Local Perspective: Even as the climate crisis worsens, hope can be found – Duluth News Tribune

Reading about triple-digit temperatures in Western Europe and the fires in London, there are times when I wonder if we’re going to find out, let alone make it out alive. I wonder if our anointed leaders have underestimated the seriousness of climate change and its destructive impact on the environment and the lives of millions of people. I wonder how we can remain hopeful at such a critical time on this planet.

In his book, “Dangerous Years: Climate Change, the Long Emergency, and the Way Forward,” David W. Orr expressed concern about the long road ahead of us as we try to figure out how to respond to the climate crisis. It reminds us that we have never faced such a formidable and dangerous challenge on a global level.

“As the speed of change increases…we have less and less time to ponder and ponder. Unwittingly, we have created an increasingly fragile house of cards that only hangs on the thin ecological, energy, social and economic threads,” Orr wrote.

With over 46 million people under heat advisories in the United States, we realize the climate is changing faster and with greater impacts than expected. These events are more serious and deadly than expected. And it is clear that we have not prepared enough for the devastating consequences of higher temperatures, out of control wildfires and long droughts.

Wendell Berry, in his essay, “Conservation And Local Economy,” spoke of the challenges we face in our response to the many changes in our environment and our way of life. Berry proclaimed that our hope for the future is to change the way we think and act. And it is vital that we “always search for the authentic foundations of hope”.

Where do we find these signs of hope? Who out there steps forward and shows us how to think and act differently? How can we embrace and empower ourselves to deal with this climate emergency?

According to Orr, “Hope is a verb with its sleeves rolled up as something we do in daily practice, not just something we wish for or talk about. It is a discipline that requires skill, skill, consistency and courage. It is practical. It connects us to each other and to real places, animals, trees, waters and landscapes. The hopeful are patient, not passive “They are the creators of the gyroscopes of positive change that could, in time, redeem human perspective. They are people who will connect us to better possibilities waiting to be born.”

You will find hope if you participate in groups such as Duluth For Clean Water, Minnesota Interfaith Power And Light, the Sierra Club, Duluth Climate And Energy Network, and Citizens Climate Lobby.

You will find hope if you read books like “Being The Change” by Peter Kalmus; “Hope Beneath Our Feet”, edited by Martin Keogh; “Active Hope” by Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone; and “The Future We Choose” by Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac.

You will find hope if you reach out and volunteer for a local environmental justice project or participate in a climate education program.

These days, I see and feel hope as I watch three adjacent homes on Jefferson Street redevelop their front yards. I See and Meet Hope with Earth Harmony Book Club on the second Tuesday of each month at At Sara’s Table. I see and hope to hear people who report walking and biking around town instead of getting in their car.

Hope is a collaboration between head, heart and hands. It manifests when we choose to act with courage, compassion and creativity at any given time. And, right now, our city needs to act with a greater sense of urgency and depth.

Every day we must seek out and support the authentic foundations of hope. And, at the same time, we must find it within ourselves to become the human infrastructure that digs and lays the foundations for a healthier and more equitable city for all.

Hope is when you look around the space you are in and ask yourself: what can I do in my personal life, in my neighborhood, or in my city to make Duluth more climate resilient and sustainable? The climate emergency facing us forces us to ask ourselves this question now.

Tone Lanzillo is a member of the Loaves and Fishes community in Duluth, an in-home volunteer at the Dorothy Day House, an active participant in the Duluth/365 climate initiative, and a regular contributor to the News Tribune Opinion page.

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