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Against Climate Gloom and Doom

Against Climate Gloom and Doom

When given a chance, life finds a way. Here are some reasons to keep hoping — and fighting.

[Editor’s note: As the environmental problems facing our world compound, despair may feel like a rational response. In her new book Hope Matters: Why Changing the Way We Think Is Critical to Solving the Environmental Crisis, environmental scholar Elin Kelsey makes an evidence-based argument for choosing hope over despair. Kelsey holds up examples of how ecosystems — including along our coasts and in our ocean — have managed to rebound from damage when given the chance, illustrating nature’s impressive resilience. By sharing these case studies, Kelsey offers reasons to reject apathy and to mobilize. Only if we believe there’s an opportunity to make a real positive impact will we find the motivation to fight for the protection and restoration of ecosystems we depend on. In this condensed excerpt, Kelsey shares a few hope-filled success stories specific to coastal ecosystems.]

We are living amid a planetary crisis. “I am hopeless,” a student in an environmental study graduate program recently told me. “I’ve seen the science. I am hopeless because the state of the planet is hopeless.”

It’s not surprising she feels so depressingly fatalistic. In his speech at the start of a two-week international conference in Madrid, Spain, in December 2019, UN secretary general Antonio Guterres said, “The point of no return is no longer over the horizon. It is in sight and hurtling toward us.”

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