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Old Baldy, Canada | photo by Cameron Schaus

Wishing You a Hesitatingly Optimistic 2017

January 2017

By Carolyn Hinman

Fort Ord Dunes State ParkFort Ord Dunes State Park near California State University at Monterey Bay. (Photo: Carolyn Hinman).

2016 is a year many environmental activists can be proud to put down in the record books. President Obama ordered protections against drilling in parts of the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans, renewable energy is projected to outpace coal as the world's major source of electricity, and rates of greenhouse gas emissions are reported to be slowing worldwide. Here on the Central Coast, the highly contested Monterey Downs project was withdrawn by the developer, and the November 8th election brought about a statewide ban on plastic bags. It is exciting to see such progress unfolding, and emotions are running high as personal investments in these steps to intervene in the crash course upon which humans have set the planet seem to be paying off.

High on any environmentalist's list of concerns is what the incoming Trump Administration will mean for the future of our Country and the world. 2016 may have been a banner year for the green movement, but we are all watching in shock and horror as the president-elect appoints oil magnates and climate change deniers to his advisory cabinet. What does 2017 hold for the health of our planet? Trump has vowed to back out of the Paris Climate Agreement, to resuscitate the flagging coal industry, and to eviscerate the EPA.

Decades of hard-fought battles on the environmental front culminated in victories in 2016. Do we risk losing all of that progress now that profit-seeking special interests could be in charge? Although victories at Standing Rock over the Dakota Access Pipeline, worldwide regulations protecting our oceans, commitments by China and India to limit global warming to two degrees Celsius – all could be for naught at the bidding of this new Administration, I can't help but maintain a sliver of hope. We have come too far, and have pushed too hard to let it crumble around us. Out of adversity comes strength beyond measure, and if ever there was a time to band together and take a stand for truth and justice, it is now. Perhaps out of the new Administration's resistance to progress will grow a social and environmental justice movement the likes of which have not been seen in our lifetime. We must continue to speak up; we must refuse to accept this growing climate of hateful prejudice and targeted oppression. We must not become desensitized to the slowly boiling waters of tyranny, censorship, and willful ignorance. As we move into 2017, it is our responsibility to keep our eyes and our minds open to what is happening around us.

Our power is in our numbers and in our dedication to preserving this one precious planet upon which we live. Our power is in our truth, if we will only continue to speak it.