Date Night at a Climate Change Panel

Rob and I had a date night last week.  We headed into Western University for a panel discussion on Climate Change.  It was a sobering evening.  I often want to bury my head in the sand on these issues to a certain degree.  I know it’s happening, but it’s easier to carry on with my day to day life when I don’t have to think about the fact that life on earth is teetering on the edge of extinction.  I’m not trying to suggest that I have a ‘business as usual’ attitude, moreover, I can’t function when I’m operating in a state of feeling my pain for the world situation.

The panel discussion we attended had some excellent speakers, university professors, local government, a member of the UN and Globe and Mail National Affairs columnist, Jeffrey Simpson.  The topic was: what can we do?  It was such an interesting discussion, because the recommendation was the same from all levels and approaches: to open people’s eyes to the reality of this situation.  Do something.  Do anything.

Some salient points I took away from the discussion include:

  • stop preaching to the converted – we need to enliven those who aren’t yet acting!  Also, the point was made to not waste one’s energy on people who are avid climate change deniers.
  • changing our actions to mitigate climate change can only have a positive influence on the world, so we’ve got nothing to lose!
  • listen
  • speak to people from a place of empathy
  • find out what people’s currency is.  Figure out what is important to them and find a way to make that issue relevant or related to mitigating climate change as well. For example, people are worried about the economy and feel that deserves more attention than environmental issues.  The argument can be made that by taking on environmental issues we can create more jobs and solve BOTH problems.  We need creative thinking to make these types of connections in as many ways as possible.  Who doesn’t love a win-win solution!
  • Don’t wait for someone else to take the lead (including the government) –  many countries in the UN are flip-flopping on this issue.  Canada, USA, and Australia have vested interest in oil not being limited, and policy change in the UN requires consensus.
  • …and another note not mentioned at the panel: divest in oil companies.  If it can stop apartheid in South Africa, it can stop the oil companies too.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

– Margaret Mead

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