Preparing People for Climate Change in California

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Date(s) - 01/24/2018 - 01/25/2018
All Day

The California Endowment's Oakland Conference Center


From high levels of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), to job and financial struggles, racism and other forms of inequity and injustice, traumatic stress is epidemic today. Climate change is aggravating all of these existing adversities, and adding many new ones as well. Yet, California is leading the U.S. in finding innovative new ways to prevent personal, family, and community traumas–and reduce carbon emissions. This conference will show that by connecting these issues California can become the First Trauma-Informed Human Resilience-Enhancing State in the US for Climate Change-Generated Traumas and Toxic Stresses.

 Launching a statewide movement to build individual psychological and collective psycho-social-spiritual resilience can not only prevent harmful mental health and psychosocial reactions to climate impacts, it can also help prevent ACEs and many other harmful traumatic experiences, while alsoadvancing social equity and justice and motivating people to reduce carbon emissions.

Here is the challenge:

Even with aggresive emission reductions, global temperatures will rise by 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit (1.5C) above pre-industrial levels, possibly within just 9-10 years, and by 3.6 degrees (2C) or higher afterwards. Humanity is entering an era of dramatic changes in the earth’s climate and ecological systems that for decades will produce gut-wrenching shocks and stresses for people until successful emission cuts bring temperatures back down to safe levels again.

The U.N. Inter-Agency Standing Committee states that mental health, psychosocial, and humanitarian crisis are often closely connected. Yet, almost no attention has been given to preparing people in California for the individual psychological and collective psycho-social-spiritual impacts of climate change.

Many individuals and groups statewide are consequently unprepared for the challenges that lie ahead. Many are also unaware of how climate adversities can be used as transformational catalysts to bring people together across racial, ethnic, religious, geographic, and economic lines to build widesperead levels of individual and collective resilience that create tangibly better conditions for everyone while advancing social equity and justice and making the changes needed to reduce the climate crisis to manageable levels.

This conference will directly address these risks and opportunities by explaining:

  • Why climate change is the ultimate social determinant of mental and physical health and how, left unaddressed, the disasters and chronic toxic stresses generated by climate change will produce rising psychological problems including deblilitating anxiety, depression, PTSD, and suicides, as well as psycho-social-spiritual maladies such as hopelessness, child and spousal abuse, crime, we vs them hatred, and interpersonal violence that threaten the safety, health, and wellbeing of everyone.
  • How these harmful human reactions also threaten to staff efforts to cut carbon emissions and delay efforts to reduce global temperatures to manageable levels.
  • How building widespread levels of personal and collective resilience can minimize the harmful human reactions to climate impacts by creating a trauma-informed and skilled populace and bring people together to engage in actions that greatly enhance personal, social, and ecological wellbeing.

The conference will achieve these goals by:

  • Offering a diverse array of informative presentations and workshops by leading experts who will describe preventative skills, tool, and policies that can be applied at the individual, family, organizational, and community levels to build personal and psycho-social-spiritual resilience.
  • Providing an opportunity to meet and network with people from the non-profit, public, and private sectors and civil society from throughout California and elsewhere working on similar issues.
  • Facilitating the development of action plans attendees can use to expand existing or launch new initiatives to grow a powerful human resilience building movement in California.

California can lead the way again!

Many states are following California’s lead on reducing greenhouse gases. It also has some of the leading programs focused on preventing ACEs, advancing social equity, and addressing other injustices and adversities. This conference will show how by linking these efforts, California can build a powerful human resilience-building movement that prevents harmful reactions to climate-enhanced traumas and stresses and many other adversities, while advancing social equity and reducing carbon emissions.

More information here.

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