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Lily’s Glossary of Optimism

How can we solve our emerging crises? First and foremost by educating ourselves so that we can start the conversation and work towards lasting change. “Optimism demands action. Optimism inspires change”. We’ve excerpted a glossary of terminologies, movements, ideologies that Lily explores in her book, Who Cares Wins. If you have the book, let it be a reference point in your everyday life. and if you don’t a teaser for when you have a chance to pick it off the shelf.



Put very simply, is incorporating trees into agriculture. Put trees on your farm and hey, presto, you’ve got healthier soils, higher crop yields, and increased habitats for wildlife. It forms part of the wider practice of agro-ecology which generally aims to work with nature, and not against, for sustainable farming practices.



Bio-plastics are derived from plants rather than petroleum, meaning they absorb rather than release carbon dioxide. Wires glasses use a bio-plastic made from the bright pink castor bean plant, which was a favourite of the early Early Egyptians (for lamp oil) and Thomas Jefferson (believed to deter moles).


Carbon Neutrality

Carbon neutrality can be achieved for anything from businesses and products to concerts and book tours, either by eliminating carbon emissions altogether, or by balancing them with carbon off-setting (think tree-planting) to reach net zero emissions.



Ephermeralization was the vision espoused by Buckminster Fuller that technology would enable you to do “more and more with less and less until eventually you can do everything with nothing.”



In the face of growing public unrest within the United States around environmental issues, the EPA was established in 1970 by then President Nixon with the aim to create ‘a cleaner healthier environment for the American people’. Evidence that protest can be effective.



The portmanteau denotes a largely vegetarian diet with occasional meat dishes. In essence, a more environmentally conscious approach to being an omnivore.


Gaia Theory

Giving some scientific backing to the Buddhist dictum that everything is interconnected, in the 1970’s chemist James Lovelock and biologist Lynn Margulis presented the impactful theory that Earth is a single self-regulating system, whereby life manages the planet for the survival of life.


Half Earth Movement

In the 2016 book of the same name, legendary biologist E.O. Wilson set out the argument that half of the Earth’s land should be given over to a human-free nature reserve in order to preserve biodiversity.



United Nations Inergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Basically, the people we really need to listen to.


Junking the waste mindset

The decision to waste, or the effort to resurrect, comes from a cultural mindset. Can we move away from overconsumption and disposability?


Kula Ring Exchanges

A gift-economy practice in the Kula ring chain of islands in Papua New Guinea. Participants travel by canoe, sometimes hundreds of miles to exchange shell necklaces (which are traded clockwise around the ring) and shell armbands (which are traded counterclockwise). The gifts hold neither financial value nor any particular use but instead are traded to enhance social status and strengthen relationships between the large number of participating islands.


Lao Tzu

“He who knows he has enough is rich”. Lao Tzu.

There is a borgeoning counter-culture resisting the mainstream insistence that we have infiniate endlessly shifting needs that are impossible to meet. An increasing number of individuals and households are opting for voluntary simplicity: to clarify their lives and lower their costs.


Magic Carbon Sink

Our humble soil contains more than three times the carbon there is in the atmosphere, four times the amount stored in all living animals an plants and absorbs a quarter of annual fossil-fuel emissions. Soil can contain much more or less carbon, depending upon how we treat it.


Net Zero

Two countries–Bhutan and
Suriname–have already achieved carbon neutrality, and seventy-seven countries over a hundred cities and states, at the time of writing, had agreed to be net zero by 2050, including sizeable emitters like France, Germany, the UK, California and New York. Most European countries have agreed to get the whole EU to commit to be carbon neutral by 2050: increasing climate change funding to get there. All commitments to net zero by 2050 are cause for celebration.



Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development: an intergovernmental economic organization with thirty-six mostly high-income, democratic member countries.


Project Drawdown

Project Drawdown places ‘reduced food waste’ and ‘plant-rich diets’ as the third-and fourth-biggest measures that can be taken to combat emissions and climate change.


Quantum AI

Long-haul electric planes are still problematically out of reach. Hartmut Neven and his Quantum AI team are working with NASA to develop lithium long-oxide batteries, which may be powerful enough to see long-haul commercial electric planes take flight.


Regenerative Agriculture

Regenerative agriculture is number 11 in Project Drawdown’s list of climate solutions: they advocate using a mix of techniques for soil and health and carbon capture – no tillage, no external nutrients, no pesticides or fertilizer and mixed crop rotations.


Slow Food

Pioneering chef and activist Alice Waters represents an alternative ‘slow’ food narrative, which is deeply suspicious of GMO and non-traditional farming methods. “The way you eat becomes the way that you think. When you are eating fast food, you are digesting the values that come with the food: the idea that it’s okay to eat in your car; the idea that more is better; the idea that time is money; the ideas that cooking and farming are drudgery.”



Marrying Tech and Gaia, this breed of environmentalist embraces technology to help pave the way to a cleaner, greener future. Fraser Clark was a technogaian who advocated the ‘techno right brain’ with the hippy left brain’ and organized consequent ‘zippie picnics’ in 1980’s and 1990’s London


Utilitarian Dilemma

For a long time humans have connected happiness with ethics (think Hedonism or Epicureanism). But what if one person’s happiness is at another’s loss? Utilitarianism is the philosophy that holds that the most moral act is the one that produces the most happiness for the greatest number of people.


Vaughn, Genevieve

Vaughn makes the case that the gift economy is the natural state of being, as all humans enter the world through their relationship to their mother (though men can also ‘mother’), which ‘lays down the patterns of communication and mutuality that are carried out in the gift economy.’


Wildlife Corridors

Just like corridors you might find in a building, helping people get neatly from one place to another, but made of trees and bushes. A clever way to join together disparate conservation areas, following animal migration paths, so you achieve more wildlife protection using less land, and minimize animal/human conflicts.


Xakriabà, Artemisa

In Brazil, Artemisa Xakariabà, a teenager from the Xakariabà peoples, describes how mining companies have denied her community access to the river and campaigns to stop environmental destruction in the rainforest.


Youth Climate Movement

‘You say you love your children, above all else, and yet you are stealing their future in front of their very eyes’–Greta Thunberg. Her small, simple act of civil disobedience inadvertently sparked a global movement which within six months would see 1.4 million children across 128 countries strike school to demand climate action. Within a year an estimated 6 to 8 million adults and children had joined the associated Global Climate March.


Zheng Bo

Six people walk around the forest in Taiwan, erotically touching the plants. The common ferns were once valued by local tribes but then neglected by Japanese colonists. The ‘eco-queer’ video, Pteridophilia is by Chinese artist Zheng Bo.

Classroom Skye (1)


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