Dear Eartha, headlines about the declining Colorado River, and extreme weather being a ‘new normal’ makes me wonder what difference it actually makes to change our lifestyles. Aren’t we all just doomed anyway?
Believe me, it’s easy to feel helpless and unmoored when contemplating a future with less water and a growing number of billion-dollar weather and climate disasters across the country. Humans are hardwired to fixate on bad news, and it’s not advantageous that most of our news seems bad. News headlines of sudden disasters are more compelling and capture our attention better than slow improvements. Even if we are not reading the top headlines, our brains can still play into the cycle of despair through social media, otherwise known as doomscrolling.
But, climate doomism, the notion that it’s too late to turn things around, is just as effective at creating inaction as climate change denial, which preserves a status quo reliant on fossil fuels and consumerism. So, instead of sinking further into a climate doom spiral, let’s briefly switch the narrative to climate optimism. Climate optimism isn’t about ignoring the scientists who are screaming red alert, or denying that we still need to make a lot of bold change (we still need to limit global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius and work hard to keep the 1.5 Celsius target). It’s about the understanding that we are making progress and have the knowledge and tools to prevent the worst-case scenarios. There are plenty of encouraging climate optimistic headlines we might have missed in 2022, so let’s reflect on a few to help boost our mood heading into 2023.
Hot (and cool) Headlines
This first headline you’ve probably seen, but it’s a big deal for the planet. President Joe Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act. The U.S. is the second-largest polluting country in the world after China, generating almost 14% of global emissions — yikes! Getting the U.S. to invest in ambitious climate solutions is an impact to be optimistic about. This act devotes $369 billion to climate and clean energy investments. This means that we now have the funds to implement the solutions we already have available to fight climate change.
So, what can we do? Check out the Consumer’s Guide to the New Climate Law to learn more about what climate solutions you can tap into, and the Rewiring America IRA calculator will help you calculate your potential savings. Who doesn’t want to help save the planet while also saving money?
Other good global news? Brazil’s new president promised to save the Amazon by committing to prevent deforestation with neighboring countries.
Electric vehicle sales are on the rise, but one headline from 2022 really made EVs look like the hero. A man in Florida used his EV to power his home during Hurricane Ian. His family used the truck to power their electric stove, fridge, lights, and entertainment for two days and only used about 10% of the truck’s power per day. Talk about a powerful truck. Around the same time, Puerto Rico was experiencing disastrous effects of Hurricane Fiona, resulting in power blackouts for millions of residents. But a growing number of residents who had installed solar panels and battery storage for their homes kept the lights on throughout the hurricane.
While it’s easy to look at these headlines and ponder their broader impact, it’s important to remember that every action we take as individuals keeps us moving towards our larger goals. Combat your climate doomism by building a strong social and supportive network of local advocates. Gathering a network of those who support conservation helps us to remind ourselves we are not alone in our climate anxiety and not alone in our journey to protect the planet. There are plenty of opportunities here in Summit County. Maybe you’ll join the growing network of individuals going solar, through the Solarize Summit program or you’ll become a zero waste warrior by composting your food scraps at home through HC3’s free food scrap program. No matter what you decide, there are plenty of local opportunities to help you connect with like-minded individuals taking action and making progress toward our bigger picture goals. Sarah Jaquette Ray, the chair of environmental studies at California State Polytechnic University, Humboldt said it best, “If the problem is so big and we’re so small, which is what the doom narrative is telling us, then we need to make the problem smaller and us bigger.”