Depending on where you get your news, it can be hard to stay hopeful, especially when you’re a nature lover.
Negativity begets views and clicks, which in turn help amplify the most negative stories.
When it comes to the safety of our wild places in today’s political climate, there are definitely a myriad of legitimate reasons to be concerned, and to stay both educated and vigilant. We can’t stick our heads in the sand and ignore what’s going on.
However, there are even more reasons to be hopeful. I’ve found that by focusing on these positive stories, whether via social media or just by talking about them with friends and family, it creates a much-needed shift in the conversation. It changes the tone from hopelessness to optimism, providing the motivation by which to tackle further challenges and solve the big problems we will inevitably have to face together in the future.
To help set the tone for a bright and promising kick off to 2019, here are nine of my favorite reasons to be hopeful for 2019 — I hope they inspire you to continue fighting for the conservation and protection of our planet in the new year:
1. The fight against plastic waste has gone mainstream
2018 may well be remembered as the year of plastic — images of congested waterways and trash-filled oceans dominated news cycles. On the flip side, 250 of the world’s largest brands, including Coca-Cola, Unilever, and L’Oreal pledged to eradicate plastic waste by 2025, and Europe passed a full ban on single-use plastics starting in 2021. Large cities in the US, including Seattle, banned the use of plastic straws and utensils at restaurants. It’s clear that momentum is building around the world in tackling this global issue.
This past year NEMO introduced zero-waste employee gatherings as a new practice (bring your own insulated beer mug!), and in 2019 we’re embarking on a full evaluation of our packaging footprint with the goal of reducing as much waste as possible.
2. The ozone hole is healing
When science and public policy listen to each other on a global scale, great things can happen. A recent report from the UN predicts that the ozone hole over the Arctic will be fully healed by the 2030s and that of the Antarctic will close by the 2060s. It’s also now clear that the Montreal Protocol (the international treaty that phased out ozone-depleting substances like CFCs from usage in 1987) helped to prevent more severe ozone depletion in polar regions.
3. Big money is making big commitments
At NEMO, we believe businesses led by their values can be one of the greatest forces for progress. And that’s why we’re thrilled that earlier this year, over 100 large global corporations committed to reducing their emissions according to science-based targets in line with the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting global warming to 2°C. Big investment players, including Black Rock, Vanguard, and six sovereign wealth funds, have also stated that they will only invest in companies that consider and report on the climate risks to their businesses.
4. The Paris climate agreement is alive & well (for now)
I count it as good news that the US can’t officially withdraw from the agreement until 2020, and climate negotiators recently agreed to a uniform set of standards for measuring and reporting on progress.
But regardless of the Paris Agreement, businesses and communities are not waiting to act. NEMO is proud to have signed the We Are Still In declaration along with 2800 leaders from across America, and we continue to support this action. Together we pledged to uphold climate action to meet the Paris Agreement.
While it’s clearly best to have international cooperation toward these goals that have such globally impacting consequences, it’s clear that significant action can still happen even in the absence of government cooperation.
5. We voted for the outdoors
In November, US voters overwhelmingly supported the outdoors, with 20 of the 23 Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) endorsed candidates winning their races, and 5 of the 6 OIA endorsed ballot measures passing. More and more Americans are understanding that if they value our places to recreate and be refreshed by nature, they need to support representatives who believe the same.
6. Global poverty has reached a (positive) tipping point
For the first time in history, over 50% of the population is no longer considered poor or vulnerable to poverty (by global standards). This is a promising milestone not only for the general well-being of humanity, but also for environmental conservation, as increased global wealth begets increased education and knowledge of sustainable resource management.
7. Clean energy is continuing to expand…
The world now has installed over 1,000 GW of wind and solar power (compared to less than 8 GW in 2008), and big global energy consumers, from China to California, committed to ambitious clean energy targets in 2018. Despite all of the political hot air on the topic, the US also retired a record-setting 22 coal plants this year in 14 states.
This year, NEMO transitioned to sourcing 100% renewable energy to power our Headquarters in Dover, NH. We also took on a series of personal and team challenges to reduce our energy use, including an office-wide human powered commuting challenge and raising the temps on our thermostats (even in the sweltering heat of July!). It’s been rewarding to have team conversations about the way we can have the most impact.
8. …and is also becoming much cheaper
In just the past six months, the cost of solar has decreased by 14% and the cost of wind has decreased by 6%. As renewables continue to compete with fossil fuels on a cost basis, utilities and governments will continue to invest.
9. Youth activists are leading the way
From filing high-publicity lawsuits against the federal government, to lecturing world leaders on a global stage, today’s youth are more engaged than ever in preventing further climate change and protecting the great outdoors. Watch out – there’s no limit to what an inspired generation can accomplish.
Stay hopeful friends, and have a great 2019!
Lauren de Wet is NEMO’s Digital Marketing Manager during the week and skier/hiker/cold-water scuba diver on the weekends. She’s passionate about sustainability and loves working for a company that’s as excited about protecting the planet as they are about designing great gear.