Preparing People on the West Coast for Climate Change

Preparing People on the West Coast for Climate Change

International Transformational Resilience Coalition (ITRC) calls for major West-Coast Initiative to prepare people for the adverse psychological and psycho-social-spiritual impacts of climate change.

Devastating wildfires displaced hundreds on the west coast this year. Faced with the reality of injury or death of loved ones, losing their homes and livelihoods, and seeing their finances depleted, many experience significant psychological traumas that can negatively affect them, their family, and community for years. In response to these and the many other growing disasters and toxic stresses generated by climate change, the International Transformational Resilience Coalition (ITRC) issued a major report calling for psychological and psycho-social-spiritual–or transformational–resilience education and skills training to become universal across the west coast by 2025.

The report Preparing People on the West Coast for Climate Change is the outcome of an exploratory research project completed by the ITRC that assessed the nature and potential to expand transformational resilience building initiatives in California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, and Alaska. Transformational resilience is a framework for building psychological and psycho-social-spiritual resilience, not a specific method. It involves helping people learn simple age, demographically, and culturally appropriate: a) Presencing–or self-regulation–skills that enable them to calm their mind, body, and emotions when distressed; and b) Purposing–or adversity-based growth–skills that enable them to use adversities as transformational catalysts to learn, grow, and find new positive sources of meaning, direction, and hope in life. The combo of these skills help people think and act in healthy ways even in unhealthy conditions. They can also motivate people to use climate and other adversities as stimulus to increase their own sense of wellbeing by assisting others or helping to heal the planet. The ITRC report found numerous well-established human resilience building programs already underway along the west coast, and more in development. To prepare people for the accelerating adversities generated by climate change, the report concludes with a set of recommendations to ensure that, by 2025, transformational resilience education and skills training initiatives become universal regionwide.

“Much like everyone in society learns to read and write, personal and social–or transformational–resilience education and skills training must quickly become universal,” said Bob Doppelt, Coordinator of the ITRC.  “Without this, the mental health, physical health, safety, and wellbeing of people throughout the west coast will be seriously impaired. Millions of people will also withdraw into a self-protective survival mode that makes reducing the climate crisis to manageable levels even more difficult. Preparing people for the psychological and psycho-social-spiritual traumas and toxic stresses generated by climate change is now just as urgent a priority as emission reductions and external physical adaptation.”

Click here to see the ITRC report and examples of existing resilience programs on the west coast.