This is the fifth installment of the six-part series, Becoming Sustainably Motivated. The series is meant to offer some insight and encouragement towards adopting a sustainable lifestyle. Part five focuses on staying informed. Explore all six to help find and develop your own sustainable motivation!
In The Know
Staying informed is pretty fundamental to adopting a sustainable lifestyle. We definitely need to be aware of what’s happening in the world, as it affects us all. It also helps to learn about the climate action that is taking place, as well as discover new and better ways of doing things and transitioning to sustainability. The internet can certainly be a great way to find out about all of this. But there is a caveat. It requires dedication and commitment.
To guide us through the digital maze, it might also help to unplug for a bit. We can of course still learn a lot from going offline! Whether it’s from taking classes & workshops, hearing from some wise older people, or perhaps exploring other cultures through film, food, and travel.
You can still gain a significant degree of enlightenment from reading actual books or simply going outdoors and observing nature. The point is, there’s a lot out there. If you find yourself getting too drawn into online forums and digital rabbit holes, remind yourself that you can break away and still remain informed.
Now for those of you who wish to continue braving the digital world, don’t lose hope! Not all online content is bad! I’m here after all.😉 Rather, it takes a degree of curation and a copious amount of critical thinking to wade through the volume of news being disseminated. Why I personally recommend grounding yourself in some good historical sources first.
Indeed, you’d be surprised by how much some fundamental history & geography can actually teach you! To begin with, it can help you better understand where you came from in terms of your place in the big picture. That itself can be pretty revealing. Furthermore, it can also help with understanding the how & why of present circumstances. Learning more about the root cause of things can also shed light on how various issues interconnect.
Being Informed – It’s A Continuous Process
Diving into history will also provide for learning about science, nature, politics, economics, and technology… actually, it covers quite the spectrum! I’m showing my own personal preference here, as I highly recommend & encourage the further study of history. It’s clearly awesome!
Armed with a strong knowledge of history will also help you absorb news events quicker, as you can work to connect it with what you already know. Memory research supports the notion that we can retain more by expanding on what we already know (check out Make It Stick). Continuously learning & staying informed will also undoubtedly help you throughout your life.
It’s certainly not limited to information solely about the climate crisis. Keeping properly informed extends to all aspects of your day-to-day. In addition, it can also help you in assisting others! Whether in helping to provide answers, or simply encouraging their own curiosity.
Sharing information, especially with those interested (ex. my kids & co-workers) can also help fuel your own sustainable motivation! Learning is definitely a continuous process, so it helps to have enduring motivation in your life.💪
Follow The News
Staying informed obviously requires following the news. As in actual news. Unfortunately, not everything you need to know is deemed newsworthy, and there’s plenty that isn’t. But that doesn’t mean we should simply tune out. Rather, we can start by tuning in to what’s happening in your own neighbourhood. From there, you can also decide to follow what is most relevant to you and the well-being of you and your family. Once you feel confident in what you’re getting is true & trustworthy, gradually expand the scope.
That’s a whole challenge unto itself of course. Getting accurate and objective information has become increasingly difficult. With the rise of paid content, digital marketing, native advertisement, and online conspiracies galore, staying informed has become a messy business.
The plethora of digital channels and advertising algorithms have contributed to the mass spread of misinformation and highly subjective information. If not outright false news! Bots and fake sites are one thing, but there’s also the issue of dubious sources that are being falsely presented as fact (see The Truth of Comedy). Whether intentionally or not, this fake stuff is now shared around the world at an incredible speed.
Being Informed Means Staying Committed
Conspicuously, much of our current understanding of fake news detractors originally came from liberal sources, yet those same sources are now themselves attacked by the politically far-right as being untrue and biased.
Despite the noise coming from those who seek to justify cause with opinions and beliefs over fact, if you’re concerned about sustainability, it is imperative to stay committed to the search for the truth.
Find Trustworthy News Sources
My list of credible news sources includes The Guardian, ProPublica, Reuters, and Democracy Now. Though not as staunchly independent, I also look to the BBC (UK), NPR (USA), and the CBC (Canada).
I supplement these with numerous local papers as well as individual reporters (Twitter is great for this). I also try to expand my intake of news from international sources and diversify my newsfeed. The mixture, so long as it is well-supported, gets included in my reading and keeps me up to date. I would encourage you all to do the same.
Expand the Scope
As far as other news sites, I’m definitely a fan of Vox. I like how they help connect the dots on a number of issues. A few other sites I explore include Vice, The Intercept, and Politico. Some of my favourite online newsletters include Popular Information, Heated, and more recently The Phoenix.
Wherever you choose to pull from, make sure to find trusted and vetted sources that stay current to what is happening around you.
In our increasingly interconnected world, information is flowing in from all over the place. Our time is to go through it all however is pretty limited. We all have so much on our plate as it is! Thankfully, technology has also provided us with ample means of checking in on our sources even during brief interludes (public transit, lunch/coffee breaks/dare I say, toilet time).
Excellent Internet Sites
Aside from this awesome website, there are a number of great places to find information pertaining to the climate crisis, environmental action, and relevant government policies.
- NASA: Climate Change
- The NOAA: Climate
- European Climate Foundation
- The European Environmental Bureau
- The United Nations: Climate Change
- The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
- Public Citizen: Climate and Energy (USA)
- The Union of Concerned Scientists (USA)
- The National Observer (Canada) – Climate Change
- The Narwhal (Canada)
- Yale Climate Connections
- Carbon Brief
- International Energy Agency (IEA)
Recommended Reading – In Books
Dive into some books! Social Media is undoubtedly amazing for being updated quickly! At a glance, you can discover what’s going on in your neighbourhood, or around the world. However, if you want to better understand the context, help connect the dots, and really piece together the information behind the headlines, books are where it’s at.
With regards to climate change, environmental politics, and sustainable business practices, I have a number of sweet recommendations in my books category, found under the Learning Tools heading of this site. Otherwise, you’re welcome to click on the image above to get a list of my top dozen to really get into the thick of it.
Recommended Periodicals (Magazines)
Some suggested magazines include: The Economist, Foreign Affairs, The Atlantic, Harvard International Review, and Slate. Though not as news-oriented, but equally relevant in learning about ourselves and our planet, I also really enjoy picking up issues of the National Geographic, Scientific American, and Psychology Today.
In addition, I have been pleasantly surprised to find pretty good insightful and investigative articles in Bloomberg Businessweek, The New Yorker (check out Annals of Of A Warming Planet by Bill McKibben), Wired, and even Rolling Stone.
For a greater focus on the natural world and the science behind it, there’s Earth Magazine, Nature, Discover, and Quanta.
Don’t Fear The Long Articles
As mentioned above, quick updates are great, but I’d strongly encourage you to discover more about the most important issues facing our world and our future. Apps are awesome when pressed for time, but when you do finally have a breather, go for the longer read!
Getting beyond the soundbites, and into the actual causes, can be immensely satisfying. It will also help with absorbing and understanding current events quickly and more accurately. The flip side of having so much info readily available to us, is that we have the tendency to go for the quick gratification and react to those catchy headlines. This has led to all sorts of negative consequences (see Skim reading is the new normal).
Don’t Hesitate To Dig Deeper
Events rarely happen in isolation. It often requires some deeper thought and actual understanding in order to truly process what is going on. The easier explanations aren’t necessarily the correct ones, in that there is a dramatic difference between correlation and causation.
If someone who is trained to know and make that difference can help breakdown complex issues, so much the better, but it does take some effort on your part.
Excellent Viewing (Documentaries)
Another way to get past the headlines and discover more about the issues is to watch quality content and well-presented documentaries that explore in greater detail the topics that affect us. They represent an incredibly powerful source of learning, through one of the most fundamentally human means, storytelling. For a collection of recommended documentaries, click the image above.
Documentaries films and television programs provide a narrative with which to better assimilate the extensive and offer complex data that is coming our way. They can present expert interviews, visual explanations, and personal experiences, and package them neatly into a more digestible format. To be sure, there is certainly a range of quality among documentaries, but you’ll discover that as you continue your explorations.
Keep Feeding Your Brain
There is so much awesomeness to learn! Whether through film books, magazines, or websites, there are plenty of ways to keep feeding your brain. Indeed, discovering new and relevant information, will provide you with all kinds of inspiration and help keep you sustainably motivated.💪 Good luck on your journey, and feel free to reach out if you hit a snag, or have something brilliant to share.