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discussion circles | what they discuss

global warming: changing co2urse (gw)

The new edition, published by the Northwest Earth Institute (NWEI) in August 2008, contains updated readings reflecting our current scientific and social knowledge of climate change, as well as individual and organizational action plans.

Participants in a GW discussion circle will:

  • Explore personal values and habits as they relate to climate change
  • deepen in understanding of the history and science of climate change
  • consider both individual and community level actions to curb climate change.

This discussion guide was created and last revised by the Northwest Earth Institute (NWEI) in 2008. Topics covered in 5 sessions:

1. Off Course: Communities around the world are experiencing the effects of global warming. This session explores personal responses to climate change and why society has been slow to respond. Excerpts and Readings: “Global Warming Twenty Years Later” by Dr. James Hansen ~ “A Storm of Denial” by Paul Rogat Loeb ~ “Global Warming Tipping Point” by Michael Bloch ~ “Global Warming Feedback Loops” by Madeline Ostrander ~ “It’s the End of the World as We Know It” by Daniel Gilbert ~ “How to Be a Climate Hero” by Audrey Schulman ~ Carbon Footprint Exercise

2. Collision Course: To better understand the complexities of global climate change, this session breaks down its history and its science, and identifies our participation in this ecological crisis. Excerpts and Readings: “The Right War” by Ban Ki-Moon ~ “Sea Change” by Julia Whitty and Robert Knoth ~ “The Climate Divide” by Andrew C. Revkin ~ “Global Warming Hastens Spring’s Arrival” by Seth Borenstein ~ “Breaking the Boundaries of Life” by Gary Braasch ~ “Facing a Threat to Farming and Food Supply” by Rick Weiss ~ Excerpt from “The Climate of Man III” by Elizabeth Kolbert ~ Session 2 Action Plan: Immediate Actions

3. Changing Course: Although global climate change is a daunting issue, there are accessible and significant actions we can all take. This session explores new strategies for addressing climate change and considers personal action to mitigate its effects. Excerpts and Readings: “Why Bother?” by Michael Pollan ~ “Is Local Always Better?” by Tess Taylor ~ “My Low-Carbon Diet” by Seth Zuckerman ~ “Are We Ready to Track Carbon Footprints?” by John Tierney ~ “Brother, can you spare a carbon credit?" by Rebecca Tuhus-Dubrow ~ “Where Have All the Joiners Gone?” by Bill McKibben ~ Session 3 Action Plan: Further Actions

4. Setting a New Course: What will it take to create a sustainable future? Explore our individual and collective power to shape an effective response to climate change, enabling future generations to meet their needs. Excerpts and Readings: “Beating the Heat” by Matt Sutkoski ~ Excerpt from Soul of a Citizen by Paul Rogat Loeb ~ “Mayors Stand Up” by Madeline Ostrander ~ “The Green-Collar Solution” by Thomas L. Friedman ~ “This postman always thinks green” by Max Christern ~ “The Politics of Limits” by Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger ~ Excerpt from Al Gore’s Nobel Lecture ~ Session 4 Action Plan: Organizational

5. Call to Action / Wrap-Up. This last meeting may happen at a different place and time, and is often a potluck meal. Your group will start by evaluating the circle experience. Then, you'll decide what you wish to do next (together or separately). You will also learn of many ways to stay involved in our wider community of like-minded people. If your group is so inclined, the wrap-up is also a great time to plan a community project together.


see our monthly announcement or get in touch with your neighborhood's volunteer point of contact to find out about circles who are about to discuss this guide. Or, order a guide and start your own.

Cover of Global Warming guide

local opinions about this guide

insert regarding carbon calculator (PDF, 21 KB)

gw 2-sided description (PDF, 143 KB) with reading list

how to reduce your carbon footprint (PDF, 100 KB), gw resource developed by SMEI volunteers Michael Hartman and Lore Rosenthal

gw flyer to advertise an intro meeting: Editable (in Word) or fill out by hand, in B/W (PDF 168 KB) or in color (PDF 318 KB)

gw 2008 evaluation form (PDF, 163 KB) and gw 2008 blank charts (PDF, 193 KB) - If you're sharing or re-using a guide

gw circle schedule PDF, 31 KB | MS Word, 43 KB

discuss these issues online in one of our four yahoogroups

videos about climate change

Introducer / mentor sampler GW 2009 (PDF, 1.41 MB), includes all action plan charts from several sessions