Climate Change and Imagination

by Phil Porter

I have been traveling to Australia for many years to teach during the month of January, which is their summer. This year it was powerful and disturbing to be there in the midst of the fires that ravaged great swaths of the country. Although I never saw fires directly, they were around us in the three cities where I taught. On several days smoke was heavy in the air. The experience was yet another sign of what is in store for us as the climate changes.

I believe that imagination is crucial to our ability to deal with the climate crisis. We must be witness to the challenging signs of dramatic change, even when we aren’t experiencing them directly. We must be able to project into the future likely outcomes based on what we are seeing. We must be able to see in our mind’s eye how we can address these problems, even coming up with solutions that don’t currently exist.

The ability to imagine is a skill that can be practiced. Imagine what isn’t yet there, dream dreams of how you might act. See visions of solutions that we might all work toward. Practice imagination that leads toward hope rather than toward fear, because, God knows, we can think up lots of scary stuff. This God-given ability may be a crucial tool for us as we seek to create a new future.