Finding one’s own soul-centric climate action

IEC Conference: 2023

Facing the climate crisis—intermeshed as it is with complex social, political and economic crises—can leave a person feeling incredibly small and ineffective in creating positive change. Such a large collective challenge like climate change—vast, complex, heavy, and reproduced by the systems in which we live—can feel simply overwhelming. Global warming can provoke feelings of with fear, loss, despondency and lack of agency. In what ways do we, as individuals, matter? What can we do now? And how can seemingly small solutions to sustainability scale across the planet?

Although it was the sum of individuals’ action that created the problem of climate change in the first place, we tend to underplay or not fully acknowledge the role that we as individuals play in solutions. Also, it is not the biosphere that is the ultimate victim of an unchecked climate change; rather it is the noosphere—the realm of ideas, knowledge, awareness, poetry, and complex emotion. Climate action is a profoundly humanistic response to existential threat, and therefore we need to more fully center human dimensions in the search for solutions.

In this presentation, we will reframe this global ‘problem’ as in fact a global ‘symptom’ of our current action logics and ways of being, now enshrined in systems worldwide. We will then consider how climate change can be held as an opportunity to wake up, clean up, grow up, and show up, trusting in the profound nonlinearity of change dynamics. Stepping aside of the typical linear ways that scaling sustainability is understood—namely, small to big, local to global, now to later—we will consider the nonlinear ways that every action matters, as you bring your whole self in this present moment to that which affects us all.



Gail Hochachka works with the human dimensions of climate change using a transdisciplinary, integral approach. Her work focuses on understanding how people make meaning of climate change and how to engage with diverse groups towards a shared sense of the climate challenge.

Her research has been published in various academic journals and has been used to support non-profit, private, and city actors in advancing climate action.

Prior to this, Gail did her PhD at the University of Oslo on how climate change adaptation can account for meaning-making stages in diverse social groups and be carried out in a transformative manner, with fieldwork in Guatemala.

Gail also has substantial previous experience working in sustainable development in Latin America and Africa, and co-founded Integral Without Borders Institute.

She lives in Vancouver with her daughter and their bunny rabbit.