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THIS! Newsletter #12
June 2023

There is a Tide —
What a Time to Be Alive!

By Jim Thompson
An image of a sailboat gliding along peaceful waters at night.
I recently realized that in whatever time period I lived, I would get old and die. Had I lived before we all knew what climate change was doing to our only planet, I would have (hopefully) gotten old and (eventually) died.
Given that the realities of my individual life are the same now or in another era, what might the benefits be of living in this era?

Then, I remembered some lines from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar:

“There is a time in the affairs of men (sic)
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyages of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat;
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.”

This is an Amazing Time to Be Alive.

Continue reading

$70,000 Match Met!

A digital illustration of a completely charged battery
A year ago, THIS! Is What We Did Board Members made a pledge to donate $70,000 if matched by THIS! supporters. We are excited to announce that we have 🎉 met the match 🎉, which puts us on a sound financial footing for the coming year.

We are deeply grateful to the 74 supporter-donors who helped us reach our goal!

We would like to commend THIS! Board Members for putting up this match and for their commitment to fighting for the future of humanity, our habitable ecosystems, and countless species under threat of extinction.

We feel privileged to be able to continue this critical work. And, this year, we hope to be able to do even more! If you would like to help us grow our staff and impact, you can donate at the link below.


Keeping Up with the Data

Here are two important climate data updates:

The 2023 Banking on Climate Chaos report was released in April. No big surprise here that the most egregious funders of climate chaos continue to be Chase, Citi, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America.

While it may seem that some banks decreased their funding, in fact “fossil fuel financing plateaued in 2020, rebounded in 2021, and leveled out again in 2022 owing to unusual geopolitical and economic conditions, not shifts in bank policy… Of the 60 banks that are profiled in this report, 59 do not have policies robust enough to meet the goal of keeping global warming below 1.5°C. Some banks strengthened their policies, but few are sufficient to meet the challenge of the moment.”

We need to keep the pressure on until the number that shows up next to their names is $0!

If you haven’t moved your money from these banks yet, you can find out more information here.

A screenshot of the report showing how much the worst 4 banks funded in 2022
The second update comes from the hugely impactful Yale Program on Climate Change Communication. Their latest edition of Climate Change in the American Mind: Beliefs & Attitudes was released earlier this month.

Here are some welcome updates from the report:

  • “Americans who think global warming is happening nowoutnumber those who think it is not happening by a ratio of nearly 5 to 1 (74% versus 15%).”
  • “A majority of Americans (62%) say they feel a personal sense of responsibility to help reduce global warming.”
  • “About two-thirds of Americans (66%) disagree with the statement ‘it’s already too late to do anything about global warming,’ while only 13% agree.”

Unfortunately, the main figure we highlight in our Effective Climate Conversations (ECC) class has stayed pretty much the same (plus or minus 1 percentage point) since the first edition of this report was released in March 2021: “Most Americans (66%) say they ‘rarely’ or ‘never’ discuss global warming with family and friends.”

To find out why talking about climate change with family and friends is a critically important part of this fight, you can sign up to be notified about our next ECC class and watch this Ted Talk by Climate Scientist Katharine Hayhoe.

Don’t Miss THIS!

An image of a young person hugging their knees to their chest and closing their eyes.
Climate-related feelings of anxiety, depression, fear, and despair in young people around the world are surging.

A global study published in The Lancet found that, “more than 45%of respondents [aged 16-25] said their feelings about climate change negatively affected their daily life and functioning” and “75%said that they think the future is frightening.”

As a parent, grandparent, or caregiver, we want to know how we can support our young ones as they navigate an existentially fraught future.

What tools are out there? How can we apply them at home?

Sign up for this month’s 90-minute (free!) workshop: Anxiety into Action: How to Help Young People Cope with the Climate Crisis, this Sunday, June 25th.

Reserve your spot

Good News Bad News

A tweet from the NYC-DSA Ecosocialist Working Group that says "This text is the biggest Green New Deal win in US history"
Good News: States are Passing Their Own Green Deals
The New York Legislature passed the Build Public Renewables Act which “requires the New York Power Authority — the largest state-owned power organization in the country — to provide solely renewable energy by 2030 and transitions all state-owned and municipal properties to renewables by 2035.”

Also, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz recently signed a bill requiring 100% clean electricity in the state by 2040.

I think we can look forward to a lot more positive climate action at the state level in the near future!

Even More Good News: Youth-Led Climate Lawsuits Move Ahead

Held v. State of Montana is a constitutional law case brought by 16 youth ages 5 to 22 citing a violation of the state constitution, which includes a mandate to “maintain and improve a clean and healthful environment in Montana for present and future generations” (NPR).

This is “one of the first times that the climate story has played out in an American courtroom”… AND it’s not the only one that’s moving forward!

In Hawaiʻi, 14 youth “filed this constitutional climate lawsuit against the Hawaiʻi Department of Transportation (HDOT), HDOT Director Jade Butay, Governor David Ige, and the State of Hawaiʻi. The plaintiffs claim that Hawai’i DOT’s operation of a transportation system that results in high levels of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions violates their state constitutional rights, causing them significant harm and impacting their ability to ‘live healthful lives in Hawaiʻi now and into the future.’ The youth seek to ensure HDOT steps up to meet the state legislature’s goal to decarbonize Hawaiʻi’s economy and achieve a zero emissions economy by 2045.
On April 6, 2023, the Honorable Judge Jeffrey P. Crabtree ruled in favor of the 14 youth plaintiffs, denying the state’s attempt to prevent their case from proceeding to trial. The trial is scheduled to begin September 26, 2023.”

Hear more about the case “from Rylee Brooke, a plaintiff in Navahine F. v. Hawaiʻi Department of Transportation and attorneys, Kimberly Willis and Joanna Zeigler” at the upcoming Elders Climate Action National Call.

At the federal level, “Our Children’s Trust filed suit on behalf of 21 young Americans in 2015 (they’re not so young any more). That case, Juliana v. U.S., was resuscitated on June 1, when federal district judge Ann Aiken ruled in favor of the plaintiffs…

But here’s the thing: the US Department of Justice may try and stop that trial from happening. Under President Trump, it invoked the little used legal tactic of a writ of mandamus six times—apparently a record—in an effort to keep the case out of court. Now attorney general Merrick Garland—and the Biden administration—must decide whether to mimic the former guy, or whether to give the kids a fair shot at judgment. Two hundred and fifty different environmental groups have called on the administration to do the right thing.

And if you want in, the good folks at People vs Fossil Fuels have provided a handy form to let you email the DOJ and tell them to give our young people their moment in court” (from Bill McKibben).

Bad News: New York City Air Quality the Worst in the World
An image of the smoke-filled air enveloping the New York City skyline.
The recent Canadian wildfires have driven home the new reality of unpredictable and extreme weather patterns we are likely to see as the impacts of human-caused climate change compound. New York City experienced the worst air quality in the world in early June when smoke from wildfires in Canada spread to the city and throughout the Northeast.

If there is any silver lining, it would be that, “There’s nothing like the power of direct experience… These events touch us in a way that abstract articles about the latest … findings of climate science [don’t].”
-Anthony Leiserowitz, Director of the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, quoted in the Washington Post.


An image of two people pointing their fingers at each other.
A common challenge we all face when having climate conversations is the unexpected “curveball.” That is, some kind of argument against taking action that seems to come out of left field and can leave us at a loss for words.

In every newsletter we’ll try to give you some information to help you respond to these curveballs. This issue’s “curveball” is:

“The people in my climate group are showing up, but a lot of them talk about feeling hopeless and that we’re too far gone to make meaningful change. It really gets me down.”

This curveball was posed by a Climate Conversation Corps (CCC) member during one of our recent meetings. Thanks to other members offering their ideas, we’ve pulled together this response:

Climate despair is tough, and many, if not all, of us have dealt with our share. You might try connecting with these folks over that shared experience, make room for them to express their feelings, and – if it feels appropriate – offer some examples of wins and encouraging developments (like the passage of the IRA & BIL, state-level green deals and legislation, or things that your group has accomplished).

It’s important to remember that even though these folks are dealing with feelings of despair, they are still showing up, and that’s worth celebrating together.

Poetry and Growth
This month’s poem is a personal one. THIS! Founder Jim Thompson and THIS! Board Member Sandra Hietala recently celebrated 50 years of marriage on June 3, 2023. At that celebration their 13-year-old grandson, Rafi Ponet, read a poem he had written, which has a message for us in our effort to thrive and fight for our planet.
An image of a person looking up at gigantic redwood trees
I Grow
—Rafi Ponet

I start out as a sapling. Tiny, small, and insignificant.
But I have potential. I could grow.
And I do grow, when I watch the world I grow, when I see buildings being built, people growing up, I grow. Through sun, rain, and snow I grow. Through, wind, cold, and heat, I grow.
I see the world age.
I age with it.
We grow together.
It relies on me and I rely on it.

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