Owing to disasters both natural and otherwise, the past year has been challenging for sure, but there are two big reasons why it hasn’t left me discouraged.

The first has to do with our continued progress on replacing dirty fuels with clean, renewable energy. If you look beyond the headlines and political posturing in Washington, D.C., you can see that progress not only hasn’t been stopped but, in many cases, is still accelerating. Dirty and dangerous coal plants are being retired as fast as ever, while clean, renewable energy continues to outpace coal. It was during this past year, in fact, that we passed the halfway mark on retiring America’s coal fleet.

Progress continues on the clean energy side of that equation, too. As of last week, more than 50 municipalities, large and small, have committed to transition to 100 percent clean, renewable energy, while 185 mayors have now pledged to transition their communities to be powered by 100% renewable energy by 2035. In Los Angeles County, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which is the third-largest public transportation system in the U.S. by ridership, not only ordered 100 new electric buses but also committed to electrify its entire fleet by 2030.

Pretty much every week, I see good news like that about clean, renewable energy. Most of it doesn’t make headlines, but all of it reassures me that although clean energy’s momentum might be slowed, it can’t be stopped.

But as much as I love to see wind and solar energy development thriving, the main source of my stubborn optimism is a different kind of energy: grassroots power. We saw that with the millions who joined the Women’s March last January, as well as the hundreds of thousands who attended the Peoples Climate March in April. Never before have so many people spoken out and become engaged — many of them for the first time — in defense of our public lands. I’m proud that the Sierra Club can now count on more than 3 million members and supporters, and I’m even more proud that our most successful grassroots fund-raising campaign this year was in aid of communities devastated by three devastating hurricanes.

I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: People who care are the heart and light of the Sierra Club. Without them — without you — none of our work would be possible. So as 2017 finally draws to a close, I hope you can all take some time to care for yourselves, too. Rest, rekindle, and reconnect — with friends, loved ones, and our beautiful world. Here’s another Sierra Club statistic I love: Last year we helped more than a quarter million people enjoy the outdoors. Every hike, bike, run, climb, swim, surf, paddle, picnic — you name it — is its own kind of resistance to the morally impoverished Scrooges who judge the natural world only by what they can extract and sell.

This year was tough. Next year will be pivotal. I can’t wait.

Dad, husband, executive director of the @sierraclub, writer, Jersey Shore native, Little League coach, #Yankees fan, climate hawk. Optimist. Love the Bay Area.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store