UnNeutral | Life after climate change — A view from an eternal optimist

Life after climate change — A view from an eternal optimist

Whenever I try and talk with friends and family about the current #climate ‘predicament’ we’re in, I find myself met with one of two reactions.

1. The artful dodger – their smile slides into a grimace, eyes widen, body tenses, and an urgent call means they “just need to nip outside for a moment”.

2. The defiant defender – whatever the angle, number, or claim, they have an answer. Even the most unrefuted, scientific-backed statements are shrugged off with a cocktail of apathy, dismissal, and excuses. “Oh, but do we really know that?” or “But I read that the data is inconclusive still.”

In fear that it was more a testament to my poor communication than their willingness to accept truth, I hastily grabbed as many books, articles, and podcasts to become not only more knowledge, but a better communicator of what I learned. A shout out particularly to Rebecca Huntley’s inspiring book “How to Talk About Climate Change in a Way That Makes a Difference” — a brilliant read for anyone on the brink of climate doomism and falling into the abyss. 

However no matter how much I absorbed, there remained that niggle of self-reflection and seed of doubt. Even in climate circles, the creeping feelings of fear and anxiety for the dystopian vision of the coming world we’ve been painted, feel inevitable — and this comes from an “annoying optimist” as my wife regularly calls me (a badge I normally wear with pride).

This is a world in which all our systems of energy, transportation, industry and infrastructure will have to be remade in just decades. And in which, no matter what we do, droughts could double in length — in some places, 420 million additional people might experience record heat and a quarter of a million could die annually from climate-related causes.

But we must also remember that less than a decade ago, the world that lay ahead seemed even more disastrous and where truly apocalyptic scenarios seemed plausible. Today, we face something much different: climate upheaval big enough to terrify and intimidate, yes. Yet those same challenges also feel open-ended enough to be wrangled — and even managed — by politics and human design.

If there’s one thing you read today, make it this excellent piece in the NY Times by David Wallis-Wells on a world that could bring about the change we need, even in a time of despair. 

A huge shout out to Anuj Shrestha for the beautiful illustrations. 🤩💚