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On Earth Day, Reasons for Hope

by Beth on April 22nd, 2019

A joint program between George Mason and Yale universities has been surveying Americans’ perception of climate change since 2008. The latest poll shows that more people than ever are worried about global warming. The percentage of people who reported being “very worried” rose from 21 to 29 percent in the last year. This is most likely because climate change is no longer a distant threat. It’s happening right now. More and more people are being negatively affected by extreme temperatures, hurricanes, tornadoes, and wildfires.

The good news is that we can work together to reduce the impacts of climate change. On this Earth Day, I am hopeful because there are so many collective efforts moving us in a positive direction.

  • In 2018 we saw the largest increase in global renewable energy capacity ever. It’s now cheaper to build wind and solar projects than it is to operate 74% of existing coal plants. 100 U.S. cities have committed to transitioning entirely to renewables and 3,500 organizations have pledged to stand by the Paris Climate Agreement.
  • People are choosing to eat less meat. Over 39% of Americans say they are trying to eat more plant-based foods. Many NBA athletes and NFL players are following primarily plant-based diets.
  • More people are avoiding single-use plastics. Over 300 cities in the U.S. have banned plastic bags and 10 states have enacted plastic bag legislation. More than 500 organizations around the world have joined the Plastic Pollution Coalition. Here is a list of actions that are being taken around the world to reduce plastic pollution.
  • The minimalist movement is growing. The increasing number of blogs, books, and Netflix shows about the advantages of owning less reflects a shift in mindset. More people are realizing that happiness and fulfillment can’t be found from their possessions and that less consumption preserves earth’s natural resources.

The sense of being part of something bigger than ourselves is a powerful way to experience meaning. It gives us a more purpose-driven life. We are living at a time when there is a real need for action. That means we have a unique opportunity to make a significant difference in our world, to change our behaviors in ways that help the Earth.

I encourage you to think about small changes you could make to live more sustainably. Find something you care about, like healthy eating or using less energy or buying products with nontoxic chemicals, and start there. Tell others what you are doing. Together we can shape a better future.

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