WE CAN Earth Summit Campaign takes off
The science is in. The most credible scientists agree that climate change is happening and global warming is increasing faster than anyone had predicted even three years ago. Incremental change will not do us any good. Business as usual is over. What we need is system wide change. Change that means that everyone of us changes our behaviour and that public institutions and private sector change the way they function.
Impossible, you say?
Well the team at WE Canada team says otherwise. In terms of touch, the WE CAN feel is more like organic fair-trade silk than rough hemp. With a gleam in their eyes and smiles to match, the WE CAN crew has just launched the new version of their website (http://www.earthsummit.ca/) on the stylish heels of their swank Earth Summit Campaign launch event held in late 2010. Now with the catchy website active there are big hopes for the campaign to really get into gear and tell the Harper government that Canadians are working for sustainability, and that any future party that comes to office needs to catch up and commit to real and meaningful change.
The young, energetic and talented team, knows what they are up against - a Harper led government that actually believes that economy is superior to ecology and that nature is a resource that is here to line the pockets of their friends in the executive suite and the big banks.
WE CAN also know that they must connect with us - the Billy and Bev Canuck, who are for the most part quite accepting of the ecological disaster that many or our industries and our Liberal provincial and Conservative federal governments are facilitating.
We seem to believe that blind conformity belongs to "other" cultures right? So why do voters keep electing officials that vote economy over ecology when it is very clear what is happening to our world?
According to Helen Beynon, the campaign media coordinator "the goal of We Canada is to help every Canadian understand what sustainable development is, and why it is so important that we all start acting on making positive changes now. The initiative aims to show people that together, as Canadians, we have the power to make a real difference in the world – and we need our leaders to reflect that internationally. By taking action in our communities, and telling our leaders to take action at the Earth Summit and beyond, WE CAN create a healthier environment, more equitable societies, and a more resilient economy."
So why is this group of environmental upstarts so deeply committed to this when they could be listening to their iPods or spending time planting virtual crops in Farmville on facebook?
Well for one, they have Bill Rees in their corner supplying them with facts about the real world and leaving it up to them about what this might mean for their future. Bill Rees is the world famous UBC prof who came up with the concept of a Ecological Footprint. At the Earth Summit Campaign launch event Dr. Rees addressed a packed crowd of the young and old. He made three impacting statements that points to the source of the energy of change powering the WE CAN campaign:
- In just the last three years, there has been an increase in predicted sea-level rise over the next 100 years from less than half a metre to as much as 4 metres.
- If the average July temperatures in Moscow (western Russia) since 1950 represent a normal distribution, then July 2010 lies 4 standard deviations above the mean (in English that means very very VERY unlikely). The city reached 30°C or above on 33 consecutive days (compared to zero days above 30°C in the summer of 2009) and new record high of 38.2°C was set on 29 July.
- The world is on trajectory for 4-6 Celsius degree increase in mean global temperature over the next 200 years.This temperature increases translates to increasingly unpredictable and severe weather conditions and the desertification of much of China, India, Africa, South America, etc., i.e., the displacement of hundreds of millions of people.
In an interview with Bill Rees, I was surprised to hear that the present Harper government is actively undermining the efforts of other countries to address climate change and move towards a more sustainable way of living.
What? Since when did Canada become an active participant in undermining other countries who are trying to help themselves?
It is very unlikely that maintstream Canadians, who consider themselves to be decent and aware human beings would want their government actively doing anything of the sort. But then again if Canadians do not know what is going on, then it is hard to correct the government isn't it? The WE CAN team may be one node in a network of networks that is aiming to change that situation.
Admittedly given all the gussied up beautiful people at the launch event and given Dr. Rees' statements, it felt a little like being at the party in Douglas Adams' Restaurant at the End of the Universe. But Dr. Rees clearly charged everyone in the room with the reasons that this WE CAN campaign was vital to Canadians.
At the launch event where Dr. Rees spoke, with the creative talent on stage and circulating in the room, it was clear that this was a launch pad towards evolving a whole new approach to connecting people with the environmental issues.
The current running through nightclub launch event indicated the difference. You could feel it flowing off the fashion runway. Models draped with the latest green designs of Nicole Bridger, Red Jade, Sans Soucie and Shereen De Rouseau, clearly understood that they were doing more than looking beautiful. Beautiful they were. They were also walking the "catwalk" with a purpose.
On the stage sexy celebrities loved up the crowd while the performative collaboration between painter Garett Campbell Wilson's and hot hot violinist Suzka Mares left us all steaming and knowing that something new to the green revolution was coming into its own.
There was not a protest sign to be seen. Lots of perfect smiles, high heels and suits. Given the slickness of the crowd, it was comforting to know that the likes of Rex Wyler, founder of Greenpeace, was somewhere here and also witnessing the transformation. This was the new face of the sustainability and social change. This was a youthful recognition that the continual message of doom and gloom was driving people into averting their eyes rather than bringing the full force of the human creativity to the challenge. This campaign was about LIFE and engaging mainstream Canadians with the tools of popular culture to bring their best and most awake selves to a new type of sustainability movement.
For Aleksandra Nasteska,the Lead Coordinator of the Earth Summit 2012 – Canada Initiative, the highlight of the event was seeing the different groups of people coming together, who would not necessarily come together otherwise. For her this is ultimately the goal, to turn the sustainability movement into a mainstream lifestyle. Only then does she believe that we can hope to achieve the ultimate goal of environmental, social and economic justice.
The $6000 raised at the event went directly to support the campaign and will allow WE CAN to put on further events in the community. They have plans for workshops, community forums and lots of outreach and education materials to help people learn more.
So let's see what WE CAN can do. The effort has been launched. Let us see if mainstream Canada catches the fever and then perhaps the same old same old mainstream media and our sluggish government might actually get on board.
And if the future government doesn't listen... well all that young energy and their talented networks of networks will be well-positioned to step it up and maybe, just maybe, with the growing numbers of young people joining their ranks they will become ever more forceful, agile, and targetted in their political and media manouevering, than previous generations.
The movement now amongst this next generation of voters is really about them knowing that they must get their viewpoint into the public sphere and engage elected officials at all levels of government to acknowledge and understand that without an ecology there is no economy - there are no jobs, there is no wealth - either private or common. Liberty whether Negative or Positive, does not exist where survivial of our species and culture as we know it is now a common if not hushed question amongst many scientists, business people, academics and political thinkers.
Notice is being served to all national parties - listen to the voice of a new generation whose future is in your hands or risk your privileged position to govern them. Your rising constituency is talented, focused and they are determined to change things. They know their lives and the lives of future generations depend on it. The future will not be business as usual if they get their way.