By Fred Larsen – Special to SUNonline/Orillia
With ravaging forest fires across Canada and other natural disasters here and across the globe, climate change is something Canadians are hearing a lot about these days. But are regular folks in other countries hearing and thinking about it in the same way? How are they feeling about the threat of a changing climate? Do they care?
Sustainable Orillia asked people in Denmark, Brazil, India and Canada they and people in their circles are thinking, feeling and doing about climate change in their corners of the world.
Each was asked:
1. Are people in your circle concerned about climate change?
2. How do you personally perceive climate change?
3. What’s happening in your community? (i.e. are there specific changes responding to climate change threats? Have you made any changes?)
Madeleine Fournier is a young Canadian environmental activist living in Orillia who works for a local environmental NGO.
Are people in your circle concerned about climate change?
Madeleine: “I am fortunate to be surrounded by people who perceive… climate change as the real and urgent threat that it is. However, I realize that this is largely because I work at an environmental non-profit and many of my hobbies have to do with the environment, so I am very much in an echo chamber while the wider society is becoming increasingly polarized and divided on such topics. I try to make an effort to connect with others who might not be on the same page as me, and bridge some awareness, education and understanding.”
How do you perceive the threats of climate change, personally?
Madeleine: “The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report concluded that we need to limit global warming to 1.5°C in order to avoid some of the worst global catastrophes, but, due to the inaction of political leaders, we are not on track to reduce emissions to meet this threshold. We are already seeing the repercussions, from increased deadly wildfires and flooding to droughts. Personally, I see climate change as the result of years of living in an economic system that prioritizes profit over public good. Worse yet, marginalized groups and those who contribute the least to greenhouse gas emissions are the ones most affected by climate change.”
What changes, if any, have you made in your own life in response to the threats of climate change?
Madeleine: “Since graduating from university with a degree in Global Studies, Environmental Sustainability, and Community Engagement, I have been less focused on personal changes and individual action, and more on building community. I am thankful to be a part of various communities that respond to the threats of climate change such as Green Orillia (a grassroots group dedicated to climate and social justice advocacy), The Couchiching Conservancy (a non-profit land trust that protects 14,000+ acres of wilderness in the region), Gojijing Truth and Reconciliation Roundtable and Lakehead Indigenous Initiatives, and various community gardening initiatives. We can only create lasting and meaningful change by working together.”