“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
Again my apologies for not getting something much posted last week. That’s the first time in a long time that I went so long without a blog. But the training with Al Gore and the Climate Reality staff was long and intense, and the networking every evening went well into the late night hours, so in short there simply wasn’t the free time to allow me to get things prepared. But now that I’ve had some time to reflect, I can tell you all about it.
The Climate Reality Leadership Corps training in Toronto was the 29th such training session that Mr. Gore and his staff have done. There are now over 8000 such trained individuals from about 140 countries all over the world. We had two intense days with our “mentees” and us mentors had to arrive a day early for another six-hour session to prepare us for the busy two days ahead.
The first sessions described the state of the planet in general and Canada in particular. One particularly eye-opening session provided the insurance data from all of the claims that have been made in the last few decades. It was interesting and scary to see how claims related to earthquakes and volcanoes have remained very stable, but that claims related to floods and droughts are on a very steady increase. The insurance industry itself attributes this rise in claims to the effects of climate change.
We also spent part of the first day getting the attendees to craft their own story about why they were interested in being a part of Climate Reality, because it’s important to connect with an audience when giving a presentation. As one person so aptly put it, “I don’t care how much you know, until I know how much you care.”
The rest of the first day was spent with Mr. Gore. He gave the full two-plus-hour version of his updated slide show that included images from events that had happened just days before. Despite its length, the entire room was riveted. Every trainee now has access to all of those slides along with all future updates.
The second morning provided a 40-minute session with Kathleen Wynne, the Premier of Ontario. She had many positive things to say about our group, and updated everyone about what Ontario is doing to fight climate change. For example, my province of Ontario was the first jurisdiction in all of North America to completely phase out coal. Along with Quebec and California, Ontario has also participated in a cap-and-trade system for reducing emissions. As a result of Canada’s two largest provinces being involved, more than 75% of Canadians are under this system. It’s obvious there is a lot of mutual respect between Mr. Gore and Ms. Wynne, and that they’re on the same page.
Most of the rest of day two was spent with Mr. Gore. He provided a shortened version of his talk meant to fit within the time constraints of what most requests for a presentation will allow. This was followed up with a Q&A of Mr. Gore and his science advisor.
The very last sessions were dedicated to teaching everyone how to become active and how to get others engaged. As part of this, a “Day of Action” was planned for the following day. All over Toronto, newly-trained Climate Reality leaders were getting signatures for a petition that will encourage the Canadian government to become part of the solution and commit to real change in Paris this coming December. This led to a grand total of 3,675 signatures, quite a feat for one day!
I’ve left Toronto reinvigorated in my passion to tackle this issue. And I have more than a dozen new Climate Reality leaders under my wing as my mentoring duties don’t stop just because the formal training is done. I’ve already received a number of inquiries from them as they channel their enthusiasm into real plans of action and I’m doing my best to guide them in their continuing journey.
Margaret Mead had it right: together we are all making a difference.