Our voices and actions bring hope for the year ahead

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David Suzuki writes: Like any year, 2015 had its share of good and bad, tragedy and beauty, hope and despair. It’s difficult not to get discouraged by events like the Syrian war and refugee crisis, violent outbreaks in Beirut, Paris, Burundi, the U.S. and so many other places, and the ongoing climate catastrophe.

But responses to these tragedies and disasters offer hope. It became clear during 2015 that when those who believe in protecting people and the planet, treating each other with fairness, respect and kindness and seeking solutions stand up, speak out and act for what is right and just, we will be heard.

As Syria descended deeper into chaos during 2015, people in many wealthy nations called for blocking refugees. But many more opened their hearts, homes and wallets and showed compassion. Governments responded by opening doors to people who have lost everything, including family and friends, to flee death and destruction.

Shootings and the inevitable absurd arguments against gun control continued south of the border, but many people, including the president, rallied for an end to the insanity. And while the U.S. presidential race remains mired in bigotry, ignorance and a dumbfounding rejection of climate science, many U.S. citizens, including political candidates, are speaking out for a positive approach more aligned with America’s professed values. And in 2015, voters here and elsewhere rejected fear-based election campaigns that promoted continued reliance on climate-altering coal, oil and gas.

The fossil fuel industry and its supporters continued to sow doubt and confusion about the overwhelming evidence for human-caused climate change and to rail against solutions, but many more people marched, signed petitions, sent letters, talked to friends and family, demanded action from political, religious and business leaders, and got on with innovating and implementing solutions.

The public appetite for a constructive approach to global warming led Canada to shift course in 2015, taking global warming seriously enough to make positive contributions at the Paris climate conference in December. The resulting agreement won’t lower emissions enough to prevent catastrophic warming, but it’s a significant leap from previous attempts, and it includes commitments to improve targets.

If we want to heal this world we have so badly damaged, we must do all we can. Although many necessary and profound changes must come from governments, industry and other institutions, we can all do our part. For the climate, we can conserve energy, eat less meat, drive less, improve energy efficiency in our homes and businesses and continue to stand up and speak out. [Continue reading…]

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