“Once we start to act, hope is everywhere.” – Greta Thunberg, 15 year old activist.
Lion’s Head is halfway between Owen Sound and Tobermory. It’s a tourism town for canoeing, kayaking, hiking, rock climbing, among other outdoorsy activities. The population quadruples during the summer to 2,000 because of tourism and even many elementary school students work over the summer at stores.
This is one of the most environmentally friendly schools I have been on this tour. It has a Platinum Ontario EcoSchool Certification. The majority of the school posters and boards are about climate change and the environment. In fact, a University of Saskatchewan Ph.D. student is conducting research on climate education at the school. The students even had a class discussion about 3% Project before the assembly and drew posters about renewable energy based on our scribbles branding!
The assembly went as usual. When I opened up the floor for questions, a grade seven student asked, “I’m scared of climate change. Are you scared?” I asked the adults in the room if they were scared when they were young; all three of them said no. I asked the students if they were scared; the majority of them said yes.
Am I scared? Not anymore. But I was.
I remember crying and shaking in anger at the Copenhagen Climate Summit. I remember crying out loud at the airport in Brazil returning from Rio+20, the UN Conference on Sustainable Development. I remember sobbing in the library as I read the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report. The human response to fear is fight, flight, or freeze. Same goes for climate change. If you don’t know how to meaningfully fight climate change, you will flee or freeze.
That’s why the more I learned about climate solutions, my fear turned into determination: a determination to solve the climate crisis. With that determination came hope, peace, and joy. There are so many ways to solve climate change from energy efficiency to renewable energy, agricultural practices to transportation.
And that’s exactly why 3% Project exists. We want to empower young people with the knowledge and skills to solve climate change. Students identify, analyze, and develop solutions to their community’s biggest sustainability challenge, exercising the muscle for sustainability problem-solving skills to make it a core competency of our generation. In a word, we want to give them hope. Hope to create real change.
Back to the assembly, the students had insightful questions on climate change, renewable energy, and civic action. I know 3% Project is meant to go into communities that don’t take climate action, but it was such a treat and encouragement to come here and work with a group of keen environmental leaders.
As Tour 3 wraps up, I’m reminded of two things: the work that lies ahead, and the sheer potential of our generation to get it done. I am hopeful in my generation – and youth from all across Canada – and that’s why we do the tour. So, let’s get to work!