Words for a New Year

ice skating

The end of a calendar year is a convenient marker in the ground – a reminder of everything behind us and an invitation to consider the future. In these moments of reflection, I consider what it means to continue striving to live ethically and sustainably  in a world that often seems broken.

I’m going to be completely honest here: I struggle to remain optimistic about our ability, as humankind, to change the destructive path that we’ve started down. I see the rise of factory farming in Chinafracking in the United States, food and water insecurity, the potential that we’ve reached a climate change tipping point and economic, social and environmental injustice on a global scale and I feel helpless. It can be very disillusioning to be constantly faced with bad news and the immensity of human destruction. I think one of the qualities I most admire in people is the ability to focus on the positive and most of all, to act in order to contribute to something good.

So, in an effort to remind myself and remind us all that the fight isn’t over yet and that our actions matter, here is some of the progress we’ve made in 2014:

The US and China have started the ball rolling on a climate change agreement

The EU agreed to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030

Indian scientists have found a way to get energy from waste plastic bags

South American countries have agreed to cut (no pun intended) deforestation

Palm oil producers have signed an agreement to reduce deforestation

The ozone layer is looking better

Blue whales are back!

Half of Scotland’s electricity comes from renewable sources

A Danish town has developed an industrial-symbiosis so no energy goes to waste

Also

This list of 2014 photos might renew your faith in humanity

Guten Rutsch and happy 2015!