Finding Light in the Darkness

Taylor Murray | The Chronicle

Monday, April 22 was Earth Day. Every year, environmentalists jump on the chance to encourage people to recycle and ride their bikes to work instead of cars, spouting grave statistics about pollution, climate change and impending doomsday predictions. This year, though, something changed. 

When I woke up on Monday morning and checked my email, I saw my daily New York Times news update, and an article about environmental progress caught my eye. As someone who normally does everything in her power to scroll past the “Here’s 10 Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint” and “Scientists Fear The World Will End In 2050: Here’s Why” titles, stopping on a climate change article (especially on Earth Day) was an unusual occurrence. 

I was pleasantly surprised.

Apparently, we are doing a lot better in the climate change department than we thought. According to Delger Erdenesanaa from The New York Times, in “Three Places Changing Quickly to Fight Climate Change,” Uruguay has become 90% powered by renewable energy in just 10 years, as opposed to depending entirely on imported oil in 2013. 7.3 million electric cars were sold in 2022, with more than half of sales taking place in China. Paris officials have announced a plan to convert their city to “100-percent cycle friendly” by 2026 in an effort to replace cars altogether, rather than spending money on producing environmentally friendly vehicles. Traffic patterns are even being updated in the city to accommodate public transportation and cyclists.

With all of the negative, doomsday-predicting reports in the news today, it can be hard to stay positive. All I needed was one little article, one piece of hope, to remind me that not everything in the world is bad all of the time. 

It seems that nearly 50% of the news outlets I see capitalize on gossipy information – celebrity scandals, lawsuits, people making fools of themselves on live TV – way more than they should. The other 50% focus on other, more serious negatives, like wars, school shootings and police brutality. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t be informed as a society about our own faults – in fact, I think it’s incredibly important that we realize some of the bad things going on in our lives so that we can work toward fixing them. I do, however, think that we should also see more updates on the progress that we’ve made as a society. Positive news. Hopeful stories. Articles about people coming together to support each other in the face of adversity, instead of articles about the adversity itself. 

Informational outlets aren’t the only places where I encounter this problem – social media is a huge cause of the spread of ugly news. If I’m scrolling through reels on Instagram, it’s ridiculous how many likes accompany videos of a kid slipping on ice and clips of influencers mocking JoJo Siwa. It’s a nice relief when I see a video about a stranger helping someone out on the street and expecting nothing in return. This may seem dramatic, but seeing things like that help restore my faith in humanity.

Reading that article about our environmental progress reminded me that we aren’t just a dying society, ridiculing each other behind our backs. There are people that fight for change, that offer a meal to a hungry mother on the street. Don’t let the seemingly constant flow of negativity make you forget that.