Imagine: it’s your first class of the day, and you’ve barely begun to sip your mandatory morning double-double when two strangers show up in your classroom and inform you that (a) the world is ending, (b) it’s mostly because of a bunch of other strangers are greedy sociopaths, but (c) it’s your job to step up and fix things if you want to have a future.
Plus, on their way out, they probably chastise you for using a disposable coffee cup. What do you think? Does this encounter blow your adolescent mind, or is it just another day growing up in the 21st century?
“It’s up to your generation to step up,” I said during one of my seven presentations this week, “People listen when youth speak. And you’re the generation who has the most to lose.”
To which one Grade 10 girl acerbically replied, “We’re also the generation that eats Tide Pods.”
I laughed a lot. Her delivery was perfect, but more than that, she was alluding to an absurd, heartbreaking, hilarious truth: Humans are irrational creatures. Maybe Gen Z invented the Tide Pod Challenge, but Boomers, Gen Xers, and Millennials have all committed equally irrational acts, sometimes on a global scale. Most of us, as individuals, aren’t suicidal, but we all possess the simian urge to create huge, dangerous messes. Case in point.
Over the last two weeks, my presenting partner Navy and I delivered the “Blue Sky Heroes” speech eight times, in four different schools and in two official languages. I wasn’t counting, but I’d guess we spoke to more than 500 kids in all. And some of those kids were with us every step of the way; they know damn well the environment is fucked, and they want to help but aren’t sure how.
Mostly, though, we got the glassy-eyed apathy that you’d expect in the scenario described above. Who the hell are these jerks, coming in here telling us to save the world? My not-so-secret hope is that they’ll at least consider striking on May 24, but I know that’s asking a lot, and I’m not holding my breath. Instead, I’m forging ahead, planning my own solidarity strike and working with woke grownups while waiting–hoping, praying–that the kids will be alright.
My Week in the Anthropocene
- One major success has gone nearly unacknowledged: on Tuesday, May 14, the CBRM City Council passed a resolution declaring a state of climate emergency. I can’t take sole responsibility for this victory, but between the events I mentioned last week, the petition I started online, and a well-timed CBC interview, I’d say I definitely had a hand in getting this done. It’s a mostly symbolic proclamation, but it gives activists way more leverage over City Council as we trudge forward.
- Part of the reason that proclamation has not made headlines is also me; with all my other responsibilties this week, I haven’t had the chance to get the word out. Those school presentations take a lot of out me… plus I have been hatching plans for the May 24 strike, and co-organizing a “Picnic for the Planet” series.
Solar Flares in a Warming World
- Having not had time to do much reading this week, I’ll substitute my round-up of optimistic climate stories with a single recommended read that does some of the rounding-up work for me: Josh Smith from The Benchmark writes about how “Optimism Will Save the World.”
If You Only Read One Thing…
- And I’m going to break with tradition again, and assign two take-home readings this week. First, read Dan Rubin’s “How to Have a Useful Conversation About Climate Change in 11 Steps.” The steps are straightforward and super-easy to remember. I sincerely believe that having more open, honest talk about the climate crisis makes a huge difference; if you agree, but aren’t sure how to help, this article is a perfect primer.
- Second, Rachel Forgasz offers an equally accessible road-map for action in “7 Ways in 7 Days: Developing Climate Consciousness.” Now, climate reform demands more from us that lifestyle changes, but it also demands that, and most of us find that scary. This article provides a reassuring blueprint for you to adapt to your own level of comfort.
If You Only DO One Thing…?
- Has your city declared a climate emergency yet? How about your province or country (hint: probably not). Time to rock the boat. If I can do it with a municipality as broke, backward, and geriatric as CBRM, you can do it in your own backyard. Here’s a primer.
More good news next week, and the week after, and the week after that. Subscribe to get it in your inbox!
Stay strong. Shine bright!