Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Post 20: Being Young, and Asking for a Better Future

One of the resounding messages that I feel I've been left with after the Impact! 2014 Youth Leadership in Sustainability Conference is that we need more stories that make sustainability come alive. And then I have a whole host of questions to accompany that: what does sustainability look like? How does it translate to someone doing something in the world? What possibilities exist for me in my position? How do I make sustainability and environmental issues generally, more visible for other people?

Since retiring from being a professional astronaut, Commander Chris Hadfield has been making the best of the skills and experiences he built in his career as an astronaut. And he is an amazing storyteller. I think griping people—as he did me—with stories about his lessons learned and unique perspectives because of looking at our planet from the International Space Station, which essentially embodies the 'pale blue dot' idea that Carl Sagan first wrote about, he has a lot of really valid things to say when it comes to sustainability, addressing climate change, and using human agency as a force for good in the world.
Gorgeous arbutus (Arbutus menziesii) on my walk down to Cadboro Bay.
I appreciate his storytelling. The talk he gave at the conference was immensely engrossing. All of this makes me wonder about the imagination that we currently have about the future of environmental and climate issues. Where do we see positive and useful examples of a different future? Who do we have changing our imaginations about what's possible? What do humans' actions on the planet and towards our ecosystems indicate for our values, and our general impact on the planet? What do we do if we find we're stuck in paradigms that don't work any more? How will people respond to "novel ecosystems," or assemblages of new plant and animal species that challenge traditional management techniques and ask us to examine our values when we look at the species that fill our waterways, backyards, and roadside ditches?

I think that we live in an exciting time. I am really intrigued by what the future holds: engineered ecosystems, novel ecosystems, adaptive cities. Dear world, please bring me the better future I'm looking for, where people and other species, animal and plant alike, get along a little bit better, share resources and thrive alongside each other. And in the meantime, I suppose I'll keep writing my letters, signing petitions, and asking for the better world that in glimpses, I sometimes see.

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