Climate Change: 2 Steps From Overwhelm to Empowerment

OVERWHELM: Climate change, oh my! The earth has warmed 1.4 degrees in the last century.  2000-2010 was the hottest decade on record. 2005 and 2010 tied for the hottest year!

Now, 1.4 degrees may not sound like a lot…I mean whether it is 78 or 79.4 seems like no big deal, right? Wrong.  Here is the bummer, it is ecologically significant and will impact you.  I will explain.

Stats from the EPA:

For every degree of warming we can expect:

  • 5-15% reduction in crop yield

  • 3-10% increase in the amount of rainfall and snow….more major storm events (floods…)

  • 5-10% decrease in some stream flows (some places will be getting much wetter others will find themselves in drought conditions)

  • 200-400% increase in wildfires in the northwest

The spectrum of projected temperature rise for the next 100 years is between 2-12 degrees!

Even if we are at the low end of that spectrum the changes are SIGNIFICANT.

What do these changes look like?

  • Food insecurity
  • Changes in rainfall frequency
  • Floods
  • Droughts
  • The Super-storm norm
  • Ocean warming and acidifying
  • Ice caps melting
  • Sea level rising

How’s everyone feeling? Depressed? Hopeless? Heavy? In denial? OVERWHELMED?

STEP 1: Shift focus.

This idea comes from Steven Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.

Circle of Influence vs. Circle of Concern

Yellow circle = Circle of influence: things in your life that are actually within your control. Blue circle =  Your circle of concern: these are all the things that keep you up at night that are outside of your control.  The above diagram depicts a person whose perspective is looking outside of themselves.  They may feel that their life is out of control, the world is happening to them, they may be glum, depressed, apathetic, a constant worrier…cynical and generally dis-empowered.

Or you could choose to focus on your circle of influence, looking inward.  Focus on areas of your life within your control. You can choose to adopt thoughts, actions, re-actions that empower you, which will only cause your circle of influence to grow and spread light to others. Look for positive changes you can make.

I show you this because the problems we are facing right now are great whether you are looking at climate change, the economy, the breakdown of communities, the degrading health of our country…we need more people to live their lives from an inspired and conscious place. We all play a part and have influence. Each of us must decide whether that influence is positive or negative. Every thought and decision we make, every dollar we spend is like casting a vote and it DOES MATTER, YOU MATTER.  ”If you ever think you’re too small to make a difference, try sleeping in a closed room with a mosquito.”- African Proverb

STEP 2: Take Action

I want to leave you one more visual which comes from Brian Johnson.  He talks about the dynamic tension between where you are and where you want to be…hold your two pointer fingers out in front of you about a foot apart- imagine a rubber-band strung between those two fingers.  Your right pointer finger represents where you are and your left pointer represents where you want to be. Feel that band of tension between the two. Take a deep breathe.  What happens to the tension if you take a step backwards, pulling your fingers away from one another? What if you take a giant leap forwards? Sling shot is the image coming to mind.  Have you ever sling shotted yourself… there is probably a place for the occasional slingshot as long as you can get your bearings again.  Brian challenges us to take baby steps towards where you want to be, slowly releasing that tension.  My challenge to you is to consciously choose a more empowered life for yourself and future generations.  Remember, as Brian says, take – baby steps, baby steps, baby steps. What is your baby step?

When overwhelm hits, shift focus and take action. Step into EMPOWERMENT.

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