The Future We Choose | Reflections & Notes

Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac. The Future We Choose: The Stubborn Optimist’s Guide to the Climate Crisis. Vintage Books, 2020. (210 pages)


I have observed a fairly robust debate on the role that “optimism” plays in the face of pending apocalyptic futures. Optimism is frequently relegated to “mere fantasy,” a “delusion” about how things are always going to be better. This kind of optimism frequently yields a disconnected antipathy toward the “work” that others are screaming about.

Then there is the kind of optimism that Figueres and Rivett-Carnac write about in this book; the kind of optimism that believes that our work really does matter in the midst of pending doom and that it will make a difference. I concur with this idea, that an “attitude,” a “perspective,” or a “belief” does have real bearing on the world around us, and it is important to choose what attitude we hold. This kind of synthesis—of the real physical world, and the metaphysical beliefs about it—work in tandem with each other to create reality. This simple insight is powerful and can be utterly transformative if we are willing to embrace it in partnership with a moral imperative to do and be good in the world. Several examples are given in this book, and the authors’ vision is absolutely worth pursuing in this regard.

So, in many ways, the debate about the role of optimism is itself the enemy of optimism, which is why the phrase “stubborn” is a welcome qualifier. While there are tremendous advancements and “good news” in the fight against climate change, things, overall, are not looking very good. This is manifest in the two different subtitles used in the various editions of the book, the backstory of which I would like to learn more about. Is the subtitle, “The Stubborn Optimist’s Guide to the Climate Crisis,” or “Surviving the Climate Crisis?”

I’d also be curious if readers reach different emotional conclusions if they read different editions, simply based on the subtitle.

Regardless of my pseudo-psycho-marketing curiosity, this is yet another welcome addition to the library of books that are encouraging and exhorting us to act and act quickly, leveraging the very best of the human spirit towards the deployment of human ingenuity. It is also an honoring of Christiana Figueres and her work in the development of the 2015 “Paris Accords.”


Authors’ Note

Join us at

Introduction: The Critical Decade

Do we watch the world burn, or do we choose to do what is necessary to achieve a different future? (xiv)

| Who we understand ourselves to be determines the choice we will make. … The next decade will be the most consequential in human history. We are choosing between two utterly contrasting futures, one to be feared and the other to be proud of. This book presents three mindsets that are essential for making the wiser choice. We can do this. (xiv)

Governments have taken incremental steps to address climate change, treating it as a singular issue when, in fact, it cuts across all the issues we need to tackle. (xvi)

Denying climate change is tantamount to saying you don’t believe in gravity. (xvii)

Climate deniers are shamelessly protecting the short-term financial interests of the fossil fuel industry to the detriment of the long-term interests of their own descendants. (xviii)

As we tune in to the raw emotion, many of us will undergo a dark, unsettling period of despair, but we cannot allow it to erode our capacity to courageously mobilize for transformation. (xviii)

Complacency now will lock us into a future of guarantee scarcity, instability, and strife. (xix)

| We are already too far down the road of destruction to be able to “solve” climate change. The atmosphere is by now too loaded with greenhouse gases and the biosphere too altered for us to be able to turn back the clock on global warming and its effects. We, and all our descendants, will live in a world with environmental conditions that are permanently altered. We cannot bring back the extinct species, the melted glaciers, the dead coral reefs, or the destroyed primary forests. The best we can do is keep the changes within a manageable range, staving off total calamity, preventing disaster that will result from the unchecked rise of emissions. This, at least, might usher us out of crisis mode. It is the bare minimum that we must do. (xiv)

| But we can also do much more. (xix)

[via: I agree with the sentiment, but question the facts. While melted glaciers will not return for hundreds of generations, I actually think we can bring back extinct species (cf., restore coral reefs (cf. Coral Restoration Foundation), and regenerate primary forests (cf. Science Direct and Nature).]

…this book is an invitation for you to take part in creating the future of humanity. We invite you to be stubbornly optimistic in the recognition that, despite the seemingly daunting nature of the challenge, collectively we have what it takes to address climate change now. (xxi)

By 2050 at the latest, and ideally by 2040, we must have stopped emitting more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than Earth can naturally absorb through its ecosystems (a balance known as net-zero emissions or carbon neutrality). In order to get to this scientifically established goal, our global greenhouse gas emissions must be clearly on the decline by the early 2020s and reduced by at least 50 percent by 2030. (xxi)

| The goal of halving global emissions by 2030 represents the absolute minimum we must achieve if we are to have at least a 50 percent chance of safeguarding humanity from the worst impacts. We are in the critical decade. It is no exaggeration to say that what we do regarding emissions reductions between now and 2030 will determine the quality of human life on this planet for hundreds of years to come, if not more. (xxi)


1. Choosing Our Future

We argue that devastation is admittedly a growing possibility but not yet our inevitable fate. While the beginning of this period of human history has been indelibly and painfully marked, the full story has not been written. We still hold the pen. In fact, we hold it more firmly now than ever (5) before. And we can choose to write a story of regeneration of both nature and the human spirit. But we have to choose. (6)

We present two scenarios. One or the other will become our reality. (6)

| The world we are now creating, leading to warming of more than 3 degrees. (6)

The world we must create, limiting warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius. (7)

2. The World We Are Creating

3. The World We Must Create

In fact, a huge portion of the costs of combating climate change were recuperated by governments’ savings on public health. (27)

[via: The totality of the descriptions in these two chapters is illuminating and illustrative of very real possible outcomes. However, I propose that reality will be most likely be a nuanced version between these two scenarios. In addition, there’s also a lot of generous thinking in describing humanity’s response to this crisis. Current observations suggest we are ideologically far from the kind of thoughtful, responsive, and empathetic perspectives needed.]


4. Who We Choose to Be

Attempting change while we are informed by the same state f mind that has been predominant in the past will lead to insufficient incremental advances. In order to open the space for transformation, we have to change how we think and fundamentally who we perceive ourselves to be. (38)

Paradoxically, systemic change is a deeply personal endeavor. Our social and economic structures are a product of our way of thinking. (38)

| For example, our economy is based on the belief that we can extract resources boundlessly, use them inefficiently, and discard them wantonly, drawing from the planet more than it can regenerate and polluting more than we can clean up. Over time we’ve developed a deeply exploitative ethos as the basis of our actions. (38)

Concerned social scientists are clear on what we need to do: we must move toward a regenerative economy, an economy that operates in harmony with nature, repurposing used resources, minimizing waste, and replenishing depleted resources. We must return to the innate wisdom of nature herself, the ultimate regenerator and recycler of all resources. (38)

| Less understood but just as important is the fact that we have reached the limits of our individualistic competitive approach. … We need to enlarge our understanding of ourselves and our relationships with others, and certainly with the natural systems that enable human life on Earth. (39)

We believe three mindsets are fundamental to us all in our pursuit to co-create a better world. With intentional provocation, we call them Stubborn Optimis, Endless Abundance, and Radical Regeneration. (39)

In the past changing the self and changing the world were regarded as separate endeavors and viewed in either-or terms. That is no longer the case. —Jonna Macy

Scientific understanding and spiritual insights are converging on the reality of human-nature interconnectedness. (40)

Our new intentional direction must move us beyond defeatism to optimism, beyond extraction toward regeneration, beyond linear toward circular economies, beyond individual benefit toward the common good, beyond short-term thinking toward long-term thinking and acting. (40)

5. Stubborn Optimism

At this point in history we have a responsibility to do what is necessary, and for most of us that will involve some deliberate reprogramming of our minds. (40)

| Psychological research has shown that attitudes can be transformed by first identifying our thought patterns, then (41) deliberately cultivating a more constructive approach. The practice involves becoming aware of these patterns, drawing out the unconscious assumptions, and challenging them when they don’t serve you. (42)

[via: “meta cognition.”]

When your mind tells you that it is too late to make a difference, remember that every fraction of a degree of extra warming makes a big difference, and therefore any reduction in emissions lessens the burden on the future. (43)

| When your mind tells you that this is all too depressing to deal with and that it is better to focus on the things you can directly affect, remind yourself that mobilizing for big generational challenges can be thrilling and can imbue your life with meaning and connection. (43)

| When your mind tells you that it will be impossible for the world to lighten its dependence on fossil fuels, remember that already more than 50 percent of the energy in the UK comes from clean power, that Costa Rica is 100 percent clean, and that California has a plan to get to 100 percent clean, including cars and trucks, by the time today’s toddlers have finished college. (43)

| When your mind tells you that the problem is the broken political system and we can’t fix that so there is no point in doing anything, remind yourself that political systems are still responsible to the views of people, and that throughout history people have successfully overcome extraordinary odds to achieve political change. (43)

| And when your mind tells you that you are just one per-(43)son, too small to make a difference, so why bother, you can remind yourself that tipping points are nonlinear. We don’t know what is going to make the difference, but we know that in the end systems do shift and all the little actions add up to a new world. Every time you make an individual choice to be a responsible custodian of this beautiful Earth, you contribute toward major transformations. (44)

Václav Havel aptly described optimism as “a state of mind, not a state of the world.” Three characteristics are generally agreed upon as essential to making this mindset transformative: the intention to see beyond the immediate horizon, the comfort with uncertainty about the final outcome, and the commitment that is fostered by that mindset. (44)

Optimism is about being able to intentionally identify and prescribe the desired future so as to actively pull it closer. (45)

[via: Pessimism is a “push,” optimism is a “pull.”]

| It is always easier to cling to certainty than it is to work for something because it is right and good, regardless of whether it currently stands a decent chance of success. (45)

Viewing our reality with optimism means recognizing that another future is possible, not promised. In the face of climate change, we all have to be optimistic, not because success is guaranteed but because failure is unthinkable. (46)

Impossible is not a fact. It is an attitude. (50)

Optimism is not soft, it is gritty. (52)

Today most people believe it is impossible to transform our economy (52) in one decade. but we cannot afford that fatalism; our only option is to turn our full attention to the immediate actions we can undertake to change direction. It starts with our own way of thinking about the challenge, our determined attitude, and our capacity to infect others with the same conviction, no matter how challenging that is. That is stubborn optimism. (53)

6. Endless Abundance

It starts with the deeply ingrained perception of scarcity—the view that there is a limited amount of something regardless of what the reality may be. … Whether it is based on objective reality or not, our fear of scarcity elicits our competitive response, which in turn feeds our fear of scarcity in a self-reinforcing cycle. (55)

| The perception of scarcity puts us into a very small mental box. We can expand that box in either of two ways. First, we can realize that quite often the perception of scarcity is not objective but rather of our own making. We can climb out of the mental scarcity box by understanding that there are other seats on the train or bus, and that more buses are coming a few minutes later. (55)

| The second way is to decide to step away from the zero-sum paradigm, a rather odd construct when you think about it. (55)

Giving is well known to increase individual happiness, so my “loss” can actually become my “gain.” In fact, “my loss ↔︎ your gain” can actually become “our gain.” (56)

| It’s all about the mindset. (56)

Our attitude does not change any of the facts…but it does make a massive difference in the nature of our experience. And in many cases, when we collaborate, we have more rich experiences, not fewer. (57)

| However, when the resources are actually scarce and getting scarcer, we face a very different situation in making decisions. Contrary to what we might initially think, in circumstances of real (not only perceived) scarcity, our only viable option is collaboration. Fortunately, contrary to what most of us believe, it is the option we human beings tend to adopt, at least under certain circumstances. (57)

[via: Portions of this section are commensurate with Rutger Bregman’s Humankind.]

…giving makes us happy, so while we act primarily in service to others during times of great hardship, we are also, in fact, acting in service to ourselves. (58)

| On November 13, 2015, two weeks before the start of the final session of negotiations for the Paris Agreement, the city suffered its worst terrorist onslaught ever. (58)

Some have proposed imposing a limit on emissions from industrialized nations so that space remains for those of developing countries: the developed nations deemed this unacceptable. Others have proposed a gradual reduction of emissions in industrialized countries and a managed growth of emissions in developing countries. Unsurprisingly, no happy point of convergence has been agreed on. Another proposal would impose a worldwide limit of two tons of CO2 emitted per person per year. As the range of national per capita yearly emissions spans from 0.04 to more than 37 tons of CO2, it was inevitable that those countries substantially above the suggested two tons did not seriously consider the proposal. (60)

The state of the planet no longer allows for this mindset because we have reached existential scarcity: limits to the survival of many of the ecosystems that sustain us and that help us to maintain safe greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere. (61)

The new zero-sum model presupposes collaboration, not competition, as the necessary engine for regenerating the biosphere and creating abundance. (61)

The mindset shift … away from competition and toward shared winning,… (63)

When we are motivated by a desire for collaboration, we (63) liberate ourselves from the restrictive framing of attaining “what I want, or think I need,” and open ourselves up to a broader framing of what is available and possible in many other forms—available to me, but not only to me, to others as well. The realization of abundance is not an illusory increase in physical resources, but rather an awareness of a broad array of ways to satisfy needs and wants so that everyone is content. In this way resources will be protected and replenished, and the relationships among us are enriched. (64)

| Endless abundance. (64)

In fact, ecosystems operate from the very principle of abundance—hey depend on components within them that are naturally plentiful, such as waste, to provide the food and nutrients for further growth. (64)

| We can also add creativity, solidarity, innovation, and many other abundant human attributes available to us, endlessly. (64)

As a next step, one could imagine a world of “open source everything,” an open approach in every field of human endeavor, where competition is no longer the operating principle, but rather collaboration. (65)

The practice of abundance starts by shifting our minds away from perceived scarcity to what we can collectively make abundant. (65)

[via: There is an underlying paradox in this chapter. There are limits to resources and usage. Unlimited abundance happens when those limited resources are used collaboratively and regenerative. In many ways, scarcity creates scarcity; abundance creates abundance. Abundance is a “mindset,” a philosophy of living, not a “physical truth.”]

7. Radical Regeneration

But our growth, both personal and professional, is a two-way street: what we get and what we give. As a species, however, we have become used to a one-way transaction, that of getting, often losing sight of the void that our taking has created. (68)

In the natural world, the strictest interpretation of the term regeneration is the self-generated healing process that restores an organism’s injured bodily part from the remaining healthy tissue. (70)

A broader interpretation of regeneration is the capacity of (70) a species or a biosystem to recover on its own, once humans remove the pressure they had been exerting. (71)

Let’s begin our regenerative mindset shift by acknowledging and internalizing the simple fact that our lives, our very physical survival, depend directly on nature. (73)

It is not only our immediate survival that depends on functioning ecosystems. In large part our health, physical and emotional, relies on having contact with the natural world around us. …“nature-deficit disorder.” [Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder] (74)

The Japanese health system has developed the practice of shinrin-yoku—literally, forest “bath” (not with water)—or spending mindful time in the woods. (74)

…some doctors argue that watching documentaries about endangered species and faraway ecosystems cannot substitute for personally caring for plants at home and directly exploring the flights of butterflies, birds, and dragonflies. (75)

A regenerative mindset bridges the gap between how nature works (regeneration) and how we humans have organized our lives (extraction). It allows us to “redesign human presence on Earth” driven by human creativity, problem solving, and fierce love of this planet. (76)

| Sir David Attenborough, one of the most renowned naturalists of our time, has warned us that “the Garden of Eden is no more.” We agree. That is why we now have to create a Garden of Intention—a deliberately regenerative Anthropocene. (76)

We have to shift our action compass from self-centric to nature-aligned. We have to filter every action through a consequential stress test, and we have to be pretty radical about it. When considering an action, we have to ask: Does it actively contribute to humans and nature thriving together as one integrated system on this planet? If yes, green light. If not, red light. Period. (77)

Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. Maybe many of us won’t be here to greet her, but on a quiet day, if I listen very carefully, I can hear her breathing. —Arundhati Roy

[via: This is the “עולם הבא,” the “world to come” or “the coming world”]


8. Doing What Is Necessary

We need transformational change at the speed that science demands and in a manner consistent with democracy—that is, if we do not wish to descend into tyranny or anarchy. (85)

[via: This section brought to mind the reasonable calculation, that the Syrian drought led to the rise of the “Alternative for Germany”.]

The ten action areas we set out here attempt to portray not only how we can reduce emissions but also how as a society we can make ourselves more resilient to extremist movements that could pull us back in the wrong direction. (86)

[via: It was amazing to read a bit of backstory, when in December 2015 there was a bomb found by the head of UN Security during the Paris Conference. It is yet additional context that speaks to the grand urgency of the moment and the impact of those decisions illustrated by the decision to continue to move ahead, even in the midst of imminent danger. It is similar to the question that is often asked as to “why would you send your child on a boat across the Mediterranean Sea (cf. Gulwali Passerli’s book, The Lightless Sky). Consider how bad the alternative must be.]

Action 1: Let Go of the Old World

Now is the time for us to thank fossil fuels, retire them, and move on. (89)

Change makes us vulnerable to tribalism and to the illusion of certainty. In the transition to a regenerative world, one of the biggest risks is that the political center does not hold, and people succumb to the easy promises of populist leaders at either end of the political spectrum. (90)

Change can also trigger blame. (90)

[via: cf. “Exxon Knew about Climate Change almost 40 years ago”.]

Focus on where you’re going, not on where you’ve been. Cultivate your constructive vision for the future and hold on to it, come what may. When you can see where you’re going, you won’t be so afraid of losing your grip on the past. (91)

Build resilience to a practice of non-attachment. We can all be susceptible to a desire to re-create the past. However, history teaches us that at moments of profound change, our nostalgia can be used against us. It can distract us from the urgent work ahead, and political leaders may appeal to the past to manipulate our emotions and secure our consent to act immorally. (92)

Burst out of your bubble. (92)

[via: cf. “Online Manipulation: All The Ways You’re Currently Being Deceived.”]

Get offline and get to know your neighbors, people in the grocery line, or fellow commuters. Challenge your own assumptions, and be mindful of misinformation and disinformation. (93)

Action 2: Face Your Greif but Hold a Vision of the Future

Start with why. (97)

Imagination is essential. (98)

cf. 1939 General Motors’ “Futurama”

Keep your eyes on what’s to come. (99)

You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it. —Maya Angelou

Action 3: Defend the Truth

Falsehood flies, and truth comes limping after it. —Jonathan Swift

Free your mind. (103)

[via: I appreciate this action, and I would support the fundamental idea, however, this delving into epistemic challenges may be asking more out of the audience than what is possible. For example, can the mind truly be “free?” I don’t intend to obfuscate the principle through esoteric philosophy, but this seems to be a critical and relevant question.]

Learn to distinguish between real science and pseudoscience. (104)

Don’t give up on climate deniers. (106) … By giving care, love, and attention to every individual, we can counter the forces pulling us apart. (107)

[cf. Saving Us by Katharine Hayhoe]

Action 4: See Yourself as a Citizen—Not as a Consumer

The South Indian monkey trap:

President Herbert Hoover’s Committee on Recent Economic Change in 1929 concluded that advertising was necessary to create “new wants that will make way for endlessly newer wants as fast as they are satisfied.” (110)

Reclaim your idea of a good life. Consumerism is the prevailing definition of a good life: you are in perpetual pursuit (111) of the almighty upgrade. (112)

[via: cf. “Hedonic Treadmill”]

We can develop the mental discipline to resist the imperatives of consumerism. We can change our consumption habits and vote with our money for products that are sustainable. (112)

[via: “Mental discipline”? Yes! “Consumption habits”? Not so easy. The cost is prohibitive, currently, and those financial incentive structures are powerful.]

Become a better consumer. (113)

Dematerialize. (113)

[via: cf. Kevin Kelly’s The Inevitable.]

This shift from ownership to stewardship will fundamentally change our relationship to consumerism. (114)

[via: The mention of Uber as an example illustrates the problem with absolutizing these principles. Uber is based upon ownership. I think there is merit in the philosophical argument being made here, but there is a tremendously gargantuan cultural and ideological mountain to climb to get there.]

The story of the happy fisherman by Paulo Coelho.

Action 5: Move Beyond Fossil Fuels 

Globally, governments spend about $600 billion every year keeping prices of fossil fuels artificially low. [Eliot Whittington, “How Big Are Fossil Fuel Subsidies?” Cambridge Insititute for Sustainability Leadership.] That’s around three times as much as subsidies provided for renewable energy. [Global Studies Initiative, “What We Do: Fossil Fuel Subsidies and Climate Change,” International Institute for Sustainable Development] Government may claim their administrations support renewable energy, but until they stop subsidizing fossil fuels, our progress will stall. (117)

…unless we make a smooth transition from today’s fossil-fuel-based economy to the fully decarbonized economy we need in the future, at some point there will be a “jump to distress,” meaning that high-carbon assets will suddenly drop in value by a large percentage. (117)

…”stranded assets.” (118)

Stand up for 100 percent renewable energy. (118)

[via: cf. RE100 Members, “the global corporate renewable energy initiative bringing together hundreds of large and ambitious businesses committed to 100% renewable electricity.”]

Make a time-bound, ambitious plan. (120)

Only 6 percent of the world’s population has ever set foot on a plane. (121)

Action 6: Reforest the Earth

Forests create the conditions for forests, in a self-sustaining system. … We lose the great forests of this Earth the way, in an old saying, people go bankrupt: first very slowly, and then very fast. (123)

Plant trees. … One study found that 900 million hectares, about the size of the entire United States, are available for reforestation without interfering with either human habitation or agriculture. [EATForum, “The EAT-Lancet Commission on Food, Planet, Health”] Once new forests were mature, they would absorb and store 205 billion tons of carbon, … 70 percent of all the C02 released into the atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution. (125)

[via: These are insightful numbers, and helpful in comparison to, say, Bill Gates’ calculation. Either way, we must see planting trees, not as THE answer, but as part of the larger collective of solutions.]

“Offsetting” has developed a bad reputation among some environmentalists. It is time to correct this mistake. Every single one of us should plant one tree, ten trees, or twenty. (126)

In short, we could return to the climate to how it was decades ago just by planting trees. [Jean-Francois Bastin, Yelena Finegold, Claude Garcia, et al., “The Global Tree Restoration Potential,” Science 365, no. 6448 (July 5, 2019): 76-79.] (126)

[via: I think the above paragraph needs nuance. Here is the opening paragraph of the cited article, which is important: “The restoration of trees remains among the most effective strategies for climate change mitigation. We mapped the global potential tree coverage to show that 4.4 billion hectares of canopy cover could exist under the current climate. Excluding existing trees and agricultural and urban areas, we found that there is room for an extra 0.9 billion hectares of canopy cover, which could store 205 gigatonnes of carbon in areas that would naturally support woodlands and forests. This highlights global tree restoration as our most effective climate change solution to date. However, climate change will alter this potential tree coverage. We estimate that if we cannot deviate from the current trajectory, the global potential canopy cover may shrink by ∼223 million hectares by 2050, with the vast majority of losses occurring in the tropics. Our results highlight the opportunity of climate change mitigation through global tree restoration but also the urgent need for action.”]

Let nature flourish. The term rewilding has been coined to describe the growing practice of allowing land to return to its natural processes. (127)

cf. Knepp Wildland Project:

Go plant-based. … While this may feel like a stretch for most of us, for the vast majority of human history we ate very little meat. [Humans’ meat consumption has varied throughout history but has generally been much lower than at present. Prehistoric humans ate occasional scavenged carrion, while ancient Greeks and Romans consumed between 20 and 30 kilograms per person per year. In the Middle Ages, European consumption stood at 40 kilograms per capita per year, and in the post-plague Renaissance, at 110 kilograms. During the Industrial Revolution the average dropped to only 14 kilograms per person per year. See Tomorrow Today, “A History of Meat Consumption,”. Post-industrialization and -refrigeration, meat consumption has steadily increased: from 20 kilograms per person globally in 1960 to 40 kilograms per person globally today. Consumption is highest across high-income countries (with the greatest meat-eaters residing in Australia, consuming around 116 kilograms per person in 2013). The average European and North American consumes nearly 80 kilograms and more than 110 kilograms, respectively (Hannah Ritchie and Max Roser, “Meat and Dairy Production,” Our World in Data, August 2017.)] (128)

Boycott products contributing to deforestation. (129)

Action 7: Invest in a Clean Economy

In the current transition, strictly linear GDP growth can no longer be the priority. … Prioritizing growth according to its  contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) would be a good place to start. … [Dieter Holger, “Norway’s Sovereign-Wealth Fund Boosts Renewable Energy, Divests Fossil Fuels,” Wall Street Journal, June 12, 2019.] (132)

Put your money where it matters. Capital tends to flow toward investments that have worked in the past, as if the future will resemble the past in any meaningful way. … This is technically right, of course, but it presents us with a problem. We’re not going to create the future we want without some risk. (133)

Action 8: Use Technology Responsibly

Belief in innovation is no excuse for lack of a plan. (139)

Find out if your government, your local community, or the company you work for is investing in AI, and what they are using it for. (141)

Action 9: Build Gender Equality

Action 10: Engage in Politics

The transition to a regenerative world is possible only if we have stable political systems that are responsive to our planet’s changing needs and our citizens’ changing desires. (150)

cf. Extinction Rebellion

History has shown that when approximately 3.5 percent of the population participates in nonviolent protest, success becomes inevitable. No nonviolent protest has ever failed to achieve its aims once it reached that threshold of participation. In the UK, this would be 2.3 million people. In the United States, 11 million. (153)

It is not about changing governments or political leaders. It is about waging sustained political action and engagement. (156)

If democracy is to survive and thrive into the twenty-first century, climate change is the one big test that it cannot fail. (156)

Conclusion: A New Story

We want you to know two things.

First, even at this late hour we still have a choice about our future, and therefore every action we take from this moment forward counts.

Second, we are capable of making the right choices about our own destiny. We are not doomed to a devastating future, and humanity is not flawed and incapable of responding to big problems, if we act. (157)

Right now, the predominant stories we are telling ourselves about the climate crisis are not very inspiring. But a new story can reinvigorate our efforts. (158)

| When the story changes, everything changes. (158)

At this moment, when we have reached the limits of the planet’s ability to sustain life in the form in which we know it, we have also reached the limits o the stories that define our lives. Personal achievements through individualistic competition, continuous consumption, skepticism about our ability to come together as humanity, and an inability to see the deeper impacts of what we are doing to the planet—all are no longer useful. (161)

| Now we must move toward understanding our shared existence on this planet, not because it is a nice addendum to what we do but because it is a matter of survival. (161)

So let us begin today to tell the story of how we did not balk at this seemingly insurmountable challenge, of how we were not defeated by the multiple setbacks we encountered. Let us tell the story of how we made the choice to pull away from the brink, of peril, of how we took our responsibility seriously and did everything that was necessary to emerge from the crisis while rekindling our relationships with each (162) other and with all the natural systems that enable human life on Earth. (163)

| Let it be a story of great adventure, against overwhelming odds. (163)

| A story of survival. (163)

| And of a thriving existence. (163)

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