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Rescue workers and volunteers help residents make their way out of a flooded neighborhood after it was inundated with rain water following Hurricane Harvey on August 29, 2017 in Houston, Texas. Harvey, which made landfall north of Corpus Christi August 25, has dumped nearly 50 inches of rain in and around areas Houston. (Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Heroism in the Age of Crisis

Margaret Klein Salamon

The flood waters are still rising in Texas, swallowing up homes and whole communities. Rain is predicted to continue for days. Our hearts go out to those who have lost lives, family members, homes and possessions, including the many on this list who have been affected or are still in the storm’s path

While Hurricane Harvey is “unprecedented” in its destructive power, it is not unexpected by those who take climate science seriously. It is not an aberration, but rather a symptom of the climate crisis.  Indeed, flooding in Bangladesh, Nepal and India has killed 1,200 people this month. 

The devastation and chaos of Hurricane Harvey is a preview of the future we are hurtling towards; the future we are choosing by remaining passive in the face of the existential climate threat.

It makes brutally clear the insufficiency of carbon gradualism -- the idea that we should reduce emissions slowly over time. The earth is already too hot.  The only sane, moral option is to mobilize to eliminate emissions as quickly as possible and draw down excess greenhouse gases from our atmosphere.

Hurricane Harvey also reminds us what heroism looks like. Young people are rescuing their neighbors in boats; traffic is backed up because so many people are bringing their boats into the flood zone. They are there to “try to save some lives.”

Rebecca Solnit writes that, in times of emergency, we remember that we are, in fact “our brother’s keeper, and that purposefulness and connectedness bring joy even amid death, chaos, fear, and loss”

The Climate Mobilization’s  goal is to catalyze  this heroic response, en masse, to solving the climate crisis itself. Will our heroism only come out in responding to the symptoms of the climate crisis?  Can we model ourselves on those who dropped everything to become rescuers? Can we make sacrifices, rearrange our lives, and dedicate ourselves to bringing about emergency climate mobilization?

These seem to me the basic questions that will determine humanity’s fate, and that of the natural world. At The Climate Mobilization, we are dedicated to achieving this heroic, all-hands-on-deck response to the climate emergency.  Here are our open positions for volunteers, and we are always looking for people to organize their communities. We hope you join us.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

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