Why Does This Matter?
I personally believe that the climate crisis is the single most important issue our world faces right now (and will for a while); but I understand that you may not feel the same.
Maybe you haven’t really looked into it. Maybe you have heard that it’s not as bad as “the alarmists” say. Maybe you look around and personally don’t see anything to be concerned about. Maybe you just have other, more pressing matters to worry about. Whatever your reasons for not seeing this as that important, I would love to invite you to think about this from another angle.
This is why I’m choosing to use the broader term sustainable development rather than climate change. It speaks to the interconnected nature of these problems. Poverty, health, education, human rights, economics, you name it - it’s all connected. It’s also a more solutions-oriented term. Yes, the problem of climate is at the heart of it; but this speaks to an opportunity of what can come.
As Varshini Prakash says, “if you want to solve everything, solve climate.”
You’re New To This
Great! It’s never too late to learn something important. What I want to do is point you in the direction of some good foundational resources to help you wrap your head around this topic.
We are resolved to free the human race from the tyranny of poverty and want and to heal and secure our planet. We are determined to take the bold and transformative steps which are urgently needed to shift the world onto a sustainable and resilient path.
-- From the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
You’re Ready To Go Deeper
Okay, you’ve got the basics down and want to learn more. Here’s a few books I’ve found helpful.
- This Is Not A Drill. The Extinction Rebellion is doing some really good work in this area. This is their handbook.
- Green Washed. Kendra Pierre-Louis has some great things to say on the relationship between personal responsibility and systemic change.
- The Right To Be Cold. This book shows the interconnectedness of the crisis by looking at how it intersects with the lives of the Inuit in the Arctic.
- The Sixth Extinction. Important book looking at the way the crisis is affecting our non-human residents and the tragedy unfolding.
- World Wide Waste. Eye opening book on how going digital isn’t the answer to cutting back on waste.
Personal responsibility is not about what you consume, because those choices are so baked into wealth and access and broader systems…
[It’s] not about focusing on swapping out your light bulbs. Yes, do that; but how are you using your talents? It is great to compost and set your thermostat low when you’re not home, but if your day job is helping fossil fuel companies find more oil, you are still helping bring humanity to a dangerous place.
-- [Kendra Pierre-Louis]()
What Can You Actually Do?
This is the big question isn’t it? As the above mentioned book, Green Washed suggests, this is a bigger issue than just buying “green” products. This is something that requires a whole rethink of our consumption and production.
- Lend your voice. Even though as individuals there’s not much we can do, collectively we have a lot of potential. Engage in non-violent protests, civil disobedience, or other ways of getting our government’s attention. Organizations like Extinction Rebellion are doing some interesting things in this area.
- Research the impact of your vote. We have to understand what the parties we vote for are doing (or not doing) in response to this emergency. Unfortunately this can feel like picking the lesser of two evils. As citizens we should be letting our governments know that this is the number one issue that matters and voting for strong action on climate. This also means a government that takes seriously the interconnected nature of this issue. Canada needs to be a leader in pursuing the 2030 Agenda. Our current commitments don’t go nearly far enough.
- Work on your own consumption habits. I know I already said there isn’t much we can do as individuals; but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take it seriously. A large part of the problem with production is the demand for consumption. If we all work at consuming less, it will force companies to reconsider what people want. Think of ways you can scale back. Buy a bike instead of a second car (or first car). Eat less meat (or no meat). Buy local. Get more use out of what you already own before buying something new.
- Continue to learn about the interconnected nature of the crisis. This page is just a small piece of a huge, global issue. The more you seek to understand, the more you will begin to see the way the climate crisis intersects with so many other things.
- Help others take a step. You may exist in circles with friends and family who don’t think this is a big deal. Are there ways you can help them move closer towards seeing sustainable development as the issue of our time?
Have any good ideas or resources? Let me know!