Spend any time reading environmental news, and you could get pretty depressed. But we know there has to be reason for hope out there. So we decided to ask some of the smart people who came to the San Francisco Green Festival to tell us what makes them optimistic about the future.
Amy Goodman, host of Democracy Now and co-author of Standing Up to the Madness
“All the people who are so committed to making change. We come from the most powerful country on earth. What we do matters more than making a difference for our family or in our communities. It makes a difference all over the world. I think people understand that, and they understand that this is not an end, this historic election; it is only a beginning. The kinds of changes that are going to happen are not going to come because of one particular government or administration. They’re going to come because people keep on working for serious change to end war and to fight for social justice.”
Jared Blumenfeld, director of the San Francisco Department of the Environment
“The environment is now a mainstream issue. It’s gone from being a fringe issue five years ago to an issue that everyone understands needs to be solved. A huge amount of creative energy, talent and smarts are [working on] solutions. That wasn’t here five years ago. The focus and attention on this new mainstream subject is never going to go away. It’s not a fad. It’s not a trend. It’s now really engrained in every corporate culture, every university, and every business school.”
Ricki Ott, marine biologist and author of Sound Truth and Corporate Myths: The Legacy of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill
“Talking to high school and university kids. Global climate change is not theoretical [for them]. It’s not something that maybe is or maybe isn’t. They can’t be dissuaded by bought-and-paid-for climate scientists. These kids know it’s a problem, and they’re saying, “We want the solution.” You don’t have to waste time arguing with them. They’re all about fixing the planet.”
Paul Stamets, mycologist and bioremediation advocate
“These fungal networks [that Stamets has studied] are so adaptable to change and they are so resilient. Due to their complexity, as circumstances change, solutions are elicited out of the fabric of nature. If we pay attention to those communications, that gives us a roadmap to many other solutions.”
Tamara Dean, author of The Human-Powered Home
“I see people energized around the idea of conserving energy and creating their own energy, not relying on the grid. Our old ways of generating electricity and transporting ourselves will be changing.”
Ellis Jones, co-author of the Better World Handbook and author of the Better World Shopping Guide
“When I wrote the Better World Shopping Guide, I wrote it for adults. I wrote it so the average shopper can go out and do their supermarket shopping and make the world a better place. But I’ve had so much feedback from kids. There are kids keeping their parents accountable. There are second-graders inviting me to their classes where they are the ones that started the ball rolling. So many kids get it at a very gut level.”
So, what gives you hope?