Hope and Action for a more Sustainable Future

A rainbow over green fields

To quote Rebecca Solnit in her book Hope in the Dark: “Popular power has continued to be a profound force for change.

Each one of us can contribute to that force in some way. Solnit in her book compares the drive for change to a vast underground fungus that remains unseen till it rains and then suddenly the fruit of that fungus (mushrooms) erupts.

The fight against Climate Change could be thought of in this way. Many of the strands of that fungus, that desire for transformation, are already in place. These are continually created by scientists, artists, activists, committed businessmen and women, brave politicians, young people, writers and individuals. They are coming together in what will one day become a visible, unstoppable network of people worldwide, demanding a more viable life.

This will force our new world into being.

That force is not yet big enough: our democracies are weak; the power of the oil and gas companies and the greedy multinationals is strong. There are not yet sufficient people committed to work for change, and many are too isolated to be effective. But this will come, if we have hope, and we commit to doing our part.

Nevertheless, there are already large numbers of individuals, groups and organisations playing an amazing part in building this network of people power.

People Power needs Active Hope

In a recent blog on Active Hope, I wrote:

Years ago, an anthropologist called Margaret Mead said: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world, indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.

So, it can be done. However, Active Hope is not sitting back believing things are going to get better by themselves, or by waiting for other people to act. It is looking squarely at a situation like Climate Change, facing the pain of what we have created, recognizing how bad it is and realizing that we have left it very late to deal with the situation effectively. Then we must actively make a plan to bring into being the life we want to live and follow it through. We can do this: we just need to get on with it.

Like Margaret Mead I believe we can change our way of living, not only to tackle Climate Change, but to give birth to a just, sustainable world that works for the planet and all its inhabitants.

Examples of Activism

It is clear that often people and organisations agree with me and are out there fighting for this world. Knowing that this is the case can give us hope for that better future, and motivate us to become more involved in the fight.

Youth movements active across the world are providing hope for many.

An abundance of highly qualified activists includes one of my personal heroes, Antonio Guterres, Secretary General of the UN.

Outrage and Optimism, Activist Podcast.

New activist organisations are emerging all the time, for example: Just Stop Oil, Client Earth, Earth Justice, Action for the Climate Emergency and plenty more unseen and unsung heroes, working quietly in their communities: installing community renewable energy, composting local waste, banning plastics, growing organic food, becoming vegans, and keeping politicians on their toes.

Often these activists are working in very difficult or even dangerous circumstances. In some countries they are killed for their work. Even European countries are now bringing in laws that enable them to jail peaceful activists. These people certainly have my admiration and my thanks for working to save my grandchildren’s futures.

What we need now is a Climate Movement where all these organisations and individuals stand together and tell their governments ENOUGH!

We need change now. We don’t all need amazing courage, but we do all need to do something.

Another organisation working for change

The C40 Cities

A busy city

One of the main organisations that gives me a lot of hope that the change we need is possible is called the C40 Cities. This is a global network of mayors working to confront the climate crisis. There are now almost 100 major cities involved in this group. The cities operate together to share ideas, knowledge, and encouragement. They work across a wide range of areas including transportation, energy use, food systems and urban planning.

It is well worth having a look at what they do.

The group is also working towards building a movement towards sustainability. They have said, “We must shift to a new economic paradigm, focused on improving everyone’s quality of life, while living within environmental boundaries.”

In other words, they seek to build a Green New Deal that provides, not only a way to a better climate but social and economic justice. They are not perfect, but they are committed, and they are working together globally to improve the lives and opportunities of their citizens.

Some of these cities are working towards including citizen participation in their decision-making processes. Another success for people power.

Another type of adaption making a difference

Greening our Cities

Greenery in a city

As part of their urban planning the C40 Cities and others are working on greening their urban spaces. Since more than half of the world’s population now live in cities this can make a huge difference to large numbers of people. Planting trees and providing green spaces like parks can provide cooling and recreation for citizens. Obviously, as we found during the pandemic, it helps peoples’ mental health, reduces air pollution, and pulls carbon emissions out of the atmosphere.

The Guardian shows in this article that Paris, for example, has since the Council’s re-election in 2020, planted 38,500 new trees and plans to plant another 21,000 this winter. It is not simple to plant trees in a city, but the research shows it is very effective. The EU are working on producing regulations ensuring that at least 10% of all the surface areas of cities, towns and suburbs should be planted with trees by 2050.

Another interesting Guardian article makes the benefits (and challenges) of planting urban forests clear.

Official tree planting is more and more backed up by tree planting in communities and also in groups working to save trees that are threatened with felling.

What Can You Do to Build the Climate Movement we Need?

  • Believe your actions can help.
  • Get active.
  • Join a group that is doing something to make a difference.
  • Help fund an organisation that you feel is doing something useful.
  • Plant trees or work to save mature trees under threat.
  • Start working in your community on a project that is useful. Start small if it feels better.
  • Invite the neighbours in for coffee to talk about the situation and encourage them to be active.
  • Build a network of people you can talk to about becoming involved.
  • Protest if your government is doing crazy things like agreeing to open new coal mines or fracking.

(Photographs above are 1. by Stainless Images on Unsplash, 2. by James Ting on Unsplash, 3. by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash)

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