Sean Kelly: Move from Climate Anxiety to Plausible Optimism.

On Climate Change, Sean Kelly, co-founder of the Climate Story Network, said, "It’s rational to have anxiety, but people need to have hope too. I understand why people are overwhelmed. It’s easy to wonder what your drop in the ocean can really do. We want to give people practical, community-based solutions. Move from climate anxiety to plausible optimism.” 

An article by The case for ‘plausible’ Climate Optimism," sets out how Sean "co-founded the Climate Story Network. The organization supplies its partner news media (including Advocate Media and this newspaper) with stories by professional journalists spotlighting environmental progress and reasons for hope."

What's Your Optimism Superpower?


We need more Climate Optimism and Climate Optimists. Pessimism paralyses. The best thinkers on climate change advocate optimism, which can lead to innovation and creativity.

Daily, I ask people: what makes them optimistic? Regarding climate change, what prompts the belief that we can moderate and reverse the damaging effects of climate change?

Read Quotable Quotes on Climate Optimism

As a Board Member at Yarra Valley Water and Vicwater, I find a deep wellspring of optimism. Yarra Valley Water, with its strategic commitments to optimism, bravery, and "care for country," recently earned the distinction of being the top-ranking water company on the Financial Times Climate Leaders list for 2023. This achievement is a testament to the power of positive, forward-thinking approaches in tackling environmental challenges.

Global leaders like Jacinda Ardern, former New Zealand Prime Minister, embody this spirit of optimism. Ardern advocates for planning and perseverance in the face of climate change, urging us to see these challenges not as insurmountable obstacles but as calls to action.

Joyce Msuya, Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations, an "eternal, impatient optimist," draws hope from our collective knowledge and public commitment to environmental change. The growing public dedication to this cause bolsters her optimism.

Sir James Bevan, the recently retired Chief Executive of the UK's Environment Agency, offers a clear-eyed view of climate optimism. His message is straightforward yet powerful: understanding the problem and its solutions, combined with the efforts already underway, leads to success.

Figures like UN Climate Adaptation Director Youssef Nassef and Sarah Lazarovic of Rewiring America champion the belief in human potential to reverse environmental damage. Lazarovic, a self-described clear-eyed optimist, emphasizes the existence of necessary tools and a global community actively working towards sustainability.

Individuals like Claude Fussler, Founding Partner at Académie Durable, inspire optimism through simple but impactful initiatives to protect nature and conserve resources. His vision of a collective responsibility to leave a better world for future generations resonates deeply.

Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, and climate scientist Michael Mann highlight the vital contributions of various societal sectors, especially the youth, as beacons of hope.

Vicki Barmby, Manager of Climate Science at the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, shares this sentiment. With over 20 years of experience in climate science, Barmby focuses on the future and the small victories that pave the way for significant change. "What makes me optimistic?" she asks. "I look at what is to come and the small wins along the way that will make the big change that we need to see possible. We are at a tipping point, and that tipping point will see amazing change. I am truly excited about that."

Malcolm Crompton and Gerald Butts of the Eurasia Group also see the rising generation as the force that will take significant action against climate change. Butts, in particular, offers a distinct perspective: "I'm going to say something you don't hear set very often when it comes to climate change. You should be an optimist. You should be a skeptical optimist, but an optimist nonetheless. Let me explain what I mean. We are scaling up climate solutions faster than even the most ardent among us thought possible a decade ago. Consider this."

When reflecting on what fuels my optimism, I think about the collective wisdom, dedication, and progress evident in our efforts to address climate change. From my experiences with Yarra Valley Water and Vicwater to the global youth movement, there is a clear case for nurturing optimistic attitudes towards our environmental future and recognizing the champions of climate optimism.


Read "In Praise of Pollyanna"

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