IMAGINE two futures. In one, there is homelessness, inequality, food shortages, pollution and rising seas. In the other, there is clean air, adequate food, vast new forests, green cities and, yes, rising seas.

Hands up who would prefer to live in the first.

If the second sounds a bit too utopian and Disney, let’s add a third, which has elements of one and elements of two. There are still wars. There is still international disagreement, but broadly, co-operation. There are still significant clashes of ideology. World population has plateaued. Floods and storms have been devastating but the oceans have been cleaned up and the coral reefs are starting to regenerate. And the worst of climate catastrophe has been averted, to the degree that talk has switched from crisis to protection.

Are these scenarios far-fetched? Perhaps. Some things maybe don’t buff up quite so readily in reality as they do in theory and in policy. These potential futures are of course vastly simplistic but ultimately, whichever future transpires will depend on the political decisions of today. Surely it’s preferable working towards these visions than throwing out threat after threat after threat of what it’ll look like if we don’t.

Finally, a major piece of good news on the whole climate front has landed with the launch by David Attenborough and Prince William of the Earthshot Prize. Seeking to “incentivise change and help to repair our planet”, the prize is centred around five goals to “improve life for us all, for generations to come” and replace “the current pessimism” with optimism and solutions. These five goals, or “Earthshots”, are to protect and restore nature, clean air, revive the oceans, build a waste-free world and fix climate.

Five £1 million prizes will be awarded each year for the next 10 years, providing £50m of funding and support to 50 projects to solve the world’s most pressing environmental problems. The organisers hope the impact will be far greater, raising the profile and reach of environmental solutions and marrying them with funders and business, to inspire worldwide co-operation and ingenuity.

Perhaps the prize money could be more. But international recognition and £1m to a project in some countries could be the difference between that project soaring and that project sinking into oblivion. Further support is then easier to secure.

Climate solutions aren’t all about technology and innovations. Nor are they simply about money; it is a capitalist response to throw money at a problem and expect a panacea. Much of it is about political will, societal attitudes, electing the right leaders, prioritisation and decent people working away on the ground. Much of it is also about those difficult questions of how we live; not about clever products, but about living simpler lives – not easy in this culture. But for big names and faces to get behind projects like these is the thing that brings them profile and kudos – the thing that will make them succeed – and that in turn helps generate the wider will. While a sea of people are doing their bit every day in homes across the globe, we need the billionaires and leaders on board if we want to save this ship (much as I’d rather live in a world that doesn’t have billionaires alongside starving people).

Dear Jeff B, you could actually save the Amazon. Please do. Yours, all your customers.

PS Think of the PR!

Meanwhile, Africa's Great Green Wall – the southern Saharan initiative to halt desertification, feed communities and combat drought by creating a 10-mile-wide green corridor across the continent – has been a success in political will and partnership, but has struggled in implementation. The project suffered setbacks after many of the trees planted died. Farmers from the Sahel are now greening in other ways more appropriate to the conditions: grasslands, cropland, ecosystems, water harvesting and protecting existing trees. More funding and logistical support is needed to turn this vision into reality – after all, it aims to restore land and sequester 250m tonnes of carbon dioxide, so it's doing us all a favour. The will is there in abundance: people's lives and livelihoods are at stake. What is desperately needed is profile and backers.

All this endeavour amid the countdown to November 4 , when the US will formally withdraw from the Paris Agreement to mitigate global warming. Thankfully Biden, if elected, has pledged to rejoin and "up the ante” on climate commitments.

Hats off to Sir David and the prince, and we can only hope the people of America see sense and vote accordingly. We hear of tipping points, of extinctions, of the need to do our bit, but not enough of solutions. Alongside protecting our existing forests, initiatives such as these help to reframe the issue from powerless despair to proactive determination to give it the profile, funding and priority it needs. The political choices are ours. It’s up to the human citizens living on planet Earth today which future is most likely.

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