From Mitigation to Restoration | Earth Day Network

Featured Guest Blog:  Peter Fiekowsky, Climate Activist

As a parent and climate activist, I’ve thought a lot about the climate that future generations will inherit. I grew up expecting my children would enjoy the same beautiful and fascinating world as I’ve had. That vision of the future has been drowning in floods, going up in flames, and blowing away in hurricanes. Even beautiful Yosemite National Park is nothing like it was when I took my fiancée there thirty-five years ago. Forests we enjoyed have died or burned, and new species of trees and animals are taking up residence. I hoped my children’s environment would not get too much worse if my generation reduced our carbon emissions. This idea came from what I now call a “mitigation consciousness”.

Over time, it has become clear that mitigation, or acting to reduce the severity of climate change, will not protect the world as we know it. As I came to terms with this fact, I asked myself, “What kind of future can we give our children now?” Exploring the answer to that question left me feeling hopeless. I went through the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. That experience has given me compassion for others as I witness their denial and anger.

When we lose something, our brains need time and compassion to create a new narrative for the world without it. For me, the grieving process made me realize that my generation could restore a healthy climate to pass along to our children. A new “restoration consciousness” emerged.

A new possible future grows more vivid the more my community shares it. Now that we’re focused on giving our children the same climate we inherited, solutions that can achieve that goal capture our attention. Once we developed this new restoration consciousness, viable solutions appeared. The solutions had existed for years, but they had been invisible within the old mitigation scenario.

Climate mitigation consciousness is an artifact of denial, anger, and bargaining. At this point, no amount of mitigation will bring back the climate of the past. No amount of blame toward companies or regulators will refreeze the Arctic. But the actions from a new consciousness will.

Restoring the climate is a new story, a new consciousness. It is a narrative of restoring the climate with a stable sea level, healthy coral reefs, resilient polar ice, and normal weather patterns.

Even when we restore the climate, the world will look different. Sea level will be higher, but not too much. Some species will have gone extinct, but not too many. It will be different, but it could even be better. Now is the time to stop lamenting what we’ve lost, and commit to restoring the climate for our children.

Peter Fiekowsky is the Founder and President of the Healthy Climate Alliance and co-founder of 300×2050.com. He is an entrepreneur committed to leaving a world we’re proud of for our children. Founder and president of AVI LLC. Board member of Repower Capital Inc. MIT physicist with 27 patents.