Think Global. Act Local.

by Megan Van Buskirk

Climate change is real. It’s happening. And I literally cannot think of a more pressing issue in our past, our present, or our future.

That is why I am going to COP18 in Doha, Qatar.

I live in Saskatchewan, where coal-fired power plants provide the energy for over half of our electricity consumption. Our policy-makers express no intent to ambitiously curb the use of coal, even though it is one of the dirtiest hydrocarbon energies out there. Due to the current realities— record sea ice melt, record extreme weather events and devastating drought—it should be clear to policy-makers that burning coal needs to end.

Right next door to Saskatchewan, in Alberta, exist the tar sands which produce hands down the most environmentally destructive fossil fuel of them all. These manufactured landscapes are not only toxic to the environment, but they are toxic to people too. The preservation of human communities is arguably just as vital as the preservation of natural ecosystems.

We should be aggressively investing in renewable energies that will ensure a just and sustainable future for me (and you), my friends (and your friends), my sisters (and your siblings), all other peoples, and all future generations.

But let’s not forget: this is only a very small part of the solution. Not only do individuals, organizations, businesses and governments need to work together to develop innovative and sustainable technologies, they also need to build stronger communities and harvest healthier societies.

I find myself consistently explaining to people that climate change is related to everything. The relationship between power, oppression, and climate change is one example of how closely linked social justice is to climate science. Displaced power can lead to oppression, which can consequently lead to inaction, or inappropriate action, in regards to climate change related decisions. I know I do important local work in my daily life at the Saskatchewan Environmental Society, and this leads me to believe that another world is possible. Yet as much as my organization and others like it work hard each day to shape a better world, there are still pieces missing from the puzzle.

Perhaps part of the solution can be found on the international stage. While it is unlikely that any ambitious international deal will be signed in Doha, it is—on the other hand—incredibly likely that we, the youth, will gain the necessary skills and knowledge to alleviate the climate injustices that exist in our world by continuing our good work on local and regional levels.

That is why I am going to COP18. I don’t believe that the youth are the leaders of tomorrow; I believe we are the leaders of today. And we have a right to a just, liveable, and OUT-OF-THIS-WORLD future!

p.s. COP18 starts in less than a week! ( :

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