24 Mar 15
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Puppies, Kittens, and Paris: What Makes Us Happy

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Puppies and kittens make us really happy in the now, but they inevitably grow into adults and leave us seeking the next cute thing. When it comes to the environment, actions like recycling or using energy-efficient bulbs may give us a quick green rush, but this pleasure may be as fleeting as the youth of our four-footed friends.

What if we want more than a quick but intense burst of good feelings?

Fighting a pipeline or some other individual project can feel good in a bigger way, as can asking someone else to make significant changes like divesting from oil and coal companies, but these actions still don't get to the deep core of climate happiness.

We think that deep climate happiness comes from accepting and acknowledging the role we each play in the world of climate change (our own use of fossil fuels, as well as our own actions to limit climate change), and using this to inform bigger strategies. Why do we choose to fly or drive? What would change our behavior? Why do companies choose to address their role in climate change or not? What would change their behavior?

While global climate happiness has a strong bottom up component, the Mavens are also curious about how we get to a top down climate happiness solution so that all that happiness can meet in the middle. How will countries chose to address their role in climate change? What triggers action? If we can understand those things about national change behavior, maybe we could get to a real international agreement that actually reduced greenhouse gas emissions by a relevant percentage on a relevant timeline. Which of course brings us to Paris. While Paris is known for its springtime, perhaps in 2015 Ella Fitzgerald will be heard and we’ll all understand that we can love Paris any season and that November and December can also be a time of magic in the City of Light, with the participants in the Conference of the Parties coming together with knowledge of why they want to change their behavior around greenhouse gas emissions and a plan for how to do it in a timely manner.

Then the happiness of accepting individual responsibility would augment the happiness of being part of a greater global awareness!

In his International Happiness Day statement (one of several, because when you’re happy and you know it, make a video!) Ban Ki-Moon indicated pretty clearly that happiness is not a warm kitten, but rather an international climate agreement.

(If you still want the short path to climate happiness, check out Ban Ki-Moon’s recommendation for instant gratification.)


The Adaptation Mavens provide timely unsolicited advice for the adaptation quandaries you might not even know you have. The Mavens will still accept occasional questions from readers, so send them if you have them, but we’re testing this new format to cover emerging issues.

Recommended Citation

Adaptation Mavens. (2015, March). Puppies, Kittens, and Paris: What Makes Us Happy. [Web column]. Retrieved from CAKE (http://cakex.org/community/advice/puppies-kittens-and-paris-what-makes-u...).