How to Persist After Optimism

I used to be an optimist. Then I started listening to climate scientists and looking at data trends that show that the geophysical systems that create the conditions for life and agriculture on the planet have been thoroughly disrupted.

People and institutions appear to be fully committed to continuing our exploitative practices, even though many are taking steps to reduce their harmful footprints, because transformational change is so difficult when you are trying to meet the responsibilities you already have. The pace of change is too slow and efforts are too fragmented to reverse climate change, as far as I can tell. My hope is vanishing that we can turn things around to build a constructive relation between members of our species and the rest of the living beings and systems on the planet fast enough to make a difference.

What nourishes my commitment to move forward, even in the absence of optimism, is the flow of miracles that I experience every day. The miracle of rainbows after rainstorms. Of serendipitous meetings. Of finding that people of all ages do care about creating solutions that are beneficial to people and that replenish the life support systems of the planet.

I am inspired by people who are passionate and who are devoting their skills to creating and implementing solutions to transform how we transport people and goods; how we use and reuse water; how we produce and consume energy; how we prepare to protect our communities from rising temperatures and seas; how we raise food in an era of disrupted weather and water cycles; and, how we will handle the conflicts and community disruption that results from floods, fires, droughts and other climate-intensified catastrophes.

Because I can no longer rely on optimism and hope, I find that I am relying on inspiration and passion to continue to move forward to build a more resilient future despite the evidence that the fate of humanity is in grave danger.

Note: Graph published in Forbes, Feb. 27, 2018 article by Trevor Nace
"Splitting Of The Polar Vortex: The Arctic Is Melting In The Dead Of Winter"

From Zachary Labe, UC Irvine Daily 2 m surface air temperature for the Arctic averaged above 80°N. Individual years from 1958-2017 are shown by the sequential blue/purple to yellow lines. 2018 is indicated by the red line. ERA40 has been applied for the 1958-2002 climatology (white line), while the operational ECMWF is used for the current year. This figure is modified from the Danish Meteorological Institute with more information available at

Marianna GrossmanComment