|Hannah and Rachel from Birmingham|
getting their brave on!
Well, as so often happens in this world, synchronicity kicked in and the very next morning, an article on self-silencing around climate change came across my desk. In it, Chris Mooney for the Washington Post outlines research done by Nathaniel Geiger and Janet Swim of Penn State University. It turns out that I'm not alone. A lot of people self-silence when they think others aren't as concerned about climate change as they are. The researchers found that:
"[P]eople are often afraid to talk about climate change with their peers [let alone near strangers in a restaurant!] because they wrongly think those peers are more doubtful about climate change than they actually are. This incorrect perception -- which the authors dub 'pluralistic ignorance' -- then makes people fear that others will think they're less competent [or unkind, in my case], and thus, view them with less respect, if they bring up the subject or talk about it."Reading that reminded me of the year we discovered on Christmas Eve that we hadn't been invited to a traditional Christmas get-together the next day. I was able to laugh it off (made for a very relaxing holiday!), but my hubby was more bemused than amused when the only explanation we could think of was that we'd talked about climate change at the previous year's Christmas dinner. We're pretty sure other friends have shunned (well, dropped) us because we have a lot to say on the topic of the changing climate.
Certainly I've had friends suggest that I not be so negative (hmm, well, um, the end of most life on the planet will certainly give jellyfish the chance to flourish ... how's that for positive?), or not be so emotional (we seem to have chosen a path to extinction, ho hum, pass the peas ... is that better?). Have you seen my article on this topic in Alternatives Journal? Love in the Time of Climate Change. (Not my title -- I wanted to call it Can Deep Green Climate Change Activists Have Friends and Find True Love?)
When I speak to educators and other audiences, I often underscore the necessity of summoning our courage and compassion to becoming heroes for today's children -- and all future generations -- of all species. I hadn't registered that the simple act of speaking about climate change to others and speaking up about it in front of others is actually an act of courage.
Since I read that article, I've got my brave on and have started fighting back against the deniers (who are still around in full force despite the sheer weight of the evidence of climate chaos from around the world) by calling them out in the comments sections of online articles about climate disruption. They're often so irrational, so lacking in compassion, or so just plain wrong that it's not at all hard to respond to them.
In other words, one doesn't have to be a climate scientist to counter the deniers, one just has to be a person who understands, as Greenpeace Canada's Laura Yates does, that "climate change is the most urgent threat humanity has ever faced." She wants to "be part of the generation that listens to the science, moves away from fossil fuels and begins the clean energy revolution." I'm a lot older, but so do I!
Just remember to talk compassion for the children and the world's most vulnerable who are already losing their lives or their livelihoods, their food security and water sources, their homes and entire homelands. You can also mention the precautionary principle, thinking like an ancestor, and how you'd like to leave behind something other than progenycide as your legacy. Let's all start speaking up on climate change!