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.

Endorsements

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

Alexia Leclerq

Network Coach

Alexia (she/they) is an environmental justice organizer based in Austin, TX. They graduated summa cum laude from NYU (’20), where they self-designed a major titled “The Politics and Economics of Inequality.” Their research focuses on political ecology, environmental justice, AAPI communities, inequality, postcolonialism. As an organizer and researcher they have spent the past 5 years working on various issues from preserving the Colorado River, water rights, fighting land use policy and zoning that enforces race-based discrimination, conducting ethnographic research on climate health, to organizing mutual aid, youth programming, and shaping national legislation alongside members of the Environmental Justice Leadership Forum and the Environmental Justice Health Alliance; today Alexia continues to work as an organizer with PODER, a grassroots EJ org. Alexia is also the co-founder of Start: Empowerment, a BIPOC led social and environmental justice education non-profit working with youth, educators, activists, and community members to implement justice-focused education and programming in schools and community spaces. S:E curriculum and programming has reached over 2,000 students, been recognized by the NYC Department of Education, and taught in universities. In 2021, their work was recognized by the prestigious Brower Youth Award.

Emmett Hopkins

National Organizer

Emmett organizes local-scale mobilization for the Sonoma County campaign, while supporting Climate Mobilization’s organizing efforts around the country. He brings over a decade of experience collaborating with diverse stakeholders to build community food systems, ensure equitable access to public lands, and mobilize resources towards a just transition to an amazing zero carbon future. He graduated from Stanford with a BS in Earth Systems and MS in Urban Planning & Sustainable Design. Emmett enjoys growing food and cultivating relationships, riding bikes and buses, and reimagining our communities to better serve all the people living in them.

Suha Dabbouseh

National Organizer

National Organizer Suha Dabbouseh leads national strategy for The Climate Mobilization. They are originally from Chicago but have lived, organized and rebel-roused in seven states and 11 cities. Suha received their law degree from CUNY-School of Law where they focused on social justice lawyering representing detainees at Guantanamo Bay. While practicing law, Suha had worked to advocate on behalf of domestic violence survivors, transgender clients and fighting employment discrimination. Their passion is building people power and organizing to dismantle structural inequities.

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.

Mariyah Jahangiri

Network Organizer

Mariyah leads Climate Mobilization Network’s recruitment, coordination, and organizing support. She has organized across movements and is passionate about addressing white supremacy in the mainstream climate movement and building capacity for youth-led, BIPOC-led intersectional climate movements. She has been inspired by her experiences organizing to defund the police in Boston, supporting mutual aid and food sovereignty projects in Iowa, Atlanta, and Puerto Rico, and working on a Make Big Polluters Pay campaign. Mariyah worked as an organizer with the Bernie Sanders 2020 campaign and Planned Parenthood PAC. She graduated from Grinnell College with a Sociology degree.

Rebecca Harris

Co-Leader and Director of Organizing

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

Co-Leader and Director of Operations
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.

Meghann Beer

Co-Leader and Director of Resource Mobilization and Strategy

Meghann brings more than 20 years of nonprofit management and fundraising experience to The Climate Mobilization and Climate Mobilization Project. For over a decade Meghann has worked as a nonprofit consultant helping organizations expand their capacity, secure revenue, develop successful strategies, and effectively evaluate their programs, enabling them to create greater positive change in the world. She has also worked as an executive director, designed and facilitated international service learning experiences, and taught university courses in fundraising and nonprofit management. Meghann earned a MPA in Nonprofit Management and Comparative and International Affairs from The School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University, in Bloomington, IN and a BA in Art History and American Studies from Tufts University in Boston, MA.

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

Co-Leader and Director of Narrative Strategy

 AriDy Nox is a multi-disciplinary black femme storyteller and social activist with a variety of forward-thinking creative works under her/their belt. They create out of the vehement belief that creating a future in which marginalized peoples are free requires a radical imagination. Their tales are offerings intended to function as small parts of an ancient, expansive, awe-inspiring tradition of world-shaping, created by and for black femmes. They have over a decade of experience as a young social activist and organizer, within reproductive justice and racial justice frameworks with organizations like the Young Women of Color Leadership Council with Advocates for Youth, the Toni Cade Bamabara Collective at Spelman College and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated. They bring creativity, enthusiasm and a tremendous capacity for organization to her/their role and deep belief that times of apocalypse are opportunities for rebirth. We need first imagine the world we want in order to create it.