Author: How to Change the World Team
Climate anxiety is a real and pressing concern in today’s fast-moving world. While it's essential to acknowledge and address the emotional toll of the climate crisis, it's equally important to channel these feelings into positive action.
Action is the best antidote to climate anxiety.
By educating ourselves, engaging in collective action, and finding diverse teams of colleagues to work together with, we can find new ways to combat climate change. It’s by taking actions like those that the founders of every climate-focused NGO and green energy company got started; and there are plenty of ways to get engaged.
Changing the world is a team sport. Where will you find your team?
Find your path to climate action
The majority of people share some level of climate anxiety. Surrounding yourself with compassionate, like-minded colleagues is vital to creating a sense of empowerment, forward momentum and happiness. Focusing on something outside of yourself and being part of a team working to make a positive impact is, we believe, the single most effective way to manage climate anxiety. And it has the additional, substantial benefit of adding to the global collective efforts to create a safer, more sustainable future!
One path is climate activism; but it’s far from the only path.
For some people, becoming a climate activist is an effective path to action. Climate activism takes many forms, ranging from joining climate strikes with organisations like Greta Thunberg’s Fridays for the Future, to signing climate petitions through platforms like Change.org. The goal of all types of climate activism is to apply pressure to governments and businesses to increase and accelerate the actions they are taking on climate change.
That said, while activism can be a powerful tool, it’s far from the only way to take climate action. To tackle climate change we need activists; but we also need engineers, accountants, entrepreneurs, doctors, and so, so many more professionals, across sectors, becoming the environmental stewards who are driving sustainable social and technological innovation across their domains of expertise. That’s how we create a truly global transition to a sustainable world.
How can I find my path to climate action?
Not everyone feels comfortable being a climate activist; and it’s entirely okay if you don’t. You can still take meaningful action on climate change in many other ways.
Whether you’re on the frontlines of a protest, want to develop technical solutions to climate challenges or are a gifted communicator who can share climate stories with the world, figure out what your personal contribution might look like.
To find your path to climate action, we recommend you start the same way we start every one of our How to Change the World programs. Begin by looking at the unique skills, knowledge and passions that you bring to the table and then explore how those intersect with the needs of your local, educational or professional community.
Start with your passions, knowledge and skills
Whatever your background and experience, we know that you already have something to bring to the climate action movement. You wouldn’t be reading this if you didn’t. It could be first-hand knowledge of how mounting heatwaves are impacting the elderly or homeless in your community; or it could be the passion and skills to develop new technologies to reduce carbon emissions. Working to tackle either of these issues — or any of ten thousand others — can be an important contribution to the climate action movement.
The important thing is to identify issues that you feel passionate about and where you feel you have something to contribute. The reason we start from this overlap is simple. This ensures you are inspired, empowered and equipped to keep working on the problem when the going gets tough. When trying to tackle any complex, real-world societal problem, you can be assured that you will go through moments of frustration and confusion.
What we know from running our programs with over 10,000 people is that everyone has multiple issues at this overlap. It sometimes just takes a little digging to find them. The steps in the short process outlined at the end of this blog are designed to help you look for yours.
Explore your community
Once you’ve identified the issues you are passionate about, the next step is finding how that relates to the climate problems of a community that you care about. This could be the local community you live in, or a professional or educational community that you spend your days with. Whatever the case, we guarantee that climate change is – and will continue to – impact that community.
Of course, every community is different. The next step in finding your path to climate action is figuring out how your issues align with the problems your chosen community is struggling with. Step three of the process below is designed to help you explore your chosen community's climate challenges.
Find your team
Whatever problem you narrow down on through this process, you will not be alone in caring about it. There will be others who share your passion; and those others can bring diverse knowledge, skills and perspectives to join with yours. This type of collaboration between diverse minds is where the best ideas for tackling climate change will come from.
Finding your team does take time and exploration. Joining and being active in communities of like minded people is the best way to start. From joining a local environmental group, to participating in relevant professional initiatives, to engaging with our How to Change the World community, there are a growing number of great options out there. We encourage you to get started with one (or more!) of them today!
Moving from thinking to doing
Each of us has the opportunity to turn climate anxiety into a catalyst for meaningful change. By finding our own paths to taking climate action, and then finding a team to work with, we all have the power to create a more sustainable and hopeful future for ourselves, and for generations to come.
While the sheer number and scale of the sustainability challenges we face can lead us to get stuck in analysis paralysis, it is vital to move from thinking about these problems to actually doing something about them. Only through taking action can we begin to learn, iterate and make a tangible impact.
One way to get started: take an hour and dive in!
1. Think about your passions
Grab a pen and paper and take 15 minutes to brainstorm around the issues that get you fired up. Perhaps you are particularly passionate about regenerative agriculture. Maybe you can’t stop talking about the role of women in climate resilience. Whatever it is, get it down on paper.
2. Identify your skills and knowledge
Then, on a separate page, take another 15 minutes to make a list of your skills and knowledge. These could be subject areas or disciplines like engineering, design or languages; or they could be broader skills like public speaking, analytical thinking, or that you’re tech savvy. Don’t forget to include your personal experiences in this list. You might have really good first-hand experience with anything from damage to local ecosystems, to food waste in your local restaurants or grocery stores. If you’re stuck, try looking back at previous school reports or performance reviews, or asking people close to you for feedback.
3. Explore the problems your community is facing
Go online and take 30 minutes to do some initial research to create a high level list of the areas of adaptation and resilience challenges currently faced by your community. You can start by looking at your local government websites, searching for local groups and NGOs, and looking at sites like the C40 Scaling Up Climate Action website. These sites will give you a basic understanding of the issues that are a problem within your community; which means you are guaranteed to find local stakeholders who care about those problems.
4. Chose a problem where all three lists overlap
After just an hour of creating three lists, it is very likely to still feel a little daunting to choose which problem to focus on. But from our team’s many decades of combined experience, we’ve found one resounding truth: effective climate action comes from getting stuck in working on a problem – almost any climate related problem – and then continuing to learn and iterate your understanding of the problem as you go.
It’s also easy to spend weeks – or even years – stuck in analysis paralysis; trying to understand all aspects of all the different climate problems before you choose what to start work on. Unfortunately, that approach can often end up reinforcing climate anxiety rather than channelling the anxiety into action. By simply picking something and getting stuck in, you both build momentum for yourself, and you create opportunities to connect with other like minded colleagues to start building your team.
Our advice: pick one problem and get started. In every one of our How to Change the World Bootcamps we’re always amazed at how much people can accomplish in even a short period of time when they put their minds to it!