We humans may be screwed, but I’m still optimistic about Earth’s future.

Last week, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its sixth assessment report on the state of climate science. The latest news from the UN-sponsored body spoke of humanity’s “unequivocal” contribution to climate change. Media headlines followed with phrases like “code red,” “catastrophe,” “frightening,” and “hell,” paired with images of burning forests.

highlighting why i'm optimistic about earth's future despite these negative headlines.

Why should we be optimistic in the face of all this destruction?

Well, what is the point of living if you don’t believe in a hopeful future?

You are not guilty of existing. The Earth is more extensive than humans, and humanity is more immense than your thoughts and feelings. Bad actors made terrible choices before your birth; you can’t control that. You can only control your present choices!

Dig deeper → 3 min

Reason #1: The Earth is 4.5 billion years old.

Weird way to start this. Why does that matter? We are destroying native plants and wildlife that took millions of years to manifest in a matter of decades. Ok, let’s take a step back. That breaks my heart, but the Earth has survived.

  • at least five major ice ages
  • and five mass extinctions

Of all species that have existed on Earth, 99.9 percent are now extinct.

My point? We’re par for the course if we are in a climate emergency. We had an excellent 11,000-year run.

A cartoon drawing of geologic time as a butte, with the right hand side divided up by eons and periods, and the left-hand side showing fossils from those periods.
Artwork © Ray Troll, 2010.

Still convinced your shopping habits are saving the world? Check out this hilarious video on ‘saving the planet’ from George Carlin:

Reason #2: The Ozone layer recovered

Eurostat

There are countless headlines from the 1970s saying we’re all going to die because the Ozone layer is depleting. Maybe the predictions were accurate under the circumstances, but we won that fight.

The Ozone layer is no longer a headline you often see because CFC damage was reversed.

Reason #3: Electric vehicles are getting better

Ars Technica

Electric vehicles are far from perfect, but they are getting better.

Public transportation only accounts for 5% of travel for US commuters, making electric vehicle use a critical component of energy efficiency in the US.

We are headed in the right direction: every major automaker is allocating billions of dollars toward the R&D of better EVs.

Reason #4: Agriculture is getting better

Vertical farming is a highly efficient use of space for growing crops. It becomes especially helpful in urban cities with limited areas.

Regenerative agriculture is a hot topic that can help feed the world in the future by creating closed nutrient loops.

Reason #5: Energy is more efficient

As technology advances, wind & solar farms are becoming more efficient, with more robust ways to store energy.

Reason #6: Energy Costs are Lower

Wind & solar is cheaper than oil & gas; cost is no longer a decisive factor. It is now more about feasibility.

Reason #7: Younger generations prefer natural

Interest in climate issues is at an all-time high, according to this 2020 Yale survey.

According to this study, the vast majority of Gen Z shoppers prefer to buy from sustainable brands, and they are the most likely group to pay 10 percent more for sustainable products.

Young people of today are the leaders of tomorrow. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

Reason #8: Institutional interest is at an all-time high

Despite The Guardian’s claim that humanity is “guilty as hell” regarding climate issues, a 2017 report concluded that 100 corporations account for 70% of all carbon emissions.

To me, that sounds like 100 companies are guilty, not humanity.

Still, President Biden felt compelled to tweet, “we can’t wait to tackle the climate crisis. Can’t I wait? What am I supposed to do to make better consumer choices? I’m already doing that. Should I vote? Aren’t you the president?

But corporations have demonstrated unprecedented interest in driving down carbon emissions, improving energy efficiency, and seeking sustainable alternatives to existing practices, whatever the motive.

Reason #9: Why not be optimistic about Earth’s future?

A life of blind optimism is not the best way to live. But neither is unrelenting pessimism. If we’re all going to burn alive anyway, is that the life you want to live? If you think we can turn this around, why not be optimistic about it. And as we discovered, there is reason to be hopeful.

Cities only cover 3% of the Earth’s land surface! So much of the Earth remains relatively untouched by the urban sprawl. The age of industrial ignorance is over. There is a renewed passion for preserving nature. Many of these landscapes will remain unchanged in my lifetime. That makes me optimistic about Earth’s future.

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