This post is a bit different, but I feel it explains my absence on here for the past few months.
I’ve always known about climate change, but I always swept it under the rug, for reasons I can’t really explain. However, I started doing some heavy research in February, and it really changed my perspective of the world, for the worse. Everything I saw on social media and the news relating to climate change was negative and apocalyptic. When you’re constantly told the world’s going to end, how do you keep your head up? How do you enjoy the vast beauty the world has to offer when everything around you is supposedly falling apart?
This is something I’ve really struggled with in the past few months, and it’s really sucked the fun out of nature and travel. However, I decided to get both sides of the story and see the amazing progress the world is making to combat climate change, and I feel it’s restored a lot of optimism in me, and I hope it can for you as well.
Here’s the thing; the future isn’t set in stone. While climate change is inevitable, we still have time to make progress to achieve the best-case scenario, rather than the worst.
The groups that have inspired quick, revolutionary change have always been unlikely. Whether it was slavery abolition or human rights in the Soviet bloc, these movements snowballed quickly and had the power to fundamentally change the societal order.
While 12-30 years sounds too short of a time to make significant progress, let’s look back at the world’s progress in the last 30 years. At the beginning of the century, the climate change movement was fragmented, minuscule, and largely ineffective. In addition, renewable energy was inaccessible, expensive, and infantile. As a kid, I remember renewable energy being an exclusivity of the highest elite. Nowadays, UN agreements like the Paris Agreement have globalised incentives to reduce carbon emissions which trickle down into domestic policy. And while one can argue that the UN is not legally binding, most nations have shown incentive to adhere to such agreements.
Through taking on large-scale operations such as pipelines, refineries, etc., some of what were regarded as climate activists’ wild ideas and unreasonable demands are now policy and conventional common sense. In a revolution at least as profound as the industrial revolution, renewable energies such as wind and solar have changed everything; we now have the technological capacity to largely leave fossil fuel behind.
Secondly, we don’t know the type of technological breakthroughs that can be achieved before the UN-set deadlines. In practice, countries like Costa Rica have reduced their emissions by 98% (!!), and heavyweights such as China, are making unprecedented progress in reducing the energy-intensity of their economies by switching economic focuses as well as implementing countless climate change policies. Here in Scotland, emissions are half of what they were in the 90’s, and we closed our last coal-powered plant a few years ago. Mine of this was not possible even 15 years ago, and it is now. That is incredible, and to me, encouraging. I like to look to the accidental, yet revolutionary discovery of micro-fragmenting, which has sped up coral reproduction by 40 times. This has a monumental impact on the preservation of our marine ecosystem. Who knows what revolutionary ideas may sprout and become the norm in the near-future?
Fighting climate change is inherently political. I won’t get into detail on this post (maybe one soon?) but it primarily involves stopping lobbyists and corporate influence on politics, as over 70% of emissions are the fault of the world’s top 100 companies. It’s important to know the consequences of climate change. It’s important to know the inactivity of some of our leaders (just say the USA). But it’s also just as important to know and understand the progress of countless nations, organisations, and individuals.
To me, optimism does not equal complacency. To others, this may not be the case. However, optimism has always been my biggest drive to achieve what I desire because I know just how much our beautiful planet has to offer. We must take every ominous report seriously, but we must also know the incredible progress that’s being made, on an individual and group effort. I know this is hard, especially in the US, whose administration sets out to make everyone’s lives as miserable as possible. Only knowing the negative paralysed me and made me feel hopeless. But there is still hope: our future is not set in stone. We still have time. And these efforts must be made by all of us on all aspects of our lives. Make sustainable adjustments to your daily life. Call your government officials. Manifest your fear and anger into action. But most importantly, don’t lose hope to continue the fight.