In a cozy corner of our beautiful new Medford Public Library (the first public library in Massachusetts to be net-zero, meaning that the library produces more energy than it consumes), a group of eager like-minded residents gathered for the inaugural meeting of the Climate Change Book Club, "Planet and Pages". The group was diverse in background and professions but united in a desire to understand climate issues, grow awareness of issues and actions, and share ideas and fears of combating the crisis we face.
The featured book for the first discussion was "The Future We Choose: Surviving the Climate Crisis" by Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac. This book was chosen because of the authors pivotal roles in shaping the Paris Agreement, and because they provide a powerful narrative that not only acknowledged the urgency of the climate crisis but also offered tangible solutions and hope.
The discussion started with our feelings about the stark contrasts painted by the "broken world" and "saved world" scenarios in the book. Participants shared their thoughts on how important these future life descriptions are, even when they are anxiety inducing, for initiating collective action and how hard it is for those who do not see the effects of climate change as readily in their daily lives to understand or imagine these scenarios from happening.
We then moved onto the changing "Mindsets" chapters of the book and talked about what resonated with each of us about how we think about the issues and options ahead of us. How we can reframe things to garner more support and action from people, and how critical remaining optimist is to finding solutions. There were great comments on the intersectionality of solutions from individual, city, state, national, and international actions. Participants shared news about positive solutions already achieved here in Medford. We identified how complex finding the right solution can be with examples of projects or products that in trying to help has created new problems to solve, and perhaps most importantly we shared the idea or action we wanted to focus on this coming year as inspired by the action steps presented in the book.
As we closed this first discussion, the anticipation for future meetings and continued growth within our community of climate activists was palpable. The desired purpose of the book group was to help committed individuals feel supported while reading and learning about subjects that are challenging, complex, and scary. We shared ideas and others books, podcasts, and collective action ideas, and it felt inspiring and uplifting, two critical components if we are to be the part of solving humankind's greatest challenge to date.
Some of my personal takeaways from this book
There are two critical dates 2030 and 2050 (end of the line is almost here!) There is no more time to wait for action
Collective action is critical and the hardest thing to achieve
Changing the way we think about the problem will change our ability to solve it. Mindsets matter.
Intentional directions - Optimism, regeneration, circular, common good, long-term thinking
Invest in the green economy - know where my money is going from pensions, banks, and investing.
See yourself as a citizen not a consumer
Don't confuse vision with goals.
Do not assume someone else will do something about this!
WE NEED TO PLANT AS MANY TREES AS WE CAN
New Personal Mantra - "You are not powerless. In fact, your every action is suffused with meaning, and you are part of the greatest chapter of human achievement in history" (p42)