There’s a great new book out called How the West Was Warmed (, about responding to climate change in the Rockies. It’s got intros and conclusions from two of the nation’s leading implementers/rock stars of the new green economy–Gov. Bill Ritter of Colorado and Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper.

How the West Was WarmedIt also offers readers a candy store of great essays by excellent writers and thinkers in the West, including Outside contributor/N.Y. Times journalist Florence Williams, Water and drought expert Brad Udall, and editor Beth Conover, who has been in the green trenches for 20 years.

The book includes an essay I originally wrote for Orion magazine on why solving climate change offers humanity a shot at the kind of broad meaning that humans have always yearned for. In fact, I argue, solving climate change has the ability to endow our lives with some of the oldest human desires: a life of dignity, grace, and meaning. The last time we had a shot a something that so comprehensively addressed core human needs was when the world’s great religions were created between two and four thousand years ago. Here’s an excerpt from that essay.

Reader support helps sustain our work. Donate today to keep our climate news free. All donations DOUBLED!

To read more, please buy the book, you’ll enjoy it!

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Meanwhile, here’s an excerpt from one essay in the book, titled “Climate Revelations: God, Climate and Hope.”

“… Given the extreme challenges we face in implementing solutions—whether trying to make mass transit work, fixing the problem of existing buildings, building enough renewable energy to power our operations, or driving federal action on climate policy—it’s worth asking the question: what will motivate us to actually pull this off? How will we become, and then remain, inspired for the long slog ahead?

Because this battle will take not just political will and corporate action; it will require unyielding commitment and dedication on the part of humanity. We need to literally remake society. We can intellectualize the need for action all we want, but in my experience, in the end our motivation usually comes down to a cliché: our kids and, for want of a better word, our dignity.

Journalist Bill Moyers has said, “What we need to match the science of human health is what the ancient Israelites called ‘hocma’—the science of the heart…the capacity to see…to feel…and then to act…as if the future depended on you. Believe me, it does.” Moyers, who is an ordained Baptist minister, taps into something positively religious about the possibilities in a grand movement to protect Earth.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Climate change offers us something immensely valuable and difficult to find in the modern world: the opportunity to participate in a movement that, in its vastness of scope, can fulfill the universal human need for a sense of meaning in our lives. A climate solution—a world running efficiently on abundant clean energy—by necessity goes a long way toward solving many, if not most, other problems too: poverty, hunger, disease, water supply, equity, solid waste, and on and on.

Climate change doesn’t have to scare us. It can inspire us; it is a singular opportunity to remake society in the image of our greatest dreams.”