Shift to active citzenship
Today in nearly 150 countries and thousands of cities across the world, people are coming together to promote and implement climate solutions. Today is "Moving Planet," an international day of action co-ordinated by 350.org, a global organization that advocates for science-based reductions in carbon dioxide emissions. Local actions are occurring today at the Orillia Farmers' Market and the Wiki Farm, sponsored by Lakehead University, Transition Town Orillia and Orillia Community Gardens.
Scientists around the world have concluded that 350 parts per million of CO2 is the upper- most limit our atmosphere can absorb before we risk runaway climate change. We currently sit at 390ppm and counting. A growing number of people are coming to understand that in order to mitigate the worst effects of climate change, we must rapidly reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, cut harmful emissions and transition toward a zero- carbon economy.
This great transition requires a new holistic understanding of the climate crisis. It is no longer simply the weather or air we breathe. The climate embodies our entire society, culture, politics, economy and environment, as they are all interconnected and interdependent. This climate, the so-called zeitgeist, or spirit of the times, appears to be in a state of cumulative collapse, or alternatively, extraordinary opportunity.
The ecological, debt and democratic crises mutually reinforce one another. We can't address climate change because we don't have enough money or political will. I argue the majority of us believe a transition toward a zero-carbon economy is common sense and inevitable. Yet the current structure of our political parties, governments and global governing bodies are incapable of enacting the will of the fractured and silent majority.
Neo-liberal globalization has led to ever-increasing inequality, resulting in a profound assault on our democracy. Money and power are concentrated in the invisible hands of faceless multinational corporations that direct national policies and programs which further their own interests. These unaccountable organizations control our money supply, land, food, water, energy, education, media and the means of production for their own private gain. Our government, through massive corporate tax cuts and lax regulations, has given them even more money and power, enabling them to have their way with us at the pumps, banks and grocery stores in an attempt to increase profits and keep the economy afloat.
As communities like our own struggle with the negative effects of globalization, many have found strength and resilience in the process of localization, as promoted by the Transition Town movement, among others. Producing everything we can and need locally buffers us from global energy, climate and economic shocks that are beyond our control. Reducing our dependence on this unstable system requires increased trust and collaboration with each other. It calls upon us to participate in our democracy. It entails a shift from passive consumerism toward active citizenship. Through our participation, we build community, gain skills, resources and quite literally the power to change the world.
A few years ago after attending a seed exchange and urban agriculture fair in Toronto, I was inspired to start a community garden in Orillia. At the time, I was strongly motivated by the climate benefits of small-scale organic farming compared to large-scale industrial farming. It wasn't until I began growing in the community gardens that I became aware of the infinite social, cultural, health and economic benefits, as well. This cornucopia has brought together a large and diverse community of people.
Similarly, the holistic benefits described above flow from nearly all proposed community-led climate solutions: local food and energy production, active and public transportation, energy efficient buildings and countless more. Thus, reimagining our current climate will enable all kinds of kind people to begin working and moving forward together.
Jacob Kearey-Moreland is a local resident and student at the University of Toronto studying philosophy and sociology. His founding and co-ordinating of Orillia Community Gardens demonstrates a sustainable alternative to current monetary-market economics. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.