Thursday, November 12, 2015

A Turning Point for Climate Action: Reasons for Optimism

People, governments, business and investors are acknowledging the importance of urgent climate action. This includes a policy informed by science. Driven by a growing awareness of our carbon budget, we are coming to terms with the fact that most of the world's known fossil fuel reserves cannot be burned if we are to stave off the worst climate impacts.

A Guardian article explains:

"We are at a turning point now. A decisive hour when a historical event occurs, when a decision must be made, when we have understood that the consequences of the past need us to intentionally and decisively redefine the future."

Increased levels of atmospheric carbon are invisible, however, extreme weather events are giving people tangible examples of climate impacts. Although people are increasingly concerned about climate change, this does not always translate to action.

The greatest obstacle we face in combating climate change is not technological it is psychological. We have the technological ability, what has been sorely lacking is the will to engage. It takes courage to be optimistic, we risk being disappointed and we are forced to embrace the anxiety of the reality of just how precarious our situation is. However in the final analysis we have no choice but to hope. We know that in the past pessimism has impeded environmental advocacy. Optimism engenders activism, while hopelessness fuels apathy.

We have a number of good reasons to be hopeful. Progress in a number of areas should buoy our optimism that we can change our perilous trajectory. People, governments, and companies are acting to protect our climate and our future. As stated by the EDF, "The momentum is growing. We’re on our way to turn the corner on climate change – and the race of our lives is on."

There have been a number of stalwart activists who have advanced the climate agenda. One of those with the highest profile is former US Vice President and Democratic Presidential nominee Al Gore.In addition to winning a Nobel Peace Price for his efforts he has earned the adulation of climate advocates around the world.In an August, 2013 interview Ezra Klein interview Gore cited changes in energy, politics, business and popular morality as the driving forces behind his optimism.

As we prepare the way for a global climate agreement at COP21, it is becoming increasingly apparent that this is the year for change. As explained in a New York Magazine piece, political writer Jonathan Chait calls it “the year humans finally got serious about saving themselves.” Says Chait, “The world is suddenly responding to the climate emergency with – by the standards of its previous behavior – astonishing speed.”

This optimism is shared by a number of scientists including Johan Rockström an environmental science professor at Stockholm University and executive director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre. Despite issuing a number of pessimistic warnings, he now believes that the world has a better chance of saving itself from catastrophic global warming now than at any time over the past two decades.

Our successful protection of the ozone layer offers an optimistic precedent. Just as the 1987 Montreal Protocol successfully addressed depletion of the stratospheric ozone layer by replacing chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)at the end of last century, a global climate deal at COP21 will reign-in GHG emissions.

As explained by Jeremy Leggett author of the book "Winning of the War on Carbon":
"For the last 25 years, I have fought hard against defenders of finite carbon fuels, careless of the impact they have on our world by clinging to coal, oil and gas. And I have lost battle after battle against the dark side. But in 2013, something changed and the tide began to turn. Now, as we build up to the Paris climate talks in December, an event described by many observers as something of a ‘last chance saloon,’ I’m genuinely hopeful the light side can win the war."
We are on the cusp of making some of the most important decisions in human history. We can either strive to undue the harm we have done to the earth or we can surrender to feeling overwhelmed. We must believe that we will make the right decisions because what we do today will have repercussions for centuries to come.

As stated in the Guardian article, "We will look back at this moment as a moment of remarkable transformation, as the indisputable turning point of this century. Let us open our eyes now and see it as it happens."

Related
Overcoming Obstacles in the Creation of a New Climate Narratives
Crafting a Positive Environmental Narrative
Pessimism is Impeding Environmental Advocacy
Sustainability as Both Sexy and Spiritual
The Pearl in the Oyster - Leveraging the Climate Crisis for Human and Planetary Health
Why We Need a New Climate Change Narrative
A New Environmental Movement Breeds Hope for the Future
Environmental Success Stories: Mercury, SLCPs and Many More
Forging a New Climate Change Narrative: Addressing 5 Psychological Realities
Video - Al Gore on Climate Change: "We are Going to Win We are Going to Fix This"
Making Environmentalism Everyone's Concern
Building Support for Action on Climate Change Before We Reach Tipping Points
Why We Need to Reach American Climate Change Deniers
How to Get Through to Climate Deniers
How Morality Can Win the War on Climate Change
An Environmentalist and a Buddhist Monk Discuss Human Behavior

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