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Message of climate hope

one of the world’s most influential climate advocates, Christiana Figueres, the architect of the Paris Agreement (as head of the UN climate change convention), is defined by her optimism. It is her superpower.

“So, for me, optimism is not simply the result of having attained something. It is rather a strategy, the input, the approach with which we must face climate change because it is the only way to enhance the probability of success.”

It’s an arresting thought – the only way to succeed, or merely survive, is to hope. Not a passive hope, but a hungry and angry hope, one that will force us to act.

Christiana Figueres’s superpower could save the planet,  https://www.smh.com.au/national/christiana-figueres-s-superpower-could-save-the-planet-20200313-p549q7.html  Julia Baird, Journalist, broadcaster, historian and author, March 14, 2020 Optimism seems like sheer folly in many ways, especially today. The optimism of political leaders too often is deceptive and self-serving, more rooted in denial and ignorance than hope as they choke on smoke: “Climate change? Nothing to see here! Just the same old cataclysmic events as ever!” How can we be optimistic about a future in a world of flaming coastlines, disappearing species, smoke-dense CBDs, shelves emptied of basics like toilet paper and looming global recession?
Now we are all trying to wrap our heads around the potentially enormous impacts of the coronavirus pandemic; every day we sit an inch higher, meerkats scanning the news, on high alert, high adrenalin, ready to dive into our burrows at a moment’s notice.The bushfires snapped fingers in the faces of millions around the world, alerting those of us who weren’t aware to the real, catastrophic impacts of climate change – both today and in the future – and stirred many to argue for immediate action.
Then, too quickly, came the challenge and fear of a global pandemic. Calm is crucial, shutdowns widespread, recessions lie ahead. But beyond this threat, we cannot forget the need to secure the future of the planet.

No wonder people are overwhelmed about the future of the planet, feel helpless, overcome with grief and worried nothing is being done, that nothing can be done, that it’s all too late. Our children are having nightmares, wracked with a sense of loss before they full possessed anything. The term “eco-anxiety” was defined by the American Psychological Society as “”a chronic fear of environmental doom” in a 2017 report which cited evidence of people “deeply affected by feelings of loss, helplessness, and frustration due to their inability to feel like they are making a difference in stopping climate change”.

If you search for eco-anxiety online, the first question to pop up is: “How do I stop eco-anxiety?” Then comes “how to ease anxiety about  climate change” and “how to feel better about climate change”.
Which is why it is so striking that one of the world’s most influential climate advocates, Christiana Figueres, the architect of the Paris Agreement (as head of the UN climate change convention), is defined by her optimism. It is her superpower. It is the source not just of her mental endurance but her professional success. When she was three, she was dubbed a “stubborn optimist” and since then she has insisted we are capable of more than we believe. Together, on a global level. Despite all our failure to act. Despite the US pulling out of the Paris Agreement. Despite the distracting and destructive politicisation of climate policy, and despite the disregard of many leaders for what scientists have been telling us for decades. I really want to believe her.
The formidable Figueres, a Costa Rican citizen, and executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change from 2010-2016, is a founder of the Global Optimism group which “exists to precipitate a transformation from pessimism to optimism as a method of creating social and environmental change”. What a task! She and her former advisor Tom Rivett-Carnac (who was previously a Buddhist monk) have written a book titled The Future We Choose: Surviving the Climate Crisis.
They also co-host a podcast called Outrage and Optimism, the title of which summarises her approach: anger must be used to galvanise people, reminding them that fear and upset should not quench positivity but stir them to act. In short, life will be better if we act decisively, and definitively and without fear.

What climate activists have failed to do, she says is to capture people’s imaginations with a vision of what a new world could be like: “What I think we have been lacking is to be able to paint the picture to really build out in people’s imagination what is an economy like Australia going to be like 10, 15 years from now when it has moved over to renewables? What does it mean for the quality of cities? What does it mean for the quality of agriculture? What does it mean for the Great Barrier Reef? What does it mean for camping in the bush safely without having to worry about … fires? It is a much, much healthier, longer term, stable economy that we can definitely build, and must be built. But we haven’t painted that picture very well. Hence, if you do not have a visual destination of the positive world that you want to construct, it’s very difficult for people to gravitate there.”

So we must dream.

“Obviously, the doom and gloom makes us concerned, helpless, hopeless, despair, grief, all that family of sentiments that are important because we have to understand what is out there,” she said. “But we have not been able to point to the fact that actually now in this decade we are in the most consequential decade of the history of humankinds. Because over the next 10 years we will decide whether we are at one half the global emissions in order to be able to move on to much, much better healthier, safer more stable world. That is going to be determined over the next 10 years. And Australia has to be part of that transformation.”

Figueres was troubled, though, that when she met Greta Thunberg she understandably struggled to infuse her with optimism. To those Australians who share Thunberg’s despair, she said that she too shares the pain and anguish of those troubled about the earth, particularly the hellish, devouring bushfires, but argued that we need to use that emotion as a fuel for determination and resolve: “I believe very firmly,” she said, “that we cannot stay in the pain and the grief and the despair as our ultimate destination of the journey. We have to be able to face that reality without denying it, whatsoever, understand it, and in a martial arts way turn the energy that comes out of that pain and that grief into a firm commitment, a resolute, gritty determination, to actually do what it takes to protect nature and to protect human life, because if we do not approach this with a firm resolve, we will lose it.

“So, for me, optimism is not simply the result of having attained something. It is rather a strategy, the input, the approach with which we must face climate change because it is the only way to enhance the probability of success.”

It’s an arresting thought – the only way to succeed, or merely survive, is to hope. Not a passive hope, but a hungry and angry hope, one that will force us to act. We can’t afford to sink into despair. We can afford, in the way of the martial arts, to wrestle our anxiety into force and strength. In sickness and in health. “It is what we do now,” says Figueres, “that counts.”

March 14, 2020 - Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change

1 Comment »

  1. […] one of the world’s most influential climate advocates, Christiana Figueres, the architect of the Paris Agreement (as head of the UN climate change convention), is defined by her optimism. It is her superpower. “So, for me, optimism is not simply the result of having attained something. It is rather a strategy, the input, the approach […] Source: nuclear-news […]

    Pingback by Message of climate hope - Pure Newswire | March 14, 2020 | Reply


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