In early August, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its report, and it told us what so many who work in the climate arena already knew: Climate change isn’t coming; it’s here — and it’s hitting the planet hard and fast.
The IPCC is a U.N. body whose work is the product of 234 scientists (plus 517 additional contributors) from 66 countries. This group reviewed roughly 14,000 scientific papers over three years to come up with their assessment of the state of our planet. It is an extraordinary feat — both the IPCC and its report. As the Atlantic’s Robinson Meyer puts it, “The IPCC ensures, at least in theory, that during international climate negotiations, the science is unimpeachable: Every country has agreed to the same headline findings about climate change.”
The IPCC’s role, however, is to tell us what is, not what to do about it. What to do about it is the role of policymakers around the world.
There wasn’t much in the report that could be considered good news. Except, perhaps, this: The window for decarbonizing, and therefore slowing down or stopping the impact of burning fossil fuels, is not yet firmly closed. Or think of it this way. The doctor has told us that our cholesterol levels are dangerously high, and we’re already feeling the signs of heart disease. But if we follow doctor’s orders, we can still stave off a massive heart attack. We aren’t dead yet.
Which means, of course, that there is hope. Not pie-in-the-sky, pray-for-a-miracle hope, but realistic, roll-up-your-sleeves, be-the-change-you-want-to-see hope. To paraphrase activist and author Rebecca Solnit, there is darkness not just in the tomb but in the womb.
This can be a rebirth, and we can be its midwives.
When we first conceived of Bluedot Living, it was without the specifics of the latest IPCC report, but with an awareness of its basic gist: The time to act is now. The time to connect is now.
It’s why our focus is on solutions. It’s why we want you to see what smart, motivated people are already doing, because it shows what’s possible for us, too. It’s why we want to know what you are already doing and to celebrate that. And it’s why we wanted to hone in on communities, specifically this community on Martha’s Vineyard, because though climate change is a global problem, the impacts show up locally, in our ponds and forests, the air we breathe, the place we love and call home.
Ultimately, though, the scale of change necessary will have to come from our policymakers. But we play an important role there too. We cannot let up. We must demand our elected leaders at all levels of government respond to this threat with the urgency required. Greta Thunberg tells us she wants leaders to panic. She wants them to act as if our house is on fire because it is.
Grief and anxiety are completely normal responses to the climate crisis. We must tend to our own and others’ mental health. Nature can be healing. So can binge-watching “Ted Lasso.” We must carve time in our lives for rest.
And then we must rise again to what this moment requires of us.
We hear the echo of the words of Carl Sagan, who inspired the name of this magazine, that on this pale blue dot is everyone we love, everyone who ever lived. It is our only home.
We can respond to the climate crisis with despair and hand-wringing, or we can take this as our opportunity to reimagine how we do everything — from how we grow our food to how we shop, to how we heat and cool our homes, to how we move around on this pale blue dot. We have chosen reimagination. Rebirth.
If you are here with us, we are grateful that you have too.
—Leslie Garrett and Jamie Kageliery