We All Have a Climate Window. What Do You See?

We All Have a Climate Window

The climate window is something you possess by dint of being alive right now. If you have no resources and no capacity to act, your window might be a subterranean porthole. If you have all the power of a nation or corporation behind you, your window might be a series of ginormous French doors. If you have already been fighting the fight, your window might be the triple-glazed perfection you installed last year. But if you’re alive right now, regardless of the scale of your power and pane, you have…A CLIMATE WINDOW. And that’s a beautiful opening.

Being alive to feel the humid breeze flowing in through this window is equal parts empowering and daunting and bad for your frizz. Yes, we’re alive. Yes, we want to stop the imminent destruction of the earth. No, we don’t quite know how. Or we do, but no one is listening, as we scream at the top of our lungs while dancing naked in the middle of Oxford Circus. No, that definitely was not me in the oversized zebra head and unitard.

Over time, I’ve collected writings (tweets, poems, bathroom graffiti) that speak to this climate window. My own goes something like, AAAAH, I’M ALIVE NOW, I NEED TO DO SOMETHING (dances like a chicken, plunges her head into an ice bath). Most of these writings fall into two camps: Act now for chrissakes, or We are so effing lucky to be alive right now. I think, for reasons that I will enumerate in this essay, that the latter is the stronger tack.

Window Shutters

Negative, window-is-closing language stresses out people and does more to discourage than inspire. Don’t highlight the finite finestra. The frantic, time-is-running-out messaging, however true, makes people cower. There is a ton of literature about this. This kind of messaging is like breathing down a bomb defuser’s neck as the clock ticks away. It only works on Tom Cruise. This doesn’t mean hiding the truth, or the enormity of the challenge. It just means not front-loading your window talk with panic on a deadline.

There’s some evidence that strong fear with a slant towards brutal honesty can get people going, but omg when combined with a looming deadline, it’s a toss-up. Three-fifths of me wants to drink a lot of Aperol and crawl into a hole. Two-fifths of me wants to grab my megaphone and run screaming down my street:

Glass Half-Fullers

The window messaging I think we need to focus on is how fortunate we are to be alive right now. Indeed, it’s a challenge. Indeed, politicians around us are not taking the actions they need to take to prevent our demise. But we are alive to keep pushing. 

Good climate window talk doesn’t have to shy away from the precariousness, loss, or uncertain outcomes we will experience as we sidle up to climate apocalypse. It just has to also acknowledge the power we have now. Like so:

Motivational quotes, We All Have a Climate Window

This window is full of danger, but we are alive to mitigate, to do as much as we can:

Motivational quote, We All Have a Climate Window

The window is this tiny period on a vast continuum of a time where things are not yet locked in. We have an opportunity:

Motivational quotes about life, We All Have a Climate Window

It’s scary that Elizabeth Sawin wrote this in 2007, but it still holds true for me:

There are moments when the 10-year window comes into clear focus for me, moments when it stands out against the blur of obligations and worries and pleasures of my ordinary life.

It is in those moments—when I can see the 10-year window while not being too frightened by its seriousness—that I seem to know best what to do. It is in these moments that I find myself standing beside my neighbors with my “Stop Global Warming” signs, buying electricity produced from methane capture, and expanding the garden that feeds my family. It is in those moments that I feel most like the person I would like to be, someone who knows what to do when she is given a window of opportunity.

We are alive. We can act. This tweet from Eric Holthaus captures the promise of climate window as perfectly as one could:

Motivational quote about time and change, We All Have a Climate Window

This article was first published in Yes! Magazine. You can see the original article here.

You might be interested in these other articles on UniGuide:

Climate Change Policy Could Take a Load off Our Shoulders

We Pay to Take Our Trash Away. Why Not Our CO2 Emissions?

Could a Universal Basic Income Help the Environment?

Study: Global Reforestation Is the #1 Way to Fight Climate Change

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