The year is 2050. The world is on fire. The air is deadly. Countries are under water. Or: The year is 2050. The world is breathing. The air is fresh. Nature is thriving. The time to choose between these two futures is now.
This excerpt is adapted from the cover of The Future We Choose, the recently-published book by Christiana Figueres, former UN Executive Secretary for Climate Change, who was instrumental in getting 195 countries to sign the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015, and Tom Rivett-Carnac, senior political strategist for the Paris Agreement. They publish a weekly podcast at globaloptimism.com.
The book is a must-read for anyone with concerns about the future of the planet and the lives of humans on it. Whether you are optimistic that humanity will emerge from the covid crisis with a new mindset and increased determination to work together to improve the world, or you think all hope is lost and no single person can make a difference, this book empowers us to make steps towards the more favourable outcome.
The first part of the book presents two scenarios: the world we are creating if we continue operating business as usual, and the world we must create if we are to halt and even reverse the trajectory of making the planet uninhabitable for humans and other life forms in the not-too-distant future. The key dates are 2030 for halving emissions and 2050 for reaching net-zero, both of which are alarmingly close.
Quoting examples of prominent change makers of the past, the authors implore us to be the change we want to see and ask us to adopt three mindsets:
- Stubborn optimism – cultivating the belief that change is possible and that you are not powerless or too small to make a difference
- Endless abundance – holding the belief that there’s enough to go round (as opposed to the perception that resources are scarce)
- Radical regeneration – giving back to the planet what the planet has given, and continues to give, us (for example by planting trees)
“We can no longer afford the indulgence of feeling powerless.”
The authors list 10 actions that all of us can take if we really care, not only about the planet, but about a whole range of related issues, such as health, social injustice, economic stability and future generations. The planet can (and will) survive without us. How soon do we wish our demise to occur?
Backed by a wealth of references and resources, the book concludes with an encouraging statistic that it only takes 3.5% of the population engaging in nonviolent resistance for change to happen. We’d like to be part of that 3.5%. Will you join us?
What steps can you take now?
- Cultivate the belief that you are not powerless. Help friends and family believe they can make a difference too.
- Get a copy of the book and be inspired by the 10 actions you can take right now and in the future.
- Commit to reducing your impact on the environment and to giving back to nature. Plant a tree, or two or three.