The World Health Organization estimates that by the year 2030, climate change will be responsible for approximately 250,000 deaths every year. Force of Nature is trying to combat this through climate activism and education.
The organization has been working with educators, business leaders, and corporations to learn about climate change and how to make changes to be more sustainable.
We sat down with Force of Nature's operations director, Phoebe Hanson, to learn more about the company's mission.
What drew the founders to create Force of Nature?
The organization was set up by Clover Hogan, who is our executive director. And the idea of Force of Nature came about from a need that we saw among both young people and business leaders. What we found was that young people were becoming more and more overwhelmed in the face of the climate crisis.
When you say ‘overwhelmed,’ what did this look like?
We spoke to girls as young as 11, who were saying, "I've already made the decision that I don't want to have a child because I think that that's not right for the world, and I don't want to bring them into an uncertain space." So we're continuously seeing young people kind of experiencing eco-anxiety in the face of the climate crisis, to the point where they were feeling overwhelmed, helpless, and very shut down instead of feeling kind of inspired to step up as the next generation.
What drew you to Force of Nature?
What drew me to Force of Nature [was that they address] the junction between mental health and the climate crisis and understanding that you need to nurture your own well-being and also your mindset in order to take action on climate change. Also, I was drawn to Force of Nature because it was led by young people. I didn't want a stuffy corporate job, I've always worked in the charity space or the social impact space. So I didn't want a stuffy corporate job. And I knew that Force of Nature makes an impact and that it was led by people who are exactly like me.
What inspired you to get involved in the fight against climate change?
I came from a quite deprived area where climate change wasn't taught to me. It wasn't until I was 16 that I started actually learning about the climate crisis—the ecological crisis. And it wasn't until I was 18 that I started really being invested in that, so I went on to get a degree in sustainability and environmental management. What I saw during my degree was that myself and my peers, as young people, were being bombarded with information from our lecturers. We'd go into a lecture and [our professors would] say, "Here's all the things that are wrong with the world," and then the same thing would happen the next day. There'd be no sense of inspiration, or encouragement to look after our mental well-being in absorbing all this information or explanation that the burden doesn't lie on us. And then it wasn't until I saw that Force of Nature existed that I realized that was eco-anxiety.
What is something that you think all students should know about Force of Nature?
[We aren’t] just a company; we are a movement. We are made up of the young people that we seek to serve. Anyone who is invested in Force of Nature in any way, shape, or form cares about the work we do. And we appreciate as well, that with eight staff members, we can't represent the voices of everybody all over the world. Sometimes we can't fulfill a space. And we need to make sure that our community is made up of people that can fill that space and should be filling that space. For example, there's no point in me as a white woman in the climate space going into a space where an indigenous woman should be. we recognize that and that's another reason why we want to be aware of our community, we're not just the people that are paid to work. I find that no one else is really covering this bridge—this junction between mental health and the environment.
What advice do you have for students wanting to get involved in the fight against the climate crisis?
Understand that you need to nurture your own well-being and mindset in order to take action on climate change. Also, make sure that you're in a sound space to be able to actually do anything and feel a sense of agency.
What advice would you give students in the U.S. who are on a budget but want to get involved with climate activism and sustainable living?
I'd say, try not to get overwhelmed by the issue—which is obviously way easier said than done. But that can come from thinking that you have all of the responsibility to solve the climate crisis on your own. Find your passion and where your skills can contribute best, and really hone in on that and embrace that. I'd also say, to not be disillusioned by thinking that if you start recycling more, and using a reusable coffee cup, that you're going to, like save the planet and that the climate crisis is solved. Recognize that there are other people that need to take responsibility in the crisis that we've created, and those people are policymakers and they are business leaders. Unless we're all doing our bit, then nothing's ever going to be solved or even changed.
Since Force of Nature is based in the U.K., how can students in the U.S. get involved?
The best way to be involved with us is a starting point as a volunteer. We have volunteers that support us across the board with loads of different activities, whether that be social media, or we've just recently launched a blog, which is really just platforming the voices of young people across the world. We also have classrooms which you are able to sit in on and then join our community going on from there.
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