The Wise Blog

Wise News Edition 1 - Choose Hope Over Cynicism

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Every night my husband brings home the daily edition of Metro and Evening Standard from the tube for me to peruse of an evening (maybe do the crossword). It hit me this week how much of an exponetial growth there has been in the column inches given over to issues around the enviroment.  I've jotted down the details of so many features, articles, news reports that there are too many to mention!  

Friends and family are now becoming so engaged that they are tipping me off on what to watch and read (used to be the other way around!). For example my lovely yoga teacher told me about the documentary 'Stink!' (available on Netflix) which follows a single dad's search to uncover the realities of the toxins used in the clothing industry. I haven't seen it yet, but it has had a huge impact on her, and made her look at everything in her home and everyday life with fresh eyes.

Ask a 5 year old or your granny, and they will most likely know who Greta and Extension Rebellion are. They are headline news! The result brings with it something of a backlash, as people are keen to point out their failings - they don't offers realistic solutions, they've probably all got iphones, why don't they invest their energies in technological solutions, we can't change? Etc.

I think people are missing the point. To drive change, and here we are talking about MASSIVE coordinated global change, you need spokespersons. That is what the likes of Greta and ER are doing. They are leading a movement which will at first disrupt and get people LISTENING. Lots of people won't like it, but the very fact that it drives conversation in the first place is the point.  

In order to bring about change in any walk of life, you need a coordinated effort of all types of different people. Leaders, innovators, strategists, scientists, teachers, parents - everyone has the power to influence, and collectively this will bring about change in households, communities, schools, businesses, governments etc.

On BBC Radio 5Live this morning, the presenter read out a text from a caller who said that (in a nutshell) there is 'no point' in trying to tackle environmental issues as population growth will put pay to us all anyway. One of the guests responded by telling us about Thomas Malthus, an 18th century English cleric and scholar, who predicted that we would have reached capacity hundreds of years (and billions of people) ago.

Human intellect and technology has enabled us to survive way beyond his predictions. If the public wave of support continues to grow, it will drive increased investment in green technology alongside natural climate solutions. A multitude of other changes could happen - a move to non-growth capitalism, a different way of looking at GDP, changes in industrial farming and the way we eat, protection and restoration of the natural world. Can I say with certainty that all these things will happen? Of course not. But I can choose to hope.

There is so much nuance in all of this, and we must leave room for it, rather than picking one side over another. We might not always like it, or agree with everyone all of the time, or want to glue ourselves to a vehicle for the cause, but we can stay hopeful, willing to listen, willing to change...and leave the cynicism at the door.

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  1. Peter Rowe

    Of course we should be optimistic, but also realistic. Around 10% of developed nation's people are really prepared to make significant lifestyle changes to reduce carbon emissions. While that that little, it's completely negated by world population growth. There's just a possibility that as all the world's population becomes more affluent, the population growth may reduce significantly. In the meantime nature will make things uncomfortable for us.

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