Faith Alliance for Climate Solutions

A 12-Step Program for a Healthy Mind and Environment in Today’s World

andrea, February 4, 2017

While digesting the recent election results, I’ve considered how to cope and to protect what we value.  Here is my tentative 12-step program.  

  1. Accept the Electoral College result, but do not acquiesce in a policy rampage against the climate, the environment or the health and welfare of people and ecosystems.  The pro-environment candidate got 2.5 million more votes despite a barrage of fake news and false claims.  There was no “mandate” to destroy legal protections for the environment. Preserving the climate, our health, and natural resources should be nonnegotiable.
  2.  Get outside and remind yourself why we care about our planet and natural heritage.  Enjoy trails, hills, mountains, streams, lakes, sky, wind, and wildlife.  Breathe deeply.  Think.  Bring others.
  3.  Look at your partner, children, relatives, neighbors and friends and consider what you can do to protect their health, our world, and our environmental bequest to future generations.
  4. Take steps in your own life to reduce emissions of CO2 and other pollutants and unnecessary uses of energy and resources.  Use less energy and water; cut use of pesticides; install solar if possible.  Reduce meat consumption and food waste.  Drive less and more efficiently.
  5. Commit to using your voice, feet, pen and social media to protect our climate, health and environment.  Speak out to replace pollution of air, land and water with efficiency, conservation and clean energy. Defend our communities and natural heritage from damaging chemicals, development and exploitation.  Propose better solutions.  End “climate silence.”  
  6.  Do not be intimidated by bullies and front-groups that deny human-caused climate change and seek to dismantle environmental protections. Push back.  You are not alone: most people support clean energy, efficiency and environmental protections, and most realize that carbon pollution is harming the climate and ourselves. We dare not be a silent majority.
  7. Call and write to your elected representatives, agencies, and community organizations that may influence them.  Speak up at public meetings. Put your representative on the spot. Local successes can build toward larger ones.
  8.  Seek common ground with those who disagree rather than demonizing them. Listen.  Common values—families, health, religion, morality, natural beauty and heritage, and community—support our cause.  Speak their language and address their hopes and worries.  Engage where you can, and build bridges from there.  Beneath the hostility stirred up by politicians, we have more in common than not.  
  9. Build alliances.  It’s hard to win if we fight alone.  Do not limit alliances to traditional environmental groups.  Protecting the environment is a justice and moral issue.
  10. Support and work with organizations, like the Sierra Club, that fight to protect our environment, heritage and health.  Use reliable organizations and news sources to keep up with research, risks and events.
  11. Realize that we are part of a larger movement to save ourselves, our descendants and our planet from uncontrolled exploitation.  The entire world has recognized the urgent need to stop global warming and to address other critical health and environmental issues. We have the moral and factual high ground.  
  12. Do not give up.  We will win with informed persistence, but only if we fight.  We must.  

William Penniman is a retired energy attorney who volunteers as Conservation Chair for the Virginia Chapter of the Sierra Club; he also serves on the Board. The Sierra Club and the Faith Alliance are climate advocacy partners. Faith Alliance would like to thank William for us to allow us to us his piece for our blog.