While I was reading this amazing book edited by John Brockman*, in which the world’s leading scientists and thinkers answer why they are optimistic about a specific topic, I though that it would be exciting to ask this question to myself: What am I optimistic about? and why?
Some ideas came to my mind but the obvious reason was to leave a clean world to my daughter, nephews and their future generations. However, some actions should be intensified in order to meet our future generations’ needs. I decided to divide my answer in three parts: Global Climate Change, Technologies and Education.
Firstly, climate change is a global challenge that requires a global solution. This was recognised as early as 1992 when, at the UN Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, more than 150 countries expressed a desire to stabilise greenhouse gas emissions. It was a very good start! However, emissions continue to rise, and we must now plan to deal with future changes. For this reason I am optimistic about our current progress in technology.
Secondly, technologies have been an amazing demonstration of human interest for improvement. I believe this is a good path! The invention of the solar powered aircraft, biodegradable batteries and electric cars are some of the technologies that could make us optimistic. As Tor Nørretranders** said in his answer about optimisms (one of my favourites): Without optimism, we would not be here. The rational evidence for giving up is always there, but we have survived, thanks to the faith and the strength to go on despite all warnings. Optimism always wins, until nobody is around to know that it did not. Optimise optimism!
I would like to thank scientists for dedicating their lives to find hope and opportunities for all of us. I think it is opportune to mention a paragraph from the 2007 edge.org question: As an activity, as a state of mind, science is fundamentally optimistic. Science figures out how things work and thus can make them work better. Much of the news is either good news or news that can be made good, thanks to ever deepening knowledge and ever more efficient and powerful tools and techniques. Science, on its frontiers, poses more and ever better questions, ever better put.
Finally, as Nelson Mandela said: Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world. Therefore, I am optimistic about learning from our past mistakes and to encouraging future generations to keep searching for answers in the present and keep pushing forward in order to reach an education system based on critical thinking.
So, What are you optimistic about? Why?
*John Brockman was considered by the Guardian as the man who runs the world’s smartest websites. He is a writer, agent and publisher of the “Third culture website, the forum for leading scientists and thinkers to share their research with the general public.
**Tor Nørretranders is a science writer, consultant, and lecturer. Author of The Generous Man: How Helping Others Is the Sexiest Thing You Can Do.