This year comes to a close after an onslaught of bleak and terrifying revelations about the state of our planet. Glaciers are melting, species are dying, forests are burning and climate tipping points ― thresholds which, if breached, will usher in uncontrollable warming ― are about to be crossed. The climate is clearly in crisis.
The world has just lived through what is expected to be the warmest decade ever recorded, and the United Nations recently warned that heat-trapping fossil fuel pollution must drop by more than 7% each year if there’s any chance of averting the worst effects. The scale of action required is unprecedented and daunting.
Confronted with this information, it’s easy to feel hopeless and anxious. This anxiety is so pervasive that in November psychologists from more than 40 countries signed a resolution acknowledging that climate-related events, like wildfires and flooding, can have major mental health effects and pledging to increase the availability of mental health services to help people cope.
But in the midst of all of this, momentum is building. Scientists are speaking out, children are protesting and politicians are drafting proposals. For the first time, climate change has been a leading election issue in the United States, and for more than a year now, youth climate activists around the world have been taking to the streets demanding change.
We spoke to experts on the front line, those who have dedicated their time to tackling the science and developing solutions, to better understand what they hope for ― and what gives them hope.