Since the start of 2022, human-induced climate change supercharged heat waves, drought and floods in many parts of the world as the carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases we continue to produce trap heat in the atmosphere and heat our planet.
Continents are on fire. Cities and countries are going under water. More than 2.3 billion people face water stress and almost 160 million children are exposed to severe and prolonged droughts. Millions have been harmed and displaced, hurting the world economy and plunging millions more into poverty while pushing up food prices and disrupting trade and labour markets.
While the fortunate ones are not yet in the eye of extreme climate emergencies, we are witnessing the devastation in one disturbing mobile scroll after another. Realizing that these are previews of the worse to come and we are all vulnerable is inflicting a toll on our mental health and our children.
The reality is harsh and it is likely that the climate crisis will get much worse. The dire ‘Code Red to Humanity’ UN Climate Report was headlined in every major news channel this April, warning that carbon emissions must peak before 2025 worldwide and drop by 48% including methane by a third this decade to keep global temperatures at 1.5°C (2.7°F), or even at 2°C (3.6°F), when destruction in nature becomes irreversible.
Its impacts are no longer separated from us by time, but they are still separated from many of us in a way that it is difficult to feel that direct connection. It happened somewhere else to somebody else. It is human nature for many people to try to ignore or deny it until something forces us to confront it, once again. These reminders are getting more frequent, more urgent and more extreme. As anxiety builds, reach for the blanket if you must, but do not give in to the luxury of feeling powerless.
The book, The Future We Choose: The Stubborn Optimist’s Guide to the Climate Crisis, outlines two possible futures for human life on Earth in 2050. One is apocalyptic, a world where millions of people have been forced to migrate from uninhabitable areas, sea levels have risen more than 20cm and coral reefs have almost disappeared. The second is a world where cities have been transformed by mass tree-planting, high-speed rail has replaced domestic flights while creating jobs. and emissions have halved every decade since 2020.
The book is an inspiring manifesto from Global Optimism Co-Founders, Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac. Global Optimism exist to precipitate a transformation from pessimism to optimism as a method of creating social and environmental change. Tom explains, ‘We need to find a different way of dealing with the climate crisis in a sustained manner, There is a way that we can do this – a powerful combination of a deep optimism and supporting attitude, and when combined with consistent action can enable whole societies to take dedicated action in a sustained way towards a shared goal. With a responsible choice … a deep, determined, stubborn form of optimism emerges, not avoiding or denying the darkness that is pressing in, but refusing to be cowed by it. That stubborn optimism is powerful. It animates action and infuses it with meaning towards a shared purpose and a shared outcome’.
We may not be able to reverse the course of climate change within our lifetime, but we can make a responsible choice to boldly driving change, to use the power of our wallet to consume and travel better, and use the power of our vote to support the passing of Climate Laws if it is still pending in our country. We can help build resilience where we reside and strengthen the mental and physical wellbeing of those we love. If we tune out the distractions, listen to the science and refocus our minds to act NOW, we can still make a difference before the door starts to close.
Believe that the future is worth fighting for … this is where our power to change a situation starts.