New Publications Indicate Upsurge in Environmental Optimism
Aug 08 2015
For many years, environmentalists and scientists alike have been preaching doom and gloom over the state of the Earth. Global warming, climate changing and spiralling energy consumption levels have meant that many people predicted the imminent collapse of our world under the weight of our own profligacy.
Such pessimism was perhaps engendered with the publication of several foreboding books on the subject of climate change and population escalation back in the 60s and 70s. Titles such as Silent Spring and The Population Bomb warned that humanity would use up the world’s resources before they could be replenished, resulting in an apocalyptic endgame.
Perhaps it’s fitting, then, that the publication of more recent titles could signal a welcome dose of environmental optimism for planet Earth.
The Adaptability of Nature
Former director of the World Wildlife Federation (WWF) Claude Martin has released a new book called On the Edge, in which he claims that he has since re-evaluated many of the pessimistic opinions regarding our atmosphere that he held back in the 1980s. The rapid deforestation of areas like the Amazon rainforest prompted Martin and other environmentalists to predict the loss of tens of thousands of different species. What Martin didn’t factor into his calculations was the versatility of nature. Rather than dying out, the species have by and large moved on and adapted to their new conditions.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that the destruction of our rainforests should continue willy-nilly. However, replanting of trees and responsible reseeding policies can mean that things aren’t quite as bad as they once seemed.
Economic and Ecological Sense Converge
Meanwhile, another former pessimist has also backtracked on his earlier predictions. In The Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change, published less than ten years ago, Nicholas Stern forecast tens of trillions of dollars being spent in the fight against climate change.
However, the technological advancement of green energies – such as the plummeting cost of solar panels and the increased efficiency of wind and wave power – has meant that going green hasn’t involved quite the financial sacrifice that it once did. In fact, in many cases, choosing renewables over fossil fuels can cost just the same amount, whilst relieving a huge burden on the atmosphere.
Stern predicts that one day in the near future, the “low-carbon world will become… normal”.
Awash with Optimism
With attitudes towards climate change and our daily habits becoming more and more environmentalist even among such institutions as the Catholic Church, there is good reason for renewed faith in our abilities to overcome the problems facing planet Earth.
Indeed, Biotechnology Industry Organisation (BIO) CEO and President Jim Greenwood professed his own new lease of optimism after attending a recent edition of the annual conference in Chicago, Illinois. With developing technologies such as biogas, renewables and organic fertilisers, and a changing attitude to the importance of eco-friendly practices, the time is ripe for an optimistic outlook.
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