“So What Can We Do?”

In the face of the unfolding climate crisis, this is a question that needs to be asked by each one of us on an ongoing basis.

There is first of all the moral question, of our responsibility for bringing humanity to the brink of “an uninhabitable Earth,” as David Wallace-Wells calls it. And let’s be clear about this: it’s our society and our generation that’s primarily responsible for the problem, since atmospheric CO2 first exceeded 350 ppm in 1985, and the rise since then to 411.75 ppm today[1] has occurred for most of us entirely in our lifetimes. It’s the way we humans live, work, move around, and play that is warming the planet.

Then there’s the practical question, of what should we be doing about it? First, presumably, we need to stop digging the hole—but this is actually a lot more difficult than it seems. And there are practical solutions, both to reducing emissions and to restoring the climate, but there’s a question of whether we have the economic and political will to implement them. One of our mission statements is “Practical Solutions for People + Planet.” But to be honest we’re having a pretty hard time delivering on this.

So to bring this home, we need to interrogate ourselves. What can we, as a small nonprofit, do?

I started asking myself this question again today, while watching the livestream of Yale’s panel discussion on “Beyond Despair and Denial: Facing Climate Change with Moral Urgency and Hope,” and thinking about last night’s CivicStory event in South Orange, NJ on “Ecology and Economy: Resolving Our Climate Crisis,” which asked a set of local panelists:

What is an ethical response to climate change? Is ‘growth’ always good?
What should we do to reverse global warming? Can news help us live better?

One of the most challenging questions, asked by an audience member at the Yale event, is what should we hope for? Is it the continuation of our present “global civilization,” or is it, as one of the panelists put it, “finding new ways to inhabit the unfixable”? I believe that most of us have a vision of a more sustainable society, in greater harmony with “nature” and with each other. But is this possible, plausible, or probable? Charles Eisenstein writes about “the more beautiful world that our hearts know is possible,” and we share much of his critique of humanity’s ascendancy to the pinnacle of separateness, and selfishness, and self-aggrandizement. Any educated view of human history recognizes it as driven by ignorance, cruelty, and madness; but also by aspiration, compassion, and vision. What offers us hope is that we get to choose.

We can, then, seek to amplify this discussion, which we do at global level (e.g., with Global4C), at a state or regional level (GreenEconomyNJ.org), and at a local level, in communities where we think we can make a tangible difference through, for example, stimulating sustainable economic development.

The ultimate answer for us, I think, is that we can join together with others to recognize and acknowledge the reality we are facing, and to take action. We can provide, right here where we are, a vehicle for ourselves and others to make a difference.

So it’s important that you know who we are, and determine whether you can collaborate with us to bring about change. A further statement of our nonprofit mission is “financing the transition to a clean economy.”

The mottos that grace our home page are not just good intentions selected at random. Restoring the Earth. Regenerating Communities. Clean Energy Finance. Eco-Community Development. Regenerative Economic Solutions. Creating a Future in which All Beings Thrive. These are things we are working on, in specific practical ways, creating opportunities to invest in a greener future, convening groups to build ecovillages, real estate investment cooperatives, and cohousing, and advocating for global policies that can mitigate the risk of catastrophe. We invite you to join us on this journey, in your own way, adding your voice and expressing your creative desires, and making your unique contribution to the continuation of life and to the reestablishment of community.


[1] See the latest CO2 number here.

2 thoughts on ““So What Can We Do?”

  1. Jonathan,
    God Bless you in all these efforts. I am renewing my efforts to engage utility companies, starting with electric cooperatives, to use PACE financing to provide 100% of the capital, to offer the best incentive packages ever, almost anything a customer wants subject to PACE guidelines! if they manage the contracting and the client/owner uses PACE financing, every capital improvement: Geothermal HVAC (zero GHG for heating, cooling and hot water), insulation, windows is on the table to reduce loads. They no longer have to raise rates to cover incentives! This will work! Keep the faith.

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