Nestling for the Planet

By Sasha Adkins 03-31-2011

The April issue of Sojourners magazine takes on climate change denial. One challenge is that the truth is hard to face -- but, as scientist Sasha Adkins describes from personal experience, one strategy is to draw inspiration from the comforts of home.

The question that I am most often asked when I talk about my Ph.D. research on the impacts of pollution has nothing to do with my methodology or my data. It is, "How do you live with this knowledge? Where do you find your hope?" It's a good question. My research results on the impact of plastics on human health and the environment are often quite demoralizing to hear. More than once when I am presenting them, an audience member has literally started to cry.

I took a year off from my environmental studies program to search for the answer to that very question, to find hope -- but this time, instead of turning to peer-reviewed journals for answers, I turned to my cats. I asked them if they would be willing to try living without fossil-fuel heat for the winter.

We discovered the pleasure of nestling together with a down comforter by a sunny window. When the temperature inside fell below 54 (which was rare), we gathered around a fire in the wood stove. We even let the sunrise wake us and the darkness of twilight lull us to sleep, without electric lights. In the stillness (no TV, no radio, no cell phone), I felt I was moving closer to hope -- perhaps not hope that my actions would immediately stop climate change or heal places scarred by poisons, but hope that I could still live with integrity in the world as it is, here and now.

Sasha Adkins is a Discipleship Year intern with Church of the Saviour.

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