A climate-conscious future is filled with opportunity

I recently read the International Panel on Climate Change Special Report which states that “climate change represents an urgent and potentially irreversible threat to human societies and the planet.”

When 97% of scientists worldwide agree that climate change is caused by human activity – it makes sense to me to believe them. I can’t think of any good reason to go with the 3% that disagree. It would be easier to go with the 3% because we wouldn’t have to do anything different and some of us won’t live long enough to see the most severe impacts of climate change. Our children and grandchildren, however, will have to pay a huge price for my inaction and our collective inaction.

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World leaders are calling on everyone to get behind the effort to fight climate change so we can reduce its devastating impacts. They are asking us to stop burning fossil fuels to reduce CO2 emissions, to eat less meat to reduce methane emissions, and I am fully prepared to get behind this effort.

We have an incredible way of life here in Fort St John. Everyone in some way has benefited from the oil and gas industry. But my way of life is not more important than life itself. I’m not going to cling to my way of life if it is going to compromise the lives of future generations.

My great-grandmother endured the bombing of England during the Second World War and my father enlisted in the American army and served in Europe during that same war. When Hitler marched across Europe, people in England got behind their leaders and did what it took to keep from being overrun. Not only did they have to send their young people to war, they had to deal with rationed fuel and rationed food. They had to support one another and do whatever it took. People came together and did what they had to, which meant a lot of doing without, so that the future generations, that’s us, could live free of the Nazis.

Climate change, 97% of the experts, say is a far greater threat to human kind than war. We have to be able to breathe, we have to have water to drink and we have to be able to grow food to survive. Climate change threatens us at this basic level. It isn’t about way of life, it is about life itself.

I like meat as much as the next person, but I’m not going to eat as much as I used to. I’m going to eat more rice, beans and vegetables if it means my grandchildren will have half a chance.

I wish we could keep burning oil and gas because it has provided lots of good jobs for many years for the people in this community, but I will switch to electric as soon as it is available, if it means that my grandchildren will have the basic necessities of life, clean water, clean air, and food.

Now that we have experienced the forest fires and seen the devastation of storms and people all over the world migrating because their farm land has dried up, we in the richest parts of the world, that have enjoyed the highest standard of living at the expense of the planet, need to own up and do our part to combat the problem now, however late in the game, because our grandchildren are entitled to lives worth living.

And it isn’t all bad. The changes we need to make might actually improve our way of life. I recently purchased a second hand electric car and I love it. I plug it in for a few hours and no more costly fill ups. We are planning to put up solar panels and go to provide in floor heating so we don’t have to burn natural gas. Eating less meat and more rice, beans and vegetables will make me healthier.

I am solidly behind the federal and provincial government’s climate change plans. I want them rolled out as quickly as possible, as we only have 12 years to reduce our carbon emissions and avoid catastrophe. We need green jobs and the training for them if we want people to stay here in Fort St. John. We also need financial support to retrofit our homes (check out the city’s passive house, it is a beautiful home and burns no fossil fuels). We also need electric car dealerships and fast chargers. The future is full of opportunities.

This is a difficult community to talk to about climate change, because people are so invested in oil and gas. But we have to talk about it to fight it. So talk to people about challenges that we face, support those that are affected and look for support if you need it. Embrace the changes that are coming.

I was born in Fort St John and have lived and worked here most of my life. I know the people here to be strong and resilient. It won’t be easy and it won’t be convenient, but we can fight climate change for our kids and grandkids. Let’s show them the way.

— Karla Marsh, Fort St. John

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