Stories of Climate Courage: ‘Selecting “offset your flights” always felt too easy’

Reader-submitted stories of courage in the face of the climate crisis, in no more than 100 words. Read past stories hereSubmit your own here.

Creating Change Capstone

I recently graduated from North Dakota State University, and this entire spring was devoted to my senior capstone project. I had chosen to write a research paper about how artists can influence and make environmentally friendly decisions while creating art. It was incredibly discouraging to work on the project while campus was shut down for COVID-19 and while the media was relentlessly throwing new and terrifying information at me through my TV, phone, and laptop. Nevertheless, I completed a twenty-page paper all about artists and green production ideas and created a YouTube video about my thesis that many peers and professionals viewed!

— C.C. Manstrom (Fargo, North Dakota)

The Earth and Askanase Hall, my homes.

* * *

Feed the Birds

I’m obsessive about keeping the backyard bird bath filled, year ‘round. Are we seeing more birds because of the necessitated decrease in human activity during COVID-19, or because we are home 24/7 now, and able to observe the birds? Our native plant-landscaped yard sees a lot of hummingbird and bee activity, as well as the lively routines of mockingbirds, house sparrows, mourning doves, and crows. Now the bird population is so spirited and varied that even a red-tailed hawk stopped in to watch the action. As our yard grows, so does the wildlife.

— Bethia Sheean-Wallace (Fullerton, California)

Water for the wildlife.

* * *

Aspiration for Climate Courage

Being a local volunteer and the founder of the Art and Sea Initiative sometimes feels like being Cassandra of Greek mythology: she is cursed to see the future, but no one will believe her. This is perhaps the most daunting aspect of climate change. We know the frightful impacts and we know what we need to do to avoid global calamity; however, we have failed to make the necessary efforts to create systemic global change. But I do not fear for the future, because I know that most now believe in the need for climate action.

— Zahra Rafeeq Bardai (Hoover, Alabama)

The beauties of the world – the beaches, forests, preserves, and Mother Earth herself – are becoming the victims of our pollution and global warming.

* * *

The Carbon Forest

Selecting “offset your flights” always felt too easy. How could I ever comprehend my carbon emissions, flying Canberra-Singapore-New York, premium economy return, for a business trip?

That’s 9.9 tonnes of CO₂e.
15 Eucalyptus viminalis seedlings to sequester one tonne.
149 trees. Two full days’ planting: the land’s degraded and drought’s made it dry.

Now they’ve just got to be looked after – for the next hundred years. If there are no more really bad bushfires. Which there almost certainly will be.
Just for one traveller… one trip… that next time I’ll insist it be done via videoconference.

— Adam Sébire (Craigie, Australia)

Part of the Greater CBR-SIN-NYC-FRA-SIN-CBR Forest.


This series is edited by Thomas Peterson. One of the editors of Artists & Climate Change, he is also a theatre director and researcher whose work focuses on the climate crisis.

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