Cautiously Optimistic

By Grant Brown, Founder, Happy Eco News

Maybe I am an optimist, but as we head into the last quarter of 2021, I actually feel a sense of hope. To be clear, I don’t really self-identify as an optimist. In fact, the reason I started Happy Eco News was to counteract my anxiety about the damage we were inflicting upon the environment. Happy Eco News certainly helps my mood, but as the regular news swirls around me, I can get down just like anyone else. It ain’t easy being green.

But the truth is, everywhere I look right now, I see signs of positive change.

In Canada, First Nations people are finally putting their collective foot down with regard to the use of their lands and waters. In the USA, a green new deal will employ millions of people in quality jobs and invest heavily in green technologies and renewable energy. The UK is rewilding large tracts of lands, complete with wild cats and beavers. The EU is pushing huge sustainability programs with their own European Green Deal to ensure they build back better (cleaner) in a post-covid world. China is ever-present with its downward pressure on the cost of solar and commitment to a clean energy future.

A gratuitous beautiful BC landscape photo. If you enlarge it and look carefully, you can see a coho salmon jumping. Image: Grant Brown

Beyond the commitments of countries, I am also now hearing good things from acquaintances and other businesspeople. They speak of seriously investing in sustainability both on a personal finance level and with their businesses. They are investing in and developing programs that help do the right thing for the planet because they can finally see that to wait any longer means to get left behind. They now are paying real attention and putting real resources into diversity programs that have real teeth. Just like a pebble in a pond, the rings spread outward: education is stepping up to support corporate sustainability. New educational programs are being offered to students and businesses, both in person in alternative learning formats such as online. Some, are made up programs to fill the present and significant demand, others are thoughtfully being put forward by esteemed educational institutions such as Cambridge University and others. Smart CEOs of corporations of all sizes are starting to do the right thing, while their fossil fuel counterparts are being admonished by smart young people on the world stage. They now helplessly watch their blue-chip status be eroded constantly. As I type these words I feel deep emotion to think of these bright young people stepping up and demanding to be heard, calling bullsh*t when they hear it. Finally, it seems the greenwashing by some dirty players is being outpaced by the real actions of a vast majority of others.

This is the paradigm shift we need as a collective whole to ensure we don’t blow past 1.5C. Finally, we are close to making the big changes that historians will study, opine, and teach classes about. Finally, if we are lucky, we who live today will see the end of the age of carbon and will enter the post-carbon economy stronger and better off.

As of today, we are only 2 weeks from COP26, an event that appears as though it will become known as a pivotal moment in human history. A moment that will bring us all together to collectively beat the biggest threat to humanity in our history. It is a moment that will define us either as willing to change for our children’s future or as selfish fools who blew past the “bridge out” sign at 100 while checking our phones.

I for one hope we put the phone down and pay attention to the signs, and judging by what I see around me, I think we will.

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