You’d think they’d have come up with a better term than climate change
by now.
Environmental activists, that is.
Like partner (insert: lover) and collateral damage (insert: murdered
women and children), it’s been disinfected, drained of all blood and
embalmed.
Global warming is a bit better – there’s a hint of drama there. Trouble
was, when facing eight months of snow, most Canadians welcomed the idea.
The New York Times’ Thomas Friedman has been pushing the term
“global weirding,” because when you read the scientists’ reports, they
don’t just predict a 2- to 6-degree boost on the thermostat, but an
onslaught of unusual weather events – unprecedented droughts, violent
storms, forest fires, snakes emerging from hibernation in January, that
sort of thing.
It’s a little long-winded, but how about, “Your children will be
frightened and threatened.”
I’ve got to refine it, I know. But you get the point. Then it becomes
personal. Which, despite political best efforts to smother the threat
with technical language and clunky acronyms, it is.
That’s what the groups Environmental Defence and ForestEthics are
getting at with their new campaign, called Moms Against Climate Change.
The two Canadian organizations are trying to rouse mama bear by stepping
in between her and her cubs.
They do it with an 86-second video of 100 little kids protesting on a
Toronto street. Toques drooping over their eyes, backpacks sliding past
their bums, they carry homemade signs that say “Stand Up for Me” and
“Stop Destroying Our Planet.”
The children confront a phalanx of police officers in riot gear. The
officers beat their sticks against their shields. The kids charge, some
embracing the cops, others weaving between them and racing away, little
feet pounding as the cops give chase.
The music, by Montreal-based band Stars, is mournful.
If you can watch this on YouTube and not cry, you are steely-hearted.
Long-distance telephone commercials are callous by comparison.
The segment ends with these lines: “If our children knew the facts we
do, they’d take action. Shouldn’t you?”
The first time I watched it, eyes brimming, I was ready to strap on some
explosives. Its call to action is more modest. It wants parents to
upload photos of their kids onto a website. The plan is to broadcast
them onto buildings around Prime Minister Stephen Harper in the weeks
leading up to next month’s pivotal climate change negotiations in
Copenhagen.
The tagline will be: “Stephen Harper, remember who you are representing
in Copenhagen.”
It seems a bit like loading a cannon with pebbles. But Environmental
Defence’s executive director, Rick Smith, assures me it’s just a first
step. Once we mothers are organized, we will be employed.
Rousing mama bear is a tried and true formula. Across the border, the
million-strong Internet collective called MomsRising has pummelled a
number of states into legalizing maternity leave with relentless petitions.
Here in Canada, Smith credits the mothers who, babes in arms, crowded
Dalton McGuinty’s office to demand he ban toxic chemicals from baby
bottles for tipping the balance. A few months later, the feds banned them.
The video itself, which should start hitting TV screens in a condensed
form this week, is a testament to parents.
Smith says it would have cost more than $100,000 to produce. Instead,
the crew – most parents themselves – volunteered because, like the rest
of us, they are frustrated by our government’s inaction.
“The moment you become a mother, the future changes meaning,” says
Shelley Brown, president of the local advertising company, Zig, that
stickhandled the project. “The future is my children’s future
“As a parent, I’m responsible to my own children and to our collective
children by really exercising my power as a citizen. That’s what we
forget. I do have influence, I do have power, I can make change on this
issue.”
Will it work? Doubtful. Our government’s climate policy has been to
cheer on the Alberta oilsands while heckling countries that are trying
to put up solar panels and roust people from their cars.
Again this week we bagged the “Fossil of the Day,” awarded by
environmental activists watching the last-minute climate talks in
Barcelona.
Last week, after two environmental groups unveiled a plan for how we
could reach our own timid goal for greenhouse gas reductions by 2020,
Federal Environment Minister Jim Prentice called it “irresponsible.”
Two years since the Tories introduced the goal, they still don’t have a
plan for reaching it. At first they wouldn’t do anything without China.
Now they want to wait for the United States’ plan – sometime in the new
year, after the Copenhagen climate summit.
Meanwhile, the latest science on climate change is even more chilling.
Glaciers are shrinking faster than expected, the sea ice is
disappearing, and the oceans are acidifying so much that scientists
predict oxygen-free dead zones will form.
Read it yourself. Google the International Alliance of Research
Universities’ synthesis report on climate change from March.
I wonder – does Jim Prentice have children?
I’ve uploaded the pictures of my kids on
www.takeactiononclimatechange.com
. You should, too.