In light of the news that things are in actuality worse than we thought when it comes to the arctic sea ice melting – it’s melting much faster than computer models originally indicated – how do I keep my optimism and positive view that we’re not all doomed as doomed can be and that we can make enough of a difference to change the entire world and help save it?
Well for one thing I believe that one person really can make a difference no matter how big the obstacle. And if you don’t think a small individual can possibly matter, try getting to sleep some night when there’s a single mosquito in your tent.
But I’m no Pollyanna, and it’s not like I don’t get mad. There’s something that pisses me off in the newspaper, or on TV, or on-line pretty much every single day. Sometimes it’s blatant greenwashing by oil companies like Chevron trying to position themselves as green, alternative energy seekers while raking in record profits from $3 a gallon gasoline. Other times it’s car companies like Toyota joining the Big Three American car companies in cowardly fighting higher mileage standards – instead of leading the way with technology breakthroughs and alternative energy vehicles in response to our real needs. I don’t forget that it was these same companies who killed the electric car when California forced them to make some by doing everything possible to make sure it failed. Plenty of time it’s our government acting on behalf of the needs of business interests over the public interest.
But I don’t let my anger consume me on this issue, I use it to motivate myself to do more, to work harder, and to find new examples of things that are going right and improving. And I find those reasons to believe every day.
So my approach to the global warming issue is to take a positive view of what’s possible if enough of us who CAN make a difference do make a difference. And I’m encouraged and hopeful because I believe the smartest, most creative, most talented people are on board and working towards the same green goals.
I choose to believe that we can overcome the ultra-wealthy weasels in the oil and coal industries, the car industry and those historically entrenched special interest industries who worship profits, power and their own economic self-interests above all else on the planet. I believe because I’ve seen the impossible happen more than once when no hope seemed possible.
Once upon a time the cigarette industry seemed invincible. I saw that issue do a 180 in my lifetime. When I was a little kid, cancer was a death sentence for anyone who got it. Today I’ve got half a dozen friends who are cancer survivors and the odds just keep getting better with new treatments and cures. I’ve seen apartheid end in South Africa, the wall come down in Berlin and America’s children force an entire generation of parents to recycle. I know what’s possible.
And when it comes to what we’ve done to our planet, our environment, I know that when we try we can save ourselves. I’ve seen city garbage dumps turned into beautiful botanic gardens. I’ve seen polluted rivers and streams left for dead restored to wildlife sanctuaries now filled with birds and fish. And I’ve seen the thirst good people have to repair and revive wherever damage has been done.
One of the biggest reasons I have hope is because there’s money to be made in keeping the world green and cool. There is enormous economic opportunity and healthy competition. Current kings and queens will be dethroned and new royalty will be crowned, new fortunes will be made, new empires will be built. The threat of destruction upends the balance of power and makes great change possible.
When the choice is change or die, people are more willing to try something new. Funny how that works, isn’t it? But the advanced nature of global warming and just how close we are to the brink are both reasons I am optimistic for the future. The overwhelming facts and the dire scientific consensus bring us to a point of do or fry.
Finally, I see a better, greener, happier future in the cards for us because all of the most creative people are on the green side and creativity can always trump power and wealth. It was creative people who tipped the balance during the McCarthy era, during the civil rights era, during the Watergate years and every other time we found ourselves teetering on the abyss.
We’re not a people who do what we’re supposed to do. We’re a people who do what we HAVE to do. It takes us forever to get to the things on our national “to-do” list, but once we have no choice but to do them we take care of business. So that gives me confidence in our future too.
Finally there’s the obvious reason. Hope and optimism is really the only choice isn’t it? We have no other alternative if we don’t want to bury our heads in the sand and kiss our asses goodbye. Being positive and using our creativity to survive and continue to thrive is the only answer.
How much easier could it get?