Trevor Hancock: Move from denial, to protests, to building better mousetraps

There are great opportunities to build a green future. Action is better than despair. We just have to imagine and build a better mousetrap.

Photograph By AP PHOTO

“Stop denying our Earth is dying,” read a poster held by a young woman taking part in a protest by the Extinction Rebellion group outside the BBC headquarters in London recently.

Young people can see what is coming, and they are becoming mad as hell and are not going to take it any more. Greta Thunberg, the remarkable young Swedish woman who routinely talks sense to the world’s leaders, has ignited a series of protests over climate change by young people all over the world.

But while the evidence is clear — and increasing on an almost daily basis — much of our political and corporate leadership in B.C., Canada and around the world is in denial. It was to them that this young woman’s appeal was directed. Troublingly, significant segments of the electorate are also in denial, and are being whipped up by “the Resistance.” Conservative leaders in Canada and around the world and their fossil-fuel and other corporate allies do very well out of the present arrangements and don’t want to see the system changed.

Unlike the older generation that currently make decisions affecting the future, young people have a real stake in that future; after all, they will be there, whereas my generation will not. In fact, arguably, they — not the generation now in power — should be making decisions that will have an impact on their future; they should certainly be fully, meaningfully and consistently engaged in making those decisions.

Perhaps the most effective way to counter denial is simply to show that there is an alternative, it works and it’s better than what we have now — build a better mousetrap, in other words.

But young people can see, I think, that what we face — climate change and more — changes everything, as Naomi Klein’s book title noted a few years ago. And if everything has to change — our values, the economy, our social arrangements, our whole way of life — then there are not only great challenges ahead, but great opportunities. MORE

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