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Many may feel – and for good reasons – that the coming of Trumpism (whatever that may turn out to be) means we are entering something akin to the end days, a giant, unstoppable step into a dystopian future (unless you are pessimistic enough to feel we are already there, that is).
It would be understandable under the circumstances to turn inward and let despondence have full reign, or to turn to friends and Facebook to release emotions of anger and disgust.
And it would be natural to despair about such coming horrors as a Trumped up Supreme Court, the end of Obamacare, the truly terrifying cabinet appointments to come and the damage they will do, down to the very personal level of one’s status as a resident American, a person of color, a woman, a Muslim, an LGBTQ* person, a young or older human being.  This list will surely grow.
Or, in the political space in which I live, it’s easy for one’s thoughts to turn quickly to the chances of the Paris Agreement going forward without U.S. sponsorship (I’ve heard there’s been a proposal at the UN climate summit COP 22, currently underway in Marrakesh, to expel the U.S. from the proceedings because it has suddenly become a climate-denying government).  Or maybe to nightmarish spectres like the dismantling of the EPA [this breaking news can’t be good], the reopening of the once and now again game-over Keystone pipeline, the defunding and dismissal of science (why not just abolish those gloomy laws of physics?) or the enhanced platform now for ignorant and cynical denialism, a massive upsurge of carte blanche extractivism on federal lands now open to the free market, the brexiting of Obama’s Clean Power Plan – and that’s only the first one hundred days or so of the four long years that lie ahead of us.
Let’s cut to the chase:  it’s time to acknowledge that the crushing new weight of the big picture – all of this added to the fragile state of play already existing before the election – means that we might have to add another .5-1.0 degrees Celsius to the dismal 3+ degrees of Paris [here’s a first glimpse of that possibility], or indeed cross unforgiving tipping points that just might have been averted.  And that, of course, is crushing.  Deadly.  Immoral.  Beneath and subverting of human decency and dignity.
Understandable, natural, easy … and self-defeating, of course.  I’m not advising cutting short a healthy period to mourn, grieve, and process the turn of fortune in this country and beyond.  Each of us will do as much or as little of this self-care as necessary.  And it is necessary.  We will have to stay with some heavy inner troubles for a while before we can take some of the actions we will now have to.
But, also, let’s admit it:  we were always coming from way behind late in the game, and we have thus already known we were in the climate struggle for the long haul.  The course of history never flows according to humans’ plans.  Rather it is full of sudden storms, slow violence, and erratic advances and retreats.  Nor is there – but then there never was – a roadmap of the path forward.  We have always also been looking for that, mainly by trial and (lots of) error, continuing the struggle and thirsting for the magic, the ecstasy, and the simple humanity that deeply felt hope and authentically-grounded love sometimes gift us with.
No one individual’s words or actions can undo this damage.  Now, we will need to bring all our gifts to the table, freely offered and collectively shared.  Our potential to cross lines and bridge divides that disable the coalitions we need to build.  The unrestricted play of our ability to re-imagine, envision, and begin to patiently and concretely create alternatives that lead to the futures we want.  That peaceful warrior Dan Millman (via Sailesh Rao) believes that “The secret of change is to focus all of our energies, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”  Now, it seems, we must find the secret of change in focusing all of our energies, not only on fighting the old and the new, but on building the new at the same time.
Hope, love, imagination, persistence, urgency, sacrifice, and joy – the movement for climate justice and for the egalitarian, fair, democratic, and resilient worlds we want to live in as much before 2050 arrives as possible – and no matter what the climate devastation by then – requires of us the commitment of one’s life, and walking the talk of the means and the ends we seek.  Everywhere and always.
Because without us doing this – nothing remains.  And “nothing” is unacceptable.
See you somewhere.

Note to readers:  The nearly carbon-neutral online conference “The World in 2050:  Imagining/Creating Just Climate Futures” is currently on at, with a new space for continuing this discussion of the world in 2050 after Trump.