The Weight We Carry

Sometimes, our own uphill battles are what fuel us to keep going.

The Weight We Carry
Photograph by Kang-Chun Cheng for Atmos

LISTENING: to the radiator bubble
FEELING: better after writing this
SEEING: my desk grow way too messy

I wasn't sure what to write about today. Lately, I've been feeling a bit out of touch. I've been disillusioned by the people in power and disappointed by the people in my life. Even the so-called wins ring hollow.

President Joe Biden is pausing new liquid natural gas export terminals. I should feel celebratory, but I mostly feel skeptical. The decision reminds me of when former President Barack Obama stopped the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline in 2016 — but only temporarily. Once former President Donald Trump entered the White House, the pipeline was back on. Indeed, it was built though the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe continues to challenge the project in the courts.

I can't help but wonder: How long will this "pause" last?

I need a win. I can't keep carrying around this feeling of defeat. So, I decided to dig around in search of some good news that I personally need — and that you all may appreciate, too. I found a whole lot of awful, shitty, heartbreaking, bad news, of course. And I did see some inarguably good news like this and this and this and this, but I couldn't find anything that truly lifted me up. Something that filled my heart with joy and optimism.

Maybe it's the menstrual hormones of my current cycle? Maybe it's my night of little sleep? Maybe it's the anxiety of rent due? Maybe it's the double-sided, painful possibility of how awful and amazing the humans on this planet can be? The uncertainty of what's to come? The apathy of so many around me?

Welcome to Possibilities, a creative climate newsletter on the possibilities that lie where crisis meets community. I'm Yessenia Funes, and I'm sorry today's newsletter isn't more focused or topical.

I'm working on a few stories right now, mostly looking at health impacts from dirty polluters and climate change. These types of stories can be incredibly depressing. Sure, the activists working to address the issue are inspiring. Their incredible strength usually leaves me empowered, but I've been drowning in data and stats around maternal healthcare and birth outcomes that are, quite frankly, disturbing. I hope to birth children in the near future, but I don't want to die doing it or see my child suffer because of the air I breathe. My burden, oftentimes, is knowing too much.

The journalists reading this newsletter know what I mean. It can grow overwhelming to constantly report the news and inform the public about how much harm our leaders and corporations are causing, especially when your personal life isn't in the best place. It's jarring to hold so much knowledge and facts that you don't always know where to place. I ingest so much information, but it can't all fit into a single story.

Maybe it's a good time to update y'all on a project I've been working on with Rebecca Weston, president of the Climate Psychology Alliance. For about a year, she and I have been discussing how to develop resources and support around trauma-informed journalism for folks covering the climate and environment. Our goal is to prevent folks from feeling the way I do: journalists, audiences, and sources alike. Earlier this month, we came together with partners like Covering Climate Now, Solutions Journalism Network, The Uproot Project, and Metcalf Institute to begin outlining the work ahead in 2024.

In retrospect, perhaps it's this type of work that fuels me these days: knowing that people in the industry care and want to take action to better care for others. We all want to tell stories that empower and energize readers, not stories that contribute to the feeling I'm carrying today. This project will aim to do that.

Next week, I'll be heading on vacation for a friend's wedding. I'm sure things will be looking brighter then. 🌀

Rest in Power

While we can't say for certain that climate change led to these specific weather events (we need attribution studies for that), we do know that the Earth's rising temperatures are already creating more disasters like these.

Last week, authorities were able to identify the last remaining victim of the Lahaina wildfires in Maui, Hawaii, in August. Lydia Coloma was 70 years old.

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