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TIP OF THE WEEK: Looking to learn about climate change, sustainability?

Orillia group provides ideas for how can we use our time now, during this lockdown period to inform and prepare ourselves to tackle the climate crisis

EDITOR'S NOTE: OrilliaMatters is partnering with Sustainable Orillia to publish a weekly tip. Check back here every Tuesday evening for a new tip. For more information, visit the Sustainable Orillia website.

There aren’t many positive things one can say about an ongoing pandemic that has restricted many of our everyday activities for almost a year now. That being said, COVID-19 has triggered a significant amount of behaviour change around the world, demonstrating our ability to adapt rapidly when we are at risk.

Despite this new-found awareness and ability to change behaviour when necessary: Can and will we bring this same mindset to head off the looming crisis posed by global warming? And how can we use our time now, during this lockdown period to inform and prepare ourselves to tackle the climate crisis?

In response to those questions… YES we can all do something and this is the right time to expand our knowledge of climate change and what we can do about it.

The combination of wintry weather, and the current request to remain in our homes, presents the ideal moment to pursue this knowledge. Whether you’re looking to learn more about global warming or for ways to live more sustainably, there are many high-quality books and films available to broaden your understanding of what is happening, and what science tells us has to happen to reverse this dangerous trend.

Predictably, Sustainable Orillia has some suggestions. Here are some titles, which if you haven’t already read or seen, we recommend as a good start.

Books

A Good War, Mobilizing Canada for the Climate Emergency - This recent book was authored by Seth Klein, a public policy researcher, based in Vancouver. His book demonstrates how wartime thinking and community efforts can be applied today to help Canada reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. The book is structured around lessons from World War II – the last time Canada faced an existential crisis. Published by ECW Press (2020).

Silent Spring – by Rachel Carson. First published in 1962, Silent Spring is considered the catalyst for starting the global grassroots environmental movement. As relevant today as it was almost sixty years ago, Carson’s main point was to demonstrate the powerful and often negative effect humans have on the natural world. Reading this book underscores how important every species is to the survival of our own species, including our currently imperiled friends, the bees. Published by Houghton Mifflin (1962).

Brave New Arctic (The Untold Story of the Melting Ice) – Mark C. Serreze. Canadians will be interested in this insider account of how scientists unraveled the mystery of thawing Arctic ice in the 1990’s. Serreze, a geographer and Director of the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre, brings their challenge to life for readers. Sadly, our polar bear population doesn’t need to read about the diminishing ice floes in the Arctic – they are living it and unless we do something now, we will soon be experiencing the effects as well. Published by Princeton University Press (2018).  

Younger readers benefit from broad assortment of books on the subject. They inspire not only young adults and children, but older generations as well. Here’s a sampling of four titles:

Owl Moon – by Jane Yolen, is the gentle story of a young girl and her father visiting the woods on a clear winter night in search of the Great Horned Owl (Owling). The illustrations and the prose capture the stillness and their awe of nature. A Caldicott winner, this timeless and beautiful story is available in audio form on the internet … ideal for snuggling up with your younger children on a winter’s night. Published by Philomel Books. (1987)

Greta’s Story – The Girl Who Went on Strike to Save the Planet - Written by Valentina Camerini, it is the inspiring story of the young eco-activist, whose persistence sparked a global movement; proving you are never too young to make a difference. Ideal for young people ages 8 to 12, the book speaks directly to this generation and encourages their activism and their hope. Published by Simon & Schuster (2019).

The Lorax – Dr. Seuss chronicles the plight of the environment with a message that is as real today as it was when first written fifty years ago. While Dr. Seuss’s imaginative language, prose and characters fascinate even the youngest read, the story has meaning for readers of all ages. Published by Random House. (1971)

It’s Getting Hot in Here - The Past, Present and Future of Climate Change - Bridget Heos tackles the issue of global warming head-on for a teen audience. She examines the science behind it, the history of climate change on earth and the ways humans have affected the current crisis we face. It shows how interconnected we are with everyone else on the planet and with those who will follow us. Despite the grim possibilities – this book provides readers with hope and tools on how they can make a positive difference. Published by HMH Books for Young Readers (2016)

Films and Documentaries

2040 – Concerned about his young daughter’s future, filmmaker Damon Gameau traveled the world in search of new approaches and solutions to climate change. This 92-minute documentary looks at the effects of climate change over the next 20 (now 19) years. It is an exercise in fact-based dreaming – encouraging creative problem solving and how we can use technologies that exist today to reverse the effects of climate change. Available for rent or purchase through YouTube.

The Biggest Little Farm - A documentary film that tells the true story of two dedicated environmentalists, and how their commitment to diversified farming turned 200 acres of arid scrubland into a paradise in under ten years. Lots of fun for all ages, this 2-hour and 32 minute film is a charming presentation of how individuals can, with commitment make a difference and become a model for others to follow. Available on Netflix.

Cowspiricy, The Sustainability Secret – filmmaker Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn a videographer produced this shocking, yet humourous documentary. The 1 hour and 31 minute film explores the environmental impact large-scale farming has on our planet and offers a path to global sustainability for a growing population. It was first produced in 2014 and is available on Netflix.

We hope your appetite is whetted, as there’s never been a better time to expand our knowledge of sustainability and there’s never been a more critical time for us to do so. Your recommendations and reviews of relevant material are always welcome at Sustainable Orillia. Over the next few months, as we update our web-site these recommendations and others will be posted to an ever-expanding list of reading and viewing options.

Visit www.sustainableorillia.ca for more information on how you can participate.

Let’s do something together!