Is it possible to be climate optimistic?

A recent Guardian analysis shows “human-caused global heating is driving more frequent and deadly disaster across the planet [… ] people across the world are losing their lives and livelihoods due to more deadly and more frequent heatwaves, floods, wildfires and droughts brought by the climate crisis”.

A painful standpoint which is necessary to turn attention on causes and solutions related to this emergency. A feeling that is well explained by Warsan Shire in her lacerating poetic:

later that night
i held an atlas in my lap
ran my fingers across the whole world
and whispered
where does it hurt?

it answered

Nevertheless, humanity needs to have hope. Awareness and behaviour campaigns can enable people to get more conscious and act wisely. Is it possible to be climate optimistic? A New York Times survey presents the genuine progress that has been made in slowing climate change in recent years: “The need for a sweeping solution can make the problem feel too big and individuals too small, again feeding into despair”.

It is true that we are far away from declaring a victory, and projections suggest a difficult scenario. It is also valid that experts tell us that individuals could still make a difference, by working together with a collective approach.

What can we say? Environmental communication has a crucial role in getting a message across, combining information with behavioural perceptions. suggests making a clear point, hitting the correct tone (according to the audience), and taking advantage of all the visual tools we get in today’s digitalized world.

Learning how to communicate is really important if we want to handle crisis by spreading a pro-active attitude. An interesting approach is the one carried on by Cool Earth, an organization that exists “to champion the relationship between people, rainforest and climate”. They fund projects carried out by indigenous peoples and local communities, aiming to create choice, tackle the root causes of deforestation and protect vital carbon sinks.

Cool Earth therefore decided to start a campaign, called “100 Reasons to Be Climate Optimistic”, collecting stories of resilience and creativity – “the stuff that fuels climate action”. All the successes and challenges are collected in their annual reports, where they measure their impacts in terms of people-empowerment, tonnes of carbon stored, and ability to adapt to unexpected situations.

In conclusion, change is possible and climate optimism is a wave that should be surfed. Eventualy, all the perspectives come in handy to boost improvements, making the present and the future of the planet less frightening.