As world leaders converge in Copenhagen to discuss the world’s climate and how to address climate change, most of the world remains at home.
At least I can’t afford to make the trip to Denmark.
We live our lives being consumers, providing for our family, raising our children and residing in our communities. We are all of diverse cultures and societies, with many things in common. One of the most important commonalities is that we are citizens inhabiting the Earth.
Together, what can we do to address climate change?
First and foremost, we all need to become environmentalists. You don’t need to join Greenpeace or the Council for Canadians, although they certainly help. Simply put, to be an environmentalist means to know that the Earth is our home and we need to stand up for her and speak on her behalf.
As Anishinaabek, it is our responsibility to speak for Mother Earth. It was one of our original instructions given to human-kind at the time of Creation.
It is said that the Creator needed a caretaker species to look after the Earth, to solve problems and ensure a healthy balance in nature. As a result, two of the greatest gifts given to human-kind was the gift of free-will and intellect.
In our history, this meant that the Anishinaabek people were to live in balance with all of Creation, be responsible in our harvesting and respect the world around us.
In a modern context, it means to speak up for the Earth now that she is in trouble. We need to look after all of the flora and fauna as was expected of us at the time of Creation.
This wasn’t a responsibility given only to Anishinaabe. It was given to all races of human-kind.
As environmentalists, we must work to influence our politicians. We also must work to influence pubic opinion. We must take the message of change to our families and communities. No one will do this for us.
Nor can we expect government to solve the world’s climate change crisis.
However, as citizens, we must press our government to meet climate change goals in a meaningful way. After all, Canada is a liberal society. We value the environment, our forests, land and water.
We need to meet “Kyota-like targets” for carbon emissions, for example reductions of six per cent from 1990 levels, within ten years. Perhaps we can do more. Government needs to pass legislation and implement aggressive environmental policies in order to meet these targets.
Canada also needs to tax carbon emissions and use the revenue to develop environmental-friendly technologies. We need to enable a new, green economy.
I also think we need a regulated, carbon credit trading market. This creates a number of things including a climate change revenue stream, a deterrent to carbon producers and implements a regulatory framework for carbon producers.
We need to hold industry and corporations accountable. We need to abate those companies that produce carbon, pollutants and contribute to climate change.
Government regulations are not the only means on addressing companies and industry. As consumers, individuals and families, we can all commit to only deal with companies that have carbon neutral, environmentally-friendly policies.
I know we can’t get around gassing up our car. But we can choose to use public transit more often. We can choose not to oil companies that harm the environment, such as those companies developing the Alberta oil sands. You can choose oil companies that use ethanol.
Sure, there are significant economic issues to address. Such aggressive policies will certainly affect our economy. But the bottom line is: we will surely have a devastated economy if climate change is not addressed. If we continue with the status quo, or work towards ineffective, surface-level environmental policies – we will be passing economic and environmental uncertainty to our children and grandchildren for seven generations and beyond.
Our world needs to change, based on a new frontier of enviro-economic sustainability.
Our culture must change. As a society, we must adapt to do what’s best for the planet. If that means tightening the economic shoe strings, so be it.
If it means become an environmentalist, even in the smallest way, I’m up for the challenge.