3 (and a half) Reasons for Climate Optimism

Why it might not be all bad

Photo by Charl van Rooy on Unsplash

You can’t turn on the news these days without seeing deadly wildfires, devastating hurricanes or record-breaking temperatures making the headlines. The seemingly never-ending cycle of negativity makes it very easy to adopt the “well, we’ve really fucked this” mentality.

But, I believe that if you wade through the negativity (and there is a lot of it), and briefly set aside the overwhelming sense of existential dread, there are a few reasons to be optimistic on climate change.

#1. Everyone is talking about it

Climate change is everywhere. Everyone is talking about it. ‘Single-use’ was even awarded word of the year for 2018. This is an enormous step in the right direction.

A few years ago climate change was littered with buzzwords like sustainability, carbon footprint and emissions but the masses did not really know, or care, what they meant. Now, even with the leaders of the U.S and Brazil in denial of the science, it is at the forefront of the international agenda.

We are constantly gaining a better understanding of both the causes and the threats of a warming world, allowing people to become more informed and make more mindful choices.

Knowledge is a prerequisite for action.

The more people that know, and understand, the dangers of a changing climate, the more people can help to reverse our current troublesome trajectory.

#2. Attitudes are changing

For a long time, it seemed as though the main message for mitigating climate change was for everyone to drive an electric vehicle and turn vegan.

While the actions clearly do help, they require very large changes in lifestyle that people are either unwilling or unable to make. The majority of people, myself included, do not have enough spare cash to buy a Tesla and I think pushing such extreme changes has actually been detrimental to the cause.

We do not need an all or nothing approach — either drive an EV and cut out meat entirely or remain exactly the same — but rather an approach that incentivises and facilitates many people to make small changes. Just like in investing, the power of compounding will be our best friend in fighting climate change.

If most people can make small adjustments to their lives, the sum of these changes in terms of emission reductions will be far greater than if a few people make extreme changes.

We are already beginning to see this. There has been a rapid rise in the ‘flexitarian’ lifestyle, allowing people the flexibility to enjoy meat when they feel like it but also being happy to make other choices.

There is an ongoing war with single-use plastic. Countless campaigns have highlighted the devastating consequences on the ocean and marine life, and there has been support from major players. Here in the UK, supermarkets charge for plastic bags and the fee is set to double, and coffee shops are giving money off for anyone that brings a reusable cup to avoid unnecessary waste.

These are only small steps, but they are progress nonetheless. MORE

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