New Book ‘All We Can Save’ Inspires Women to Feel Hopeful About the Climate Crisis
If you ever needed — or wanted — a book to fire up your “inner” feminist and turn it into a big bold uncontainable flame, All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis is it.
The book is the brainchild of its editors, Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, a marine biologist and ocean activist, and Dr. Katharine K. Wilkinson, named one of the fifteen “women who will save the world” by Time. The two wanted to capture the “renaissance blooming in the climate movement” thanks to revolutionary leadership that is “more characteristically feminine and more faithfully feminist” because it is rooted in compassion, connection, creativity, and collaboration.
The result is 60 powerful essays divided into eight categories, like “Root,” which is where a lot of the climate conversation begins, “Advocate,” “Reframe,” “Persist” and “Rise.” You’ll recognize many of the authors: activist/novelist Alice Walker, former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, Varshini Prakash, co-founder of the Sunrise Movement, naturalist Janisse Ray, Native American writer and U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo, climate scientist and UN Champion of the Earth Katharine Hayhoe, and our very own Moms Clean Air Force senior director, Heather McTeer Toney, who writes movingly of the long and usually unrecognized history of environmental activism in Black communities, like the Mississippi Delta area where she’s from.
“Who exactly do you think is on the front lines every single day, fighting to keep our communities safe from industries, polluters, and those seeking to harm our kids?” Heather asks as she examines stereotypes about climate activism being the purview of primarily white people. “Who do you think is fighting that filthy incinerator at the end of the neighborhood block, that coal-ash pile on the way to work, or that cement plant next door to the church? Who do you think has to take care of children who are made sick on their own playgrounds but can’t afford to rush to emergency rooms?
We live in pollution, play around it, work for it, and pray against it. Hell, we even sing about it. Black women are everyday environmentalists; we are climate leaders. We just don’t get the headlines too often.”
Gina McCarthy rues the destruction the Trump administration has wrought on the environment and the U.S. EPA, including the roll back of the Obama-era Clean Power Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.
“Climate change is the most significant public health challenge in the world today. Reframe climate solutions as opportunities to invest in public health, which will make our world healthier and more just today while we forge a future we can be proud to hand to our children…Turn the chaos of the day into actions that will strengthen our democracy and build healthier communities today and a more sustainable tomorrow.”
Alexandria Villasenor, the founder of Earth Uprising, is a standard bearer for young women. In “A Letter to Adults,” she implores,
“Dear Grown-ups, Now is the time to be a climate activist. “
When asked if she misses just being a regular teenager, the 15-year-old says yes. “But the climate crisis threatens every aspect of my future. So what other choice do I have? It is a moral obligation to fight for this planet.”
Alice Walker bookends that truth in her poem, “Calling All Grand Mothers.”
“We have to live differently, or we will die in the same old ways…Rise and take your place in the leadership of the world. Assume the role for which you were created: to lead humanity to health, happiness & sanity.”
In a prescient essay written well before Justice Amy Coney Barrett joined the Supreme Court and said she had no opinion on climate change because she’s “not a scientist,” activist Xiye Bastida declared,
“You don’t have to know the details of the science to be part of the solution. And if you wait until you know everything, it will be too late for you to do anything.”
As Mary Anne Hitt of the Sierra Club reminds us in her essay titled “Beyond Coal,”
“We can do this, and it’s not too late.”…We are the architects of our future—not the fossil fuel industry…Momentum is on our side. Transformation that can avert the climate crisis is possible in the decade ahead.
“Let’s go make it happen.”
For more, please read Heather McTeer Toney’s interview about why she wants to redefine what an “environmentalist” is with Emily Atkin on HEATED.