Climate and YOU

By Domyo Burk

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How can you - personally - face the truth, stay strong, and take action in the midst of an ongoing climate and ecological emergency? Former wildlife biologist, Zen priest, and climate activist Domyo Burk offers weekly episodes to help you stay engaged with the climate crisis in an authentic and sustainable way.

Episode Date
29 - Getting Active Again

After a hiatus of almost a year (with the exception of my trip to West Virginia to protest at Joe Manchin’s power plant), I feel the need to get active again. The daily atmospheric carbon dioxide reading at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii for Sept. 13th, was 416 ppm. Despite all the legislation, despite all the technological innovations, despite all the scientific reports, despite the United Nations conferences of the parties, despite all the green living and good intentions, we are not succeeding in cutting our global greenhouse gas emissions. The atmospheric CO2 reading does not lie.

Sep 15, 2022
28 – The Tragedy of Climate Injustice

Developing nations are particularly vulnerable to impacts of global heating, including widespread destruction and death from storms, droughts, and floods. This is not just bad luck, it’s tragic climate injustice. Wealthy countries have run up a vast planetary and ecological bill with a century of resource extraction and greenhouse gas emissions. The bill has come due, but whenever possible we leave the bill at the door of developing countries – countries which are least able to pay, and which have done almost nothing, relatively speaking, to contribute to the climate and ecological crisis. Central to humanity’s attempt to save itself must be a massive effort by wealthy nations to take responsibility for paying the cost of the comforts they now enjoy.

Sep 09, 2022
27 – Are We Powerless?

Are we, as individuals, powerless when it comes to preventing the breakdown of our earth’s natural life-support systems? When I talk to people about the climate and ecological crisis, many people confess feeling powerless beyond their personal consumer and lifestyle choices, which they are aware is not enough to save us. In this episode I explore what we often mean by “powerless” and how we might change the way we think about personal efficacy.

Aug 26, 2022
26 – The Trauma of No Longer Being Able to Depend on Nature

I think it’s important we Bear Witness to the fact that we are losing the luxury of depending on nature, and that this is deeply traumatic – although the trauma is happening to us relatively slowly, and we’re not yet sure exactly how it is going to manifest for each of us, or in our wider societies.

Aug 17, 2022
25 - Living in Terrifying and Exciting Times

Watching our planet's natural life-support systems disintegrate is terrifying, but our climate and ecological crisis may be the catalyst for a global transformation beyond our imagining. It's a fallacy to believe things will inevitably get better, but it's also a fallacy to conclude radical change is unlikely. To find our situation somewhat exciting - as opposed to overwhelming or paralyzing - requires us to challenge our limited views about the capacities of humankind.

Aug 04, 2022
24 - Book Review: Katherine Hayhoe's "Saving Us" - A Case for Hope and Healing

One more book review during my sabbatical month of July: Katherine Hayhoe's "Saving Us: Saving Us: A Climate Scientist's Case for Hope and Healing in a Divided World." Far from being a Pollyana, Hayhoe is incredibly knowledgable and realistic. At the same time, she has proven time after time that it's possible to connect with people about the importance of our climate crisis across our cultural and political divides. She gives you real hope that more and more people from all walks of life are ready to join our fight for a livable planet.

Jul 29, 2022
23 - Book Review: Kimmerer's "Braiding Sweetgrass" Re-envisions Our Relationship with Nature

Robin Wall Kimmerer’s "Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants" is a balm for the soul, even as it is completely down-to-earth and realistic. A botanist and person of indigenous heritage, Kimmerer takes us on a journey that challenges many of our assumptions about the human relationship to nature, and about the nature of nature itself. We learn lessons that give hope and resources for facing our climate emergency.

Jul 21, 2022
21.3 - Climate Timeline: A Crisis That Didn't Need to Happen - Part 3 - 21st Century

I discuss why it’s important for us to know the history of our understanding that burning fossil fuels and the way our governments have responded – or failed to respond to – that understanding. Then I illustrate that climate timeline with direct, published quotes from people and reports from the last 60-plus years – letting the people of each decade tell the story of their relationship to climate in their own words.

Jul 17, 2022
22 – Book Review: Margaret Klein Salamon’s “Facing the Climate Emergency”

In this episode I review Margaret Klein Salamon’s Facing the Climate Emergency: How to Transform Yourself with Climate Truth (written with Molly Gage). If there is one single book I would have you read on this topic, it would be this one. It is well-written, engaging, and efficiently concise at only 117 pages. It has everything you need to face and respond to the climate emergency in a sustainable, authentic, and compassionate way.

Jul 13, 2022
21.2 - Climate Timeline: A Crisis That Didn't Need to Happen - Part 1 - 20th Century

I discuss why it’s important for us to know the history of our understanding that burning fossil fuels and the way our governments have responded – or failed to respond to – that understanding. Then I illustrate that climate timeline with direct, published quotes from people and reports from the last 60-plus years – letting the people of each decade tell the story of their relationship to climate in their own words.

Jul 02, 2022
21.1 - Climate Timeline: A Crisis That Didn't Need to Happen - Part 1 - Introduction

I discuss why it’s important for us to know the history of our understanding that burning fossil fuels and the way our governments have responded – or failed to respond to – that understanding. Then I illustrate that climate timeline with direct, published quotes from people and reports from the last 60-plus years – letting the people of each decade tell the story of their relationship to climate in their own words.

Jul 02, 2022
20 - Liberation from the Trap of Green Consumerism
The first place most of us start when comes to taking action on our climate and ecological emergency is green consumerism. Unfortunately, for many us, green consumerism ends up being a dead end. We think it’s all we can do, or all we need to do. This is exactly what the inactivists want us to think. We won’t escape climate catastrophe unless we demand systemic change – a future in which we all have better choices. Fortunately, there are three benefits from escaping the trap of green consumerism.
Jun 09, 2022
19 - Imagination as an Antidote to Despair
If you really try to Face the Truth and Take Action in our climate and ecological emergency, it’s pretty easy to feel despair. There are many reasons to feel discouraged, but one antidote to despair is to engage your imagination in a radical way – in a way that lets you reframe the world and your place in it and invites your spirit to roam outside the dismal constraints of the status quo.
Jun 02, 2022
18 – The Climate Movement Is Failing Miserably
Just in case you had great hopes for it, the climate movement is failing miserably. A relatively small group of activists - no matter how dedicated - can't bring about change by themselves. The primary role of action campaigns is to engage and mobilize the public, and this is proving incredibly difficult to do with respect to the climate and ecological emergency even though it threatens everything we love.
May 26, 2022
17 - The Best Climate Action: Get Together with Friends!

What's the most effective thing you can do for our climate and ecological crisis? You might be surprised at my answer: Get together with friends! A group of 3-12 like-minded folks (friends, neighbors, people with common affiliations or interests) can form an affinity group and support one another in facing and responding to our climate emergency.

May 19, 2022
16 - Waking Up to Our Anthropotragedy

When we step back and look honestly at humanity, it’s clear we are living in the midst of an unfolding tragedy of our own making. I suggest we create a word for it, “anthropotragedy:" The lamentable, preventable, disastrous downfall and utter destruction of humanity through our own actions.

May 14, 2022
15 - The Self-Immolation of Wynn Bruce and the Question of Personal Sacrifice
How much should we personally sacrifice in order to fight the complete breakdown of earth’s natural life-support systems? This is a very difficult question. I reflect on it as I discuss the self-immolation of Wynn Bruce, climate activist and Buddhist, on Earth Day 2022 in Washington DC outside the Supreme Court. What would make someone do such a thing? Is there a way we can hear Bruce’s message without condoning his method? 
May 06, 2022
14 - How Everything is Okay at the Same Time Everything is NOT Okay
Reality has two dimensions. Along one dimension, our world is unequivocally full of greed, hate, delusion, and suffering, and any moral person should feel compelled to do something to make things better. Along the other dimension, things are just as they are, and when we don’t impose our expectations and preconceived notions on the world, it’s a miracle anything exists at all. The two dimensions do not conflict with one another but are simultaneously true. The challenge is to be awake to, and live in harmony with, both dimensions, without clinging to either one.
Apr 28, 2022
13 – Is a "Crazy" Response an Appropriate Response to Climate Insanity?
In this "Facing the Truth" episode, I give a brief update on the state of the climate and ecological crisis as reflected in the recent IPCC report on the mitigation of climate change. Then I reflect on our situation to help us absorb the insanity of it, and discuss whether or not a “crazy” response is an appropriate one. Finally, I invite you to give you to consider how we are experiencing entirely new kinds of human distress by living in the midst of a climate and ecological emergency.
Apr 21, 2022
12 – The Coal Baron Blockade: My Story of Participating in a Nonviolent Direct Action
This episode takes you on a journey with me as I travel to the Coal Baron Blockade action, prep for it, participate in it, get arrested doing it, face the aftermath, and then reflect on the experience.

If you haven’t already listened to my last episode, Episode 11 – My Upcoming Climate Action: Doesn’t Civil Disobedience Just Piss People Off?, I recommend doing so before you listen to this one, because episode 11 gives you the background of the Coal Baron Blockade (#manchinblockade) and discusses the intentions of nonviolent civil disobedience.

Apr 14, 2022
11 - My Upcoming Climate Action: Doesn’t Civil Disobedience Just Piss People Off?
I explain why I plan to participate in a climate-related mass, nonviolent, civil disobedience action that will take place on April 9th. I give some background on the action, and then try to address the questions: Why nonviolent civil disobedience? Isn’t it extreme? Doesn’t it just piss people off? Regardless of you feel about nonviolent direct action, I hope I can help you understand what we’re trying to achieve and why we choose the methods we do.
Apr 06, 2022
10 – The Middle Way: Recipe for Sanity and Effective Action
The concept of the Buddhist Middle Way can help us stay sane and be effective. You definitely don't have to be Buddhist to appreciate the idea that human beings often think dualistically and end up clinging to one side of a dualism or another. This constrains our perceptions, creativity, and ability to respond skillfully. I discuss the approach of the Middle Way, which involves preserving our freedom by refusing to get stuck in extremes.
Apr 02, 2022
9 - We're Not Destroying "the Earth," We're Destroying Ourselves
Issues arise when we frame our concern about climate and ecological breakdown as being about saving "the Earth." This invites us to think of the natural world separate from ourselves. Those who don't care about forest hikes and rare butterflies may ignore pleas to "save the Earth." We know "the Earth" has seen many waves of extinction and evolution, so we may feel fatalistic about humanity's decline. What's more realistic - and motivating - is to realize averting climate and ecological breakdown is about saving ourselves and the rich living resources on which we depend.
Mar 24, 2022
8 – We Can Fix This: Waking Up from the Trance of Adulthood
In this episode I make a case for taking action on the climate and ecological crisis because we can fix this. In particular, I want to reframe our view of human-caused global heating in a way that makes us think, “Of course we can fix this!” The key is calling bullshit on ourselves when we come up with a million excuses for why the status quo is immovable, why the system can’t be changed. The key is waking up from what I call the “trance of adulthood.”
Mar 17, 2022
7 – Gratitude for the Climate Crisis as Terminal Prognosis
Industrialized human societies have been living a reckless and destructive lifestyle that has had terrible consequences, but habits are hard to change, and the forces of greed are strong. Climate is like a terminal prognosis with conditions – if we don’t change our ways now, we won’t survive very long. It may seem strange to say so, but it’s possible to feel gratitude for the climate crisis as a wake-up call and opportunity for humanity.
Mar 09, 2022
6 – Forgetting Climate in the Middle of Other Major Crises
How do we – as individuals and as a society – avoid forgetting about, or deprioritizing, our looming, worsening environmental crisis while dealing with other major crises like war, injustice, and pandemic?
Mar 03, 2022
5 - Don't Take Action on Climate Unless You Really Want To
I don’t think you should take action on climate unless you really want to. Don’t do it because you feel guilty or because of anyone else’s expectations. I also think, though, that some part of you sincerely does want to take action, even if you’re not sure what to do.
Feb 24, 2022
4 – Three Kinds of Hope

How do find hope in the middle of a climate and ecological emergency, and given the tremendous resistance human beings have to the changes necessary to address it? I discuss three different kinds of hope – ordinary hope, active hope, and faith in humanity – and how at least two out of three of these kinds of hope remain accessible to us no matter what happens.

Feb 17, 2022
3 – Facing the Truth and the Practice of Bearing Witness
In this episode I talk about why it’s so important to face the truth of our climate and ecological emergency. Then I walk you through a practice I call “Bearing Witness,” where we mindfully choose to turn our awareness toward suffering – our own, or that of others – and give ourselves the time and space to absorb what’s going on. We temporarily set aside any effort to assign blame, avoid the discomfort, or plan a response. We just witness… and, surprisingly, doing this as a regular practice can help us face the truth without feeling overwhelmed, numb, or depressed.
Feb 09, 2022
2 - Prolonged Emergency Mode Versus a Wartime Mindset
In this second episode of the podcast, and I want to focus straight off on the conundrum of our so-called “climate emergency.” What do we mean by the term “emergency?” As human beings, are we capable of comprehending the scale and seriousness of our crisis? What response is required of us if we do, indeed, believe we’re in an emergency? And how do we sustain “emergency mode” – a way of operating we’ve evolved to use for minutes, hours, days, or maybe weeks at a time, but not for years, with no resolution in sight.
Feb 04, 2022
1 – Climate and You: Introduction to the Podcast
In this episode I briefly introduce myself, the purpose of this podcast, and the basic approach I plan to take with it. In summary: The Climate and You podcast is about living in the midst of a climate crisis – how to face the truth, stay strong, and take action.
Jan 23, 2022