Tierney Watkinson | News Director
As our next Provincial Election approaches, youth of BC are raising questions about the future of the environment, and asking voters to go to the polls with the fate of that future in mind.
A video has been circulating Facebook featuring Canadian youth speaking to their families about the importance of voting with the issue of climate change as their main concern, as well as encouraging other voters to do the same. “Sit your family down or call them up. Have #TheClimateTalk.”
The video was created by the Wilderness Committee. “The Wilderness Committee, founded in 1980, is a registered non-profit society with charitable status…Canada’s people-powered, citizen-funded wilderness protection group,” their website says. Over The Edge was contacted by Peter McCartney, Climate Campaigner for the society. “#TheClimateTalk came out of a number of conversations I’ve had with my own parents over the years, who weren’t exactly receptive to the climate change issue,” McCartney writes. He came to realize that making the issue of climate change a personal issue, rather than a distant problem, made his parents much more receptive and he now has their full support. McCartney, only 25 himself, is hoping that the video he and his group have created will help others to initiate climate conversations between youth and their own loved ones: “I’m hoping that similar discussions across BC will help to sway some voters this election to make sure we elect a government who will take action on climate change.”
The video contains a link to the society’s website and a page full of advice encouraging it’s audience to have #TheClimateTalk. The site urges youth to worry less about having a science debate with their elders and instead focus on linking their concerns about their futures to the changing climate: “Making it clear that climate change will impact the life you envision will be enough to let them know the gravity of the situation.”
“We’re working with university, college and high school environmental clubs across the province to help get the message out there and encourage folks to have their own climate talks,” McCartney says. Although this campaign is directly geared towards this year’s provincial election, McCartney stresses “we strongly encourage people to continue having #TheClimateTalk in the months and years ahead!”
On April 27, the three party leaders in the running to be the next Premier of British Columbia participated in a live debate. Liberal leader and current Premier Christy Clark, NDP leader John Horgan, and Green Party leader Andrew Weaver were all in attendance and gradually incensed each other as the debate went on. Over the course of an hour and a half, environmental concerns were only effectively raised once, in the form of a heated discussion about proposed carbon taxes. Maddie, a youth who stars in the Wilderness Committee’s video, hits it on the nose when she says to her elder, “I know governments are kind of conscious that climate change is a thing, but they don’t put forward policies that really put climate change on the stage that it needs to be talked about.” For that very reason, watching the debate was incredibly discouraging.
Horgan’s points revolved around bashing the Liberals; regardless of the question put forward to him, his answer always included describing the failures of the Liberal Party in great detail. He even used his ready list of Liberal failures to get around certain questions. Weaver noticed, and called him out on it. However, despite being leader of the Green Party, Weaver did not adequately use this opportunity to bring up climate issues (beyond the brief talk about carbon taxes). Clark, meanwhile, danced around the parts of history in which her party fell short and focused only on the glowing reviews and the jobs, jobs, and more jobs that her party promised. Horgan and Clark repeatedly brought up their respective parties’ intentions concerning putting “money into pockets” of voters, as if coins and bills or perhaps a hefty cheque enclosed in one’s fist was all that a voter should be focused on. The issue of climate change, meanwhile, was slipped into a back pocket, buried by these promises of cash.
To echo Maddie in the video, “Will you make climate change your top priority when going to the polls on May 9th?”
Voters are urged to approach family members, who might not be convinced that climate change exists, with respect and patience. One of the youth in the video talks down to her father and walks the line between being firm and being obstinate. Let us remember to be humble. Knowing how to fix problems doesn’t make us better than the previous generation. Having more information to work with does not make us superior. It simply makes us better informed.
Everyone has reasons for believing what they believe, even if facts are against it. Someone who refuses to acknowledge humanity’s role in climate change could be afraid. They could be in denial. They could be misinformed. Use the science if the discussion requires it, use evidence, give your parents and families your personal perspective. Do not mock them, and do not talk to them as is they are lesser, because they are not. You are not the chosen one. Being condescending is the fastest way to make people shut down and become defensive. Remember that as much as you care about the Earth, it is not yours to have. It is yours to protect.
“If your parent tries to diminish or downplay your concerns,” notes #TheClimateTalk tip page, “remind them that the world has acknowledged this crisis since at least 1988 and has done very little over the last 30 years to deal with it. We are out of time.”
We must keep the conversation going. Having #TheClimateTalk is a great way to do just that.
“Our hope is that young people all across BC will have an honest conversation with their loved ones about the future in a warming world,” McCartney writes.
Have #TheClimateTalk, share the video link, and participate in the discussion.
Please vote in this Provincial election. Advanced voting is available April 29-30, and May 3-6, and the main voting day is May 9. If none of these days works for you, you can request a mail-in package at elections.bc.ca.
For more information about #TheClimateTalk initiative, visit https://www.wildernesscommittee.org, or follow The Wilderness Committee on Facebook or Twitter.
#TheClimateTalk Video Link: https://www.facebook.com/wildernesscommittee/videos/10154561378197993/