WEN community members will join together virtually to discuss themes and takeaways from Margaret Klein Salamon’s Facing the Climate Emergency on June 26, 2023 (Salamon herself will also be joining the discussion!). We invite and encourage anyone to join in to discuss their own feelings around climate change so we can connect and support each other as we act on climate. For more details about the event, see the registration link here.
By Monica Dwight, WEN Board Member
From books like Drawdown and Speed & Scale to policy documents like the Paris Agreement or the Green New Deal, there is no shortage of roadmaps to address climate change. But what guidance exists to reconcile the complex emotions that inevitably accompany the evolving climate crisis? In her book, Facing the Climate Emergency, Margaret Klein Salamon, PhD offers an antidote to the symptoms of climate anxiety and climate grief. Hint: climate action and community are involved.
By training, Salamon is a clinical psychologist, but during the final year of her PhD program, she had her own “climate freakout” that inspired her to swiftly take action on climate. Due to her background in psychology, she explored how we might scale up the benefits of psychotherapy to spur progress in the climate movement. In what she calls a “self-help book for climate,” she shares three keys to be an effective climate activist and to ultimately achieve sustainability for the planet–and for yourself.
First, she notes that it’s important to acknowledge how truly challenging the reality of climate change is. From the increasingly common atmospheric rivers to the wildfire smoke that now haunts the San Francisco Bay Area each fall, it’s undeniable that climate change is upon us. This is challenging to grapple with, perhaps especially for those doing climate work each day and for marginalized groups that will undoubtedly be disproportionately impacted by the negative impacts of climate change. Salamon discusses the importance of practicing self-compassion when navigating the negative emotions that arise as a result of the changing climate.
Secondly, she believes that everyone needs to take climate action. Disruptive activists around the world are shaking governments and businesses awake–reminding them of the realities and demanding progress on climate change. But it’s not enough for activists to bear the load; we must each lend our voice and our respective superpowers to create effective and lasting impact in the fight against climate change. Salamon shares that on her personal account, during the last 10 years of taking climate action, she’s felt an incredible shift in her personal life towards a greater mission and purpose. She’s recounted these as the best years of her life. Beyond governments and businesses, activists are also shaking us awake. And while Salamon believes that people don’t necessarily like to be shaken, it needs to happen.
Lastly, Salamon reminds us of the power of connecting with community to address climate change. On the topic of climate, people often feel alienated, like others don’t understand their climate anxiety or grief. But by connecting with others to talk about these feelings, we can find the solidarity that is necessary to take effective climate action. In this book, Salamon not only encourages us to voice our feelings about climate change with family, friends, and colleagues to find community and build personal resilience, but she also highlights the power and political impacts raising our voices can have.
The Women’s Environmental Network (WEN) is a community of female-identifying individuals eager to support each other in the fight against climate change. During regular book club meetings, as well as additional events, WEN offers a space for folks to connect about feelings around climate change, as well as empower each other with tools and resources to effectively take climate action.
If you can’t make it to the June event, but want to support someone else on their climate activism journey, consider contributing to the Climate Emergency Fund, Margaret’s fund to support disruptive climate activists.