Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

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.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

'Broken' Capitalist Food System Drives Soaring Global Hunger: Oxfam

Criticism from the charity's food policy director came in response to a new United Nations report revealing that around 1 in 10 people worldwide went hungry last year.

Brett Wilkins ·


With Manchin's Backing, Senate Dems Unveil Plan to Let Medicare Negotiate Drug Prices

"This compromise will lower prices, cut costs, and stop the drug corporations from raising their prices faster than the rate of inflation," said Margarida Jorge of Lower Drug Prices Now.

Jake Johnson ·


'Fight for Us Goddamnit': Frustration Grows Over Biden Fecklessness Amid GOP Destruction

"We simply cannot make promises, hector people to vote, and then refuse to use our full power when they do," said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Julia Conley ·


EPA Likely Underestimating Amount of Toxic Forever Chemicals in US Water: Analysis

"The EPA is doing the bare minimum it can and that's putting people's health at risk," said the policy director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility.

Kenny Stancil ·


'Betrayal!' Uproar After EU Backs Industry Push to Label Gas and Nuclear 'Green'

"This is a step backwards in the fight against greenwashing and a step away from the sustainable future the E.U. has promised, but we are not defeated," campaigners said.

Jake Johnson ·

Common Dreams Logo