“[…] hope is not like a lottery ticket you can sit on the sofa and clutch, feeling lucky. I say it because hope is an axe you break down doors with in an emergency.”
(Rebecca Solnit, “Hope in the Dark”)
Across the globe we are witnessing debilitating heat waves, unusually cold days in summer, and erratic rainfall patterns all of which leave us no longer in doubt about the impacts of climate change. Yet we have been slow to respond. We despair about the futility of individual action against a global phenomenon like climate change and expect governments to take the lead in finding solutions.
Meanwhile summits where world leaders converge are never truly able to arrive at a consensus on whom the responsibility to initiate change lies—the developed Global North which has the largest ecological footprint or the developing Global South with an imperative to develop owing to the high levels of inequity. Meanwhile the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) report released earlier this year is unambiguous in its findings—many ecosystems that are the basis for human survival have been irreversibly lost and more species are at risk of extinction than ever before.
Where then does hope—if any at all—lie?
With each one of us—and in the communities we live in, and in our children who are the future. We need to rethink our engagement with the natural world in the everyday spaces we occupy, be it urban, peri-urban or rural neighbourhoods. We can advocate for more greenery through thoughtful planting of trees that provide ecological, recreational, cultural services.
We need to enable equitable access to nature critical for resource dependent communities to support their livelihoods and subsistence use—even for the grazer and fisher dependent on lakes in cities and where nature is primarily preserved for aesthetic purposes. We can nurture the environment in our immediate vicinity irrespective of how small the space is—a carefully tended vegetable garden in an empty plot perhaps—recognising that in doing so we are also re-establishing our eroding links with nature.
It will be these mosaic of actions on the ground that will serve as the nudge that governments need to act at a larger scale. We may not have much time, but patience is a virtue, and coupled with sustained efforts will give us the hope to save Earth, our home.