Why There's Never Been a Better Time to Combat the Climate Crisis

This is the start of a crucial decade in human history. And while it’s certainly not starting the way we all expected with a global pandemic forcing the world into public health and economic crises, that doesn’t mean we can take our eyes off the climate ball.

In fact, it’s never been more important to focus on the threat of climate change. While bad actors are doing their damnedest to ramp up pollution, there is also an unprecedented opportunity to transform the entire economic system.

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And as luck would have it, a recent book lays out a clear blueprint for how to do so. The Future We Choose was published late last month and features insights from Christiana Figueres, the climate negotiator who helped guide the Paris Agreement into existence, and Tom Rivett-Carnac, her senior advisor and partner on a new project called Global Optimism. They lay out some of the layers of actions we need to take and how they lock together in the video above.

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And I have to say, as a crusty and cynical climate journalist (basically the most crusty and cynical profession-subject area combo imaginable), the book actually made me perk up. Because look, there’s a lot of terrible news on the climate front. But wallowing in it as some people (me) are prone to occasionally do doesn’t make you a realist. It makes you (me) an idiot. The Future We Choose lays out concrete steps the world can take to address the climate crisis. But rather than glossing over the nitty-gritty, the book dives right into how you (or again, me) can get involved in fostering the needed structural changes.

Too often, climate change is framed up in a way that makes individual actions seem trivial in the face of structural change. But the reality is the system can’t change if individuals don’t push it to. A canoe left to its own devices will float down a river in the current, but it’s only a matter of time until it capsizes and throws you overboard. That is, unless you grab the oars.

Figueres and Rivett-Carnac talk about how to harness the power of consumer choices while eschewing being a “consumer” in favor of being a “citizen” (that would be action number 4) and how we can contribute to reforesting the planet and righting our relationship with nature (action number 6).

They also highlight three mindsets for how to go about being a part of the change. The one that stuck with me the most is one of being a stubborn optimist, a mindset that acknowledges things might still go sideways for the climate and society, but that it isn’t an excuse to give up trying to stop that from happening.

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“You have to believe that you have the wherewithal or that you at least can rely on those around you to help you to attain something that may seem very, very difficult for you to do alone,” Figueres told Earther. “That is the kind of gritty, determined optimism that we need in order to be able to effectively address climate change in a timely fashion.”

The book is basically part self-help, part how-to for saving the planet. And in our current times, that’s honestly just what we need. We just need to make the choice to engage with it.

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Managing editor, Earther

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DISCUSSION

rvincent1960
Times up, time to leave!

The ongoing events worldwide have given us a great opportunity to reflect on the state of the world in general. There are certainly some important things coming sharply into focus that I think could help finally galvanize public opinion with regards to how business and governments have been dealing (or not dealing) with climate action.

There has been a large, non-vocal majority of people who have been ignoring climate issues as they are too consumed in their daily lives and have had a vague assumption that govt and business “know what they’re doing”. This has been carefully curated by keeping the masses working hard just to survive and providing them with endless entertainment to keep their focus off issues like climate.

Only now that spell has been broken, enforced time off work is giving people the opportunity to look at other things and what they are seeing is a graphic demonstration of how business and government are not as competent as they believed. On top of that recent attempts by “leaders” to encourage and even force people back to work during the most dangerous period of this pandemic shows clearly what their priority is. Money.

I hope (maybe in vain) that seeing the horrific action of these so called leaders encouraging the elderly, sick and infirm to sacrifice themselves to save the economy paints a clearer picture of just how inhuman they really are. They are not interested in us as people, only as consumers and now we aren’t consuming they are in panic mode. “Won’t somebody think of Wall St, the money must flow!”

It is indeed time to look around and take stock, and finally, just about everyone can. Time to take back the power they’ve stolen from us, individual action can work and does work.

This right here, right now is proof positive of why so little has happened on climate action in more than 30 years of being totally aware of it. Because these narcissistic parasites only care about money, not you, not me, not their own children or grandchildren, not any individual person. They are willing to throw anyone under the bus right now, hundreds of thousands, millions if needs be just to get this over with and resume business.

I don’t know if I could say I’m optimistic just yet, but I’m leaning that way. Time for the slumbering masses to wake up and shake off the deception they’ve been living in and take back control. Time for real democracy to do its job.

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