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Climate Justice: Session 3


Advance Reading

Members of the group should read Chapters Six and Eight (“Fruits Not Roots” and “Dimming the Sun”) of This Changes Everything.

Also, please visit this map, made available by Climate Central, which shows projected sea level rises in the United States as a result of climate change. You can click on your home state, if it is on the ocean, or search for your home city by zipcode. You can see the projected sea level change and compare the before and after effects of climate change for where you live.

Opening Words

From “Prayer Before Birth” By Louis MacNeice

I am not yet born; provide me
With water to dandle me, grass to grow for me, trees to talk
to me, sky to sing to me, birds and a white light
in the back of my mind to guide me. […]

I am not yet born; O fill me
With strength against those who would freeze my
humanity, […] would make me a cog in a machine, a thing with
one face, a thing, and against all those
who would dissipate my entirety, would
blow me like thistledown hither and
thither […]

Let them not make me a stone[.]”


Invite the group to share any thoughts and feelings that came up for them after the previous session, as well as any reactions they had to the sea level map they looked at in preparation for the session.


Invite your group to reflect on the following questions concerning the map:

  • How is our home town/region likely to be affected by climate change, according to this map?
  • How are communities around us, or elsewhere in our state, likely to be affected? What neighborhoods or areas are at particular risk?
  • Are there parts of our home state or city that are already marginalized or disadvantaged, that will be further affected by climate change?
  • When we think about these things so close to home, what feelings arise?

In Chapter Six, Klein documents the ways many of the best-known environmental groups have collaborated with the extraction industry.

  • Thinking back to this chapter, what stands out as something that was surprising, frustrating, or that you otherwise found provocative?
  • What, if anything, did you learn from this chapter that you did not know before?
  • How fair or unfair did you find Klein’s critique?
  • Is there anything that you think ought to have been said on this subject that Klein leaves out? Any voices or perspectives you wish had been included?
  • Do you plan to do anything differently as a result of reading this chapter? Will you associate differently with any organizations or think differently about them because of it?

Please have someone from the group read aloud the following quotation from the end of Chapter Eight:

“[G]eoengineering […] slots perfectly into our most hackneyed cultural narrative, the one in which so many of us have been indoctrinated by organized religion and the rest of us have absorbed from pretty much every Hollywood action movie ever made. It’s the one that tells us that, at the very last minute, some of us (the ones that matter) are going to be saved. […]We hear versions of this narrative every time a commercial comes on about how coal is on the verge of becoming ‘clean,’ about how the carbon produced by the tar sands will soon be sucked out of the air and buried deep underground, and now, about how the mighty sun will be turned down as if it were nothing more than a chandelier on a dimmer. […] We are, after all, the super-species, the chosen ones, the God Species. We will triumph in the end because triumphing is what we do.”

  • What connections, if any, do you see between this passage and Klein’s discussion of “sacrifice zones” earlier in the book?
  • We have all lived through instances in which technological innovations have in fact solved a problem. What do you think about Klein’s conviction that such innovation is not the direction to look toward in resolving climate change?
  • What stories does our Unitarian Universalism offer about salvation? What are the differences and similarities to the “hackneyed” story Klein critiques in this chapter?

Before offering the closing words, invite people to share a word or phrase that describes their feelings after today’s discussion of the book.

Closing Reading

By Richard J. Baughan

Turn scarlet, leaves!
Spin earth!
Tumble the shadows into dawn,
The morning out of night;
Spill stars across these skies
And hide them with the suns.

Teach me to turn
My sullen sense toward marvel.

Let green and red
And dark and day
Concur with the returning life
I am.

Reading For Next Session

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

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