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Not the End of the World: The Beginning of a Better Future

Evening Lecture/Seminar

Thursday, April 4, 2024 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET
Code: 1L0565
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In today's world, it is easy to become consumed by anxiety and despair when contemplating the future of our planet. With climate change seemingly spiraling out of control, it’s become common to forewarn younger generations that the Earth is on the brink of destruction.

Author Hannah Ritchie challenges this prevailing narrative in her new book, Not the End of the World: How We Can Be the First Generation to Build a Sustainable Planet. She argues that a more optimistic outlook emerges when we step back and consider the progress that humanity has achieved throughout history. Her mission is not to conduct groundbreaking studies or make scientific breakthroughs, but to synthesize and convey the wealth of existing scientific knowledge and data.

Drawing from the latest research and offering practical guidance, Ritchie illustrates that with a little optimism and proactive lifestyle changes, we can be the first generation to pave the way for a sustainable world. She discusses critical topics including air pollution and breathing clean air; deforestation and seeing the world for the trees; biodiversity loss and protecting the world’s wildlife; overfishing and pillaging the oceans; and others.

Like the Smithsonian’s Earth Optimism Initiative, which was created to shine a light on the people who are developing sustainable solutions that preserve nature as well as our own well-being, Ritchie advocates that with active change, it may not be the end of the world, but the beginning of a better future. Ritchie is in conversation with Akshat Rathi, senior reporter for Bloomberg News, and author of Climate Capitalism: Winning the Global Race to Zero Emissions

Ritchie is the deputy editor and lead researcher of the online scientific publication Our World in Data.

Copies of Not the End of the World (Little, Brown Spark) are available for purchase.

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Inside Science