What does it mean to be hopeful about the climate crisis at a time when so many people around the world, especially in the Global South, are already experiencing devastating climate impacts?
I’m thinking about the terrible flooding and impending food crisis in Pakistan, the unprecedented heat waves in China this summer, and the countless photos I’ve seen on social media in recent weeks of dried-up lakes and worried farmers navigating frightening drought. I’m thinking of Oregon, Washington, and California wildfires, the Jackson water crisis, and the seemingly constant onslaught of distressing climate headlines.
How can we talk about climate hope in times like these?
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel heartbroken about the climate crisis. But one of the things that keeps me committed to climate hope is knowing that being hopeful for the future is what allows me to act on behalf of the future—and that every action I take now may help avoid future suffering for someone. In the words of Rebecca Solnit: “We may be living through times of unprecedented change, but in uncertainty lies the power to influence the future. Now is not the time to despair, but to act.”
Alongside thought leaders like Rebecca Solnit, a growing movement of “climate optimists” are rejecting messages of climate doom and reminding us that we have far more power than we think to positively influence climate outcomes. Rejecting climate doom doesn’t mean ignoring or denying reality; it means rejecting the idea that we can’t still participate in creating positive, meaningful change and transformation in the context of the climate crisis. Among these climate optimists are Sally Giblin and Helen Hill, creators of the Hope. Act. Thrive podcast, which they affectionately call “HAT.” HAT is a podcast for guardians of the next generation who are overwhelmed by climate doom and want to take climate action on behalf of the children they love.
Recently, I had a chance to speak with Sally and Helen to talk about my book Parenting in a Changing Climate and discuss what it means to be hopeful in a time of climate crisis as a parent. Hope isn’t a destination, but a practice: it’s a process of recognizing that hope and heartbreak aren’t opposites, but emotions we can make room for at the same time. Sustaining hope requires that we find ways to participate in creating the future we want to see.
I hope you’ll enjoy listening to our conversation—and be sure to subscribe to the HAT podcast and share it with the parents in your life who might need a little boost of climate hope: