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An optimistic outlook on climate change this Earth Day

We don’t need more alarm bells to solve our society’s toughest challenges — we need hope and solutions. Many of us have seen the intimidating, and at times overwhelming, predictions of the latest IPCC report. We’ve heard the very real warnings from scientists, starting as early as the 1950s that remain very much in the climate conversation today. The climate crisis, while as scary as it is portrayed by some, isn’t a hopeless problem. There are wins to celebrate and opportunities to collaborate, build power and think creatively to mitigate the impacts of climate change to preserve the future of our planet. 

Social science shows that instilling hope is one of the most powerful ways to build trust — and stronger trust is essential for solving collective problems like climate change. By nurturing a sense of hope — the idea that organizations and their people and supporters can create positive change — environmental justice and climate action organizations can more effectively mobilize action. 

When people see tangible demonstrations that organizations and individuals raising their voices can influence policymakers, decisionmakers, industries and systems that impact large-scale climate action, it helps motivate people to get involved and stay engaged over the long term. 

As climate denialism continues to creep into factions of our society, it becomes vital for organizations to maintain trust. Deep hope and trust that these organizations are making an impact is integral in capitalizing on momentum that the climate justice movement has seen in recent years and in continuing to motivate members of our society to act. 

Organizations like Climate Advocacy Lab and The All We Can Save Project focus on the power of communities and the impact that collective action can bring. For example, the All We Can Save (AWCS) Project takes a solutions-oriented approach, highlighting the importance and potential of nurturing leadership to sustain growing and deep climate engagement. Its work hinges on the reality that it will take all of us, but if all of us are committed to bring real change, climate healing is possible. AWCS Project supports its members through creating community and space to break free of climate grief and find the motivation for action. 

Environmental groups like Earthjustice and Fossil Free California, communicate and celebrate their climate wins. They are helping to shift the narrative from “humans will destroy the planet” to “humans will save the planet.” They communicate and celebrate the environmental wins and the impact on the communities they serve. From Earthjustice’s aid in enacting the Clean Air Act to Fossil Free California’s success in passing not one, but two laws requiring divestment from fossil fuels, organizations are committed to spotlighting progress toward a healed Earth and the importance of holding those in power accountable. By sharing climate wins and proving their competency to do what they say they will, we are better able to rally behind their momentum and maintain the hope that we can make a huge impact together.

Organizations can also build trust by practicing inclusivity in their work. We need to trust that those working toward solutions will bring the voices of diverse communities, especially those most impacted by climate change, into the fold. It is important that organizations create authentic participation opportunities for their communities. It is not enough to rely on the expertise of the previous movers and shakers of the environmental justice movement — we need to shift power and inspire a new wave of people to take action. 

The environmental movement needs urgent, collective action, with trusted organizations and leaders, scientists and activists driving this work forward with calls to action. Inspiring this kind of action relies on the presence of optimism and belief that we have the ability to create change. When our efforts are working, then climate change is no longer a deluge of doom and gloom, but a global problem that we can, and more importantly, will tackle. 

The future we want to see is in front of us. This year we have a lot to be hopeful for:

  • Almost 200 countries agreed to accelerate the transition away from fossil fuels at COP28 this past December. 
  • Recent reports from the International Energy Agency suggest that emissions may have peaked in 2023.
  • We have the technology needed to replace fossil fuels and are continuously developing new ways to implement and scale this innovation technology. From electric cars, wind, solar and hydro power to reforestation efforts and creative urban strategies, there is a lot to be optimistic about. 
  • The world’s biggest CO2 emitters are set to decline their emissions starting in 2024. 
  • Activists are still on the frontlines, from Chile to South Korea, fighting for climate action from policymakers. 
  • Climate policy remains on the political agenda across the world. 

So let’s be hopeful this Earth Day. Let’s dust off the smog of climate grief and work together to help our planet, our ecosystems and our neighbors from around the globe. We are one society with one Earth — and we can and will be its stewards. 

To learn more ways to build trust, check out our recent guide, “Replenishing Trust: Civil Society’s Guide for Reversing the Trust Deficit.”

This entry was posted on Monday, April 22, 2024 at 13:40 pm and is filed under Trust. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.