A small but passionate group of local residents gathered at Town Hall today for the first weekly Fridays for Future climate strike in Huntsville.
Climate Action Muskoka, a non-partisan group concerned about climate change in Muskoka, has been organizing climate strikes in Bracebridge for an hour every Friday since Sept. 21, 2019. A Gravenhurst climate strike began in January. The group also encourages people to create their own pop-up climate strikes wherever they are if they can’t make it to one of the organized strikes.
By the time the strike began, 16 adults, two babies, and one dog had arrived to spread their message: something needs to be done about climate change, and soon. Many carried signs to emphasize that message, and waved to supporters who honked as they drove by.
Among the strikers was Lesley Hastie.
“We are very concerned about climate change as is the great majority of Canadians,” she said in a prepared statement. “Time is running out and we all know that ignoring it doesn’t accomplish anything but people don’t know what they can do.”
Hastie acknowledged that governments need to get on board and wrote that, “…they have the power 1. to change building materials and standards, invest in infrastructure such as trains, charging stations; 2. switch to electric transit and school buses; 3. install solar panels; 4. encourage use of more heat pumps and geothermal energy and so on. 90% of electricity in Ontario comes from sources that do not emit greenhouse gases, so we should try to go electric.”
She also offered some suggestions for people who aren’t sure what individuals can do to help, citing the book Drawdown: The most comprehensive plan ever proposed to reverse global warming as a good source for those interested in learning more.
“1. Take a reusable mug to Tim Hortons (think how many disposable cups wouldn’t find their way to landfill and the savings in trees); 2. trim vegetables and put them in soup and put peelings in compost or green bins (food waste is a major problem as regards greenhouse gases); 3. grow your own vegetables or buy locally produced vegetables, and buy Ontario-made goods (that helps local people but also reduces transport, a major cause of greenhouse gases); 4. repair things rather than replacing them; 5. plant a tree to celebrate a birth or commemorate a loved one; 6. use less paper to save the trees (which absorb carbon and emit oxygen). The list is endless.”
Hastie says her climate awakening “came with photos of polar bears swimming and swimming and starving as Arctic ice melted and left them nothing to live on. Then I started joining the dots.”
She said that skeptics only need to connect the dots as well to see how the world is changing. “From fires in Parry Sound last year, to 100-year floods occurring every few years in Ontario, the Ravenscliffe Road washed out, catastrophic fires then floods in the Okanagan Valley last year, and 2019 the hottest year ever in Canada and Australia. We do know that these extreme weather events will continue regardless. But we need to reduce and absorb greenhouse gases now to make sure the overheating of the planet doesn’t reach a tipping point, with feedback loops that accelerate the process.”
The group recognizes, “…as does the UN, that climate change will hurt the poor and vulnerable the most,” said Hastie. “And there are so many people in Huntsville living in poverty, many of them children, who have no money to buy food.”
Councillor Dan Armour was also among those present for the climate strike. He was asked by strikers if Huntsville Council had declared a climate emergency yet (it has not), and if a list of the actions Huntsville has taken to decrease its effects on climate change is available (there isn’t one). He said he would raise both questions with his counterparts.
The Fridays for Future climate strikes take place every Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in front of Town Hall. Climate Action Muskoka invites all to attend.
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