Feeling helpless about climate change? There’s lots you can do

‘We can go on the offence’: A more positive way to look at climate action

(Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images)

According to a recent survey of 14,000 respondents in 14 countries, people basically fall into four groupings when it comes to tackling climate change: “optimists,” “supporters,” “disempowered” and “skeptical.” The optimists and supporters generally feel they can have an impact and are doing their part to mitigate rising emissions and temperatures.

The disempowered, however, think it’s too late to stop the damage and feel, well, paralyzed. But Per Espen Stoknes, a psychologist who has also served as a member of Norway’s parliament, has ideas about how to change that.

Stoknes is the author of a 2015 book called What We Think About When We Try Not to Think About Global Warming, which focuses on the barriers that keep people from making change — and offers ideas to overcome them. Stoknes shared some of his insights with Stephanie Hogan via email.

What is it about climate change that makes people feel helpless?

The barrier of distance makes planetary-scale climate disruptions feel very far away. It is … remote in terms of space, time, impacts and responsibility, except for the relatively few people who are directly hit by wildfire, floods or droughts at any time.

The scale … and the invisibility of CO2 all contribute to the feeling of helplessness and the lack of self-efficacy to contribute real change with an impact. It makes many voters give climate disruption a low priority relative to immigration, unemployment, health issues, et cetera.

Does the way we talk about climate change make a difference?

Language is hugely important.

When communicating about climate, we should never accept the [negative] frames (doom, uncertainty, cost, sacrifice). There is no need to negate them, or repeat them or argue them in order to counter them.

Rather, we can go on the offence with our own framing: that more commercial and political action is needed right away to ensure safety for society, secure our health, be prepared for what comes and realize the amazing opportunities for jobs and better lives that the shifts in clean energy will bring.

What kind of action can help an individual feel more empowered?

Doing something together with others is the basic remedy. Many think of psychology as individualistic and assume that a psychology of climate solutions would be about what each of us as individuals can do separately, that we only get better one by one.

It is clear, however, that individual solutions are not sufficient to solving climate alone. But they do build stronger bottom-up support for policies and solutions that can. Our personal impact on others is much more valuable in giving momentum to the change of society than the number of [kilograms] of CO2 each action generates. It works like rings in water: If I see someone else that I respect taking action, then I want to as well. Enthusiasm is contagious. That is why engaging together with other people is so crucial.

How do you take that action further?

Organize, organize, organize. The key is to make climate disruption into a social issue by taking action together with others. Start a local chapter of Climate Citizens Lobby or 350.org and make it visible to let your neighbours, friends and colleagues see that you are taking action with solar panels on the roof, electric mobility and/or a more plant-based diet. The largest cuts in climate emissions — from solutions in agriculture to buildings to mobility — can be addressed when thousands of people start taking action together. The Drawdown.org project gives a wonderful and inspiring overview of all the solutions. SOURCE

Climate Fast: Kitchen Table Climate Conversations – Training, June 22

Time to have a conversation! What does it mean to be in a ‘climate emergency’? and how do we respond, as individuals, as a community? what do we expect of our politicians? Scientists tell us we have 11 years to cut 45% of our fossil fuel emissions. How can we do this? We are encouraging everyone to host a discussion at their kitchen table, or other community location, inviting family, friends and neighbours to participate. On June 22nd ClimateFast and the GTHA Climate Hub will provide a training day for potential hosts and facilitators at Friends House in Toronto. Please register if you can join us! Our goal is to see dozens, hundreds, even thousands of conversations spread across the province this summer and fall. Working together we can make this happen!

Registration $20 requested donation which will cover all expenses for the day including handouts, refreshments and a vegan lunch. If you can afford an additional donation we will add it to our travel fund to enable volunteers from other parts of Ontario to come to Toronto.

Please note: pay what you can tickets are available. If cost is a barrier please email lyn@climatefast.ca To register please register here and also email lyn@climatefast.ca so we can send you a registration form and can provide you with more information about the day.

NOTE: As of Tuesday we are getting close to maximum numbers, so if you cannot purchase your ticket please contact me directly regarding waiting list for the event -and we will try to get you in. SOURCE

Amnesty International awards its highest honour to Greta Thunberg and #FridaysForFuture climate movement

Greta Thunberg, 16, inspired other teenagers to hold school strikes to protest adults' lack of action in addressing the climate crisis.
Greta Thunberg, 16, inspired other teenagers to hold school strikes to protest adults’ lack of action in addressing the climate crisis. ANDERS HELLBERG

One of the world’s most influential and admired human rights organization is shining a spotlight on youths trying to save humanity on Earth.

Amnesty International has given its Ambassadors of Conscience 2019 award to Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg and the #FridaysForFuture movement.

Thunberg, 16, started going on strike from school last year on Fridays and holding protests outside the Swedish parliament to push legislators to take far more dramatic action to address the climate crisis.

She has inspired other students around the world, including in Vancouver, to hold their own Friday climate strikes.

“This is not my award, this is everyone’s award,” Thunberg said. “It is amazing to see the recognition that we are getting and know that we are fighting for something that is having an impact.”

Embedded video


They’re challenging us to confront realities of the climate crisis. They’re reminding us we’re more powerful than we know. They’re telling us to protect human rights against climate catastrophe. @GretaThunberg & are our Ambassadors of Conscience 2019.

Webinar for Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform Oversubscribed

Fair Vote Canada had about 560 people register for their Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform and the webinar cutoff was 100 watching. Others tried to  to log on unsuccessfully.

The  national citizens’ assembly had three main objectives:

    • To give citizens a leadership role in determining the shape of electoral reform for Canada
    • To provide a structure for meaningful and informed deliberation by a demographically-representative group of Canadians, free of partisan interest
    • To build a consensus that enhances public trust in any decision-making process

For those who missed the webinar and would like to watch, here it is:



A National Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform: A Process We Can Trust
Why a National Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform?

AOC! AOC! Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Lays It On The Line For Green New Deal

The two videos below, one American, one Canadian, show why activism is so important now and  why so many environmental organizations are  organizing for a Green New Deal for Canada.  

Image result for alexandria ocasio-cortez sunrise movementAt a Sunrise Movement rally, on Monday, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez criticized “both sides” of the aisle for sidelining climate action. Photograph by Alex Wong / Getty

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez gave a fiery speech at an event sponsored by the Sunrise Movement on May 13. The symposium at Howard University marked the end of a 30-day campaign by the Sunrise Movement designed to educate voters across the nation about the Green New Deal proposed by AOC and Senator Edward Markey of Massachusetts.

Now folks, politicians give speeches all the time. Most of them are nothing more than hot air, filled with empty promises and blue sky blathering. The speakers know their promises will never be fulfilled. The audience knows the promises they are hearing are just sloganeering. We all wink and nod and pretend we are witnessing some historic peroration, knowing in our heart of hearts that it is all window dressing designed to obscure the real political wheeling and dealing that goes on in the background.

She pushes back hard against the namby pamby, go slow, middle of the road policies put forth by Joe Biden and clears the air about charges by Republicans that she seeks to make America a socialist country by reminding her audience that a strong nation, a proud nation, a great nation is one that tends to the needs of the poor and the powerless.

Some speeches leave a permanent mark on society. This speech by AOC may well stand the test of time. Please watch the entire video below. It is just over 11 minutes long and it may be the best speech of the 21st century so far.


And if you need more convincing that Canadians face an urgent climate crisis, watch this video by Elizabeth May:

Have your say at the Green New Deal set up

The Sunrise Movement is promoting the Green New Deal via posters like this one - Photo courtesy of Nancye Belding

The House of Commons saw two separate motions calling on Canada to declare a climate change emergency. This is a big deal, since it means many of our politicians are finally waking up to see climate change as what it is — a global crisis that demands urgent action.

But, actions speak louder than words. If, and likely when, it passes next week, this emergency declaration will still be backed up by a climate plan that misses the Paris targets and puts us on track to exceed 4ºC of global temperature rise.

That’s why a Green New Deal for Canada is so important, because a climate emergency demands an emergency level response. This weekend kicks off more than 150 town halls across the country where people from all walks of life will get together to craft the ambitious climate solutions that we need response.

This energy to declare a climate emergency didn’t come of out of nowhere. For the past few months student strikes have poured out of classes and into our communities calling for bold action. The Our Time campaign has launched across the country, bringing in thousands of young people committed to winning a Green New Deal for Canada by building a once in a generation voting alliance for climate justice. And, earlier this month, the Pact for a Green New Deal launched, collecting tens of thousand of signatures from people who believe we can, and we must, do more to tackle climate change and inequality.

All of this has pushed our politicians to respond with platforms, pledges to show us their vision of a Green New Deal for Canada and now, climate emergency declarations.

This energy to declare a climate emergency didn’t come of out of nowhere. For the past few months student strikes have poured out of classes and into our communities calling for bold action. The Our Time campaign has launched across the country, bringing in thousands of young people committed to winning a Green New Deal for Canada by building a once in a generation voting alliance for climate justice. And, earlier this month, the Pact for a Green New Deal launched, collecting tens of thousand of signatures from people who believe we can, and we must, do more to tackle climate change and inequality.

All of this has pushed our politicians to respond with platforms, pledges to show us their vision of a Green New Deal for Canada and now, climate emergency declarations.

With over 150 town halls confirmed in cities, towns and First Nations, we’re just getting started. If you’ve been waiting for it, this is the moment to get involved. MORE


Pact for the Green New Deal: “Now is the time to build power behind the solutions we need.”

Investors Pressure Oil Giants on Ocean Plastics Pollution

Even as Canada is falling behind on banning plastics, the Green Party candidate for Bay of Quinte is looking to ban single-use plastics. Will the candidates from other parties move to protect the environment?  (See RELATED articles below.)

Climate-conscious shareholders who have long focused on fossil fuel damage are turning attention to another growing and related problem: plastics.

Pre-production plastic pellets, known as nurdles, that had spilled from a train car. Credit: Rick Loomis/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
Pre-production plastic pellet, like these that spilled from a train car, have become a common pollution problem in oceans and waterways along with fragments of plastic bottles and containers. Credit: Rick Loomis/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Several of the largest producers of the fossil fuel feedstocks used to make plastics are being pressured by investors to explain what the companies are doing to reduce plastic waste in the world’s oceans and waterways.

Plastics represent a new direction for the activist shareholders, who for years have focused on greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels in their effort hold corporations responsible for the environmental fallout of their industries.

By turning attention to plastics, the investors hope to kick-start a conversation with the industry that will provide a realistic view of the size and scope of the plastics problem, exemplified by the millions of tons of garbage left behind to float in the oceans when plastics are not recycled.

Conrad MacKerron, senior vice president of As You Sow, a shareholder advocacy organization, said he was prepared for a stiff fight when his organization filed plastics-related shareholder resolutions this year with Exxon, Chevron, Phillips 66 and chemical giant DowDuPont.

Instead, the oil giants agreed to address the plastics issue in exchange for the investors withdrawing their formal resolutions. The companies agreed to issue reports addressing the amount of pea-sized plastic pellets released into the environment annually during production. Called nurdles, they are produced by the billions to make nearly all plastic products. The companies will also assess the effectiveness of policies and actions to reduce the volume of their plastic materials contaminating the environment.

The resolution with DowDuPont could still go to a shareholder vote at the company’s annual meeting June 25. MORE


Bay of Quinte riding: Local political candidate wants single-use plastics eliminated
Canada falling behind on banning plastics

New Wave of Satellites Could Pinpoint Greenhouse Gas Offenders

This is huge. “If nothing else, the biggest polluters, and the biggest cheaters, will be exposed. No company, no country, will be able to hide or fudge its numbers. The public will know how to find them.” A quote from the RELATED posting below. It’s well worth reading also.

  • Pressure on companies to disclose emissions is intensifying

  •  Latest sensors can detect leaks from a single well or pipeline

European Space Agency’s Copernicus Sentinel-5 Precursor satellite.
European Space Agency’s Copernicus Sentinel-5 Precursor satellite. Source: ESA/ATG Medialab

A wave of satellites set to orbit the Earth will be able to pinpoint producers of greenhouse gases, right down to an individual leak at an oil rig.

More than a dozen governments and companies have or are planning to launch satellites that measure concentrations of heat-trapping gases such as methane, which is blamed for about one quarter of man-made global warming. They are looking to track nations, industries, companies and even individual facilities to identify some of the biggest contributors to climate change.

“Space-based technologies are allowing us for the first time to quickly and cheaply measure greenhouse gases,” said Mark Brownstein, a senior vice president at Environmental Defense Fund, which plans to launch its MethaneSAT in 2021. “Oftentimes both government and industry are not fully aware of the magnitude of the opportunity to cut emissions. With that data, they can take action.”

Regulators are taking note. California is partnering with Planet Labs Inc. on a satellite to help it “pinpoint individual methane plumes” from oil and gas facilities, as well as other sources such as landfills, dairies and waste water plants, Stanley Young, a spokesman for the state’s Air Resources Board, said in an email. Researchers have suggested that methane is underestimated in most inventories, he said.

California was the site of the largest natural gas leak in U.S. history in 2015 when a broken well outside Los Angeles owned by Sempra Energy released more than 100,000 tons of methane before being plugged, federal and university researchers said in a study published in Science the following year. The utility in August estimated costs associated with the leak at $1.01 billion.

relates to New Wave of Satellites Could Pinpoint Greenhouse Gas Offenders

Methane emissions from a coal mine captured on a satellite in Camden, Australia. Source: GHGSat Inc.

The information may reinforce shareholder pressure on companies to disclose and reduce emissions. In September, Exxon Mobil Corp. joined the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative, which targets to cut aggregated upstream industry methane emissions by more than 20 percent by 2025, and Chevron Corp. said this year it plans to tie executive compensation to meeting emissions targets.

Leaks constitute energy that could otherwise be sold. Oil and gas firms can cut 40 to 50 percent of their methane emissions at no net cost, which in terms of climate impact, is the equivalent of shutting two-thirds of the coal-fired generation in Asia, according to Laura Cozzi, the International Energy Agency’s chief energy modeler.  MORE


We’ll soon know the exact air pollution from every power plant in the world. That’s huge.

The Leap’s work has been turbo-charged by the idea of a Green New Deal since last year

 How can it be  built to truly address the triple crises of climate change, rising racism, and economic inequality we’re facing?

The solutions that the Green New Deal puts on the table aren’t exactly new. But since we launched the Leap Manifesto in 2015 — another vision for how the total transformation of our society and economy can tackle climate change while repairing historical harms, reducing current inequalities, and respecting Indigenous rights — we have seen new reasons for both hope and despair.

Now is the time to build power behind the solutions that have been here all along.As Leap co-founder Naomi Klein says, “The ground for this moment has been prepared for decades.”

Sign the Pact for a Green New Deal. Let’s build this together.

We’re seeing a kaleidoscope of electrifying efforts emerge — from weekly youth-led climate strikes, to migrant justice days of action to #UniteAgainstRacism, to the new “Our Time” campaign, with its organizing hubs of young people working to elect candidates who support a Green New Deal in the 2019 federal election. With so much resistance being seeded around us, we’re feeling more hopeful than ever about the revolutionary change we need right now — or, at the very least, the possibility of uniting across movements and generations to work together on this shared vision.

Join the Pact for a Green New Deal to be part of the conversation about a Green New Deal for everyone.