The New Climate Report is a Call for Climate Justice
On Monday, August 9, 2021, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a major new climate report titled AR6 Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis.
This report addresses the most up-to-date physical understanding of the climate system and climate change, bringing together the latest advances in climate science, and combining multiple lines of evidence from paleoclimate, observations, process understanding, and global and regional climate simulations.
What does this report say? And what does it mean for the movement for climate justice?
Where To Read the Climate Report
If you’re not a climate scientist, the most accessible part of the report itself is the Summary for Policymakers. I always read this part of major climate reports, especially if I don’t plan to read the full report. It explains the major findings of the report, including how those findings relate to public policy decisions made in response to the climate crisis.
If you’re someone who votes or engages in other political activity, you count as a policymaker too! Therefore, if you can handle reading a thirty-nine-page report, please read the Summary for Policymakers.
If you want something more concise, you can also read the Headline Statements from the Summary for Policymakers. This two-page document offers an overview of the main points of the summary in simple outline format.
I’ve converted this two-page PDF into four images to make them easier to share on social media.
Analysis of the Climate Report
The climate crisis is still vastly underreported in major corporate media outlets. However, this new climate report was such a major event that it did make a brief splash in the corporate media ecosystem. There are also many people outside of that ecosystem with better analysis of the report and the climate crisis in general.
The following is a list of insightful and productive analyses of the climate report. I may update this list periodically. If you have any suggestions, let me know. Reading news reports like this (from reliable sources!) can help people who aren’t climate science or climate policy experts understand what the report says and how it can inform our responses to the climate crisis.
- 5 Big Takeaways From the New UN Climate Report (Earther)
- UN report places new emphasis on climate tipping points (Grist)
- Playing Nice With the Fossil Fuel Industry Is Climate Denial (New Republic)
- Global Climate Panel’s Report: No Part of the Planet Will be Spared (Inside Climate News)
- Congress Dithers as the World Burns (Common Dreams)
Responding to the Climate Crisis with Climate Justice
What can we do about the climate crisis?
If you want to take action in response to the climate crisis, that’s great. Your community, your region, and the world need more people like you who are aware of the climate crisis and motivated to take climate action.
But what action should you take?
I don’t have a list of suggested actions. If my readers want such a list, I may develop one eventually. In the meantime, what I’d rather tell you is what I consider to be three of the most important things to consider when responding to the climate crisis.
- Find your unique niche. I can’t tell you what exactly you should do for the climate because it depends so much on YOU. What are your interests? What are your skills? What resources do you have available? Answering these questions can help you figure out what your specific contributions to climate solutions will be. Responding to the climate crisis will require deep and rapid changes in just about every aspect of our lives. Everyone can play an important role in those changes, whether that may mean something large-scale like shaping climate policy or small-scale like breaking the climate silence and communicating about climate with people in your home, family, school, work, and other social spaces.
- Develop your climate courage. Ever since reading Dr. Kate Marvel’s essay on climate courage, I’ve been convinced that climate courage is far more important than climate hope. Our feelings of climate hope may vary depending on our general levels of hope in life, major climate news, the ebb and flow of climate-themed events and campaigns, and so on. Some of the harms of the climate crisis can’t be undone, and some probably can’t be avoided. This may leave us feeling hopeless at times. But regardless of how much or little hope we feel, there’s always good work to do! Climate courage calls on us to do that good work, even when our hope falters and the outcome remains uncertain. We do the work regardless of how much hope we have. Why? Because the Earth is our home, and home is always worth it, even when the odds aren’t in our favor. (Especially when the odds aren’t in our favor.)
- Work for climate justice. If you’re not already familiar with the concept of climate justice, then let that be your starting point. There are many definitions of climate justice, but the basic concept is simple. The climate crisis is a justice issue. Frontline communities are least responsible for the climate crisis, yet they suffer the first and worst impacts of the climate crisis. Responding to the climate crisis is a justice issue that affects the lives and livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people, especially those in frontline communities. We must ensure that our responses to the climate crisis are informed by an understanding of climate justice rooted in the principles of environmental justice and just transition. Look to see what climate justice groups are already doing and see if there’s a way for you to support their work directly or do your own thing in alignment with their work.
Further Reading, Listening, & Experiencing
As an author and avid reader, I’m constantly reading articles and essays that inform my responses to the climate crisis. Here’s a small sampling of some of my favorite general works of fiction and nonfiction about the climate crisis and climate justice. I may update this list periodically. Let me know if you have any more suggestions.
- Home is Always Worth it by Mary Heglar
- We Need Courage, Not Hope, to Face Climate Change by Dr. Kate Marvel
- All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis
- The Future Earth: A Radical Vision for What’s Possible in the Age of Warming
Fiction & Poetry
- Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler
- New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson
- The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson
- Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver
- The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi
- Treesong’s Climate Fiction Page
- Treesong’s Climate Poetry Page
- Hot Take
- The Coolest Show
- Indigenous Climate Action Pod
- The Climate Pod
- Warm Regards
- Citizens’ Climate Radio
- Treesong’s Climate Podcast Page