Last Wednesday, a group of Merrickville residents participated in a worldwide day of action in the fight against climate change. The 24 hours of Reality: Truth in Action was initiated by former US Vice President Al Gore’s organization, The Climate Reality Project. On November 20, Climate Reality Leaders delivered over 1,600 presentations on climate change in 79 countries around the world.
Merrickville’s event was led by local Climate Reality Leader, Michèle Andrews, who is also a member of the new climate action group Sustainable Merrickville-Wolford. She and her husband, Todd Royer, had previously travelled to Atlanta, Georgia to be trained as Climate Reality Leaders with The Climate Reality Project. There are over 60 Climate Reality Leaders in the Ottawa region and 1,000 across Canada.
Michèle’s message was one of reality, but also one of hope. She highlighted the fact that, without doubt, our climate is changing and that is having devastating effects on the planet. Ninety-seven per cent of the world’s climate scientists agree that humans are contributing to global warming. Floods, large rainstorms, forest fires and droughts are all things that are becoming commonplace worldwide and are wreaking havoc on ecosystems and many people’s lives. “I had 400 acres of wheat; but now it’s a desert,” was a quote that Michèle used in her presentation from a Syrian farmer.
The good thing is that there are already people who are doing something about it. Electric cars are becoming cheaper and cheaper to produce and will be even more affordable than regular cars in the near future. There is progress being made in building renewable energy sources like wind and solar, and large countries like China and India are on target to meet or exceed their Paris agreements. Carbon emissions in 30 of the world’s largest cities are dropping and 190 large global companies have made the commitment to work towards becoming completely renewable.
However, even with all these positive steps, more needs to be done. Michèle used data from a New York Times bestselling book called Project Drawdown, which highlights the top ways that everyday people can make an impact in the fight against climate change. Project Drawdown’s top solutions for climate change include: managing refrigeration chemicals, installing onshore wind turbines, cutting down on food waste, eating more plants and less meat, and restoring and protecting our tropical rainforests.
Michèle ended her presentation by introducing Sustainable Merrickville-Wolford, a potluck action group focused on leading positive environmental change in the local community. The group participated in the global climate strikes this summer, and also presented a petition to the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville in November asking them to declare a climate emergency and set up a task force to combat climate change in all of the County’s 10 municipalities.
Sustainable Merrickville-Wolford’s next meeting is on January 15 at the Merrickville and District Health Centre. Anyone is welcome to join them for a good meal and some discussion about practical ways that they can participate in the fight against climate change at the local level.