Kids Can See It, So Why Can’t We?

“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.”
Plato

Sometimes the innocence of children allows the truth to be more clear for them than it is for us as adults. We have filters we use to see the world, and that has an impact on our perception of reality. Studies in social science have made it abundantly clear: if you follow a conservative ideology, you are more inclined to be skeptical of climate change, even if you’re a meteorologist or an atmospheric scientist. And the more educated you are, the more polarized your belief system tends to become.

This video is amusing and enlightening all at the same time. If you can get past the corny jokes—I challenge you not to chuckle—you’ll get the message loud and clear. What’s happening to our planet is abundantly clear. Kids can easily see that.

Now it’s up to us adults to somehow acquire the same level of perspicacity as our junior members of society and figure out what we’re going to do about it.

 

"An Inconvenient Truth:" Happy 10th Anniversary!

“There is the natural tendency that all of us are vulnerable to, to deny unpleasant realities and to look for any excuse to push them away and resolve to think about them another day long in the future.”
—Al Gore

Today marks an important anniversary for the climate movement. Ten years ago today the Oscar-winning film An Inconvenient Truth was released. It was seeing this film that started me on my journey of environmentalism in general, and trying to combat global warming and climate change in particular. And in my travels I’ve learned that I wasn’t the only one so inspired.

It’s especially an important anniversary for Climate Reality Leaders who have been trained by Al Gore to provide talks on his behalf to interested folks. That’s a group I feel very fortunate to be part of. In addition, I’m also a Climate Reality Mentor, having helped to train some of these Leaders myself, including my son Jamie.

Many of us Climate Reality Leaders are honouring this important anniversary by doing any number of leadership acts including hosting a party and watching the movie, giving a presentation, or sharing our story on how we became a climate activist.

Have we come a long way since the movie was first released? You bet we have. Is it far enough? Definitely not. But the momentum is there, and we’re continually moving in the right direction. And as Mr. Gore so aptly puts it, political will is our best renewable resource.

 

Heartland Institute and its Efforts to Mislead the Public

The Heartland Institute’s President and CEO has previously admitted that Heartland was writing a “global warming curriculum” for public schools that would state climate science isn’t settled. Heartland has constantly striven to create the appearance of a scientific debate when the consensus that global warming and climate change are real and predominantly our fault is as solid as the consensus that cigarettes cause cancer.

See what you think.

 

 

 

 

Climate Reality Leadership Corps: Toronto, July 2015

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
Margaret Mead

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.

Climate Reality Training with Al Gore in Toronto

“Future generations may well have occasion to ask themselves, ‘What were our parents thinking? Why didn’t they wake up when they had a chance?’ We have to hear that question from them, now.”
Al Gore

Last week I was in Toronto and unable to post any blogs, so my apologies. For two days, Al Gore and the The Climate Reality Project provided training to skilled and motivated people who can serve as agents of change and try to make a real difference in this world. They are now members of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps. I got to go but this time as a mentor. In all there were 30 of us for about 600 trainees. I went through a similar training session in San Francisco back in August 2012 so I was excited for what these eager folks were able to experience. (I’ll post a blog tomorrow outlining the training in a little more detail.)

Mr. Gore has provided training sessions all over the world. Prior to Toronto there had been 7,826 Climate Leaders hailing from 126 different nations ranging in age from nine to 87. I was very excited because this was only the second time that training had been done in Canada, the first having taken place a number in April 2008 in Montreal. And I was especially excited that my 12-year-old son Jamie was also one of the trainees this time around.

Some might ask: why have a training session in Canada? Well, it came here for good reason. My country is a top emitter in the world, both for total emissions and per capita. Canada has a key role to play in in the anticipated emissions reduction agreement at the United Nations Climate Change Conference this coming December in Paris. So far, Canada has been significantly behind many of its peers including the U.S. and the E.U. Without strong federal government commitments, it’s been left to Canadian provinces and municipal governments to take action. (This is precisely the focus of David Suzuki’s Blue Dot campaign.)

I was at a half-day session with the other mentors before the formal training sessions began. On July 9 and 10, our trainees were exposed to a number of experts who discussed provincial initiatives that could help provide a model for a stronger federal plan. They also discussed how Canada can—and should—play a major role in moving toward a clean energy, low-carbon economy. Here are some reasons why Canada should care: Continue reading