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

This is the beginning of a crucial decade in human history. And while it certainly doesn’t start as 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 has never been more important to focus on the threat of climate change. While bad actors do their job damn to ramp up pollution, there also is a unprecedented opportunity to transform the whole economic system.

And as it so happens, a recent book provides a clear blueprint for how to do it. The future we choose was published late last month and includes insights from Christiana Figueres, the climate negotiator who helped lead the Paris Agreement, and Tom Rivett-Carnac, her senior advisor and partner on a new project called Global Optimism. They explain some of the action layers we need to take and how they come together in the video above.

And I must say, as a crunchy and cynical climate journalist (actually the industry’s most crusty and cynical combo you can imagine), the book really brightened me up. Because look, there is a lot of terrible news on the climate front. But wallowing in it because some people (me) occasionally tend to do that doesn’t make you a realist yet. It makes you (me) an idiot. The future we choose sets out concrete steps the world can take to tackle the climate crisis. But instead of obscuring the crux of the matter, the book delves right into how you (or again, me) can get involved in promoting the necessary structural changes.

Too often, climate change has been designed in such a way that individual actions seem trivial in light of structural change. But the reality is that the system cannot change if individuals don’t insist. A canoe left to its own devices will drift down a river in the current, but it’s only a matter of time until it capsizes and throws you overboard. That is, if you don’t take the straps.

Figueres and Rivett-Carnac talk about how to harness the power of consumer choice while avoiding being a ‘consumer’ rather than a ‘citizen’ (that would be action number 4) and how we can help reforest planet and straightening our relationship with nature (action number 6).

They also emphasize three ways of thinking about how you can be part of the change. The one that stuck with me the most is one to be a stubborn optimist, a mindset that recognizes that things are still going sideways for the climate and society, but it’s no excuse to give up trying to prevent that.

“You have to believe you have the resources or at least you can rely on the people around you to help you achieve something that seems very, very difficult for you to do on your own,” Figueres told Earther. “That’s the kind of grim, determined optimism we need to tackle climate change in a timely manner.”

In fact, the book is part self-help, part how to save the planet. And in our present times, frankly, that’s exactly what we need. We just have to make the choice to get started.

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