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Breaking Boundaries, Post Growth & The Future We Choose

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Date posted: 29 June 2021

Ruth Jarman reviews a recent episode of the podcast, Outrage and Optimism.

Photo by Lee Campbell on Unsplash

Outrage and Optimism exists to use outrage about climate change to fuel optimism for tackling it. It is hosted by the self-confessed ‘stubborn climate optimists’ Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac, authors of The Future We Choose.

I’ve known about the impending, accelerating, now teetering climate crisis for three decades. I’ve followed the various communications strategies, including the theory that ‘we mustn’t scare people – we must give people hope’, which often resulted in a watering-down of the science, leaving people complacent and unmoved.

Outrage and Optimism tries to hold on to the ‘we must give people hope’ while allowing the full force of the science to terrify and outrage us. It is a difficult balance but is convincingly made by the ‘hall of fame’ in ecological and economic limits who featured in Breaking Boundaries, Post Growth & The Future We Choose, presented on 21 June; the recording is now available as a podcast.

Johan Rockström, director of the Potsdam Institute of Climate Impact Research & author of Breaking Boundaries, admitted that his scientific community had, until now, been reticent in speaking out because they were nervous about creating fear. They are now getting nervous about climate breakdown based on the evidence they are seeing. ‘Suddenly,’ he said, ‘we have come to this point where we have run out of time… and everywhere in the world scientists are now rising up on their own evidence.’

  • Fifty percent of the world’s richest marine ecosystem, coral, is dead
  • The Amazon, the world’s richest biome, has flipped from carbon sink to carbon source
  • The Arctic is moving irreversibly towards ice-free summers.

‘This has happened on our watch, and we need to get outraged,’ he continued, saying that the resultant adrenaline can help us work towards a cure, for which we still have a slim chance.

Tim Jackson is director of The Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity at the University of Surrey and author of Post Growth. He was asked ‘what constitutes a soulful life?’ In reply, he said that a society that tries to persuade us that the answer to happiness is to clutter our lives with more and more possessions is profoundly wrong. The wisdom that there are limits can be the beginning of a guide to a richer, more fulfilling life. ‘Our job is to hold on to what it means to be truly human,’ he said, ‘and this way of living within limits will also mean that we do not destroy life on earth.’

I highly recommend listening to the recording of this conversation. May it fuel your outrage and optimism!

Ruth is Administration Officer at Operation Noah

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