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5 Reasons to Be Hopeful We Haven't Totally Screwed Ourselves and the Planet ... Yet

I can't help but wonder if we've really, totally screwed ourselves (and a whole lot of this planet). But there are 5 things that give me hope.

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I'm personally excited and inspired by the work being done by these organizations, and there are so many not included on this list that are helping to make a difference. In the face of overwhelming environmental pressure, it's hard to know if this will be enough. Just this week we marked the one-year anniversary of the Gulf disaster and we know the effects of that calamity are still with us and drilling still remains a threat to workers and wildlife alike. We are up against some powerful corporations and in politics money talks. But great social movements have achieved incredible gains in human history and it wasn't done with loads of cash -- it was done with smart organizing, powerful messaging, and by passionate people.

"We have to fight, finally, without any guarantee that we are going to win," Bill McKibben said earlier this week at Powershift where 10,000 young environmental leaders converged. "We have waited late to get started and our adversaries are strong and we do not know how this is going to come out. If you were a betting person you might bet we were going to lose because so far that is what's happened, but that's not a bet you are allowed to make. The only thing that a morally awake person can do when the worst thing that ever happened is happening is try to change those odds."

Right now, the idea of "winning" -- whatever that looks like -- is so far off. I'm most interested in seeing the incredible way our society begins to change, the ripple effect, of just trying. I'm excited to see what this world looks like as we begin to value nature more, to respect all of our communities, to fight for the right to clean water and a sustainable food system, and to hold corporate polluters accountable. Now that we're another Earth Day older, let's also be another one wiser, too.

Tara Lohan is a senior editor at AlterNet and editor of the new book Water Matters: Why We Need to Act Now to Save Our Most Critical Resource . You can follow her on Twitter @TaraLohan.

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