How about some bits of good news to start the new year? Here are just three bright glimmers from late 2022. I found them through my own love of reading about the wild earth and its watery places.
In October 2022, long-time climate reporter David Wallace-Wells shared good news in The New York Times Magazine. Although a global temperature gain of 5 degrees Celsius (over an unstated time frame) was almost certain a few years ago, Wells reports that 2 or 3 degrees C is now more likely.
Thanks to astonishing declines in the price of renewables, a truly global political mobilization . . . and serious policy focus from world leaders, we have cut expected warming almost in half in just five years.David Wallace-Wells, Beyond Catastrophe: A New Climate Reality Is Coming Into View, October 26, 2022
Meaning that the costs of wind and solar have fallen enough for those technologies to spread. And nations are working together on policy.
Our work isn’t done: the United Nations warns that two degrees of warming still means “endless suffering” for much of the world’s population. But knowing that our efforts make a difference is exhilarating.
As Wells writes:
. . . humanity retains an enormous amount of control — over just how hot it will get and how much we will do to protect one another through those assaults and disruptions.David Wallace-Wells, Beyond Catastrophe: A New Climate Reality Is Coming Into View, October 26, 2022
So keep your own pedal to the metal in whatever you’re doing to contribute to these efforts. Love the places you love and work to protect them. Because it’s working! We can continue to improve our climate outlook over the next five years.
In its closing statement in November 2022, COP27 (aka the 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) declared “water solutions” important to climate resilience. Yes, hello, that is correct: water and climate resilience are linked.
That’s music to river- and water-lovers’ ears, as we’ve been wondering why it took some climate leaders twenty-seven years of meeting to reach that conclusion.
COP now recognizes the following
. . . the critical role of protecting, conserving and restoring water systems and water-related ecosystems in delivering climate adaptation benefits and co-benefits, while ensuring social and environmental safeguards . . .Final COP declaration, as reported by the Pacific Institute of Oakland, California, December 9, 2022
Ecosystems! That means rivers, lakes, oceans . . . water. Ecosystems we love.
Third and far from least! A new organization, Restoring the Stanislaus River, has set out to do just what the name says: bring wild life back to the California river canyon flooded in the late 1970s by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
This movement to bring back the river is being led by RTSR’s Board of Directors (the inimitable Sue Knaup, Marc Dubois, Roy Tennant, and Kevin Wolf). In late 2022, I was fortunate to work with them on an op-ed about their restoration plan for Writers on the Range. Theirs is a huge undertaking, but one sure to help heal not only the river but those whose lives it touches.
There are millions of us who depend on the river—and billions upon billions when one counts every wild non-human who ever lived and thrived there. RTSR’s vision is that the river canyon will flourish again, sooner than we all prayed would happen over geologic time.
More details are in the op-ed, “It’s Never Too Late to Save a River.”
These are only a few good news items from 2022. Please share others in the comments if you’re so moved.
I do think we make change simply by letting the soft animal of our bodies love what they love—and acting out of that love.
Recent: “It’s Never Too Late to Save a River,” Writers on the Range, November 14, 2022.