Global climate change may seem like an insurmountable challenge, but together, we can protect our planet. Join lifelong sustainable development champion Katie Gilman as she shares her experience inspiring effective climate activism.
Senior Representative, Wilderness Society Energy and Climate Program
Who She Is:
As the Senior Representative for The Wilderness Society’s Energy and Climate Program, Katie Gilman inspires climate activism by developing stakeholder relationships and advocating for sustainable energy development on public lands. She earned her BA in Political Science at Oregon State University and her MPA in Global Leadership and Management at the Hatfield School of Government – Portland State University.
Q. Given your experience promoting sustainable development, what key messages have you found most effective in inspiring climate activism and policy change?
A. The climate narrative has not been an easy one to maintain over the years. When pushing for tangible change, it is essential that you tailor your messaging to local audiences. Every climate narrative needs to address local needs and local experiences. The key messages may vary slightly, but they must strike a balance between doom and gloom and solutions-oriented messaging that can inspire action. The science is real and not easy to swallow, but there are things we can do to act. It is essential that we maintain hope to inspire action.
Q. What are the most common public misconceptions surrounding climate change?
Climate is a partisan issue.
This is an incredibly unfortunate narrative. Climate change impacts everyone, regardless of political party, socioeconomic class, or ethnicity. The idea that it is one side against the other is unproductive and is not helping us move the needle combating the most serious global challenge of our time.
One single policy will turn the climate crisis around.
This is a dangerous narrative, because there is no one size fits all solution that will keep us from reaching 2 degrees Celsius by mid-century. While The Wilderness Society may work on ensuring public lands become an integral part of the climate solution, we are one piece of a very large puzzle that must come together to protect our planet for future generations.
One person taking action won’t make a difference.
One person taking action may not save the world. However, there are a multitude of ways individuals can be involved in climate activism and save the planet. The way we vote matters. The way we eat matters. The products we consume matter. We are all influenced by those around us and we cannot discount our own impact.
Q. How can individuals inspire and participate in effective climate activism?
A. Here’s a short list of ways local climate advocates can ensure they are effective and their voices are heard, based on my personal experience in the climate sector:
- Vote first
- Vote with your dollar – put your money where your values are
- Show up and take space – attend local rallies, national protests, and information sessions
- Share your voice – just make sure you do a little research and know what you are talking about if you are sharing at a public meeting or meeting with an elected official
- Personal stories matter – they make something that can be hard to understand more relatable for an audience.
- Be inclusive – those most impacted by climate have the most powerful stories to share, let’s ensure we raise the voices and empower those who have for too long been disenfranchised.
Q. Why is it so important to bring together local leaders and government officials when determining climate policy?
A. Local leaders and government officials are essential to moving the needle on climate change. Currently, we are not seeing leadership on this issue at the federal level. Local leaders and advocates play a crucial role in supporting environmentally friendly reform by setting the stage for long-term, national policy.
Together, we can tackle this global challenge. Join our Climate Action Fund today to support effective climate activism around the world!
Featured Photo: APOPO HeroTREEs - a Climate-Smart Solution by APOPO vzw