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10 Things Every Parent Should Do to Respond to the Climate Crisis

Below is the list of “10 things every parent should do to respond to the climate emergency,” as presented by PCI’s Executive Director Asher Miller in Corvallis, Oregon in May 2019, along with some resources.

1. Recognize that this is, in fact, an emergency.

2. Own this, but not on your own.

Let yourself feel the fear, the sadness, the anxiety, the dread. Let yourself be imperfect. But then act. And don’t go it alone. Start or find a support group of neighbors, friends, family, congregation members, that meets regularly to offer peer support.

3. Talk to your kids.

If they are old enough or, if you don’t have them, talk to the parents of the kids in your life — grandkids, nieces, nephews, whomever. They are scared. And they need to know that you are, too, but that you’re committed to them and their future.

4. Set aside 1 hour a week to begin with to work on this.

That’s only 1/168th of your time, or 1/112th of your waking hours, or to be even more generous, 1/40th of a full-time job. I’m serious. Put it on your calendar. Set it aside. See it as part of your job.

5. Shift your personal and household choices.

Remember… we need a 50% reduction in the next ten years. It’s not realistic to get there overnight, but that’s the target we have to work towards. Part of this is a shift in mindset: Embrace every inconvenience — walking/biking instead of driving… what you buy… where and how you travel — because it provides you with an opportunity to be part of the war effort. And part of it is acknowledging that what’s required is not a matter of tinkering at the edges… it’s a wholesale shift in how to we live, move, eat, work, and connect.

6. Put Corvallis on an emergency footing.

Our community took an important first step a few years ago by adopting a climate action plan that sets an ambitious target for greenhouse gas emissions reductions. But we have yet to mobilize. Our city council needs to hear from you that you recognize this is an emergency, that you want the City to dedicate more resources to climate action, and that you are committed to supporting and working towards implementation of that plan.

7. Engage politically at the state and national level.

A lot of the levers that we need to push to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions will require state and federal policy. That means supporting state bills like HR2020, which puts a price on carbon, or potentially even a national Green New Deal. It means making sure that our elected representatives also recognize the climate emergency and are committed to taking bold action.

8. Build resilience here in our community.

As we experience the effects of climate change and undergo the dramatic shift away from our dependence on fossil fuels, our community’s ability to provide more of its own food and energy — and to provide housing and mobility that’s not car dependent — will be key, as will our preparedness for the inevitable environmental and economic shocks to come.

9. Engage your kids in decision-making.

Partly to give them a sense of agency, and partly because, c’mon, they are smarter than us and hopefully less encumbered by practical matters. This climate emergency is anything but practical.

10. Connect to nature and each other.

Ultimately, this climate emergency is a result of our disconnection with the planet upon which we depend. We must relearn how to live in balance with the natural world, and that begins with spending time in nature. It also means reconnecting with one another and our community. Our ability to work together with the natural world and one another is going to be critical to navigating the way ahead. I can’t think of experiences or skills more important to provide to our children.