My reaction to uncertainty has always been to learn, so earlier this summer when the stress of the pandemic was mounting I signed up the Climate Reality Project’s Global Training. The Climate Reality Project (CRP) is Nobel Laureate and former US Vice President Al Gore’s follow-up to his 2006 film An Inconvenient Truth, that aims to “catalyze a global solution to the climate crisis by making urgent action a necessity across every sector of society.” They do this by training a network of climate reality leaders to start conversations about the impacts of climate change around the world.

The training included sessions with leaders from across the globe on building an equitable and inclusive climate movement, the power of climate storytelling, and of course Al Gore’s update on his famous science-based presentation. The training is worth participating in even just to hear this presentation, which includes almost 550 slides packed with the most prescient climate science and the stories from around the globe that illustrate the impact we’re seeing today. I look forward to sharing my takeaways from this information with the Sustain Dane network at our upcoming programs including the final Accelerate Sustainability Workshop of 2020 on September 30 (join us).

This training in particular was unique because it was entirely online. I was matched up with a group of Wisconsin participants, and also connected with a participant all the way in Portugal! I’m proud to be a part of this global community of activists.

One of my main takeaways from the training is my personal climate story, which in recent years has become an essential part of leading climate education. Telling someone why you’re interested in this work is a great way to connect with them more deeply on climate change—something that’s hard to do with only scientific evidence. Below is the story I submit:

I’ve always loved the outdoors, and adopted an environmentalist’s perspective at a young age.

When I went to college and started learning about the climate crisis, my love for nature quickly turned into despair for it’s destruction. I saw humans as a sort of parasite sucking Earth’s natural resources dry. It got to the point where I was convinced I wouldn’t have kids because I don’t know what the future will look like for them, and it felt unethical to add to my carbon footprint in that way.

But then I had an a-ha moment—I realized that there was no point in working on climate solutions if you don’t have hope for future generations. Now I know that what we’re really fighting for is humanity. We are inextricably a part of the Earth’s ecosystems, and there are so many climate solutions in action now that make our future look brighter every day.

And working as a part of the solution has transformed me as well! These words from author Robin Wall Kimmerer are the essence of this feeling: “Action on behalf of life transforms. Because the relationship between self and the world is reciprocal, it is not a question of first getting enlightened or saved and then acting. As we work to heal the earth, the earth heals us.”

Consider writing your own climate change story to have in your back pocket next time someone asks why you’re into sustainability, the environment, and fighting climate change. It’s these personal connections that really feed the movement.

If you’re interested in participating in your own CRP training, check out their website.

—Lorenza Zebell, Sustainable Business/Organization Project Manager