Editorial: Cry for action

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The United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York has once again brought people to the streets demanding change.

Islanders came on out en masse on Saturday to contribute their bodies and voices to the global movement, which has seen millions of people leaving jobs and classrooms to secure emergency action at the highest levels. Inspired and led by 16-year-old activist Greta Thunberg, the climate strikes have attracted people of all ages. But the youth who will be most burdened with a poisoned atmosphere and scorched earth have been the loudest and most compelling voices.

It is heart-wrenching to see so many young people doubting there will be a future that in any way resembles the cushy experience the western world, at least, has enjoyed for nearly a century. They have every reason to doubt that, though, as our policy makers fail to face up to the facts.

For all of our good intentions as individual citizens, carbon emissions have continued to rise around the world, reaching a record high in 2018. The province of British Columbia managed to reduce its carbon output starting in 2007, but recently released figures show we have returned to that benchmark level again. This creates a foreboding prediction on the success of the NDP’s goal of achieving a 40 per cent reduction from 2007 levels by 2030 — never mind the intended 80 per cent reduction by 2050.

Huge changes in how we live our lives and organize our economies will be necessary to swing things around. Making it known to political leaders and elected representatives  — regardless of their affiliation — that climate is a top issue will continue to be necessary after the election dust settles and the new House is assembled.

Buying power is another tool, and one with potentially massive impact. Using your influence locally to have stores stop using plastics by refusing to buy the products or writing letters of complaint to the owners will help start needed changes.

Though we sometimes feel helpless, we have influence and must use it. Now is the time to put the pressure on.

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