19 December 2014

The Maturity of Optimism

The environmental and political worlds are aflutter over the optimism of Washington state.

Although it's usually associated with children, fantasy, and naïve behavior, optimism is what allows us to grow. It brings with it the confidence to face major challenges, seek new ways of thinking, and do what is said to be impossible.

On the other hand, it takes no real effort or talent to find reasons something cannot be done, especially when faced with difficult, complex issues. We've heard "can't" so many times on environmental issues that you'd think it were the name of some species or chemical compound. The combination of pessimism and cynicism that breeds (or yields) "can't" poisons our collective decision-making processes and clouds our lives. It certainly isn't inspirational, and it isn't productive either, meaning it's neither youthful nor mature.

This week, Governor Jay Inslee showed the possibility and productivity of optimism by proposing the Carbon Pollution Accountability Act, a cap-and-trade system that would make Washington the world leader in limiting carbon pollution, address costs for low-income families, contribute to public education, and provide funding for transit infrastructure that would reduce the need for cars. Simply put, it is the smartest, most exciting thing I've seen come to the political side of environmental issues. For a full recap and breakdown of Governor Inslee's proposed program, check out this article from the Sightline Institute.

The best part of knowing your limits is waving as you leave them behind.

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