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Constructing Hope: A Discussion of “Green Earth”

Constructing Hope: A Discussion of “Green Earth”

Neither hope nor its cousin joy are to be confused with optimism. The latter tends to be more a quality of temperament than a realistic assessment of prospects. As for the former, well, you have to go looking for them, or even, laboriously, construct them for yourself, at best in the company of other people. By combining found materials with what you’ve got with you—like, say, dried grass and twigs with the flint and steel in your backpack—you can, with effort, spark and and nourish a little flame that, once going, you’ve still got to work to maintain.

That’s been my project lately, in our seriously dystopic times, when my most innocuous activities—biking to work, leading woods restoration workdays for students, working on sustainability projects—sometimes feel like political activism. There’s no need to enumerate the ways that the actions of those recreating atop the federal government threaten not only civil society but also the biosphere’s wellbeing. For earth-centered folks who include human wellbeing in the definition of planetary health, there are daily blows, even as it grows clearer that the doors to an environmentally whole future, in which global warming and its effects are somewhat mitigated, are rapidly swinging shut.

Well, then. Where to go looking? One’s active work one counts greatly, though the slowness and difficulty of that work can get disheartening. And I’m seeing a resurgence of outright, vocal, practical commitment to sustainable policy and practice grounded in local efforts by individuals, community groups, municipalities and states. This could help bend our society towards a sustainable arc. There is evidence that if 10% of a given population subscribes to a particular idea, theory or principle, or changes a way of doing something a whole group or society will change.

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Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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