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The power of love in the fight against climate change » Yale Climate Connections

Years ago, the first time I included a book about climate change in one of my university literature classes, I asked for my students’ emotional reactions to what they had just read. The list was what I expected, a familiar litany of distress — until one older student with several children said “love.” Had I misheard? “Love,” she repeated.

I’ve been mulling that response ever since, and I now think that love should be on the shortlist of emotions we associate with climate change. For if it isn’t literally in the air, love is certainly everywhere.

For Valentine’s Day, these love stories are timely:

Love and its responsibility for caregiving underlie many faiths — love for the creation, for humanity, for our neighbors, and for those most in need:

Love of family often motivates climate activism. Moms Clean Air Force, Climate Dads, and the many grandparent climate action groups are obvious examples. A love of the outdoors is another strong driver:

Many kinds of love can come together, as when the love of a place, the love of people, and an understanding of global harms merge into a powerful obligation to protect what one loves:

  • What does it mean to love a place?” Kathleen Dean Moore, Riverwalking.com. As Moore writes, “Loving isn’t just a state of being, it’s a way of acting in the world.” 
  • In a lighter but edgier way, this poem also looks at how love breaks conceptual boundaries: “Love in a time of climate change.” Craig Santos Perez, Poetry Foundation. As Perez’s epigraph notes, this piece is an update of Pablo Neruda’s less edgy 17th love sonnet.

SueEllen Campbell created and for over a decade curated the website “100 Views of Climate Change,” a multidisciplinary collection of pieces accessible to interested non-specialists. She is especially interested…

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