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By Beth Sawin
I had an interesting conversation last weekend with someone who put words to how I think many people feel about climate change these days.

“When it comes to climate change, sometimes I feel like I should just ignore it entirely, keep my head down, focus on my work, and enjoy life for as long as I can. Other days I feel like I should quit everything and go work on climate change, full time.”

Maybe you’ve run into someone who feels that way. Maybe you've even felt yourself stretched between those polarities. Maybe you've also felt that those two choices aren't realistic options.

“Just keep your head down and ignore it” is hard to do on an interconnected planet during a climate crisis.

Floods, fires, and heatwaves are becoming more common. We don't all live at sea level or in fire-prone regions, but many of us love and worry about people who do. Then there are the ripple effects. We live with the poor air quality from fires thousands of miles away. We worry about risings costs of food and other essential goods. It's getting harder to keep your head down and ignore the stresses of climate change, even if you wanted to.

The idea of "focusing on work" as something separate from climate change is becoming harder to imagine as well.

You’re a civil engineer? You might find yourself redesigning a water system for higher temperatures or more intense rainfall. You’re a doctor? You might need to educate your patients about extreme heat or novel pathogens.

Your art museum might need to upgrade to meet new energy standards. The families of children in your first-grade classroom might struggle with rising energy costs. Whatever your work, you might need to make contingency plans for a world of more frequent shocks.

Is the only option to drop everything and re-tool as a climate worker?

I don't think so.

Of course, we need climate activists, scientists, educators, and policymakers. We need many of them. But we also need climate-focused farmers, teachers, mechanics, nurses, and chefs. We need people who stay where they are and work on climate from there.

We need universities that are more frugal with their energy use. We need city governments that switch to renewable energy. We need libraries with solar panels on the roof. We need workers pushing their bosses on procurement policies. We need middle-managers asking if there might be ways to meet client needs while also logging fewer miles of travel.

Imagine a world where everyone is going about their work in ways that also help respond to climate change. That sounds like a multisolving world to me.

For better or worse, climate change touches all aspects of society. That means, with care, effort, and good partners, we can start anywhere and find the climate connection.

 Beth Sawin is the Director of the Multisolving Institute
 This article is shared with permission from the newlsetter of the Multisolving Institute