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Climate Justice: Session 4


Advance Reading

Members of the group should read Chapters Nine, Eleven, Thirteen, and the Conclusion of This Changes Everything.

Opening Words

“We Belong to the Earth,”  by Chief Seattle

This we know.
The earth does not belong to us;
We belong to the earth.
This we know.
All things are connected like the blood which unites one family.
All things are connected.
Whatever befalls the earth befalls the children of the earth.
We did not weave the web of life;
We are merely a strand in it.
Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.


Invite the group to share any thoughts and feelings that came up for them after the previous session.


One of Klein’s section headings in Chapter Nine is,  “All in the Sacrifice Zone”. Our theological inheritance as UUs includes the idea of universal salvation, and our vision of the interdependent web of existence, connecting us to all of life.

  • How would you articulate connections between these core elements of UU theology and the idea of “all in the sacrifice zone”?
  • As you read about the climate justice struggles chronicled in these chapters, how did you feel? Which of these stories most resonated with you?
  • Have you participated in or been affected by some of these struggles yourself?
  • What thoughts and feelings arise for you as you think about different climate justice strategies described in these chapters? Do you regard some as more effective or appropriate than others? How so?

A major theme of these chapters is the forging of “unlikely alliances” that climate justice work makes possible, including – but not limited to – alliances between First Nations activists and non-Native people who also care about climate justice.

  • What kinds of pitfalls and dangers can attend these alliances, even when they are powerful forces for good in the world? (Think back for instance to the concluding section of Ch. 11, “The Moral Imperative of Economic Alternatives”)
  • Can these chapters help us to become better allies, even in situations when we may be unlikely ones?


Please have someone from the group read aloud the following quotation from the Conclusion:

“I’ve heard the story many times: ‘One day it was just me and my friends dreaming up impossible schemes, the next day the entire country seemed to be out in the plaza alongside us.’ And the real surprise, for all involved, is that we are so much more than we have been told we are—that we long for more and in that longing have more company than we ever imagined.”

Hope is also a crucial theme in our UU heritage. The theologian James Luther Adams used to speak of his “ultimate optimism” about the human destiny, which he preserved even in the face of his “immediate pessimism” about the near future.

  • Where does this passage and the rest of the Conclusion leave you?
  • How do you feel at the end of it? Do you find sources of hope in your own thoughts about the future that Klein leaves out?
  • Are there reasons for pessimism that you believe Klein underestimates?
  • Despite her thorough exploration in this book of the size of the problems confronting us, Klein expresses hope for the future and a belief in the human capacity for effective action. How does this hope connect with our UU heritage?

Before offering the closing words, invite people to share a word or phrase that describes their feelings after finishing the book and this discussion series.  In a second round, invite them to name one new way they hope to take action on what they’ve learned.

Closing Words

Only Begun By Rev. William Sinkford

Spirit of Life and Love, dear God of all nations:
There is so much work to do.
We have only begun to imagine justice and mercy.

Help us hold fast to our vision of what can be.
May we see the hope in our history,
and find the courage and the voice
to work for that constant rebirth
of freedom and justice.
That is our dream.


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