Every day, we are inundated with news about our impending doomsday: the massive, irreparable damage we have caused our planet with consequences we are now starting to see play out in real-time. The Changemaker Attitude: Why Individuals Matter in the Fight Against Climate Change was written to inspire a more optimistic outlook on climate change and encourage individuals to take action and confront this overwhelming issue.
How do we do our part to save and preserve the environment without feeling overwhelmed and discouraged?
In this book, you’ll learn about young eco-innovators who are changing the world, such as:
* Alhaji Bah, who created a company that makes handcrafted paper bags and briquettes made from coconut shells, using his last $20.
* Arpit Dhupar, whose company turns pollution from diesel generator exhaust into ink.
* Angel Wu, a student who is currently trying to turn organic waste materials from the city of Philadelphia into packaging material.
The Changemaker Attitude is full of positivity, hope, and a new vision for the future.
Make an Impact: How Our Youth Are Playing Their Part in Changing Climate Change
In eighth grade I went on my first big outdoor education trip. One hundred and twenty kids were split into small groups and sent into the mountains with backpacks that rivaled our height and weight. Halfway through the backpacking trip everyone was separated for a 24-hour solo with only a notebook, tarp, and rope. It is something only a small public school in Colorado can get away with.
The first 5 hours of the solo are easy. You are completely alone in the woods. You can’t hear anything except exactly what nature intended and you feel as though you are interrupting it. You make up a game, construct a tent, nap, and talk to yourself a little. By hour 10 you cannot imagine how anyone spends this much time alone. You are hungry and have napped too long to keep sleeping. The only option is to be alone.
That night I sat at the edge of the clearing staring blankly at the sky because I had, for the first time in my life, run out of things to entertain myself with. Monks may call this mindfulness but no matter how many times I’ve tried since nothing will compare to the thought void that occurs after 15 hours alone. From my vantage point, you could see the world at large: the stream dangerously far below that wound up the valley carving through patches of trees. It was like opening the curtains to a whole new world you don’t fully belong in. It was just too perfect for humans.
The Changemaker Attitude
I have been lucky enough to grow up connected to the outdoors. This also meant that I was closer to understanding how damaging the effects of climate change would be. Still, the idea of climate change was a distant and petrifying thought that I chose to ignore for my own sanity. It seemed like an adult problem. They had created it so now it was up to them to fix it, and if I squinted hard enough I could pretend that it would inevitably be solved before I became an adult myself.
This year I turned 20 and realized we still stand far from developing a comprehensive solution to the climate crisis. In fact we spend more time arguing over whether it exists than we do over possible solutions.
Last August I was given the opportunity to write a book when a Georgetown professor reached out to me about joining his book writing program for people around the world. I was about to start my sophomore year of college and was in no way qualified to write a book. It was in those moments of brainstorming that I realized I could actually make a possible impact with my peers, and incite them to also stand up to help our planet
Leading Without Fear
For decades we have used fear to motivate people to act in the name of the earth, but how successful has that tactic really been? For a problem, this complex and large, fear seems to only paralyze people to act. As I began to write, I realized that our pessimistic view of the potentially apocalyptic future was only blocking us from making progress.
This has been my journey over the last year. I attended classes, participated in clubs, held two jobs, and made 4:00 am calls to places like India and Sierra Leone. It wasn’t always easy balancing but the incredible stories of eco innovators around the world kept me going.
The impacts of climate change have never been clearer. I am writing this as deadly fires rage through Colorado and California with little end in sight. The air quality has gotten so bad I don’t want to venture outside. Similarly, Covid-19 has attacked the most vulnerable in a way that climate change will progressively do and its damages are exacerbated by things like poor air quality.
Youth Taking Action on Climate Change
The tangible effects are scary, but that can’t stop us. Whenever the problem seems insurmountable, I remind myself of people like Alhaji Bah, a 20-year-old from Sierra Leone who left school at age 13 and moved to the capital after his dad died. Bah was homeless until a family let him live with them in exchange for labor. In 2017 a mudslide killed the family who had been hosting him. He learned that the mudslide was caused by deforestation and plastic pollution, and with his last $20 he started Rusgal Trading, a company that makes charcoal from coconut husks and paper bags. He took action with almost no resources and no support because he did not want to stand idly by to a problem that had affected him and his community.
It is because of people like Alhaji, that I was able to write The Changemaker Attitude. It wasn’t something I ever envisioned myself doing, but he inspired me to continue working.
Positivity does not mean ignoring the facts. It is about moving past the fear to recognize people who are making a real difference and trying to emulate that. Through interviewing these people I started finding patterns in the mindsets these innovators held. Not only is the constant negativity surrounding climate change stressful but it is incredibly counterproductive. If we are ever going to counter the effects of climate change we need a new mindset.
Author: Jordan Fox
As an active outdoor enthusiast, Jordan Fox has always valued nature. She began to notice how the constant influx of negative news surrounding climate change was paralyzing those around her from taking action. Jordan’s passion for the environment led her to write The Changemaker Attitude while studying international relations and engineering entrepreneurship at the University of Pennsylvania.
Purchase Jordan’s book The Changemaker Attitude: Why Individuals Matter in the Fight Against Climate Change.