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Chris Morrill

Small actions give hope in the face of climate change: ED Report August 2023

By Chris Morrill, Executive Director


Argh! The news! The tragedy and devastation in Maui. An ocean in Florida that has become a hot tub. And a hurricane in Southern California. It all gets a bit overwhelming.


As the climate disasters continue to pile up with no end in sight, each event’s coverage seems to follow a similar script. After recapping what happened, reporters run through a series of questions. Was this preventable? Generally, it didn’t have to be so bad. Was it related to climate change? Likely, but no one event is wholly attributable to climate change. Ultimately, is this the new normal? Yeah, in all likelihood.

And it’s probably going to get worse.


Continually talking about these events as the “new normal”, only furthers our collective exhaustion and melancholy. These days there are no breaks to catch our breath. When the tragedies pile up, one after another, it’s easy to lose hope or see the problem as intractable. There is a delicate balance there. The understanding that the problem is real and the impacts are significant, but also knowing that every little improvement will matter too.


Every tenth of a degree we avoid, every house better prepared for disaster, and every acre we protect from sprawl will mean less human tragedy and disruption. Most actions feel small against the size of the climate change challenge. This is at the root of our push into despair.

An avenue toward hope

Even for someone like myself, who is privileged to get to work on issues related to climate and the environment daily, it is hard not to feel down. I have to say, though, that the ability to take action really allows me a greater sense of agency. These events and the prospect of a bleak future are not just happening to me. I firmly believe that even small actions, in addition to having a tangible impact in the aggregate, can allow us to feel like there is an avenue toward hope.


I also really appreciate the role that land, river, and ocean conservation play in this challenge before us. It’s more tangible than the reduction of greenhouse gases and the development of clean energy because there’s a direct impact. Changing land management policies in favor of conservation will allow animals to adapt and provide space for native plants to migrate.


We need to find small outlets where we feel better about our place in the world and our ability to affect outcomes. I encourage you if the news of the day feels overwhelming and you begin to see yourself spiraling into apathy, to find action items, however small. It will matter.


Those might be planting native plants in your garden, joining a local climate group, or reducing your waste. These items are small but important. Not just for the action themselves, but also for the resilience it takes to continue to take action in the face of overwhelming stresses.


Our job is to maintain hope and to know that the actions we take and our ability to defiantly say that a better world is possible is an important act unto itself. I know the news is bleak. It’s the job of each of us to continue to fight and maintain our hope that whatever trajectory we’re on can be changed. We can evolve into something better than what would have been. That is a radical approach and will have significant impacts.


Thank you for being a part of it, and, as always, for your support for CalWild