Pablo Suarez

Get Ready! A fitness dance class inspired by the science of climate impacts

Guest post by Pablo Suarez, who seems to be willing to try almost anything to get the climate crisis message across. And who can blame him?

What? A fitness dance video about an IPCC report, in a humanitarian website?

Here’s the story:

A recent report, entitled Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability , offers  rigorous and extremely  concerning scientific knowledge by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). As you probably saw in our cartoon-infused summary, the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre has distilled those findings into eight humanitarian insights from the latest IPCC report, enhanced by cartoons. In sum: It’s a fact, it’s us, and it’s bad. This is just the beginning of the era of consequences. The unprecedented is the new normal.  It will get even worse, sooner than we thought.

Our conclusion: We need to re-energize humanitarian work in a changing climate

How to get that re-energization started?  Creatively!!  

To help us all confront the deflating, exhausting threats of changing climate risks, I’ve had the fortune of partnering with choreographer A.J. O’Neill, filmmaker Nico Cassinelli, researcher+artist Leah Lovett, and about 30 volunteer dancers from around the world, to bring you this short and fun fitness dance video to accompany our other, more serious communication endeavors linking science to humanitarian work. 

Through words, dance moves, and IPCC graphs, the core messages of this class are:

  • “It’s gonna get TOO HOT”
  • “Get Ready!”
  • “Re-energize” 

In the 3-minute dance video the music becomes faster and faster to signal that we’ll have more intense work ahead, as the planet gets hotter. Will we be able to keep up?

Let’s be serious about our reality: It’s gonna get too hot, too tough, too fast. Too much. It’s getting scary: our global climate is changing, and humanity is not doing what’s needed to properly address causes and consequences. If you are informed and sensitive, you confront an inescapable fact: unbearable suffering is coming.

Credit: meteorologist Ruben Hallali, who in this tweet found Munch’s The Scream in a map of heatwave anomalies during a European heatwave

Some of our humanitarian colleagues are reporting unprecedented emotional distress, as well as thoughts of “giving up and letting go.” We hear similar accounts from many other concerned people, as illustrated by the tweet above. If not anticipated and addressed, psychosocial concerns can paralyze and demotivate the very same people who need to turn early warnings into early action. What next?

Just before the pandemic hit, we published a brief report entitled “From Darkness to Illumination: Climate Grief and Resilience in a Sea of Warnings”. The Climate Centre is working with partners to explore the growing area of what has been labelled “Climate Grief” – among other terms evoking mental health. Broadly: depression, anxiety, mourning etc., over climate change. Given the evolving nature of language in this field, we are focusing not so much on the idea of grief (which evokes an already-occurred, clearly defined irreversible loss), but rather on the idea of darkness – which enables us to focus on context and future horizons.

We must alleviate human suffering and promote wellbeing of key populations, including communities at risk, disaster managers, researchers and journalists, climate activists, youth, and so many others confronting the risk of emotional ‘darkness’ linked to our changing climate. We must improve our collective ability to anticipate, diagnose, and provide proper support on the mental health front, harnessing the power of darkness to pursue illumination and transformative action. We must acknowledge hard truths while preventing paralysis and demotivation through serious fun. An IPCC-fitness dance can help.

Do you want to join in?  Please do!   Dance, get fit, and enjoy!  Please be safe. If you want, film yourself and upload everywhere. #ClimateFitnessDance

The workload ahead will seem impossible, but it will be work that needs to get done. It’s time now to re-energize the humanitarian system, and become fit for the future.

It’s time to get ready.

Credit: Kendra Allenby / CartoonStock.com

For more info, see https://www.climatecentre.org/fitnessdance

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