Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Nanticha Ocharoenchai

"Climate activism has its lows, and you just have to learn how to get back up." (Photo: Nanticha Ocharoenchai)

What I Learned From the Women Fighting to Save Our Planet

Creating change meant fixing a problem, and fixing a problem meant facing the complexities of environmental policy and political drama.

Nanticha Ocharoenchai

 by Greenpeace

Climate activism isn't as fun as it used to be.

I remember the first time I striked—revving up the crowd was fun, and so was chanting for climate justice with a group of strangers. But long gone are those days. Climate Strike Thailand, the group I launched, grew bigger and it seemed like it was finally making the difference I had hoped for. But creating change meant fixing a problem, and fixing a problem meant facing the complexities of environmental policy and political drama.

Change also came with the stress of meeting with volunteers, media interviews, events and managing social media platforms. Besides the physical tasks needed done, I also had to mentally cope with the incredibly depressing mornings of waking up to the fear of dying from climate change, and horrifying nights of also waking up to anxiety attacks of feeling too powerless and exhausted to stop the crisis.

On many of those nights, I wondered if other people ever felt the same way. I remember thinking about Kotchakorn Voraakhom, a landscape architect whose firm I write for, and wondering if she ever felt hopeless. Kotchakorn and her team work extensively on climate impacts on sinking cities—she was among the "15 women leading the fight against climate change" on TIME magazine—focused on designing infrastructure which adds green space to Bangkok and other delta cities across Southeast Asia. I wondered if knowing too much about the problem and trying too hard to solve it had ever killed her optimistic vision of the future, the same way it did to mine.

(Photo: Nanticha Ocharoenchai)

The answer was pretty obvious—yes, very much so and you could see it on her face almost every time you'd meet her. But did that mean she ever wanted to give up? Not really. Sure, problem-solving is difficult, but besides that, what else is there to do?

Problems can be fun to solve, too—at least that's what my mom believes. As a businesswoman, her days are comprised of problem-solving, which was fun for her. Growing up, I was also taught to be productive and resourceful, to be able to turn any disaster into an opportunity and transform any adversity into an asset.

(Photo: Nanticha Ocharoenchai)

Either the mentality grew on me, or it was always there. On many nights, I'd fall asleep on the idea of bailing on our planet—but the next morning, I’d always wake up feeling unable to turn a blind eye on a problem I'm fully aware of. I wasn't sure what to do with that love-hate relationship with climate activism. It was hard to give up in spite of all the challenges, because there was always a bleak sense of hope that maybe I could actually create change. It was even harder to sit still and watch the world burn, when you knew where the water might be.

Like the mistakes my mom turned into lessons, I began turning the climate activism work I began to hate into something I enjoyed learning about with a small team with people I love. Now back on track, I am exploring how to combine storytelling—a passion strayed from during my first months of climate activism—and climate advocacy together to create emotionally-captivating narratives sharing the voices that deserved to be heard through writing, film, and photography.

Nanticha Ocharoenchai

Like everything else in life—as I've learned from the women in my life—climate activism has its lows, and you just have to learn how to get back up. Regardless of whether it works or not, you at least try. Looking back on the work I've achieved so far, I've not only learned ways to carry forth my mission, but also to give myself enough credit for it, so that I can inspire myself just as much as the women in my life have.

© 2021 Greenpeace
Nanticha Ocharoenchai

Nanticha Ocharoenchai

Nanticha Ocharoenchai, 22, is an environmental writer and climate activist of Climate Strike Thailand.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Bush and Warren Lead New Bill to Protect Renters Nationwide From Eviction

"This pandemic isn't over, and we have to do everything we can to protect renters from the harm and trauma of needless eviction, which upends the lives of those struggling to get back on their feet."

Jessica Corbett ·

Campaign Slams Vaccine Makers for Fueling 'Unprecedented' Human Rights Crisis

"Covid-19 vaccines must be readily available and accessible for all. It is up to governments and pharma companies to make this a reality."

Brett Wilkins ·

Sunrise Movement Targets Kyrsten Sinema for Obstructing Build Back Better Act

"Who do you work for? Do you work for the young, BIPOC, and working people who put their lives on hold to elect you? Or do you work for ExxonMobil and fossil fuel corporations?"

Brett Wilkins ·

UN Chief Tells World Leaders To Their Faces That Vaccine Apartheid Is 'An Obscenity'

Persistent inequality represents "a moral indictment of the state of our world," U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said.

Julia Conley ·

Global People's Summit on Food Systems Kicks Off to Challenge 'Corporate Agenda' of UN Meeting

"The people are hungry for real change, and are willing to do whatever it takes to fight for and reclaim their land, their rights, and the future of food systems."

Kenny Stancil ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.

Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo