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ASK EARTHA: Is there any positive climate change news going into 2020?

 In Ask Eartha

Dear Eartha, It’s hard to get in the holiday spirit when climate change has got me feeling like a grinch. Do you have any good news to help me go into the New Year with a merrier outlook?

Whatever your tradition, the holidays are about hope – hope for the New Year, hope for long nights giving way to more sunlight, and hope for the coming of spring. Yet despite the colors, lights, and bustle of this festive season, it’s easy to feel depressed about the future of our planet, especially when stories of climate crisis and inaction are published seemingly every day.

So, to fight off the malaise, here are some stories to remind us all that there is hope in the environmental movement. And, everyday people like you and me are hard at work for a healthier, cleaner, and more sustainable planet.

Reasons to be hopeful

We have momentum. Everywhere, public support for climate action is growing. This past September, over four million people in thousands of communities across the world participated in the Global Climate Strike, making it the largest climate rally ever. Greta Thunberg, the 16-year old Swede whose individual school strikes have inspired global activism, is Time’s person of the year.

In the U.S., research from the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication shows that nearly 70 percent of Americans believe that climate change is happening, and 60 percent of us are worried about it. Even more encouraging, over 80 percent of our fellow citizens support funding into renewable energy resources, and over 70 percent believe carbon dioxide should be regulated as a pollutant. I could go on. What’s amazing is that these numbers clearly show that climate action and environmental protection have broader appeal than partisan bickering would have us believe.

We have growing political support. Speaking of politics, climate action is gaining traction across the country. Dozens of U.S. states, cities, and businesses have joined America’s Pledge, a coalition committed to meeting the goals of the United Nations’ Paris Agreement. These entities represent nearly half of the U.S. population. 

If all the members could form their own country, they’d be the third largest economy in the world. So even though they are non-federal actors – and even though the U.S. is in the process of leaving the Paris Agreement – their contributions alone could reduce greenhouse gas emissions 37 percent by 2030, which is pretty significant.

Meanwhile, there are new bipartisan climate groups in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate. And, a number of bipartisan bills aimed at decreasing emissions were introduced in Congress this year. Locally, Colorado has a goal to be powered by 100 percent renewable electricity by 2040, and we’ve enacted policies to increase the availability and affordability of electric cars.

In Summit County, all our municipalities as well as several large businesses and organizations have adopted the Summit Community Climate Action Plan. Setting emissions reduction goals in line with the Paris Agreement, we are working to reverse climate change by starting at home. You can help push for more climate action in your town by letting your council know that you support their climate initiatives.

Renewable power sourcesWe have the solutions. Climate change is a daunting challenge to face. But the good news is we already have the solutions to reverse it. From making our buildings more efficient to electrifying transportation, switching from natural gas to electricity, and powering the grid with renewable energy, we have the technology to drastically cut emissions.

Some of the solutions are things you can do at home – composting your food waste, making your home more energy efficient, and changing up your transportation routine. As I’ve already mentioned, your voice is a powerful way to advocate for more action at the local, state, and federal levels – so use it.

Putting hope into action

Hope without action won’t get us very far. What we need is active hope. Joanna Macy – author, teacher, and environmental activist – explains that active hope “involves identifying the outcomes we hope for and then playing an active role in bringing them about. We don’t wait until we are sure of success. We don’t limit our choices to the outcomes that seem likely. Instead, we focus on what we truly, deeply long for, and then we proceed to take determined steps in that direction.”

You know that saying, “it’s always darkest before the dawn”? As we approach the darkest day of the year, consider what you’d like the future of our planet to look like. Then think about how we get there and how you can help. And then get to work, letting your actions usher in the New Year and brighter days ahead.

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