Photo: Meril Darees

Your Voice Matters — Now, More Than Ever

By Kayla McCurry, Outreach Specialist



12 Jun 2024

Sometimes it feels like the bad news runs laps around the good news when it comes to climate change, leaving many of us feeling on edge and anxious. It’s normal to feel a drop in hope when we hear upsetting news, like the recent report predicting a dire future for Hudson Bay’s polar bears if nations fail to meet the goals set in the Paris Climate Agreement. You may even feel guilty that your hope is starting to fade, and that your resolve is something other than steadfast. Give yourself grace and acknowledge those feelings, which are often rooted in your empathy for the living world around you. 

Through my work with Polar Bears International, I’m keenly aware of the changes taking place in the Arctic and concerned about the future for polar bears — yet I retain hope. I call it constructive optimism.

Photo: Sheriden Ploof

Kayla McCurry interacts with visitors to Polar Bears International House in Churchill, Manitoba, Canada.

First, I remind myself that the answers are there. We know what the problem is, we know the solution, and we have the tools available to take action. Some of these innovations are in their infancy, and some of them are growing and changing faster than any of us ever expected. We have alternative energy options, many of which are expanding faster than anticipated. Climate scientists have given us considerable information on the viability of green energy, and there is hope in knowing we have the tools and ingenuity to make it happen. It is a matter of scaling up, and making these options available to MORE people in more places. We need to keep reminding policy makers that this is not only what we want, it is what we need, and that is why our voices are so important. 

How you can help

This year, many important elections are taking place around the globe. We need your vote and involvement in helping to elect leaders, at all levels of government, who will take action on climate change.

Marissa Krouse with a Vote for Polar Bears sign

Photo: Devon Albeit Photography

Are you a young person? It may surprise you to learn that children and young people are remarkably skilled at changing minds when it comes to climate concern. Studies have shown that child-to-parent intergenerational learning can be incredibly effective. One study showed the daughter/father relationship as the dynamic with the biggest impact, with the influence strongest on male parents whose daughters were the most effective at impacting parent behavior. While it isn’t the responsibility of children to carry this burden, it gives me hope to think about young women out there effecting change in their own homes.

Are you holding yourself back from sharing your concerns? Research tells us that a majority of Americans are concerned about climate change, but they are self-silencing because they’re convinced they have the minority opinion. If we can empower the majority who are already concerned to start talking with their friends and families, we can continue to turn the tide on this misconception and really start mobilizing for change.

Are you part of a community? Research also shows that you can have a powerful impact on your neighbors. You probably cannot single handedly tackle global shipping infrastructure in a day, but you can research community solar options in your area and share them with your family and friends. Studies also show that when you take a climate-friendly action like installing solar panels on your home or buying an electric car, you’ll help influence similar behavior in those around you. By talking to the people you know and bringing them along with you when you learn about all the benefits that come from green energy, you can help protect current and future generations of polar bears and people by tackling the source of the problem.

This work is collective. By offering examples of opportunities where people are coming together, the scale of the response better matches the scale of the problem. We know climate change is an issue, one we can tackle together by joining in the great work already happening all around us.

Yes, our climate outlook calls for urgency. Yes, we need to keep talking about it, voting with the climate in mind, and scaling up our green energy efforts. But we need you for the long haul, so don’t let yourself burn out. Take care of yourself and pause when you need to. Remember, you are not alone in this work. There are great people and groups all around us taking action, which is so inspiring and uplifting. We can come together as a community to address climate change, and keep working so that the sustainable choice is the easy choice for more people. It is all of us together that will move the needle, and that helps keep my hope alive.