By Curt Hall
What does climate change have to do with you and your community? Isn’t the threat years away? Why should we do anything about it now?
Truth is, even if climate change weren’t a threat, taking action on it can be very good for you and your community.
Climate scientists have been ringing the alarm bells about the potentially catastrophic consequences of climate change for over 30 years now. But most of us really weren’t aware that climate change might be an issue until Al Gore released An Inconvenient Truth in 2006.
Those of us who looked deeper into the issue may have discovered that Canada doesn’t appear to be a huge greenhouse gas contributor. Canada produces only about 2.5 per cent of the earth’s greenhouse gases.
However, we comprise less than 0.5 per cent of the world’s population. That means that per capita, we are one of the three biggest polluters on the planet. (Along with the US and Australia).
But that’s the tar sands, right? We’re just trying to live our lives here. Actually, according to Canada’s Vital Signs, greenhouse gas emissions from private vehicles in this country have risen by almost one-third since the early 1990s.
So what can we do about climate change and will it really make a difference? Actually, there are a lot of things we can do and they will actually benefit us even if this climate challenge didn’t exist at all.
The most beneficial action we can take is to demand and support local suppliers for everything. This can provide much needed employment. Start by demanding local food. Ask your grocer why you can’t buy local carrots in September and tell him or her that you are looking for a grocer that can provide local produce. If that doesn’t work, join a CSA and enjoy Community Supported Agriculture.
The Internet has great potential for enabling local cottage industries that can provide all kinds of goods and services if people just started to ask for them.
More than a dozen Manitoba communities are currently engaged in a Community Lead Emission Reduction (CLER) program. This is based on the Partners for Climate Protection (PCP), supported by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM)
These communities are discovering that they are doing more than reducing their greenhouse gases – they are building networks and friendships. They are pulling together to make their communities better places to live and work. Read more about that here:
You can also:
- Get active: Drive less. Take the bus. Walk more. Ride your bike to work. Start by doing it once. Then try doing it once a week. Before long, you may be doing it all the time.
- Be efficient: If you have to burn fossil fuels, focus on burning as little as possible. You may need to insulate the attic, put the hot water tank on a timer, car pool, trade in the old clunker.
- Consume less: Leave more stuff at the mall and you will keep more money in Canada. You will dramatically reduce the amount of raw material and energy being wasted.
If you do any of these things, don’t keep it to yourself. Tell your family, your co-workers, your neighbours. And tell your elected officials that these things are important to you. You may find yourself in pretty good company.
Curt Hull, P.Eng., is Project Manager with Climate Change Connection in Manitoba