IPCC Global Warming Graphic

The latest IPCC report on climate change came out with its dire warnings and projected scenarios we face as a planet. We can choose to look at the report and simply give up or work alongside with those that are working to change this current course, and the optimism they and we feel.

For, it is this collective optimism that a few of us hold that can lead the change we need in our greater society. It is our belief, our dedication, our work, our persistence, even in the face of what might sometimes feel like insurmountable odds, that allows us to persevere and slowly change the world, in our own small ways. It is the sum of our collective work, big and small, that will ultimately triumph. To aim for anything less is not an option.

The planet is not going anywhere, it’s been here for over 4 billion years and has as many left, likely with some life on it that entire time. We humans have been here for merely 200k years, at least close to our current form, and really only 20,000 years and yet in just a hundred years we are on a trajectory to drastically, permanently and irreversibly change the course of this planet for our way of life as humans and that of our biosphere.

So what’s at stake is our own way of life. Our ability to live on a planet that has fairly stable climate as we’ve had for the past 10k years. We can adapt, everything around us can adapt but not at the pace of change we are currently experiencing, and causing. We humans have achieved many things, negotiated depths of oceans and heights of mountains and space even. But we can’t negotiate with laws of physics. The carbon in the atmosphere will not simply disappear. Even if we were able to somehow magically and suddenly stop every last bit of carbon emissions. The inertia built into the system, the levels of carbon in the atmosphere will have an effect on our planet, now for 100s of years.

Bridge at RP's project in the Colibri Cloudforest

But we can do something about slowing those emissions, stabilising the effects. And that is the noble goal we work towards. To slow down the rapid change and its deleterious effects on our fragile and delicately balanced planet our modernized way of living and our sheer population size has caused.

Protecting tropical forests is the fastest, cheapest, most efficient way of reducing emissions.

So we at RP are doing our small, small bit. But it is the collective of all the small bits and our ever growing numbers that will ultimately triumph. That is what I believe. That is what gives me hope and optimism. That is why I do what I do everyday and why I believe we have to have lofty goals like reducing global deforestation by 5% by 2020. If we don’t shoot for the stars, how would we ever even make it to the moon? And we might just succeed and exceed our goals. All things start small.

We at RP are beyond the vision state. We are and have been a reality for a while now. We have done significant work, we’ve had significant success and yet the effects of our work are like a drop in the giant water tank of a planet. And yet, what if that drop were a deep green super saturating dye that would permeate the water? What if we were to aim and say that by 2050 deforestation would be a dirty word, that we would have changed behavior and awareness such that cutting a tree was not done lightly. Much like the no smoking signs we see everywhere and our collective reaction and knowledge of what smoking does, we would know what cutting trees did.

Can we imagine such a world? If Pampa Hermosa (our Colibri Cloudforest project) can go from having no concept of garbage disposal or collection and simply throwing their garbage cliffside just five years ago, and still doing the same fours years ago to now having garbage pickup for organic, inorganic and compost, way beyond anything we do in our own “civilized” world, you know there is hope!

It is in this hope that I invite all of you to join me. With the work we do at Rainforest Partnership. With anyone else doing any climate change work, and with anything you are doing in your own lives, place of business, worship, and play that helps us protect our planet. After all, it is the only one we have.