The media’s predominant narrative (80%, to be exact) around climate change is doom and gloom.
With all the bad news, it’s pretty understandable that most of us want to shut our eyes and pull the covers back over our heads (metaphorically speaking) when it comes to climate change. What are we supposed to do anyway?”
The funny thing is that most of us actually want to do something to protect the future. We’re not looking to hide out in bed all day. (There are lots of similar poll numbers, but to cite one: a 2020 Pew study found that two-thirds of Americans - well over half - thought the government was doing too little to fight climate change.)
We are worried and we care.
We just question what we should do.
We have even more questions about whether or not anything we do could make a difference. We're stymied. We're skeptical. We're doubtful.
Doubt is insidious. It holds us at bay from making any real change, any real progress. I don’t often find Shakespeare all that relatable, but he did nail some big themes. And, about doubt, he said: “Our doubts are traitors, / and make us lose the good we oft might win, / by fearing to attempt.” Our doubt stops us from attempting.
To counter the drain of doubt: our individual actions matter - and matter a lot - for two big reasons. And, these two reasons combined are larger than the sum of their parts.
First, what we practice grows stronger. You’ve heard the cliche. And, psychological research has proven this one to be true. Our actions reinforce our beliefs. Practicing climate-friendly behavior keeps the issue top-of-mind and strengthens our commitment to further action. The small actions keep us engaged in the big picture.
Second, what you do influences those around you. You don’t have to be an “influencer” to be influential. A lot of social science data (ahem, come to the online book discussion on Change: How to Make Big Things Happen for more on this one) shows that complex behavior change (like putting solar panels on your roof) is mostly driven by what the people you know - your neighbors, your friends, your peers - are doing. We all want to fit in and do the right thing. We see what is happening around us and comply with the social norms.
These two things start a chain reaction. They get us engaged and they shift the social norms - they raise the bar. As Katharine Hayhoe wrote in Saving Us: “Important problems don’t get fixed until enough ordinary people mobilize to take action… Sharing our opinions and actions alters social norms... This in turn makes us more likely to support politicians who want climate action... It is like knocking over the first domino: action eventually changes us all.”
If you're interested in digging in more to what you can do to help and why it will work, shoot me an email or signup for one of One Small Stone’s upcoming workshops. You can also join our regular 20-minute meditation sessions, because finding more peace in ourselves surely helps to cultivate peace in the world. Win win.