What can you do? Anything.

Setting New Year’s resolutions for the environment and climate

January 5, 2021

By Marnie Klassen, Communications and Administrative Assistant for A Rocha Manitoba

If you’re like me, you’ve typically been skeptical about New Year’s resolutions. A few years ago I decided to make a silly resolution, just to prove how ridiculous I thought resolutions were to begin with. (Turns out I was wrong; my resolution to pet more dogs in 2017 greatly improved my year!)

I’ve been rethinking what these dreams, visions, goals, and intentions can be for, though. One of my favorite podcasts released an episode a few days ago called “What’s Your 2022 Climate Resolution?” The premise was simple: various production staff came on to the show and talked about what they have resolved to do for the climate this year. The ideas ranged from learning to cook better vegetarian food, to running for condo board!

This idea, despite my general apprehension for setting resolutions, got me excited! Here’s why.

For years now we’ve been receiving devastating reports (such as the IPCC reports) that tell us of all the destruction and damage done to ecosystems and the climate. Climate scientist and devoted Christian Katharine Hayhoe says there’s a different message in these reports, however, and it’s a message of hope. The number one question people ask her is where she finds hope. Hayhoe says this about hope in the reports: 

Our future is literally in our hands. What is going to happen in the future is up to us. Our choices today will determine our future … and it is not too late to save ourselves and to save many of the other living things on this planet. But hope goes further than that – we find hope when we act.” 

A few months ago, A Rocha International published a position  paper about Nature-based Solutions to Climate Change, essentially talking about how A Rocha’s work on biodiversity loss and ecosystem health directly impacts the climate. In reading that paper, and in listening to the podcast mentioned earlier, I was shocked at how excited I felt! It’s incredible how paying attention to what we are able to do provides us with a sense of hope, a sense of agency, and a roadmap forward. Hayhoe assures us that it is valuable to talk about climate change and environmental damage, but even more important to talk about “positive, constructive solutions.”

Hopefully, I’ve gotten you interested in setting a climate or environment resolution (or at least a goal or intention). Here are some ideas to get you thinking:

  • Get to know your place (start bird watching, download iNaturalist, go for more walks, learn about your watershed, etc.)
  • Contribute financially (A Rocha and many other important environmental organizations rely on financial support to do the work we do! If you’re interested in carbon offsetting, consider supporting Climate Stewards! )
  • Get to work (find citizen science opportunities near you, sit on a board, volunteer with an organization or community garden in your area, etc.)
  • Green your home/church/school/workplace (cut out single use plastics, start meal planning, cut down on meat consumption, get a green audit done on your building, install solar panels, etc.)
  • Get personal (start a prayer practice, be intentional about cultivating wonder, show a child your favorite part of nature, etc.)
  • Get political (write letters, join an organizing group, give support to policy writers, etc.)

Start with one thing. It’s not up to you to save the world – that’s God’s project. Our job is to participate in God’s vision for a restored creation. As Hayhoe says:  “What can you do? Anything.”

Some things you can do

To hear more from Katharine Hayhoe on our ability to act, watch her address at A Rocha Canada’s 20th Anniversary celebration or read her article in TIME magazine! 

Find A Rocha Manitoba on Facebook or Instagram to let us know what your climate or environment resolution is!