With everything that is going on in the world, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, disempowered and resigned to a hopeless future. The media is ripe with stories of ecological disaster, scientists are warning us that we’re about to miss our climate targets and parts of the world are literally on fire. But if everyone defaulted to a pessimistic view, it would only serve to guarantee that the story ends on a negative note.

And for those of you that want to help restore our environment, burnout is a surefire way to ensure those efforts go up in smoke. Because a defeated activist won’t act on anything, and that counters the whole purpose of your purpose.

Plus, research has shown that optimism (cautiously grounded in realism) can increase your efficacy, resourcefulness and wellbeing. And who wouldn’t want that?

So instead, I invite you to take a beat and reflect on some of the reasons why you should remain optimistic about the future, to shift your mindset and recharge your spirits.

Technology is transforming our world for the better

The times, they are a changing. I can remember being taken to an auto show in the U.S. way back in 1993. As a kid, I was mesmerised by all the wacky and wildly futuristic machines that I saw, like folding and portable vehicles that were a fraction of the size of cars of the time. Most of it looked like something out of The Jetsons – and I could have sworn there was even a car that fit into a briefcase.

One of the stage exhibits spoke dreamily about how the cars of tomorrow wouldn’t run on gasoline, but rather, would be powered by “energy from the sun” and other sources of “alternative fuel”. The narrator also added that this was likely to occur sometime in the next century. Whilst technically true, they were much more bullish on people wearing a large glass dome whilst strapped into jet-fuelled roller-ski’s (the best way I can describe what I saw!) than what would become electric vehicles.

Fast forward thirty years and electric cars are not only a thing, but they are quickly becoming commonplace in many parts of the world.

Fast forward thirty years and electric cars are not only a thing, but they are quickly becoming commonplace in many parts of the world. And Toyota, one of the original automakers in that space, have just released an updated take on their legendary Prius. Their new car is not only an electric hybrid, but it also contains a solar panel on the roof. And with printable panels just around the corner, expect to see even more mass-market solar-powered devices in the near future.

What was once a far-off dream, has now become a reality. Following that logic, can you imagine where we will be in another three decades? Think of something that seems totally far-fetched, like the notion of using computer systems to analyse, learn, predict and thus prevent ecological disasters. Oh wait, that’s here too.

The new kids on the block are hip to climate change

This one’s a 2-in-1. First, there’s huge demographic transition that is occurring in real-time. Older generations, who were blessed with the innocence of not being made aware of the impact of their post-industrial revolution lifestyles are bearing witness to the rise of a new cohort of young people who can’t help but be plugged into the world around them. They have been born into a world that has come pre-populated with decades of environmental studies, global rallies against big-time polluters and scientists that are urging us to make a change… or face existential outcomes. The only way you can be ignorant these days is through wilfulness.

True, there is an equal (or some way say greater) distraction in the form of digital devices, which are always on, connected and asking for your attention. But even that is an opportunity that your parents (and grandparents) never had – the possibility of connecting with billions of people through a portable media device that is on them at all times. And even if you reach a fraction of the masses, those numbers, and that engagement, is countless times greater than the shrinking population who are consuming old, static and (unfortunately) dwindling forms of media, like print and radio. The environmental revolution will be televised… or streamed.

And if you are reading this right now, then count yourself as part of the new generation of changemakers who care about the future of the planet and are seeking to affect a positive impact. Turn onto your favourite social media platforms, and you’ll find climate activists and influencers pushing for change. Search the web (ecologically), and you can come across entire websites (just like A Modern Remedy) dedicated to these topics. There are caring and supportive individuals, groups and organisations in every corner of this beautiful planet, just waiting to be connected with.

Four people hugging in a field as the sun sets.
The sun is dawning on a new generation of climate activists. Image: Dim Hou/Unsplash

Education is everywhere, thanks to Mother Nature

And I don’t just mean in schools. More people than ever, just like you, are talking about the environment, and that’s good in both the short and long-term. See, part of the reason that people are becoming more informed about climate change, is due to the fact that we are increasingly feeling the impact of it.

The short-term impact, or rather, discomfort, of rising temperatures is being felt on a global scale.

The last few years have seen a huge uptick in the number of climate events occuring all around the world, with “once in a hundred year” floods, droughts and wildfires happening in successive years. Needless to say, people are waking up to the fact that things are not quite right in the world. The short-term impact, or rather, discomfort, of rising temperatures is being felt on a global scale.

Then there’s the longer-term focus – the organisations and individuals that are continuing to drive change long after these seasons of suffering have gone by. Governments too are starting to pay attention to our changing climate and are enacting policies to curb, limit or reverse decades of industrial damage, for risk of seeing their respective economies crumble. More and more we are witnessing them come to the party during international summits and working together to chart a path out of our current climate crisis.

Money talks (and the bullshit has walked)

Climate costs are real, but it’s also a big business to be in. As gross as that sounds, financial incentives are a huge part of the equation for any successful venture, environmental or otherwise. If people can make, or lose, money on something, then they are more likely to care about it. Why? Well, we have to return to that short-term vs long-term discussion to unpack the bizarre motivation at play. Even though the planet is in jeopardy, people are more focused on their daily lives and their own personal security first and foremost. Seemingly, most of us are not being able to get out of the lower levels of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, bouncing between physiological and safety concerns as our primary concern. Securing our resources is of the utmost importance.

This begins to make more sense (and cents) when we consider money as a resource. Money provides access to food, unlocks shelter and so on. And as we are hardwired to default to short-term needs, cash is often the primary motivator, it’s how we get everything else we want and need. Think of it like someone worried about what’s in the pantry whilst their house is on fire.

Yet, the more savvy players have begun appealing to businesses and consumers who may otherwise not care about our shared planetary home, but proving that sustainability is not only vital, but profitable as well. Venture Capitalists are going all in on climate tech too, backing innovative startups and solutions that are poised to disrupt incumbent and highly pollutive industries. Research is also showing that there is strong and growing interest in sustainable goods, illustrating the growing desire among consumers to make better purchasing choices. Sustainability is becoming sexy again.

And companies can no claim ignorance or hide behind faux-concern for the environment either, with consumers waking up to these attempts to be fooled. They’ve even given that failing trend a name, “green washing“, and it’s something that more people are seeing through each day, forcing companies to take a real interest for the planet on which they peddle their wares. Not only that, but regulatory bodies and consumer watchdogs are beginning to crack down on offending companies as more governments make the link between these misleading marketing claims and how they will endanger net zero climate goals.

We’ve still got work to do

All this is to say that our job is not done. The point of this article isn’t for us to become complacent, or to deny climate change. But rather, to inspire and re-energise, to help overcome burnout by showing you all the opportunities that exist. Broadening, not disclaiming, the narrative that we are in a hopeless situation. And this is by no means an exhaustive list either, as I’m confident that there are dozens if not hundreds more reasons to get excited about the future of this amazing planet that we get to call our home.

So, let’s get out there and keep on making a difference. It’s time to secure our future.

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