What You Do + Climate Change = Activism

by Dan Rubin, PsyD

Like many of us, I’ve been concerned about climate change and what I can do about it. I’ve made lifestyle changes to reduce my carbon footprint and I’ve donated to groups like 350.org, but I wanted to do more. But, I didn’t feel that I had much to offer or much extra time or energy to dedicate. I already have a demanding job and I’m busy with my young kids, so life’s already pretty full. I was frustrated. I sometimes wished I were a scientist or engineer (or rich), so I could make more of an impact. I began spending time on climate twitter, following scientists, technologists, and activists who are experts in their field. I was looking for answers and inspiration, and was completely surprised by what I found.

This is what I learned.

You are probably already an expert at something. You are good at music, fixing cars, making friends, writing code, running a business, being a parent, and more. You are passionate about food, hiking, board games, math, painting, building, reading, and so on. You already do a a lot and you already know a lot, and this is exactly what you have to offer. All you have to do is link what you do with climate change, and then you are an activist.

The formula is to success is this:

What You Do + Climate Change = Activism.

Here’s how it works. I’m a clinical psychologist, so my activism formula is “Psychology + Climate Change.” I’m a therapist and teacher. I can have a impact as an activist by focusing on what I already know. I can do this by providing therapy to people suffering from climate-related anxiety or grief, or by offering therapy to activists or scientists struggling with burnout. I can teach the public about anxiety, trauma, grief, and behavioral change, anything related to the psychological aspects of climate change. I was amazed to discover that all I need to do is be myself. All I need to do is I what I already do, and simply aim those skills at climate change. This is how I can be an activist, and this is how you can be an activist too.

So, let’s say that what you already know is music. “Music + Climate Change” could be writing songs about climate, encouraging other musicians to do the same, talk with people in the music community about climate change. If what you know is fixing cars, learn about EVs, clean energy or sustainability related to cars. In addition, you can talk to others who work on cars about EVs, climate change, etc., or see how being “green” can be part of your company’s brand and mission. If you are good at making friends, then talk with friends about climate change or use your social skills to get people involved in activist groups by serving as a volunteer coordinator or by doing public outreach.

I think you get the picture. Be creative. Be bold. View what you already know and what you already do as an opportunities for activism. Start local, start small, start with the people already around you, and your activism will naturally develop and grow. We will need many kinds of people with many kinds of talents, interests, skills, and perspectives in order to create our most positive future. We need you, all of you. You don’t have to become someone else. Just be you.

Remember: What You Do + Climate Change= Activism. When we do this, we are all activists. Let’s make everyone an actvist.

Clinical psychologist in private practice. Let’s talk about climate change. Twitter @dan_psyd

Clinical psychologist in private practice. Let’s talk about climate change. Twitter @dan_psyd