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Climate and Environment: What's Compassion Got To Do With It?

“My work as a scientist working with people to address and inform decisions about the environment, society, and management of our resources, requires listening and looking carefully at these relationships with an open mind. Maintaining a mindful and compassionate attitude can only help…


All of these practices reinforce my understanding and appreciation of the complexity and connectedness of humans and environment, and humans with each other. They help me to maintain a fascination with the contradictions that I see in myself—sparks of creativity meshed with frustration and boredom, wanting to engage with others and isolate myself from them, the seriousness and the frivolity—and this awareness deepens my recognition that others share these same qualities. They help me to embrace contradiction and complexity…


These practices inspire me to maintain an attitude of compassion toward everyone engaged in trying to find solutions to difficult environmental issues, to find common ground. They help me maintain an appreciation for the whole complicated, awful, beautiful intermix of humans and environment…”

Kindness: An Unsung Climate Change Tool

“When you think of climate change and community resilience, visions of seawalls, renewable energy projects and other physical things may come to mind. But there’s another powerful tool that anyone of any age at any time can act upon to help their community weather the harshest impacts of climate change: Kindness. 


In California’s recent wildfires, neighbors knocking on neighbors’ doors helped save lives. Checking up on vulnerable neighbors during heat waves, hurricanes, or other extreme weather events can make a big difference for that individual, with global ripple effects.


For instance, a study looked at community survival rates and reactions to the 2011 Fukushima disaster… [and] found that social networks were the most important defense against disasters. Communities with closer social ties, interactions and shared norms worked more effectively to help their friends, family members and neighbors, in some cases literally carrying them out on their backs…”


Building Future Climate Warriors through Kindness and Compassion

“As the world struggles with the ever-growing effects of climate change, its more important than ever to equip our children with the knowledge, skills, and values they need to navigate through this complex and urgent issue. While teaching kids about the science of climate change is essential, fostering kindness and compassion is equally important in empowering them to become responsible being of our planet…”


Fighting climate change with kindness

“We should eat less meat to reduce climate change. Recognition of similarities between us and other animals can help us to achieve just that. More effortlessly – out of kindness…

In a world where you can eat anything, be kind…Current meat industry can only be justified if we dehumanize animals. Approaching the issue from the CO2 perspective does the same. It places animals in the same category as fossil fuels. But, unlike fossil fuels, animals are like us. Re-humanizing animals might expose the atrocity of the meat industry and make us want to eat less meat. Effortlessly – not because we have to, but as an act of kindness. This speaks to our emotion instead of our reason, which is a much more powerful motivator.”


Can compassion contribute in the climate crisis?

“Compassion is an important construct scarcely considered in the fight against climate change, but its impact on encouraging change should not be underestimated. American activist, Joan Halifax, once said: “We live in a time when science is validating what humans have known throughout the ages: that compassion is not a luxury; it is a necessity for our well-being, resilience, and survival.” So, could considering the impact of climate change on those worst affected bring about change in the hearts and minds of individuals?


Compassion can be described as a four-part process: noticing pain and suffering, interpreting the suffering, feeling empathic concern or sadness, and acting to alleviate this suffering in some way. The heart of compassion is in the action…”


The Urgent Call to Be Kind: Battling Climate Change, Biodiversity Crisis, and Our Collective Concerns

“In times shrouded in fear and uncertainty, we must remember we’re not alone, albeit many feel they are, especially those who feel unable to contribute to the battle in their everyday lives or careers. Kindness towards one another acts as the adhesive that bonds our communities and societies together. …Fostering an environment of mutual understanding and cooperation is paramount… Kindness has the transformative power to bridge political divides (and we are certainly divided at the moment), unearthing common ground for addressing the challenges that collectively confront us, rewriting the chapters of our shared story for the better…”


The role of compassion in the climate crisis: Nurturing mindsets for a sustainable future (video):

“Join the Global Compassion Coalition for an enlightening online discussion on the role of compassion in the climate crisis. In this event, we will explore the pivotal role of compassion in addressing the global climate crisis. We'll delve into how fostering compassionate mindsets can be a catalyst for change, creating the conditions necessary to tackle climate change and pave the way for a sustainable future…”  


Focus on kindness and empathy to drive climate agenda

“To date, commentators and experts have driven many apart in debates over the science and what action to take, pitting ‘greens’ against deniers, creating doubt in the minds of people grappling with complicated physics and language like decarbonisation and net zero.


Even the phrase climate action leaves the average person flummoxed. The majority are not moved to change their behaviour by scientific graphs and tonnes of carbon. They need a positive, motivating reason to care and this is more likely to be a social message around wellbeing than a statistic about melting ice sheets.

That is why a focus on kindness, empathy and happiness is a valuable strategy in policy making on climate change. Efforts to shape a more caring, equitable and inclusive society enable the collaboration and cooperation needed to transform our society…”


“They Did Not Know What They Were Doing”: Climate Change and Intergenerational Compassion

“Compassion is described as an affective experience arising from witnessing the undeserved suffering of another that propels one to provide protection and cooperation. Climate change is often associated with “underserved suffering,” especially of younger and future generations.


Consequently, contemporary climate discourse has expressed hostility toward older generations for inflicting such suffering. Studies on intergenerational relations within the context of climate change agree that intergenerational solidarity, rather than conflict, is necessary for effective climate action. Because compassion is instrumental to solidarity, in this study, we explore intergenerational climate-related expressions of compassion leading to intergenerational solidarity…”


Is Kindness the Secret to Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals?

“There is no mention of kindness—the act of giving without expecting anything in return—in the ambitious 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which was adopted by 193 countries in 2015…A call to action for global youth to increase and celebrate their acts of kindness is a powerful counterstroke to the daily dose of negative news and information we receive through our media platforms. In many ways, acting out of kindness is a way to protest the present trend of pursuing happiness by increasing personal consumption and trying to capture as much as one can for oneself. Kindness—the word that is missing from the 2030 Agenda—might be the only means by which we can achieve our goals!...”

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