Earth Optimism: Cheerleading for Change


The world is ending. Hurricanes ravage the Caribbean, Puerto Rico, and the United States. Recording breaking floods plague South Asia. Wildfires rage in Canada. Eastern Africa faces a drought already over a year long, resulting in food and water shortages. Everything points to a planet that threatens to swallow humanity whole.

There are those out there, though, who hold on to optimism about the future of the planet. These so called Earth optimists find reasons to celebrate the progress human beings have made to combat climate change and other ecological disasters. With everything that’s happening in the world, what is there to be optimistic about?

Reasons to Believe

Though the rate of success for issues pertaining to climate and ecological change is marginal compared to the challenges humanity still faces, Earth optimists have found a great deal of thing worthy of celebration.

According to proponents, one of the most notable areas where humanity has improved is in the preservation of species. Animals like the scimitar oryx and the Togo slippery frog have survived thanks to the protection efforts of conservationists.

Other miraculous comebacks have fueled optimism, as well. Species such as the wild Przewalski’s horse in Mongolia, Afghan deer, and the African bontebok (a kind antelope) all once teetered on the edge of extinction. Today, their numbers have increased, providing a beacon of hope for similar international conservation efforts.

Optimists have also recently celebrated the virtual end of ivory trade. China once served as the world’s largest market for ivory. The Chinese government has announced that it plans to ban all ivory processing and trade by the end of 2017. At its peak, over 65% of the world’s ivory trade took place in the country. Ending the practice has huge implications that could continue to rehabilitate elephant populations worldwide.

Alternative energy has been a sizable measure of success in the eyes of Earth optimists. China, the world’s leading consumer of coal for energy, has plans to scale back non-renewable electricity. Other countries have followed suit in diversifying their approaches to energy. India, currently the fourth most carbon-emitting country in the world, plans to open at 2,500 acre solar power plant. By 2022, the plant aims to provide power to some 60 million homes.

Should They Be Celebrating?

Since the publication of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring over 50 years ago, the environmental movement has had a reputation for fatalism, fear-mongering, and an obsession with an impending doomsday. Many people have found that kind of rhetoric offputting. According to some scientists and advocates, that is exactly what the public needs to hear. People don’t need to be spoon-fed “feel good” stories about saving a frog. They need to recognize and help fix the challenges that global climate change presents.

Earth optimists claim they are not ignoring the facts. They understand that there is still much work to do. Combating climate change is about much larger issues than preserving a few individual species. Yet, they argue that too many people view climate change as an insurmountable problem. By advertising successes of conservation and preservation movements, Earth optimists give measurable evidence of what happens when people try to make a difference. It offers a ray of hope to those too jaded to care or too terrified to pay attention.

There is no denying that changes in the climate have increased over the last few years. What do you think people can do to fight climate change? Do you think that the modern environmental movement should soften its image? Do you think that the approach of Earth optimists has helped spread awareness about what conservation can accomplish? Share your thoughts and let us know what you think about one of the biggest challenges facing the planet.


What Do You Think?

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