalism and climate,’ or ‘how sustainability and net zero might or might not be compatible,’ or those telling me that ‘we are about to go extinct.’ What should I do? These esoteric articles are not likely to change our carbon footprint more than a squirrel’s fart.
As climate activists we sometimes tend to live in our heads and let the real ground level work fall to someone else. Spend five minutes on social media if you don’t believe me. I’m not saying that some of these arguments aren’t worth having or that awareness isn’t important. Just that they aren’t sufficient by themselves to amount to much. They raise the proverbial, “So what?” question.
We now have the opportunity to put our projects where the money is. The IRA passed and billions of dollars are buried like nuts in the fall. A lot of these dollars exist in the form of incentives. In other words, no money flows unless there’s action at the state and local levels.
So, you can get a rebate on a heat pump or a tax credit for doing x, y, or z, but who is helping solve the local issues of education, facilitation, installation and support etc. to make this happen? Nothing happens until we install our first heat pump or solar panel. Nothing.
We know the next decade is critical. To my way of thinking, we need to begin to shift our actions en masse from creating awareness, from complaining, from fighting, to actual doing.
Think of it this way. We can fight the next pipeline or we can remove the need for fossil fuels by putting in heat pumps. Yes, we likely need to do both. But it seems like there’s isn’t enough of the second going on in any of the climate organizations I belong to.
In my town of 25,000, a small group has been able to get our city to develop and commit to a clean energy plan. Now we’re trying to figure out how to electrify 3,000 local homes and businesses, and how to address the 1268 households with severe energy burden.
It seems an overwhelming task. But it is immensely satisfying and realistically achievable. We’ve only installed our first heat pump. And we’ve haven’t gotten hung up on capitalism, or politics, or net zero. For me this is hope. Action is hope. I haven’t lost my idealism, but age has made me more focused and practical.
There are tens of thousands of local projects that need doing. Collectively, we must pick up the proverbial hammer. Think locally, act locally. Don’t worry, be happy. There’s some pithy aphorism I should add here like a thousand squirrels farting creates a big wind. We’re not squirrels. So let’s take action.
Thanks for all you do.
We are all connected. Savor the Earth!’™
L. Hobart Stocking