Shelly Alcorn

Positive Panic and Deep Adaptation

In August 2022 we conducted a multi-part series digging down into the book, "Deep Adaptation - Navigating the Realities of Climate Chaos," edited by Jem Bendell and Rupert Read.

It's a splendid book and one that I highly recommend. We recorded a series of broadcasts as we focused on key concepts from the book as interpreted through the association lens.

A few things that came up for me quickly today were:

  1. As association executives, board members, volunteers and staff, what ethical responsibility do we have to incorporate climate chaos and the potential breakdown of multiple societal systems into our legislative agendas and the strategic discussions we are having about the next decade? As climate chaos increases, it will undoubtably affect our members from lives to livelihoods and everything in between. I think we can make the case that we must include these topics in our strategic thinking and planning for an uncertain future.
  2. We have to begin to personally and professionally consider the concept of the "precautionary principle" as sage advice for everyone, not just a few situations and professions. The stakes are too high to not do anything, and even a perceived overreaction is less dangerous than not acting at all. If we consider the worst-case scenarios, we have something to reverse-engineer. This is a preferable alternative footing to start from rather than the comfortable denial we currently espouse most of the time.
  3. Climate science can only tell the "science" part of the story. It is up to the rest of us in all of our various industries and professions and with our various talents to discern what those effects will mean in our daily lives. Nobody is coming to rescue us with a single blueprint. Adaptation is going to take every single one of us to navigate as best we can.
  4. The psychological stress can be real and even a clear and present danger to some. If this topic terrifies you, pace yourself. Talking about these issues is difficult and you may need to seek professional help to deal with it. Eco-grief is genuine and there is no shame in feeling it.

If we approach each other from a place of love, empathy, and compassion, we can help bolster each other up. The LOVE associations could unleash on the world is tremendous. I'd like to see more of it.
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