It’s often said climate change is a tricky issue to tackle because it’s an imperceptible enemy. That may have been true a decade ago, but no longer. This summer, we in Canada experienced it in disturbing force. We saw the most intense and destructive wildfire season to date, scorching more than 15 million hectares. And that was one of the coolest summers we will experience for the rest of our lives.
Assuming we continue on our current trajectory of maintaining the status quo and not honouring established climate initiatives, by 2050 we can expect mass extinction and the total collapse of entire eco-systems on which we depend, worldwide water shortages and crop failures, and potentially billions of climate refugees. This is thus a global crisis of unprecedented scale that we must act to mitigate, immediately.
So what can we do? It is easy to feel despair, defeat, powerlessness. It is easy to react with denial or complacency, to think “I’m already doing my part”. It is tempting to put on the blinders, necessary even, because we have to run off to work or go make dinner. It is easy to pass blame onto politicians and banks, striking shady deals with untouchable corporations who, as this crisis rages so visibly, continue to illegally decimate indigenous lands to lay their oil pipelines. That’s surely beyond our control?
It isn’t. Firstly, it’s important not to give life to any feelings of shame or judgement. Granted, we are all responsible; but none of us chose to be born into these inherently unsustainable societies. What’s done is done. What matters is how we move forward. If you are also scared for our planet and society, I hereby call upon you to take action.
Buy everything second-hand. Switch to renewable electricity and insulate your home. Eat less meat, more plants. Don’t book that flight this year if you don’t have to. Take the bus, train or ride a bike to work. Move your money to credit unions that invest in green initiatives. Vote at every level for political candidates that champion environmental policies, and write to your MPs urging them to act.
Even if it’s just one of these seemingly insignificant changes: if you have the power to do it, do it. Take a stand. We must fight, for our world; for our children’s world. At the very least, we have to go out trying.