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‘An incredible world is still within reach today’: World-renowned environmental scientist preaches optimism in the face of climate change.

A packed lecture hall full of Miami University students and faculty listened intently Thursday night as a world leader on solutions for climate change offered hope for a better future amid the chaos of climate doomism that plagues the conversation today. 

Jonathan Foley, an environmental scientist and executive director of the climate solution database Project Drawdown, delivered a confident lecture on Thursday, Sept. 7, about the tangible hope that remains for fighting our planet's problems today. An energetic and well-spoken professional, Foley devoted his lecture to discussing how stopping climate change is within our reach.

“I believe we can win this race for the future,” Foley said. He further explained how humans need to embrace sustainable change rather than continue the current cycle of ecological exploitation and destruction.

Foley began his lecture by emphasizing the need to use the technology that we have now and stop putting it off in favor of fossil fuels. Foley highlighted the multitude of new technologies and infrastructure that are being built with sustainability in mind, but also how society cannot let the opportunity to use them to their greatest potential slip away.

“The longer we wait the less impact those solutions will have,” Foley said.

Photo by Jake Ruffer | The Miami Student

Foley does not believe humans are too far gone to stop climate change; he merely believes humans have been delaying the action needed to reverse it. For Foley, the dreary sentiment around the future of our planet is as dangerous as not wanting to fix the issue at all.

“We’ve sailed past awareness and into anxiety,” Foley said. “... We need to shift the conversation to talking about both problems and solutions.” 

The fight for the planet is not just about changing the way you live; It’s also about changing the way you think and talk, Foley said. 

“Don’t inspire people with fear, inspire them with hope,” Foley said.

Knowing that he was talking to a younger crowd, Foley reiterated the importance of the present to fix the environmental issues at hand. Despite the despair that can come with his work, Foley did not once suggest that there is reason to be pessimistic about the future if action is taken soon.

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“It’s not game over,” Foley said. “There’s never been a more important moment in human history to step up and make a difference.”