Hope Matters: Why Changing the Way We Think is Critical to Solving the Environmental Crisis

by Elin Kelsey, science communicator at the University of Victoria, BC

Greystone Books, 2020 (Also see various postings on the Internet)

Elin Kelsey is concerned about the pessimism, or even despair, we all feel at times when we consider the devastating impact of the climate crisis. A growing awareness of how little time is left to reverse the disastrous trends can lead to fear, anxiety, apathy and withdrawal in the general public. The result can be the same as climate change denial: inaction.   Just the opposite of what is needed for a mass movement.

Research indicates that on social media, four out of five stories present the worst-case scenarios for the future. Kelsey is fully aware of the threats, and doesn’t minimize them in this book, but tries to counter the neglect of more positive stories about various initiatives that are occurring worldwide. She gives several examples, such as this one:

“Many young people are very concerned about plastic pollution, as they should be. It’s a huge issue, but it’s helpful for them to know that a hundred and thirty-eight countries around the world have in recent years put in single use plastic bans or fines or tariffs. “

Kelsey is particularly concerned about how we communicate climate crisis issues to children, saying that they need to know their fears are real, but that solutions are being sought, and that they (and their family) can participate in them. I found this book very useful personally when I think about my own Ottawa grandchildren and the fears they have been expressing during this latest onslaught of wildfires and widespread harmful air quality keeping them indoors.

Another recent example: The City of Vancouver has been selected as BC Hydro’s first Clean Energy Champion for energy efficient upgrades made at the Bloedel Conservatory that cut greenhouse gas emissions by 90 per cent.”Electricity Forum Newsletter (June 2023). Like Kelsey’s message: We need more good news and less “doom and gloom.”

SCAN! is about ACTION – it is part of our name.  This book is very relevant and important as we strive to keep our own spirits up and find ways to act in support of various local initiatives.  Reality is scary but hope is vital.

Pat Erickson is a member of SCAN!’s Education Committee.

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