It’s easy to get struck by existential dread when you’re reading about climate change.
Personally I think there hasn’t been enough attention on the psychological effects of this. Although you can find a few fantastic articles on the subject – such as this one from Grist. My personal favourite antidote for climate fear is to throw yourself into pragmatic climate action. I’ll be writing many more posts about the specifics of that. But let’s be honest. No one can be constantly running off to a rally, calling their MP, insulating their loft or starting a co-op every single day.
And no one can truly and bravely square up to the terrifying realities of climate change every day. The human psyche needs a break. Some days, for the sake of our sanity, we just have to pat ourselves on the head and tell ourselves it will all be okay. Enter the inspirational quotes. Arguably vapid creatures, especially the poster variety, but nonetheless there is a time and a place for them.
So if you’re having one of those days, or just want to look at something climate related that doesn’t make you feel like you’re staring into the abyss, then here you go. 7 inspirational climate quotes, collated lovingly by myself. You’re welcome.
(And even though I rudely called this medium vapid, I will caption each with why I do actually find it meaningful.)
7 Inspirational Climate Quotes
1. Because it makes fundamental sense
Christiana Figueres is a bit of a hero of mine. She’s a powerful badass diplomat who was instrumental in making the Paris Agreement a reality, and I’m impressed with her fearless dedication and optimism. (You should check out Mission2020 to see what I mean). This quote speaks to the fact that low-carbon just fundamentally makes sense – and one day (hopefully soon) it will be the obvious no-brainer to everyone. We need to get to a point where lazy people who don’t give a damn choose low-carbon.
2. You saw the whole thing in front of your eyes
Another one from Christiana. This one is about the immense transformation we’re going to see in our lifetimes, and how we’ll look back on the current high-carbon craziness and think ‘how the hell did we put with that?’. It may seem insensitive to suggest being born at this time is some kind of privilege, but I do see what she means. Millenials could be the only generation ever to fully experience the fossil fuel era and the post-carbon era. Like the baby boomers whose life has straddled pre and post digital worlds…
3. You’re alive at an absolutely critical moment
This one is from the well-spoken space poet and scientist Carl Sagan. In this short quote he hits not one but two powerful points: nothing else matters if we don’t get this right, and you happen to be alive at a critical cross-roads in the history of Earth. This isn’t comforting but it sure is motivational. Oh, and go and listen to Carl Sagan’s ‘Pale Blue Dot‘ if you want to feel emotional about how beautiful and fragile life on Earth is. It’s poetic AF.
4. When something is important enough
I don’t agree with Elon Musk on everything, but he’s clearly some kind of genius, he cares deeply about climate change and he has a knack for getting things done. I love this quote because it is a simple honest answer to all the cynics and fatalists who say ‘what’s the point, we can’t do it’. When something is this important, you just do it anyway.
5. It is we humans who are fragile
Naomi Klein is another of my heroes. Her books are absolutely fantastic, and devastating. They have the research of a thesis and the pace of a thriller. I’d particularly recommend The Shock Doctrine and This Changes Everything. Anyway, this quote is a strong reminder that the phrase ‘save the planet’ is so misplaced. The planet will be fine, it’s humans that need saving. (Although it’s not entirely just self harm: we’re also killing off our fellow animal species at record speed).
6. Slavery wasn’t a crisis until abolitionism turned it into one
Another from Naomi Klein, this quote is about the power of social movements. Looking at history, elites never give up their dominating power voluntarily, and oppression never fades away without concerted and organised effort from activists. And it always looks obvious after the fact. You can start to see this effect happening with the climate movement now. Companies who are branded as major polluters and rainforest-destroyers face a PR nightmare, hitting them where it hurts: their bottom line. Over the next few years, we’ll increasingly see them frantically scrabbling to get onto the right side of history as the tide turns.
7. The fossil fuel era will end
Let’s finish on another from Elon Musk – short, bold and to the point. The fossil fuel era will end. How much damage is done along the way is up for debate (and all to play for) – but we’re not going to talk about that right now. The important thing is, one way or another we are going into a completely new phase of history: the post-carbon era.
What’s your favourite quote? Did any of these particularly speak to you? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter at @TheClimateLemon.