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The Climate Crisis Is Man Made. Women Can Fix It.

The Climate Crisis Is Man Made. Women Can Fix It.
By Dr. Karyne Messina  • Issue #16 • View online
Remember that motivational Westinghouse poster of Rosie the Riveter, sleeve rolled, arm bared, ready to take on the challenges of war on the home front? We need to channel that resolve if we’re going to make any positive progress against the climate crisis. And women must be prepared to lead this battle.

It won't be easy.
It won't be easy.
May You Live in Troubling Times
And so we do—from threats to democracy on various fronts, wealth and racial inequality, and the rapid heating of the planet, it’s hard to know where to look first. I contend that an uninhabitable globe renders most other issues meaningless. We have the tools and the ingenuity to mitigate the massive earthly issues requiring human intervention. Most governments are simply not doing enough—nor have they for the past, oh, 50 years–so while it would be nice to see more from our elected leaders than meaningless platitudes and the touting of tiny achievements as monumental (though every little bit does help), we’ve got to look to our NGOs, our community leaders, and our captains of industry to take up the charge. At all levels, but especially at the ground level, women will be the deciding factor in whether anything much happens at all.
Women, on the whole, experience climate change differently and more profoundly than men. According to a report from the UN, “[w]omen are increasingly…more vulnerable than men to the impacts of climate change, mainly because they represent the majority of the world’s poor and are proportionally more dependent on threatened natural resources.” The report also reveals that women generally have less access than men to tools like credit, technology, and basic education— tools that would help women—and in turn, the rest of humanity —adapt to the changing climate.
Of the 1.3 billion people in the world living in poverty, 70 percent are women. Most of the world’s food is produced by women, yet hardly 10 percent of all land is owned by them. Women shoulder the burden of nourishing the world, are the first to feel the consequences of extreme weather events, and are by and large woefully underprepared to adapt. If the world’s women fail, we’re doomed. As one activist puts it, “If you are invisible in everyday life, your needs will not be thought of, let alone addressed, in a crisis situation.”
Advancing equality for women doesn’t require decreasing our economic focus; by contrast, a McKinsey & Company report from 2015 found that “$12 trillion could be added to global GDP by 2025 by advancing women’s equality.” Raising the cultural and economic profile for women helps everyone and can help our planet. A significant change would be to grant more women land rights. In a May 2022 speech, the Under-Secretary of the United Nations, Sima Bahous, undersecretary made the compelling case for granting more land rights to women: “Women’s land rights are intrinsically and vitally linked to gender equality. They are key enablers of women’s economic autonomy and decision-making. They are a major factor in rebalancing unequal power relations within homes, communities, and institutions.” Unfortunately, the pandemic hit women hard, and recovery has been intermittent. Initiatives like UN Women are both gathering on-the-ground data and supporting programs to increase gender equality and access to land rights.
Source: UN Women
Source: UN Women
In many countries, long-held cultural beliefs prevent women from considering opportunities that would improve their lives and help the environment. Empowering women is an important step, but it’s necessary to help the rest of the community understand why such drastic change can actually yield wide-ranging benefits—and this is where I believe mental health professionals have much to offer. No matter how much we may tell people that doing x is good for their health or the planet, so often that well-intentioned advice falls on deaf ears. To create change, we’ve got to help people into the right mindset—to see change as something they are actively engaged in, not as something forced on them. Community-wide psychological empowerment can be that catalyst for increased awareness of how global events touch our lives while providing encouragement that we have the strength to make positive change in our own lives.
Large initiatives are crucial, but so are the small, mundane efforts undertaken daily by people just like you and me:
– Find out what your local politicians and business leaders are doing to reduce carbon pollution and ensure gender equity. Count Us In provides language on how to go about this.
– Combine sailing with broadening your understanding of the plastic crisis while also participating in a women-only endeavor: Since 2014, ocean advocate Emily Penn and her organization, eXXpedition, have led all-women teams ranging in age from 18 to 72 on to the high seas to witness plastic pollution firsthand, then come up with solutions to solve it. There’s also virtual component as well as opportunities to donate.
–The Landsea Center for Women’s Land Rights focuses on helping women have greater rights to owning land by advocating for gender-neutral landowning laws and by fostering mindset shifts at the ground level.
–American agriculture is increasingly run by women, who farm or co-farm 43 percent of U.S. farmland. There’s still a lot to be done.Women for the Land - American Farmland Trust
I know we’re ready to roll up our sleeves and do the work. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the enormity of the task. Choose a cause that’s dear to you, and devote yourself to it. Each of us doing one thing is better than most of us doing nothing. 
My Book Will Be Published August 30!
Here’s the cover!
Preorder the book below:
Preorder the book below:
Amazon.com: Resurgence of Global Populism: A Psychoanalytic Study of Projective Identification, Blame-Shifting and the Corruption of Democracy: 9781032064512: Messina, Karyne E.: Books
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Dr. Karyne Messina

This newsletter will explore theories based on psychoanalysis and promote the development of the mind and human relationships while also advancing scholarly and social progress.

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