PICTON — Inspired by hope but driven by a need for urgent action on climate change, dozens of people staged a Fridays for Future climate strike on Main Street.
They, like those who gathered Friday in Quinte West and Sept. 20 in Belleville, were among hundreds of thousands around the world pressing politicians, polluters and others to slash emissions and pollution, shift to renewable energy sources – all within the next decade to prevent what scientists say could be a disastrous – and irreversible – warming of the planet.
“It’s doable,” said Don Ross of Milford.
“It’s not pie-in-the-sky.
“the solutions are all there. We need to rapidly embrace them and implement them,” he said.
Ross is a founder of the County Sustainability Group which formed in 2005. He said he promoted Friday’s demonstration online after attending the last strike in Belleville, then learning sisters Annette and Angela McIntosh of Milford had demonstrated alone in Picton on the same day.
Humans must stop burning carbon and abandon “the idea of infinite growth on a finite planet,” said Ross. “We’re sleepwalking into the future.
“What I would like to see is people not finding excuses anymore,” he said, adding people too often blame others for inaction on environmental issues.
“We’re way past excuses.”
Ross, like many present for the strike, said he was there out of concern for his children and grandchildren.
He spoke of the need for “looking in a child’s eyes and saying, ‘What am I doing now?’
“If your reaction is, ‘Nothing,’ then I think you really need to check your moral compass.
“Civilizations are judged by the world we leave for our descendants. I think to some extent we’re throwing our children under a bus.”
Yet he also said there are “tipping points” in both impending environmental damage and, on the positive side, the number of citizens rising in an attempt to reverse the trend.
Ross said locals are somewhat shielded from the effects of climate change, but it’s causing widespread problems in other parts of the world, including mass migration of refugees – something Friday’s demonstrators warned will increase.
Twins Angela and Annette McIntosh, 64, said the planned dismantling of local wind turbines is a mistake. Angela recalled young activist Greta Thunberg’s recent address to the United Nations.
“Here she is at the UN in New York, fighting to stop climate change, and they’re taking down wind turbines in Prince Edward County. It doesn’t make any sense.”
Annette said politicians “have got to something or the planet’s going to do it for them.
“It’s going to be an Armageddon.”
At Quinte West city hall, another crowd gathered for speeches by federal candidates Stephanie Bell of the NDP and Danny Celovsky of the Green Party, plus city councillor Terry Cassidy, and several residents, said Lori Borthwick, one of the organizers. A student strike at Albert College was also reported.
Back in Picton, Rosalind Adams of South Marysburgh handed out information about the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. She said the panel’s report on global warming is being misinterpreted by many, including Canada’s political parties. She encouraged people to read the report at tinyurl.com/warming15.
Canada’s emissions must be cut by 90 per cent by 2030 “to save a livable climate,” Adams’ handout read.
Despite frustration with the current situation, several people said they believed humanity is up to the challenge.
Don Ross said there may be more frequent climate strikes in the area.
“This isn’t over,” he said.
Bloomfield mother Daniela Kelloway said she and her family are trying to change their ways, including eating more plant-based foods and less meat.
“We’re taking small steps in that direction.”
She encouraged people to reduce consumption and, when shopping, ask themselves if they really need what they’re buying.
“I don’t think people ask themselves that quite enough.”
Sam Elgindy, who came with her two young children, said she had mixed feelings: disappointment with world leaders but optimism about the movement for a cleaner Earth.
“It’s a moment of hope. It’s a moment of inspiration,” Elgindy said.
“I want to see policymakers listen. I want to see commitments to action. I want to see tangible change.”
Federal candidates in the Bay of Quinte riding are to take part Oct. 3 in a debate on environmental issues. The 7 p.m. event at Belleville’s Centennial Secondary School, 160 Palmer Road, is part of the 100 Debates on the Environment, a national series.