May your baked goods rise and sea levels not
You twenty twenty won!
We know that losses loom larger than gains. Ten people tell you your snickerdoodle cookies were delicious and you dwell on the one person who told you they were a little too snickery, a touch overdoodled. We absorb gains effortlessly and magnify losses dramatically. But we can know this a million times over and still need to be reminded of it EVERY SINGLE DAY. So for this, the last MVP of 2021, in a year of arduous climate and Covid pain, I’d just like to say: Focus on the wins. These wins needn’t be epic thrashings. Just getting through, breathing through, living through is a win enough in a year that gave us profound radicalization, increased climate disaster, and Squid Game.
There’s no shame in focusing on the best version of yourself. In fact psychologist Kevin Cokley recommends you do as much in this fantastic episode of Hidden Brain. Writing down your wins cements them, and helps you see that there’s often more success than failure, more victory than loss. In climate, especially, the setbacks can feel like gut punches. But we must remain clear-eyed optimists in the face of this challenge, and to do that requires a fortitude that comes from within. So sing, shout, or scrawl out your accomplishments. And use them to fuel your life and work this year.
I’ve written before about how much I dislike superficial ‘good news’ roundups. But even as things have grown more dire, there are green shoots of progress, and a feeling that we are nearing greater climate reckoning (but then I always have this feeling, maybe it’s just indigestion). This doesn’t mean putting on blinders to the fires, both dumpster and literal, all around us, just making sure we are giving ourselves sightlines, neon beacons to remind us of path and progress.
A roundup of some things I loved this year:
Young scientist climate TikTokkers doing the work: Alaina Wood is so smart and great and here to debunk all the climate doomers in :30 of vertical video.
Is it time for your pet to go vegan?: For the past few years my brother and sister-in-law have been neatly revolutionizing pet food with lower-carbon cultured meat. Was pleased to see this lovely write up about their work in my fave David Byrne’s Reasons to be Cheerful.
Sarah Wilson’s Wild podcast: I’m late to discovering Wilson’s podcast. She’s one of the most thoughtful interviewers out there and Wild is now one of my favourites. I particularly recommend her interviews with Emily Atkin, Saul Griffith, Seth Godin, and Jud Brewer.
The rise of the E-bike: Our kids are almost too big for our cargo bike, but I’m not ready to part with it, even as I pine for a model with electric assist. The world of e-bikes has changed so much from half a dozen years ago when people would gawp at us in our unwieldy ride. These days, I see all types of e-bikes on our streets … even in wintry Canada. And this year, our city’s bikeshare added e-bikes to its fleet.
Talk Climate to Me: I’m so proud of the whole team that brought this magic together. In fairly short order, we launched a free, unscary climate education experience that has educated hundreds of women to date. We have three cohorts starting up in 2022. All welcome! If you or someone you know might benefit from some fun (srsly!), accessible, climate ed…sign up!
Forgot to share one of my CBC radio hits on CO2e: It’s GREAT that we’re seeing more carbon transparency in consumer goods. Obviously much more to do, but this is a step towards much better consumer-facing carbon disclosure.
Increasingly brilliant and nuanced research on individual ‘fair shares’ of carbon.
And if you asked me for a print of the 100 things you can do to help in the climate crisis, I’m…too lazy to sell things, but I made a free downloadable 11x14 poster here.
THIS WEEK: Your wins
Are you proud of anything in particular this year? Write it down, shout it out, let me know!
LAST WEEK: Watt you can do
Thanks to Satya for this beautiful and generous missive. My urban electric bias definitely clouded my ability to surface other ways of low-carbon living, all of which are valid and necessary.
I think that it is rarely useful to suggest that everyone take any one action (except maybe to love each other).
For me, this was an ouch. I am one of a large number of folks who have chosen to keep our footprints as light as possible by going fully solar, and off the grid. It has entailed a large investment in money and energy (mine) and quite a learning curve. I have made the choice not to have TVs or microwaves or toaster ovens or dehydrators of humidifiers or anything that pulls electricity that is not necessary. Lights, refrigerator yes. Computer yes as needed, but turned off when not in use. Battery operated alarm clock, yes.
However, it also means that I and all these folks cannot choose electrical appliances.
I use propane for my water heater and stove. I love the idea of an electric car but could not plug it in to recharge it at my home. I heat with wood, (although the word is out that pellet stoves may be a more conscious option and then I will shift). In summer I close curtains in the day, open windows and doors at night.
Is one option better than the other? Solar and no electric, or electric and no solar? I don't know, only that the one I have made as my lifestyle feels appropriate for a simpler life.
In another life, I’d write a dissertation on Bella Ciao, the anti-fascist Feminist partisan resistance anthem, of late repurposed as a Covid rouser and Money Heist theme, that never fails to give me strength. There are so many beautiful versions, but here’s my favourite these days.
I’m so grateful to this readership for always sending me brilliant thoughts, inspiration, and helpful course corrects when necessary. Please continue to do so! I have some new ideas for next year, and very much welcome yours.
I wish you all a New Year full of happiness and success both in climate and life itself,
Thanks for this great reminder article. We do need to savor the wins. As long as we're talking about "Don't Look Up," many of the reviews from "official" reviewers were negative. Some didn't think it was "funny enough" for a comedy. Or, didn't flow so well. Made me eye-roll. This was an epic flick. And, the "reviews" dovetail so well with the message of this movie. They don't "get it" and aren't focusing on the overarching message, hyper-critical about some actor/characters. It's hard to tell stories about climate change that people will sit through. This was brilliant: a totally disturbing "comedy" about the messiness of human behavior and the consequences of idiocy.