Earlier this year Kate Black (not the person in the picture) wrote an article in Masionneuve about what’s it like to feel alone against the world. For years people have been showing up to rallies, writing letters, signing campaigns, and more, but nothing seems to change. That’s how climate activists have been feeling for decades and it wears people out. After all, going against the richest corporations on the planet is no small task. Black wrote about the efforts of Nestar Russell as a way to capture the feelings of inadequacies and frustration that many climate champions feel. It’s worth acknowledging the emotional toll on activist so we can better learn how not to burn out.
The climate strike is tomorrow and you should join in to, at the very least, provide a confidence boost to those of us that need it. The worst thing that can happen is that the world gets a little better.
Several news outlets and well-intentioned bloggers responded to the depressing onslaught by publishing steps normal people can take to reduce their carbon footprint, like taking public transit or eating less meat. People on the internet didn’t like this either, and with reason. The individual steps, no matter how drastic, seem impossibly small when compared to the toll taken by massive corporations. Two leading climate research institutes report that 70 percent of industrial greenhouse gas emissions created since 1988 can be traced back to no more than one hundred fossil fuel companies.
Most people do seem to want to do something about the environment. A 2015 report found that 73 percent of millennials are willing to spend more on a brand if it’s “sustainable,” whatever that means. It’s no surprise that every company seems to be greenwashing itself—trying to look carbon-conscious without actually doing anything meaningful, like how Starbucks is phasing out newly unpopular plastic straws with sippy-cup lids that use even more plastic than the straws they replace.
Of course, the planet doesn’t have time for ineffective, small changes anymore, let alone corporate greenwashing. “It’s becoming clear that we don’t have the luxury of slowly wading into the shallow end,” Wynes says. He is also wary of what he calls “techno-optimism,” the idea that new inventions like electric cars and planes are going to “bail us out.” It could be years before an electric plane is efficient enough to make long flights.
Teens today are doing something their parents didn’t do: act on the knowledge that climate change is happening. Boomers did a great job of gobbling many of the worlds resources and dumping carbon into the atmosphere, subsequent generations dealt with proving that to be true. Now the current generation of teens is sick of dealing with the trash of previous generations and is doing something about it. These teens are standing up for their future and are already having meaningful impact.
May they continue to find success while inspiring their elders!
“Teenagers like me have often wondered how to combat climate change,” McGregor recently tweeted. But he believes activism alone no longer works: “The ones who are speaking out must be the ones that change … and do the work themselves.”
It seems as though fearlessness among teenagers who haven’t yet reached voting age is one symptom of the cultural and environmental anxieties their generation is steeped in. Scientists agree that the world is fast approaching — and perhaps already past — key climate turning points, and that actions in the next few yearswill have centuries-long ripple effects. Combine that near-inevitability of radical environmental change with a federal government that holds climate denial as an official position — and you’ve got a generation that accepts radical political change as the only reasonable option.
“The powerful thing about youth is that I don’t have a hidden agenda,” says Margolin. By default, teenagers’ only vested interest is their future. “I don’t get paid for this, I’m not lobbying on behalf of anybody. I’m only doing this because it feels so urgent.”
Many people are troubled with the state of global politics and maybe you’re one of those bothered people. What are you going to do about it?
Over at Grist they have a simple guide to being an effective activist for your cause (and I’m sure it’s a good one!). In order to be effective you just need to follow through on your actions. Basically, sharing news on Facebook won’t save the world but going out into the world and talking to the right people will.
Put events on your calendar. Commit to things, and then follow through on them. Even if it’s bringing a pie to a potluck that’s being held to spread awareness of a new transit initiative — just do it. Make the pie. Showing up is more than half the battle. According to Trauss: “All local political scenes are dying for competent participants.”
Pick up the phone — and make the meeting
It’s been said 100 times, but the relatively simple act of calling and/or meeting with your elected official gets a lot of mileage. Joanne Carney of the American Association for the Advancement of Science offers this reminder: “Members of Congress do spend time back in their districts, and they have district offices — and sometimes they’re a little bit more relaxed. So requesting opportunities to meet with [them] when they’re in the district sometimes can be very fruitful.”
For a while now Shell has been trying to suck oil in the arctic. Arctic drilling is extremely dangerous and Shell’s efforts in the north have been ridiculed by Greenpeace. Greenpeace’s efforts have been matched by a ton of organizations (mostly on the west coast) also trying to stop Shell’s folly.
The old-economy company based on hydrocarbon extraction has announced they’ll end their arctic drilling efforts. This means that the company wasted $7 billion dollars!
“Shell will now cease further exploration activity in offshore Alaska for the foreseeable future. This decision reflects both the Burger J well result, the high costs associated with the project, and the challenging and unpredictable federal regulatory environment in offshore Alaska.”
Reacting to the news, Greenpeace UK executive director John Sauven said: “Big oil has sustained an unmitigated defeat. They had a budget of billions, we had a movement of millions. For three years we faced them down, and the people won.
The Better Block initiative was started in Dallas, Texas as a rapid urban revitalization project of an underused, nearly abandoned block of old buildings along an old streetcar line. They project takes the “pop-up” business model to completely revitalise old city blocks with storefronts, community events, and cafés, and sustainable transportation (like bikes and streetcars)! By combating out-of-date laws, re-purposing unused space, and connecting with engaged citizens, the Better Block has spread to multiple cities in the USA.
Watch an energized, exciting, and inspiring talk by Jason Roberts (who started The Better Block) from TEDxOU (Oklahoma University):