Week two of the Paris climate change conference is well underway and if you’re not following the action, I highly recommend the NYTimes’ comprehensive coverage as your go-to source for updates and outcomes.
The smattering of articles I’ve read (or, let’s be honest, largely skimmed) about COP21 seem to all have roughly the same tone of “we’re cautiously optimistic because there seems to be a real seriousness and political good will about these talks that was missing from past delegations, but the magnitude of change actually required for substantive emission cuts is simply so breathtaking in scope that it’s hard to imagine genuine efficacy on a global scale.”
I mean, how do we really and truly rectify our modern societal expectations with the urgent need to give this little planet a break? How do we translate political good will into policy implementation? How do we get businesses and India and China on board — and transparently? How do we forge ahead without throwing up our hands at the staggering problem facing us?
The NYTimes comes once again to the rescue with its 7 personal changes to make to reduce your climate impact. The first thing I noticed, of course, is that two tips are food focused: eat less meat (especially beef) and waste less food. Words to live by!
NYT graphic from their “What You Can Do About Climate Change” piece. #1. You’re better off eating vegetables from Argentina than meat from a local farm. (http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/12/03/upshot/what-you-can-do-about-climate-change.html)
The Times also put together a handy and accessible FAQ about climate change. This is definitely worth a quick look. Topics range from sea level rise (it’s happening) to technology silver bullets (only possible if we spend the money on R&D) to meat consumption (reduce it!).
Because I have a tendency to get mired in despair when I think about the big, scary picture we’re dealing with, now is a good time to turn to the writings of former Czech president Vaclav Havel, and his musings on hope versus optimism. He wrote that optimism can be almost insidious, in that by thinking that things will turn out for the best, such a mindset replaces our sense of urgency with complacency. Hope, though, motivates us to “work for something because it is good, not just because it stands a chance to succeed.” Hope is harder. Hope is about urgency and action. I don’t know how optimistic I’m feeling these days, but I am full of hope.