There is dismissiveness about whether individual choices like how we consume and transport ourselves matter: Why cancel that trip to Europe if it’s too late anyway and if everyone is still addicted to fossil fuels? But Lou Leonard, a founder of One Earth Sangha, a Buddhist group focused on the crisis, told me that living like climate change is real and that we can do something about it are signals to others — and can help shift cultural norms. Who would have thought Burger King would one day serve delicious plant-based meat?
“We need to break the cognitive dissonance in as many ways as we can in order to be more real with what’s happening,” Mr. Leonard said. Making seemingly inconvenient changes now, he said, can also prepare us for what might be to come.
Zhiwa Woodbury, an eco-psychologist, believes that we are collectively experiencing climate trauma, of which we are both perpetrators and victims — our assault on the biosphere is an assault on ourselves. Altering habits like how we eat can make people feel more empowered and less overwhelmed, he said, and can shift our relationship with the natural world. After all, the belief that natural resources exist for our heedless exploitation got us to this point in the first place (and made us none the happier). “It makes us feel good that we’re doing something and it gets back to the idea of shared responsibility,” Mr. Woodbury said.
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