Conservation Commons

Here’s How to Find Optimism in This Moment of Fear and Uncertainty

Good news is out there – if you look for it. For instance, just this month scientists announced that we are on our way to recovering oceans by 2050.
Good news is out there – if you look for it. For instance, just this month scientists announced that we are on our way to recovering oceans by 2050.

There is no doubt that the world is an uncertain and despondent place right now. We can't lie by dosing ourselves with senseless positivity and vapid "glass is half full" platitudes without a rhyme or a reason. However, we assure you that if you take the time to look for genuinely good stories that give us an authentic sense of optimism for our planet, they are there to be found.

These stories present real reasons to be hopeful. And they motivate us not just for our own personal well-being, but for our planet. Even in this time of fear and uncertainty, hiding amidst the shadows of doubt and gloom are glimmers of hope and opportunity. To stave off the darkness, it's towards these flickers of light that we point you.

As part of my official duties to promote Earth Optimism, my daily ritual includes searching for those stories, and I can attest that even though I know they exist, it is not always an easy task to find them. Some days, to borrow from the declaration one of my earliest science communication role models, Bill Nye, the messaging makes it seem like our planet is on [insert expletive here] fire. But it is my job to curate a stream of stories about what's working in conservation. Given all the bad news around us, such a feed must sound a little bit tone-deaf, doesn't it?

I assure you it's worthwhile. There are people out there putting out the fires, both literally and metaphorically. There are scientists developing new green energy technology to mitigate our fossil fuel consumption. There are conservationists bringing species back from the brink of extinction. There are youth leaders encouraging their peers to rise up to the challenge to protect our planet. The list could go on and on, and it does go on — that's why the Smithsonian Institution is advancing those endeavours and achievements as #EarthOptimism, to shine an enduring spotlight on the significant successes taking place every day, and that give us reasons for hope.

The Earth Optimism Digital Summit will commence on the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.

Our show, highlighting success stories, will and must go on. We are launching the Earth Optimism Digital Summit April 22, on the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, and we will be live streaming on multiple online platforms through April 24. During these three days, we will illuminate success stories and give a spotlight to leaders from across the world to share what's working in conservation, climate, and sustainability.

The Earth Optimism Summit, originally planned prior to the COVID-19 crisis as a three-day, in-person, large scale, event in Washington, D.C. with more than 50 sister events scattered across the globe, will be transformed to a live online event that will bring us all together for a more collaborative and connected experience. In this way, anyone and everyone can virtually attend and be motivated and inspired. Tune in and be ready to join the conversation online on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. You can learn more about the Earth Optimism Digital Summit, including our speakers and schedule on our website: earthoptimism.si.edu.

Cat Kutz

Cat Kutz is the communications lead for the Smithsonian’s Earth Optimism initiative.

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