For those of us who have been working on environmental issues over the past few decades, the recent media and political  attention to climate change can seem like both a blessing and a curse.  On one hand, it’s about time that we start seeing the issue discussed in mainstream media.  On the other hand, the alarming reports coming out about climate change and the irreversible effects of global industry can make it feel like we’re doomed.  As a long-time environmental activist and steward, I am at first heartened to see mainstream media like Rolling Stone publish features about how our economy is exporting global warming.

Articles like this affirm and bring more attention to the importance and urgency of the work that Crag, Columbia Riverkeeper and our allies in the Power Past Coal campaign are doing to stop misguided coal export projects proposed for the Northwest.  At the same time, stories like this make climate change seem an inevitable fate that we cannot stop.  Add to this the news of a recent NASA-backed study that concludes “our global industrial civilization is headed for ‘irreversible collapse’,” it’s hard for even the most resilient of us to hold on to hope.

When it comes to climate change, the focus of much of the media coverage is on an overwhelming problem that seems to have no feasible path toward a solution.

For many of us, these reports are preaching to the choir.  We’ve known for a long time that our dependence on fossil fuels and resource extraction is leading us down a path of destruction, and we’ve worked tirelessly on many fronts to try to protect our resources and offer more sustainable solutions.  We know climate change is real.  We know it is happening.  And we know we should be scared.  But what can we do?

These are the conversations I am most interested in and most hopeful about – the ones that lay out clear paths to action.  Last week, OPB’s EarthFix blog posted an interview with Mary Wood, the Eugene-based attorney who developed the ground-breaking Atmospheric Trust Litigation strategy which led to numerous lawsuits filed on behalf children demanding government protect the atmosphere for future generations.  Crag is representing two brave young women from Eugene in the Oregon case, which is currently awaiting a decision from the Oregon Court of Appeals.  In this conversation, Mary talks frankly about how environmental law could play a role in protecting the planet from climate change.

The youth who have taken to the courts to demand action give me hope. And if you need a boost of hope when you start thinking about our future, I recommend you watch one of the Stories of TRUST videos that highlight these young climate activists.  It makes you think that maybe we’re not doomed after all.

TRUST 350 from Our Children’s Trust on Vimeo.
And, as EarthInsight’s NafeezAhmed reports in the Guardian, the NASA study “offers a highly credible wake-up call to governments, corporations and business – and consumers – to recognise that ‘business as usual’ cannot be sustained, and that policy and structural changes are required immediately.”

The sooner our local and world leaders realize that “business as usual” cannot be sustained, the more hope we have, and luckily it seems like some of our leaders are starting to think this way too.