Leading the Public Into Emergency Mode: Introducing the Climate Emergency Movement

By Margaret Klein Salamon, PhD
Latest Publication: 2019

This paper, originally published in April, 2016, under the title, Leading the Public into Emergency Mode: A New Strategy for the Climate Movement introduced a new paradigm for climate action: emergency mode. Margaret Klein Salamon, PhD argued that, in order to protect humanity and the living world, the climate movement must tell the truth about the climate emergency, and act as though that truth is real — employing emergency communications, militant tactics, and demanding an emergency mobilization from the government and all society, as the policy response.

In the three years since publication, Margaret’s recommendations have been largely adopted by several new climate groups — Extinction Rebellion, School Strikers, Sunrise Movement, and more — leading to tremendous breakthroughs. This paper, updated May 2019, combines the theoretical discussion of emergency mode with an overview of the young but fierce Climate Emergency Movement.


No one has been more inspiringly clear-eyed about the climate emergency or what it demands than Margaret Klein Salamon. Here, she is just as clear-eyed, and just as inspiring, laying out the path forward—and how to bring everyone along that path, out of pluralistic ignorance and into mobilization.

-David Wallace Wells, author, The Uninhabitable Earth

You know how you encounter an idea, and that idea becomes immediately obvious to you, and you can't quite believe it hasn't been seen before? This essay is like that. Margaret Klein Salamon argues brilliantly, and completely correctly, that everyone will need to shift into "emergency mode" in order to create a politics that will address climate destruction with the scale and speed it requires. Using her training as a clinical psychologist, Klein Salamon guides us through the fear and helplessness we feel when we confront the climate emergency, transforming those feelings into a state of psychological flow and a sense of belonging and purpose. Her work is necessary reading not just for people already in the climate movement, but for anyone who worries about a livable future.

-Genevieve Guenther, founder, End Climate Silence

Salamon’s work continues to lead the conversation — and now the ACTION — defining what must happen to rapidly accelerate the decarbonization of the global economy. The Climate Emergency Movement is creating a “hockey stick” trajectory of rising mobilization and momentum, something that is much needed given the ever-rising threat of human-caused climate change. As Salamon, says our house is on fire and we must act to put out the fire now.

-Michael Mann, leading climate scientist and a lead author of the Third IPCC Assessment Report

Since we didn't heed the warnings of scientists over the last three decades, "climate change" has morphed into the "climate crisis" we see all around us. Margaret Klein Salamon is an invaluable guide to this new moment, offering an understanding of how fast and decisively we need to move. This action won't be easy--but it will be far easier than the alternative, and along the way there are chances to build a society both just and lasting. So please pay attention!

-Bill McKibben, movement leader and author, Falter

Margaret Klein Salamon's essay makes clear the inadequacy of a business-as-usual approach to averting climate disaster and lays out a powerful path to action – one that gives us a fighting chance to restoring a safe climate and saving our species.

Drawing from historical examples and theoretical concepts, Margaret shows us that in spite of the enormity of the challenge, we are in fact not powerless, provided that we collectively take action - concerted, focused, timely, deliberate action.

In laying out a path forward that reflects both the urgency of the crisis as well as a profound understanding of social change, she has offered us an antidote to the despair that so often characterizes our responses to the climate emergency. Margaret's vision will inspire thoughtful, powerful action in our communities- our best hope in restoring a safe climate and averting a dark future.

This is one of the most hopeful documents I've read in recent years.

-Jamila Raqib, executive director, Albert Einstein Institution and strategic non-violence expert

Kristen Cashmore

Senior Director
Kristen brings more than 25 years of social justice advocacy to Climate Mobilization. Her previous positions at human rights, public health, environmental justice, and clean energy organizations inform her work with the variety of stakeholders she is engaging with to bring an accelerated response to the climate emergency. Kristen earned a BA in Peace and Conflict Studies from UC Berkeley, where she was a teaching assistant in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management.

Malik Russell

Communications Director

Malik leads Climate Mobilization’s press and communications strategy. He formerly served as Communications Director for the NAACP. He is a journalist, author, community-based educator, and former lecturer in the Department of Strategic Communications at Morgan State University. The former editor of the Washington Afro-American newspaper, he has worked as a journalist in the Black Press for over two decades.He has a BA in American history from Brandeis University and earned a Master of Public Administration degree from Baruch College in New York, where he was selected as a National Urban Fellow.

Ezra Silk

Deputy Director

Ezra is co-founder of The Climate Mobilization and Climate Mobilization Project. He authored The Climate Mobilization’s Victory Plan, an influential exploration of how the federal government can organize and implement a mobilization to save civilization from the Climate Emergency and ecological crisis. This document directly shaped the demands of the Extinction Rebellion movement and the Green New Deal framework. Ezra was also a lead author of the climate emergency declaration resolution introduced in Congress in July 2019. A former newspaper reporter, Ezra has a BA in history from Wesleyan University.

Matt Renner

Executive Director of The Climate Mobilization

Matt has worked as a nonprofit executive in clean energy, climate policy, and journalism for over a decade, focusing on the near-term social and economic impacts of climate change. He leads organizational expansion and works closely with the communications and organizing teams. Matt earned a BA in political science from UC Berkeley, where he was deeply inspired by the work of Professor George Lakoff.

Laura Berry

Research & Policy Director

Laura brings over a decade of experience to Climate Mobilization in climate advocacy, organizing, research, and policy. She has worked on climate, environmental, and sustainability issues from local to global scales with organizations including the Stockholm Environment Institute, the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators, and 350.org. She is passionate about deepening democratic engagement in response to the Climate Emergency. Laura has a BA in human ecology from College of the Atlantic and an MSc in global environment, politics, and society from the University of Edinburgh.

Rebecca Harris

Organizing Director

Rebecca leads Climate Mobilization organizing efforts. Along with a history of social movement organizing, Rebecca he has worked as a journalist covering equity in Chicago public schools. Most recently, Rebecca worked as Development and Communications Manager at Latino Union of Chicago, an immigrants’ and workers’ rights organization. She is a 2017 graduate of the Reframe Mentorship in strategic communications and a 2019 participant in the Anne Braden Organizer Training Program.

Marina Mails

Operations and Community Manager
Marina manages operations and volunteers for both The Climate Mobilization and Climate Mobilization Project. She brings broad experience working in non-profit organizations, health care settings, and running her own private counseling practice. Before joining Climate Mobilization, Marina maintained a practice focusing exclusively on climate-related emotional coping, helping people make bold choices for lifestyle and professional change in response to the Climate Emergency. She has a bachelor’s degree in political science and Spanish from Wake Forest University and a Masters in Counseling from UNC Greensboro.

Sydney Ghazarian

Digital Organizer
Sydney leads digital strategy for The Climate Mobilization and Climate Mobilization project. She is also a founder of National Democratic Socialists of America Ecosocialist Working Group and worked to establish climate as a primary focus of the American Left. Sydney has previously worked in journalism and in academic research. Sydney received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of California San Diego.

Cris Lagunas

Strategy Director

Cris is helping to grow the Climate Emergency Movement by supporting creative campaigns and extending the reach of the movement’s message. Cris is a co-founder of the National Immigrant Youth Alliance, an organization dedicated to using direct action tactics to expose, challenge and dismantle the immigration detention system.Cris got his start in organizing when he was 15 years old, getting involved in a local group of fellow undocumented youth.

Zack Burley

Policy Associate

Zack provides policy support for the Climate Mobilization team, and brings a versatile set of policy skills and experiences in labor organizing, journalism, legislative politics, and legal practice to the climate emergency movement. Zack earned a JD from Denver University Sturm College of Law, is a founding organizer of the Political Workers Guild of Colorado, and formerly served as a legislative aide in the Colorado General Assembly.

AriDy Nox

Organizational Development and Engagement Manager
AriDy brings creativity, enthusiasm and a tremendous capacity for organization to her/their role, assisting the executive director with travel, communication and fundraising. AriDy Nox is a multi-disciplinary black femme storyteller and social activist. They have served as a national representative for The Young Women of Color Leadership Council, the Millennials of Color Leadership Bureau, and held writing positions with Advocates for Youth and RH Reality Check. She has worked as an administrative and executive assistant for a myriad of organizations including the Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program at Tisch School of the Performing Arts at NYU, the Youth Engagement Fund and the Community Resource Exchange.