It can be a constant challenge to find and maintain any measure of cheerfulness in the face of a seemingly unstoppable avalanche of bad news when it comes to our little blue planet. I am often reminded of various apocalyptic movies where tortured weeping is the only human sound emitting from a scorched and scarred landscape.
What to do? Become a ‘preppy’ and wait in a lead lined container for the satisfying moment of exclaiming “I told you so!” While I applaud self-sufficiency, umm, no. And I say ‘no’ because I must have faith in the future.
Reason for exuberance #1: The next generation
The very future I have faith in will transition to a generation that is smarter, kinder, and more frugal. Young adults in our rural and regional areas are convincing previously dismissive parents, that farming practices need to change if they wish to pass on a viable asset. Teens and children from all backgrounds have banded together to fiercely demonstrate, on streets worldwide, that they will not excuse or forget complacency in the face of the climate crisis.
Young women have designed apps specifically for exchanging clothing to lessen the environmental impact of the fashion industry. Young men and women have denied themselves the financial benefit of working in the fossil fuel industry to instead, pursue careers in environmental sciences, with a view to repair damage done.
The politicians and business leaders will change. The day-to-day habits of generations will change. I speak to young people on an almost daily basis, be they my own, at work or in my circles. They’re extremely aware of the situation and have no illusions as to the challenges. However, they’re also confident they can fix things. Speaking to these young people never fails to raise my energy levels and renew that faith in the future.
Reason for exuberance #2: Power of the people
Citizens are asking questions and demanding answers. As individuals or motivated groups, large swathes of society are taking their super funds, banks, companies and governments on all levels, to task on how they operate, and how their money is invested. People are recognising their voices and their feet, have power.
They are making conscious choices to shop at local produce markets for numerous reasons, not the least of which is to avoid excess packaging.
They are investigating repair options as opposed to replace, giving rise to the ‘repair movement’, a wonderful off shoot of the maker movement, preventing everything from holey socks to washing machines ending up in land fill. I see reviews of repair cafés and my happy cup gurgles.
Reason for exuberance #3: Wildlife recovery
If there has been but one positive outcome from the constant awfulness of the COVID epidemic, it is the time people have taken to explore and celebrate the natural wonders closer to their homes.
National parks and state forests are receiving record number of visitors. Volunteer conservation groups have more hands to restore and rejuvenate beach vegetation, damaged hinterland and water ways. Wildlife care and bird watching groups have received welcome boosts to their numbers, and growing.
As a result people are more directly and frequently exposed to the beauty of the natural world, and the frontline of the destruction we humans bring up on it. Care factors rise and behaviours change. Such as keeping the cat inside, always!
I can’t help but get excited when I see social media posts about rare little marsupials, like the Kowari or Northern Quoll, making a comeback with numbers rising. But it’s no longer just me and my fellow wildlife loving cohorts who get excited. Thousands are cheering on the little and big wins alike. Citizen scientists are contributing enormous amounts of research in an effort to see greater gains in biodiversity. The Victorian government is about to review it’s 47 year old wildlife policy stating “Community values and expectations around wildlife have changed significantly.” How exciting is that?
Reason for exuberance #4: Innovation
Advances in technology, engineering and all manner of sciences are continually turning old and damaging practises on their head. Battery storage from home generated renewables is available to the average consumer. Builders and architects are thinking creatively to reduce the carbon footprint of the built environment. Sustainable materials such as bamboo are attracting attention for all the right reasons. Did you know you can have a bamboo house in the suburbs? And it can look like any other house. Yep, it’s a thing.
Sizeable steps towards net zero emissions are being taken in industries such as shipping, land transport, retail and even air travel. Our oceans and seas will eventually be all but plastic free, thanks to innovative and bold thinking, and a world mindset that is no longer willing to accept anything less.
So let’s get exuberant! Celebrate and share every win for our planet, no matter how inconsequential it may seem. It all adds up.
By Donna Kellion, ALIA Sustainable Libraries Group Committee Member