Introduction. The Wilmette Institute course on Climate Change, first offered in February 2013 and again in May 2013, has proved to be one of the Institute’s most popular courses. In addition to learning about the science of climate change, students feel a strong urgency to act. Christine Muller, lead faculty for the Climate Change course, is compiling statements from learners in the course about the actions they are taking—as individuals, as families, as neighborhoods, as coalitions of religious groups, in children’s classes, in junior youth groups, in devotional programs, in work places and universities, in teaching efforts. We hope you will be inspired by the students’ actions to undertake your own efforts to reduce the effects of climate change and also to share your actions with us.
Education, Family, and Community
Roland Maddela, Grand Prairie, Texas, USA
There were many wonderful things I learned in the Climate Change course. However, one thing that particularly struck me was the need for universal education on this subject to increase awareness about the urgency of climate change. Based on my experience before the course, I was nonchalant, but now that I know more about the subject, my awareness has increased, and my feelings of stewardship toward the earth and my concern for the well-being of humankind have even increased more. I have taken environmental classes before, but they ended with knowledge and did not stir any ethical feelings for me or lead me to a path of service. The Wilmette Institute course was different, possibly because the course was so short, but maybe because the approach in this Wilmette course was different—spiritual. It is definitely the power of the Word.
If more people will enroll in this course or one of a similar quality and with the same ethical approach—or if the message could be spread in schools and other learning institutions, it would be wonderful. We need to get the urgency of the issue of climate change out there.
Definitely my view of the subject of climate change has changed from just knowing it exists to “something must be done,” using inspiration from the scriptures. Since I am a Bahá’í, I try to incorporate the subject into any core activity in which I participate. Inaction is no longer an option, and I have started with my family and then have involved others in the community. If all neighborhoods will do this, these groups will continue to expand and then coalesce until we have millions of communities working to mitigate climate change.
Changing Family Patterns and Saving Money
Lisa Kelly, Madison, Wisconsin, USA
Before taking the course on climate change, I had convinced myself that any efforts on my part to mitigate climate change would not make a difference in the larger world of mass consumption. As a result of this course,
- I now want to make an effort to reduce the consumption of all the products in my life, and
- I have started many dialogues about viewing climate change through a spiritual perspective.
If energy-conservation skills count, I have improved these activities: turning out lights, using less hot water, hanging clothes on the line, reducing car trips, using our bikes for transportation, being more thoughtful with every purchasing decision, consuming less. Our family’s electric bill was 25 percent lower after starting this class, and our gasoline bill was also lower. Though our city has a good bus system, I have started biking to work. I have shared the science, urgency, and ideas from the climate change course with numerous Bahá’ís and other friends, including compiling the quotations from the course into a devotional program at our Bahá’í Center.
A Winning Toastmaster’s Talk on Climate Change
Carolyn Alperin, Hendersonville, North Carolina
I gave a seven-minute Toastmasters speech last week. I refuted some arguments of climate-change deniers by using scientific facts, and I used poster-sized graphs to make the science more clear. My talk was well received by the members. Some people said my talk was more understandable than other presentations on climate change that they have heard. I could not have prepared such a talk without all the resources and information from the Climate Change course. It made researching for my speech much easier.
Proposing a University Course on Climate Change
Pascal J. Molineaux, Cali, Columbia
I wrote a concrete, forty-hour undergraduate course proposal called “Sustainable Development and Climate Change: The Search for Possible Indicators” and sent it to the Javeriana University in Cali, Colombia (where I teach English). I am waiting for approval of the course. The Wilmette Climate Change course was very useful in the elaboration of this proposal, and I hope to use some of the insights gained and links provided.
Small Steps Inspired by Reading Learner Accounts
Betty J. Fisher and Jack Bowers, Albuquerque, New Mexico
As the editor of this and previous articles on climate change and sustainable development, I have been moved by the actions of learners in the courses to make changes of my own. My husband and I already drove a hybrid car, and my husband looks forward to a owning an electric car. For our monthly movie nights and sector Feasts, I have replaced paper plates, plastic cups, and plastic utensils with glass plates and cups and real silverware; I also reuse plastic bowls for popcorn.
The course on Climate Change will be offered again on March 10, 2014, with Christine Muller as lead faculty once again and with a stellar list of supporting faculty (see course description in this newsletter). Whether you sign up for the course, or whether you take you own actions to reduce the effects of climate change, please let us know what actions you take. Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Next month, in part 2 of actions by individuals, we will hear from artists who are using art to express their new understandings of climate change and sustainable development.