Seven in ten Americans (69%) think global warming is happening. Yet, far fewer (23%) say they hear people they know talking about global warming regularly. This is from a 2019 national survey Climate Change in the American Mind, conducted by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change.
Let’s be honest, talking about the climate crisis can be uncomfortable. “Congrats on your new house! I actually just saw a story about the rising water line in your area, yikes!” Simply put, no one wants to be that person, but we know small talk can lead to big changes. So, where does that leave us? It's a notion that has also been prevalent in my own thinking – both as a person who finds themselves being “that” person at the dinner table more often than I might like to admit and as a team member working on PEM’s Climate + Environment initiative.
This collective silence is well known by environmental scientists and activists alike who are addressing barriers to progress and working to advance climate preparedness. As more knowledge of the coronavirus pandemic came to light, many of these same individuals recognized the parallels between the COVID-19 and climate crises. The pandemic has been likened to climate change at warp speed, some arguing the two will remain inextricably linked. This past year, we’ve confronted and discussed the pandemic and its impact daily, with almost everyone we speak to. This frame of mind has opened a door to having similar open discussions about climate.
From Dr. Heather Goldstone's January session during PEM’s Science Lecture Series. Damian Lugowski / Shutterstock.com
Now, almost a full year since the first major US lockdown, we at PEM are inviting experts to share their differing perspectives on the lessons they’ve learned from both crises. The three sessions consider policies, inequalities and collective action. Incorporating the creative voice, each evening is opened by an artist who invites viewers to consider their own interdependence with nature with an original poem.
I hope this series provides insight into how we — as various stakeholders with varying needs — move forward from here, together, and affirms that there is still time to write a new story for our future. Our words matter. They legitimize our feelings and let us know we are not experiencing these crises alone. I encourage you to be that person in your friends’ and families’ lives. By taking the risk to bring this important topic up, you open the door for others to talk about it too.
To learn more about PEM’s Climate + Environment initiative, go HERE. Keep an eye out for related exhibitions like Alexis Rockman: Shipwrecks, opening March 6 in PEM’s East India Marine Hall, and follow along on social media using #PEMClimate.
Learn more about our Science Lecture Series and how to register for February and March sessions below:
SCIENCE LECTURE SERIES
How We Move Forward Together: Coronavirus, Climate, and Inequality
Friday, February 26 | 7:00 pm
Join us for our latest virtual series, in conjunction with PEM's upcoming Climate & Environment initiative. Each session offers a different perspective on the lessons we’ve learned from the COVID-19 pandemic and how we move forward from here.
In this session, Eddie Bautista, Executive Director of the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance, will be joined by moderator Dilshanie Perera, Post-Doctoral Fellow in Climate and Inequality at The Climate Museum in New York. Together they will speak to the lessons learned from the global pandemic as they relate to American inequality and the climate crisis. The conversation will address the effects that COVID-19 and climate have had on communities of color, highlight the work of activists and organizers in creating transformative change at many scales, and imagine pathways toward justice rooted in collective action. An original poem by scientist Usman Hameedi will open the event.
Eddie Bautista is a nationally prominent leader who, over decades, has made a major impact on climate and environmental justice policy and activism. Bautista has a B.A. from N.Y.U, an M.S. in City and Regional Planning from Pratt Institute and was a Revson Fellow at Columbia University. For more information on the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance, visit www.nyc-eja.org.
Dilshanie Perera is the Mellon Foundation Post-Doctoral Fellow in Climate and Inequality at The Climate Museum, and can be found online at www.dilshanieperera.com. For more information on public programs at The Climate Museum, please sign up for their newsletter here.
Usman Hameedi is a Pakistani-American scientist, poet and teaching artist. Since 2008, he has competed in and coached for collegiate, national and international level poetry slams. As a scientist, Usman has contributed to academic and industry laboratories with an array of research targets, including cancers and neurological disorders.
Now What?: Coronavirus and Collective Action
Friday, March 26 | 7:00 pm
Join us for our latest virtual series as guest speakers emphasize the collective actions we need to take now to have a healthy and climate-stable future. Held in conjunction with PEM's new Climate + Environment Initiative, each virtual session offers a different perspective on the lessons we’ve learned from the COVID-19 pandemic and how we move forward from here. Instructions for joining will be sent with your confirmation email.
This program is sponsored by the Lowell Institute.