This year Earth Day feels especially significant to me. Maybe it's because climate change is leading our planet to the brink, while our leaders are simply engaging in brinkmanship. Or maybe it's that I have two little ones now, am returning to work soon, and so am thinking about the future. I want my children to have a bright future, but I'm worried that as adults they will live in a very different world than I live in.
This morning on the radio I heard that fire season has already started in British Columbia (the province I live in, in Canada). This is a whole month earlier than usual. This, folks, is climate change, and there is a real cost. Not just monetary (although our province spent four times its annual budget last year fighting fires), these fires disrupt people's lives and homes. Harder to measure, is the negative impact it has on my and your quality of life and long term health. For example, last summer we were barely able to go outside for almost a week because of wild fires hundreds of kilometres away.
One of my favourite writers, Rebecca Solnit has written extensively about climate change, and is more eloquent than I. Although this is an older essay (from 2014) I think the words still ring very true:
Right now, you can think of the way we’re living as an office tower and the fossil fuel economy as a plane crashing into it in very, very, very slow motion. Flaming jet fuel is a pretty good analogy, in its own way, for what the burning of fossil fuel is doing, although the death and destruction are mostly happening in slow motion, too — except when people are drowning in Hurricane Sandy-style superstorms or burning in Australian firestorms or dying in European heat waves. The problem is: How do you convince someone who is stubbornly avoiding looking at the flames that the house is on fire? (Never mind those who deny the very existence of fire.) How do you convince someone that what constitutes prudent behavior in ordinary times is now dangerous and that what might be considered reckless in other circumstances is now prudent?
(Ms. Solnit's whole essay is here)
Hopefully, you are like me, and have your fingers out of your ears, are looking at the fire, and want to do something about it. The question is, what can you and I to make the world a better place for our children? I don't think hope is enough at this point. David Suzuki, our patron saint of green here in Canada has some great suggestions here. NASA kids has a great article here, aimed towards the younger crowd.
At home I've tried to keep things as green as possible, we use cloth diapers (that my mom and I made), we try to buy products with as little packaging as possible (we get a farm box from a local organic farm, which really reduces the carbon footprint of our food), we drive a hybrid car (and Oli bikes to work)... the list goes on but I feel it is a drop in the bucket. I'd love to hear ideas from you about how you are addressing climate change, and I'm hoping I feel less sombre about Earth Day next year.