If the climate news hasn’t scared you, then you haven’t been paying attention. We’re watching the brutal reality of what scientists predicted would happen play out across the planet, in some cases at the furthest extremes, and it’s terrifying. “I told you so” is small comfort when confronted with so much bad news.
However, now more than ever, it’s crucial to resist the allure of despair. The narrative of climate doom, while grounded in harsh reality, leads to inaction. As Rebecca Solnit points out, this narrative is a strange mix of confidence and defeatism: confidence in positions that are increasingly based on outdated information, and defeatism about our ability to shape a liveable future.
Renewable energy is scaling exponentially and getting more efficient and cost-effective every year. Vested interests are doing everything in their power to obstruct its progress, but the ledge they’re standing on gets narrower by the month.
In the face of all of this, you’re allowed to be heartbroken and hopeful. Hope, not as a naive belief in a rosy future, but as a commitment to search for possibilities. In that spirit, we’re going to kick things off this week with all the climate stories you didn’t see in the news. There are tens of millions of people working to solve this thing now. Don’t forget that.
Humankind is experiencing dramatic improvements in well-being. HumanProgress.org will show you the evidence.
HumanProgress.org bridges the gap between mistaken perceptions and reality.
Empirical evidence from around the world shows dramatic improvements in human well-being. Yet the speed and extent of human progress is often underestimated, unacknowledged, or even disregarded. HumanProgress.org aims to become a valuable resource for the public, students, journalists and researchers. It allows users to compare many indicators of human well-being; to calculate absolute and relative changes over selected periods of time; to export the underlying data; and to create and export graphics.
If a bus were hurtling towards a child in the middle of the road, no one nearby would take merely one step to get that child out of the way. They would rush, at speeds previously unbeknownst to them, using every muscle in their body, to get that child to safety.
On the climate crisis, a bus is careering toward us and we have still not flexed all our muscle power to get ourselves or future generations to safety.
Emissions continue to rise. The loss and damage is devastating. Trust has been breached. The resulting frustration, anger and incredulity at the pace of progress is warranted. As activists of all stripes remind us constantly, we need systems change, not climate change. And they are absolutely right.
At the same time we should understand our double predicament. First, we are actually in the midst of a systems change, and it is precisely the systemic nature of the change that slows the pace for now – until we hit positive tipping points. If we only had to transform one sector, or move one country off fossil fuels, we would have done so long ago. But that is not what it takes. All sectors of the global economy have to be decarbonised, even the hard-to-abate ones, and all countries must switch to clean technologies, especially those that have depended on exporting or importing fossil fuels for decades. It is a deliberate metamorphosis that is more complex and far reaching than any transformation we have ever attempted.
Second, just as the transition gathers pace moving from gradual to exponential, the window within which we need to achieve it constantly shrinks. The speed of change foreseen in Paris in 2015 has been superseded by improved scientific understanding and the shocking escalation of impacts being felt by the most vulnerable. We now know that we must halve global emissions no later than 2030. It is as though the bus suddenly accelerated as we were approaching the child.
And yet none of the above can keep us from doing what needs to be done – the consequences are simply too dire.
There’s been so much loss, grief and heartbreak in 2020 that it feels almost wrong to be compiling our traditional annual list of good news. Things can and do fall apart, and this year it felt like they really did. Amazing as it may seem however, there were also big wins for conservation, living standards, peace, safety and human rights, clean energy, and yes, even global health. The reason you didn’t hear about them is because good news doesn’t sell advertisements or generate clicks, and that was more true in 2020 than ever before.
16. Attitudes in China towards the eating of wild animals changed drastically in 2020. Up to 90% of the public now supports strict bans on the trade and consumption of wildlife, and more than 15,000 people were prosecuted for wildlife crimes this year, a 66% increase from 2019. China also removed dogs from the list of animals that can be treated as livestock, signalling the beginning of the end of the sale of live dogs for food and fur across the country.
35. The WHO revealed that malaria deaths have reached the lowest level ever recorded, a drop of almost 60% in the last two decades. Take a moment to let this sink in: between 2000 and 2019, 1.5 billion malaria cases and 7.6 million malaria deaths were averted globally.
Peace, Safety & Human Rights
44. A new report by the Global Peace Index showed that since 2007, the majority of the world’s countries – 113 countries – have reduced their armed forces, 100 have reduced military expenditure and both imports and exports of weapons have reached their lowest levels since 2009.
74. The IEA’s annual report contained a hidden nugget of very, very good news this year. The number of people without access to electricity dropped from 860 million to 770 million, a new record low. Africa has made particularly good progress; the number of people gaining access to electricity doubled from 9 million a year in 2013, to 20 million a year by 2019.
82. 2020 saw an unprecedented acceleration in national climate pledges. South Korea became the first Asian country to set a 2050 net zero emissions goal, followed by Japan, and then most importantly, China, which committed to net zero by 2060 – perhaps the single most important development in climate policy since the Paris Agreement.
Read the article at Future Crunch:
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WeRiseUP is a culture shifting documentary seeking to re-write the success narrative and hack the success code. Our current model of success is destroying the planet and driving billions of people to unfulfilled lives. At the same time a new model of success, Success 3.0 is emerging from around the world. Success 3.0, is giving rise to businesses that do good – and do well as a part of their DNA. With Success 3.0 people are Rising UP to radically fulfilled, purpose driven lives.
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For the last 12 months, the global media has been focused on a lot of bad news. But there were other things happening out there too: conservation successes, huge wins for global health, more peace and tolerance, less war and violence, rising living standards, some big clean energy milestones, and a quiet turning of the tide in the fight against plastic. Stories of human progress, that didn’t make it into the evening broadcasts, or onto your social media feeds.