Image: NOAA

There’s a question that I’ll occasionally hear when several people are talking. One person will say something and then wrap up their comments with – “Do you get the picture?”

It’s another way of asking someone if they understand the situation or if they can see what’s happening.

Given the latest news in the past month about various climate events around the world in such places as China, Pakistan, France and the Southwest region of our own country, it’s become a daily ritual of mine to ask several questions.

Do we get the picture? Do we clearly see what’s happening? Do we understand the underlying causes of climate change and what’s contributing to the accelerating increase in these dangerous and destructive events around the world?

As a philosopher and author of Realism And The Climate Crisis: Hope For Life, John Foster challenges us to go beyond the “large declaratory statements” from the governments and corporate sectors, and proposes that we need to stop “business as usual” if we want to have a realistic chance of facing and addressing this climate reality. 

Foster expresses concern about our reluctance and resistance to accept the reality of what’s happening. He also argues that we can’t move forward if we don’t acknowledge what’s taking place all around us at this moment. 

“Human beings are unique in having at their disposal very sophisticated powers of misrepresenting the world - of seeing what they want to see and believing what it comforts them to believe,” stated Foster.

As many of us can attest, it’s so easy to turn our heads away, distract ourselves or just keep busy with the daily demands of life so as not to have to think about or respond to the climate emergency that was declared by the Duluth City Council in April of last year. 

But there comes a time when, as challenging and difficult as it may be, we have to stop and do a reality check. We have to face the real world. We can only be responsible and proactive when we are truly informed about climate change and refuse to allow our personal values, beliefs and fears hold us back from making healthy and wise decisions for ourselves, our children and our grandchildren.

On Sept. 19-26, a group of us will present Climate Week: Duluth. The theme for this initiative is “be informed, be inspired and be involved.”

Our mission is to reach out to the greater community and engage our fellow citizens in a serious conversation about climate change, Duluth’s future and explore where we go from here.

Rebecca Solnit, in her book Hope in the Dark wrote, “Americans are good at mingled complacency and despair that says that things cannot change, will not change, and we do not have the power to change them. You’d have to be an amnesiac or at least ignorant of history and even current events to fail to see that our country and our world have always been changing, are in the midst of great and terrible changes, and are occasionally changed through the power of the popular will and idealistic movements. Climate now demands we summon up the force to leave behind the Age of Fossil Fuel.” 

Climate Week: Duluth is about recognizing that climate is the common denominator. It will impact everything in our city and therefore, it is imperative that we come together to figure out how we want to embrace our common ground and move forward. It’s our belief that we can summon ourselves to be change agents, and find the courage, compassion and creativity to face climate change. 

We hope that many of you will join us at one of the upcoming activities and events at Climate Week: Duluth. For more information, email us at or check out Climate>Duluth on Facebook.