A New Age

The editorial by Emanuela Barbiroglio and Laura McDermott will be published in The Beam #12. Subscribe now to read more on the subject.


After students’ strikes and new green deals of the past decade, expectations had been raised significantly for a bright 2020 of climate action. Yet, as we all came to discover last year proved to be… surprisingly dark in many senses.

Yet, in certain ways it was a more instructive year than ever before. The challenges faced in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic opened our eyes to the impacts of human behaviour – from the rapidly spreading virus as a consequence of ecosystems’ degradation, to the chance of drastically reducing emissions when consumption habits are put on hold.

Finally, 2020 has come to a close and, with it, the first year of a decade that needs to be revolutionary in order to make a substantial change.

This edition of The Beam is embracing such revolutionary efforts. With insights on technological innovations from all over the world, tips for a fair and sustainable recovery, predictions for life after COVID-19 and Trump, interviews with leading figures in the fight against climate change and so much more; we hope to bring inspiration to our readers.

As author Rebecca Solnit reminded the world in her book Men explain things to me, the renowned American writer Virginia Woolf understood the power of uncertainty when she wrote in her diary: “The future is dark, which is the best thing the future can be, I think”. The passage comes from the page of January 18, 1915.

Let’s take a deep breath and try to make it our mantra for “The New Age”.

Let’s take a deep breath and remember just how much we, as humans, are capable of. We can and have already achieved some of the most remarkable victories and overcome what at first seemed impossible in the fight against climate change. In 2020, we have seen advancements across all fields of environmental progress, from the sales of battery electric and plug-in hybrid cars across Europe to environmental regeneration and recovery – including numerous species being brought back from the brink of extinction. On a wider scope, we have witnessed the unprecedented financial support generated for a crisis of a similar monumental capacity to the climate crisis, the incomparable power of the BLM movement and more people have been lifted out of poverty than ever before. The future may be uncertain, but within this uncertainty lies the optimum opportunity for us to create change. It is solely because the future is open and undefined, that we can have hope.

Let’s take a deep breath and remind ourselves of the 9 years that lie ahead until the 2030 target set by the Paris Agreement. A goal that can often feel overwhelming, clouded with uncertainty and climate grief, but a goal that in its essence is shrouded by that essential sense of hope that we can and will create a new and better future for generations to come.

Let’s take a deep breath and be energised by the incredible work being done around us. Encased within the pages of this magazine are countless tales of inspiration. We hear from former UN General Assembly president María Fernanda Espinosa, the glorious programme Solar Sister, Friday’s for the Future, Greenpeace and so many more individuals and organisations who, just like you the reader, are united in the fight for a better future. We are united in hope, hope for a new and better age.

Let’s take a deep breath and commit to The New Age that we all hope for. Amidst all the undeniable devastation that the pandemic caused, there have been crucial lessons learnt by humanity. As Oxford professor of global history Peter Frankopan explained, “Troubled eras have always inspired positive human progress – and 2020 will be no different.” We have been forced to rethink what really matters in life, as we stand at this fragile tipping point in the history of our planet.

John Sauven, the executive director of Greenpeace UK, stated in an interview with The Guardian at the end of last year: “If we want the future to look as different as possible from the crises-ravaged mess of the past year, then tackling the climate and nature emergency head-on really is the only way forward. If we can muster the energy for a new year resolution as we toast good riddance to 2020, let it be a determination to leave behind the old normal and make a truly new beginning.”

We welcome The New Age.