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  • Writer's pictureKrista Kurth, Ph.D.

Starting From Where You Are: What Climate Action Animal are You?

Updated: Nov 22, 2019

Image of an array of African Animals

One of the most frequent questions I hear from people when I talk with them about the climate crisis is, "There are so many suggested actions to take. Where do I start? "

I typically respond, "Start where you are."

We all have different skills, life experiences, interests, and resources to bring to the climate recovery effort. The key is to figure out where you are now and what you can do from there. To help you out, let me ask you a question:

Are you an ostrich, a chicken, or a pig?

“What? I don’t have a clue,” I imagine you saying. “And aren’t those strange choices of animals? I don’t have a great association with any of them.”

Don’t worry, they are all great choices. By the end of this post, you’ll see these animals in a new light. All three have something to contribute and are needed to stop the climate from warming further.

Here’s a short story that will explain. You may have heard a version with two of the animals before. I’ve changed it for our climate situation.

A Story

One day, a chicken and pig were walking down the road with their friend the ostrich and all their children. In the distance they saw a large crowd of people holding up banners and signs, which they couldn't quite read.

“Let’s go check it out,” the chicken said.

“Yes. It looks like a protest. I love those,” said the pig.

“You go ahead. I think I’ll take the children over by the river and watch them while you find out what's happening,” said the ostrich.

The pig and the chicken said goodbye to their friend and the kids and ran off towards the crowd. As they got closer, they realized it was a climate change rally. Caught up in the protest's spirit, the pig suggested to the chicken that they each donate something.

“Great Idea!” the chicken crowed. “I see a food tent over there. Let’s offer them ham and eggs!”

“Wait a minute,” said the pig. “For you, that’s a contribution, but for me, it’s a total commitment.”

As you may have figured out, this story is about where we are on the level of contribution scale.

How much of a contribution are you ready to make? How much of your life are you willing to dedicate to acting on climate?

Image of an Ostrich head

If you are a place where you are most comfortable doing what you can individually in your own daily life, then you might be an OSTRICH.

This doesn’t mean that you’re burying your head in the sand. Ostriches don’t really do that. They place their eggs in a common nest set in a deep hole. When they put their beaks in to turn the eggs, it looks as if their heads are buried, but they're not. Ostriches typically live in pairs or small herds that mingle with other grazing animals. They are powerful runners with great endurance and can see danger coming from a long distance.

Image of four chickens standing on a fence

If you are also ready to do more for the climate, but aren't interested in devoting your whole life to solving the climate crisis, then you’re probably a CHICKEN.

I want to be clear here that the label does not mean you are afraid, nor running around like a headless bird. It means that you want to make an intentional individual effort and also engage in collaborative action in your community. Chickens see and dream in color. They navigate using the sun and defend their young from natural dangers. And since there are more of them than any other bird species, they can rule the roost on climate change action!

Image of pig snout through a fence

And if you are ready to hold nothing back and do as much as you can to implement and scale significant climate solutions, then you are probably a PIG.

This doesn't mean you are greedy or need to sacrifice your life to play a role in stopping the climate crisis. Instead, it means that you're going whole hog in dedicating yourself to the cause, and probably organizing your life around this work in some way. Pigs are one of the smartest animals. They like to form close bonds and collaborate with other animals, and are capable of profound empathy. Don't forget that in Winnie the Pooh, Piglet had the biggest heart in the Hundred Acre Wood. His generous, brave spirit took him on some large adventures.

Let me ask you again, Are you an ostrich, a chicken, or a pig?

The Magic of Being A Climate Action Animal

The three climate action animals are like unicorns. They have magic powers and can transform themselves over time. You're not stuck being the one with which you first identify. As life circumstances change you can move up and down the contribution scale.

You can be an ostrich who later becomes a chicken or a pig. You can also be a pig, devoting her life to climate action, who slows down for a little while and becomes a chicken or an ostrich. Or you might become a "picken," like me who doesn’t put all her eggs in one basket and picks activities that require different levels of contribution and effort.

In my next post, I will explore how you can focus your efforts given the amount of time, energy and money you have to dedicate to climate action.

Keep an eye out for it. It will help you hatch an idea of what you can do in your own life to shake your tail feathers on climate. Once you’ve got a plan in motion, then you’ll really have something to crow about! (I know, groan).


I’d love to know what’s grabbing your attention or what questions are running through your mind. Let me know in the comments section.

If you’d like to be notified when I’ve posted a new article on my blog, please sign up here. (Scroll to bottom of Home page for contact form). I promise I won’t send more than one email a week.

If you missed my earlier posts on taking climate action in your daily you can find them here.

All the best,

Krista / Eco-Omi

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