It was great to be a follower last Wednesday … to support youth become engaged citizens standing up for climate action.

While spending the two hours walking around Valemount to support the student-initiated Climate Strike, we heard a few unkind words. We also walked with a couple of people against the strike, who believe that there is an unwarranted hysteria about climate change. After my conversation with the youth, I wanted to think about what we might agree on, rather than what data or science we believe in.

We drive more, travel more, use more plastic, own more stuff, replace things more often than our parents ever did. The consequence is consuming more oil and plastics and creating more garbage. We might disagree on whether oil and plastic do harm, so I don’t want to go there.

We are more connected than we want to believe – just like different parts of one body. What one part does, impacts the whole.

Climate action is about being reflective about our lifestyle and its impact on others. In western society, we enjoy autonomy and choice so much that anything that might cramp our freedom can be perceived as control. Why is being thoughtful seen as losing our power?

The call for climate action can seem like hypocrisy when we are faced with conflicted values – do I drive when I am late or tired or lazy? Do I not visit family in India when it means taking a carbon-emitting flight? 

The call for change is not to shame or guilt people about their choices or control their actions. It is to become more aware and act because our choices affect our food and water supplies, finite resources, and plant and animal species. It’s about broad and long-term thinking.

After following the group of keen Robson Valley youth and hearing Greta Thunberg’s speeches to world leaders, I worry a bit that we’re needing young people to do our work – to remind us to change our everyday behaviour and to challenge leaders to reconsider policies. And we’re also subjecting kids to unkind words and labels.

It’s time we step up and do our part with everyday actions and urge our leaders to provide us greener options to drive, heat and eat.