We humans are glorious at failing ourselves, each other, and the planet, but if there is one thing that spectacularly exceeds our capacity to do all that, it is our capacity and ability to hope that things will be better. Below are my "hope finds" – a list of actions by our fellow humans here and around the world. They will not only lift up your spirits to boost the holiday cheer but also, perhaps, move you to act by helping these organizations in their scaled solutions to give us all a fighting chance to have a world that is worth calling "home."
1. Scientists developed superbug-resistant, self-cleaning plastic wrap - One of the main things that make plastic only good for a single use (not just plastic wraps but also other things made of plastic like IV tubes) is that they can harbor bacteria that can be passed on. This plastic that has just been developed cleans itself by making the material with ultra-small wrinkles that repel bacteria and even chemically treat the plastic.
2. The Ocean Cleanup device has returned from the Pacific Garbage Patch with its first load of plastic - The Ocean Cleanup's device – a 2,000-foot long floating tube that runs on water surface to catch plastic trash – came back with plastic that will now be turned into certified recycled materials that people can buy in place of purchasing new things. The efforts will continue as they hope that a plastic with a story will turn people's despair over the plastic victory into a triumph for life – all life, including ours – in the oceans.
3. The Philippine Eagle Foundation saving the critically endangered species - The magnificent Philippine Eagle that is supposed to be the analogue for the Filipino spirit is on the brink of vanishing. Kill the bird and we ourselves die in many ways, not only a little. Help it flourish and what it takes to do that will prove that we have it in us to flourish too as people.
4. Biodiversity protection and climate reversal efforts by the World Wildlife Fund-Philippines - From reforesting the Ipo forest which is what will keep our waters in Metro Manila secure, to solar panels in communities in Butuan, to securing marine protected areas, WWF-Philippines has proven itself for over 20 years to be on the side of life – in all forms.
5. Protei, open hardware oil spill cleaning sailing robot - I met the main proponent, Cesar Harada, recently and was very impressed and moved by not just his innovative brilliance but his most genuine stake to work for a better world. His work, a sailing robot, is so cool that it is like Optimus Prime doing water surface ballet and designed to go on a mission to save the world when oil spills happen. It can also potentially be designed to clean other stuff plaguing our waters, including our rivers. Imagine this in the Pasig River!
6. This water bottle by BetterWorldSolutions starts to dispose as soon as you finish drinking - This is a water bottle that only takes shape when it holds water as it is made from agar – jelly from seaweed. It is still being developed, but anyone out there who would want to invest in this will be avenging the life we have been surrendering to plastic bottles in our waters.
7. Psychologists from 40 countries pledged to use their jobs to address climate change - I think this will drive home the message of the climate crisis to our stubborn human brains. Psychological associations from around the world have pledged to align their work around making humans realize what we can do to change our behavior and do what it takes to get us off the irreversible course of the climate crisis in 10 years. This includes them proving to us how we make up and accept even our own lies, to the detriment of our own health and the health of the planet and of our own children's future.
8. The Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) - Decades ago, being raised by a family and an environment that was not particularly thoughtful and empathetic with animals, I made a deliberate journey in my life to understand non-humans. This was because I knew that our lives are not made possible and joyful only by fellow humans. So with the animals we have largely tamed and victimized with our ignorance, neglect, and cruelty, PAWS is proof that we humans can make it up to the creatures who have nowhere else to go if they are banished – just like humans.
9. Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) or Doctors Without Borders - This organization reminds us of a truth about the planet and the urgent and most important issues that plague our times – that the planet has no real borders within. From epidemics, refugee centers, malaria treatments, to consultations for those without access to health services, the organization is in 74 countries, in places and instances where most could not be.
10. Greta Thunberg said 3-week voyage across the Atlantic 'energized' her climate change fight - She is not political. She is not an extremist as many supposed adult politicians would call her. She is radical, which means she understands where we are now and that if we go on the same way at the same rate, we are all doomed. That is backed up by incontrovertible fact which is not dependent on whether you accept it or not. "Radical" is necessary because we need to depart from present ways and rates of consuming, producing, and investing. If you do not see hope in Greta Thunberg and the other young people supporting her around the world, then you are truly "old" – "old" because you still think you live in the same planet even if it is now devastatingly no longer the planet that was in your memory. "Old" that you do not care what will happen to the next ones who will take this stage after you. "Old" that you have lost hope.
According to Franz Kafka, "A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us." I think hope is the slightest flutter of wings in a deathly pile. It is up to us to ensure its flight. – Rappler.com
Maria Isabel Garcia is a science writer. She has written two books, "Science Solitaire" and "Twenty One Grams of Spirit and Seven Ounces of Desire." You can reach her at email@example.com.