By Anna Weinberg
One of my greatest friends always tells me that when she gets stressed about the state of our global climate, she feels assured knowing that I’ve committed to saving humankind from climate catastrophe. As she is a teacher, I then respond that I sleep soundly at night knowing that she is single-handedly assuring the progressive education and development of our future generations. We’ve got our bases covered.
Whether the fate of humanity or all our nation’s children rests on either of our shoulders only time will tell (I’ll admit I’m skeptical, to say the least). But one thing remains clear to me: I’m so grateful for all the people around me fighting their good fights.
Climate change is huge. Overwhelming. Exhausting. Guilt-inducing. I need to take regular news breaks to keep my sanity in check. Once you start parsing the issue apart and looking at the myriad ways this behemoth is being addressed, it can feel almost more staggering: conservation of our biodiversity; supporting our farming communities; shifting our consumerism-based economy; and vast industry innovation are just to name a few.
Good thing I don’t have to take that on all on my own: Climate Smart Missoula’s community partners and fellow Energy Corps host organizations assure that we have our bases covered. Home ReSource and Noelle continue to champion zero waste; the National Wildlife Federation and Andie advocate for our resilient native habitats and wildlife; the Clark Fork Coalition and Heather educate our community on the importance of our river systems to our public and environmental health; and many more of us continue to chip away at the splintery pieces of this puzzle.
And sometimes that diversity of tactics gets confusing. Sometimes we all sit around together and wonder out loud how we all connect to each others’ good fights. And within that, our strategies often also vary. Are we talking mitigation or adaptation? Activism or education? How do you factor in the need for everything?
It’s a big job, but Missoula is up to the challenge. Climate Smart Missoula, Missoula County, and the City of Missoula are currently leading a county-wide climate resiliency planning effort to better understand and address our community’s greatest vulnerabilities to climate change, building off of the many local efforts that have already been underway. This process was kicked off last December with a Climate Vulnerabilities Workshop that brought a wide variety of experts and leaders together to discuss how climate change will affect their different sectors and communities.
At first glance, it might have been confusing how everything aligned: at one table sat emergency first responders, and at the table adjacent sat farmers and scientists. But climate change touches everyone and everything, and every piece of our local community and economy will be and already is being affected. We all sat hunched around tables for hours as folks dove deeply into how a changing planet will affect their fields. Folks brainstormed different sector-specific impacts, and looked at which of those were of the highest priority to address. People left the workshop tired but buoyed by fellowship and that special adrenaline-coursing energy that comes with direct action.
It was truly inspirational to sit among such devoted, articulate leaders who care just as deeply as everyone else who is trying to make sense of our environmental state. I felt grateful for everyone there taking on a piece of this puzzle. Though we all are fighting our own good fights with different tactics and strategies, we are all staring down the chaos of climate change united as a community. Thank goodness for that.