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Monday August 17 General

Climate Museum Launches Action Center for Civic Engagement

By Saskia Randle, Arts Marketing Coordinator, Climate Museum and Bram Ziltzer, Operations Coordinator, Climate Museum

According to an April 2020 study, 66% of American adults say they are worried about global warming, but only 5% of us discuss it regularly. That means 61% of Americans are distressed but paralyzed by the climate crisis. There are many reasons we feel helpless about the crisis—the huge scale of the problem, a sense of overwhelming guilt, or a false sense that special expertise is needed to engage in dialogue and action.

There is one sure remedy for these feelings of helplessness: action alongside a community of others, building a sense of collective efficacy. As one Climate Museum visitor aptly put it: “we’ve multiplied our actions, replacing our despair with determination.”

We are therefore excited to announce that we will be launching the Climate Museum Action Center during Climate Week NYC next month. Climate Week NYC has never been more critical—the unifying power of a week of intersectional climate action is exactly what we need in the face of the greatest threat that humanity has yet faced. We are grateful for the opportunity to partner again with the Climate Group to bring collective action to public awareness.

Our mission at the Climate Museum is to inspire the 61% to take action on the climate crisis with programming across the arts and sciences that deepens understanding, builds connections, and advances just solutions. By emphasizing civic action over personal and consumer choices, we aim to underscore the critical role of collective, public action and concomitantly to reduce the paralyzing guilt felt by individuals. We are conditioned to feel guilty for flying on planes, eating meat, and using plastic bags. But a systemic issue requires a systemic solution, and in this case the solution is to keep fossil fuels in the ground and transition to an equitable clean energy economy.

Solutions must be rooted in justice to be sustainable. The current moment presents opportunities to rebuild our economy independent of fossil fuels and to ensure justice for frontline communities. Over 100 economists recently signed a letter calling on policymakers to recognize the role that meaningful climate action has to play in rebuilding our world. Specifically, the only way we can overcome the interconnected emergencies of inequality, public health, and climate is with an egalitarian green stimulus.

During Climate Week NYC this September, we look forward to launching an Action Center that provides people of all ages the opportunity to join a community of action. The Action Center will include multiple platforms and pathways to immediate action, two of which have already launched—our Climate Ambassador cards and Climate Art for Congress.

Our Climate Ambassador cards aim to break the climate silence and inspire further climate engagement by creating a community of individuals who feel empowered to bring others into the climate conversation. We’ve created foldable, wallet-sized cards based on five key beliefs, identified by George Mason University’s Center for Climate Change Communication and the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, that are associated with support for ambitious action on the climate crisis. The cards can be printed at home and carried wherever you go to help you feel comfortable starting and sustaining climate conversations.

We are also giving students the opportunity to voice demands to their representatives with Climate Art for Congress, which was launched at the start of the coronavirus crisis and continues as the urgency of a green stimulus grows. This initiative elevates the voices of those who cannot yet vote but will be most punished by current inaction. Students research climate science and the importance of immediate action; identify their Member of Congress and their stances on climate; and create an illustrated note. The Climate Museum then sends out the students’ notes to their representatives. 500 down, many more to go! Explore more resources and take action today.

These initiatives are key components of the Action Center, which we will continue to expand in an effort to make action free of barriers. Our additional Climate Week NYC programming will include a panel on COVID’s lessons for inequality and a discussion of an international design competition. We will also announce a special volunteer program, coming soon. We look forward to joining with you at Climate Week NYC in building a broad community of climate action.

In the meantime, to see what we’ve been up to since making the pivot to online arts and cultural programming, check out our YouTube channel and website. See you in September!

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