Climate Adaptation and the Power of Community
By Sunniva Sorby, co-founder Hearts in the Ice
This week marks the publication of IPCC’s second assessment report (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change). “Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability” – sounding off alarm bells on how communities globally are increasingly impacted by climate change. This new report highlights the importance of our narrative on adaptation. The past few decades have shown us that Mother Nature is BOSS and, if looked at it like a body, has severely compromised organs – yet she is remarkably resilient.
Have we forgotten what really matters??
From 2019 to 2021, I had the gift of living off-grid in the High Arctic of Svalbard with one woman, Hilde Falun Strom, and one dog, Ettra, in a 20 square-meter trapper’s cabin 140 km away from civilization, for a total of 14,000 hours. The three of us were tethered to the natural world and the cycles of change while bathed in the luxury of self-reflection. From this self-imposed isolation the urge evolved to reach out to people around the world and create a ‘world of heartbeats’ through our platform Hearts in the ice.
What does solitude and immersion with our natural world teach us?
It allowed for a deep connectedness to nature as we melted into the landscape. We were peeled back, reduced, stripped of our old habits, and humbled by the power of our thoughts and actions. We underlined what is important in life: water, food, shelter and COMMUNITY. If anyone around the world is lacking access to anyone of these things get out of balance.
And things are out of balance!
Like a bike wheel missing a spoke, we seem to be able to wobble forward, but out of alignment.
In our solitude we became so intimately aware of our strength and power as a species. Living the very parsed down, simple, sustainable life as we did, you could justifiably ask: “Of what purpose is this?” For us the answer is rather simple as we have always thought our world to be without borders. We have blended into other cultures, other peoples’ stories and have tasted the promise of sunrise from every continent that there is.
World without borders
Our modern world does not have all of the answers for all of the challenges that will present us in the coming years. There are so many ways to live! The many cultures that exist are communities of real people with real needs. Our accomplishments in the western world have been stunning with advancements in medicine, technology, and so on. Yet, this should not in any way suggest that we have a monopoly on the path to the future.
In the past, people were born as part of a community and had to find their place as individuals. Now it seems that we are born as individuals and have to find our community. It matters that we all show up in this lifetime and work hard to understand that we are all needed as active participants in this global community.
We are all needed
Pandemics, war and the climate crisis are definitely ways to divide us, but let’s remember that we are better than that. At our very core we are a resilient species who care deeply about each other, our planet, and choose love and peace over war. Have we forgotten what really matters? Unpack and share kindness, lift up those who are down and need us. Giving up is not an option, and more than ever individual leadership across all arms (and not up the ladder), will be the way forward.
The worst thing would be for all of us to wake up from all of “this”, this time of crisis, and not even remember what had been lost. Climate change is real and not a spectator sport. We all need to be climate heroes. The truth is painful. Science is fact and facts are hard to swallow.
We must not lose hope and we must remember that change never happens overnight, but it does always start with us, one careful step at a time.
Key things to navigate forward
Here a few things that I try to keep in mind as I forge a way forward. I hope it helps:
- Look at what you value and stay grounded in those values.
- Protect what you love- stand up for what you believe in- hold local leadership accountable.
- Lead by example: listen first, speak last. Be kind.
- Respect diversity, strive for better equity everywhere.
- Shift your mindset and acknowledge that climate change is a threat to all of us- our entire global community.
It’s all hands on deck right now. When we see the earth as a living being with living beings on it which it is, we become caretakers of this being not consumers. We are all in this together. Never, never, never, give up.
Hearts in the Ice book is now available
The book that chronicles the who, what, when, where and why around Hearts in the Ice is now available for purchase online. Hearts In The Ice, an adventure filled historic account of the first women to overwinter in Svalbard is out now. Read about Hilde and Sunniva’s epic expedition to inspire and engage action around climate change.
Women’s History month
The theme of March is Power of Community and Diversity. Our educational partner is DEWALT. Sign up here for live events.