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Climate change as an opportunity for abundance, not austerity

What if addressing the climate crisis could lead to abundance, rather than doom? It’s a vision that writer and historian Rebecca Solnit suggests is often missing from our conversations about climate change.

Many assume that fighting climate change means giving up abundance and trading our conveniences for less stuff, less convenience. But what if it meant giving up things we’re better off without, from deadly emissions to nagging feelings of doom and complicity in destruction? What if the austerity is how we live now, and abundance could be what is to come?

Our reliance on fossil fuels makes us poorer in many ways. We’re living in a world where confidence in the future and in our institutions is fading, and measures of well-being are often dismal. The fossil fuel industry also corrodes our politics and has a devastating impact on our health and the environment.

But the good news is that the knowledge that we are not separate from nature but dependent on it is becoming more prevalent. People are rethinking how they work and live, and we’re seeing a resurgence of Indigenous power and vision in climate protests and ideas about food, time, and values.

To reframe climate change as an opportunity, we need to change our perspective. What if we imagined wealth consisting of joy, beauty, friendship, community, and closeness to flourishing nature? What if we prioritized reclaiming our time and focusing on creative pursuits, adventure, learning, and building stronger societies?

To address the climate crisis, we must summon a sense of meaning, deep connection, and generosity. We must embrace joy and moral beauty. These are the kinds of abundance we need to make many lives better. And the good news is that we already have it in us

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