How to be a climate change activist if you're just a normal person

The regular person’s guide to becoming a climate activist

The regular person’s guide to becoming a climate activist

I’ve always felt a deep connection to nature. Growing up I was passionate about aquatic life and had an interest in wildlife extinction. I used to drag my little sister to the stream behind our housing development and collect samples to analyze. We would catch frogs and collect algae. Mostly we would get covered in mud despite my mother’s strict instructions to ‘not get dirty.’ I decided I was going to be a marine biologist when I grew up, long before my dreams of being a writer surfaced. The problem was I didn’t excel in science and math and I knew my grades would never reflect my passion. I had to set my scientist dreams aside. It was clear to me that my talents were limited to pen and paper. But my connection to nature never went away, and as I grew, that connection grew with me. I became aware of climate change and the harm humanity is inflicting on the planet and that the list of extinct animals is getting longer. I couldn’t sit back and watch without doing something. But what could I do? I’m just a regular person.

The thing about being passionate about something is that barriers like ‘being a regular person’ won’t stand for long. I saw activists making change in many different ways and I was pulled to their cause. I cared too much about climate change and I needed to find a way to participate. I’m an everyday, ordinary, regular person who was going to become a climate activist regardless of the obstacles I would face and the education I lacked. I have an education in passion. If you have that, you can become an activist in your own unique way. Everyone needs to start somewhere, and for a regular person, it can be hard to figure out where to begin. That’s why I’ve created the regular person’s guide to becoming a climate activist. Let’s get started!

How to be a climate change activist if you're just a normal person

Grow your knowledge

Sharing your passion for environmental reform is important, but you better know what you’re talking about. I watched enough news and environmental documentaries to prompt me to learn more. I attend webinars (many are free and recorded for future viewing), read environmental studies, and sign up for news alerts about topics like climate change and endangered species. In 2017 I travelled to Denver, Colorado to train as a Climate Reality Project Leader. It was an intense training that took place over the course of 3 days, led by former Vice President Al Gore. I learned a lot when I trained, but what I like most about being part of Climate Reality is that through my membership I have access to current information in the form of slideshows. I can read them to gain knowledge or use them to present to others.

Stay local- at first

I want to change the world. If you’re reading this, you probably do too. To tackle climate change we need a global culture shift. But we can achieve a global culture shift if we focus on making change community by community. We need people to focus on their regions so we can collectively educate them about the climate crisis. We can do the best work if we start in our region where we can reach people directly and monitor growth. It may not feel like it, but if you change your community, you are changing the world. Start locally before you go global.

How to be a climate change activist if you're just a normal person

Set tangible goals and use your platform

My goal was to educate people about the climate crisis. I’m not a scientist. I’m not a politician. I don’t work in a field that directly impacts the environment. That doesn’t mean that I can’t make a difference, it just means that I have to do it my way. As a blogger, I knew I could reach my readers. My blog Paws For Reaction was about companion animals- cats and dogs- but I knew that most people who care deeply about animals also care about the environment. Gradually I sprinkled in content about wildlife, nature, and climate change. I geared my content toward eco-friendly things my readers can do at home, green products, and how to support nature and wildlife conservation efforts in their region. It was content that a non-scientist could write and my readers could digest. If I had set a goal to give a scientific Ted Talk I never would have met that goal. Set a goal you can achieve, and do it your way, on your own terms. 

Participate in different ways- there’s not one type of activist

Often times people will say things to me like “I need natural gas to heat my house, so what am I supposed to do? I can’t change that.” In many places that may be true (for now), but just because you can’t make one environmentally friendly change, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make any changes. The same goes for being an activist. There’s not one type of activist. Some people, like me, reach the most people through their blogs. Some people have a huge social media following. Some prefer participating in protests. Some run for office, start recycling programs at their work, volunteer with organizations, or work with conservationists. There are so many ways you can share information and make change. Be the type of activist that you can be. Just because you can’t do everything doesn’t mean you should do nothing. 

How to be a climate change activist if you're just a normal person

Everyone is an expert at something, no one is an expert at everything

I educate primarily about pets and wildlife. I’m by no means an expert, but I’m pretty educated in companion animals because I’ve been working in the veterinary field for 6 years. I also have a background in journalism and photography. I lend my hand as a professional photographer at climate protests. I also educate about green changes you can make at home because that’s something I’m passionate about. Find the topics you’re an ‘expert’ in and you will be able to share your message confidently. You also need to be okay with the fact that you’re not an expert at everything. No one is. Focus on what you are passionate about and that passion will become contagious. 

Network with like-minded people who share your values

I love networking! Conferences are great places to network. I joined a lot of climate change, environmental, and wildlife-themed Facebook groups to connect with people and share information. Attend events, protests, and festivals that gather like-minded people and introduce yourself. I was lucky enough to attend the Nature Inspiration Awards at the Canadian Museum of Nature a few years ago and made some connections there. I’ve attended environmental protests where I met many people who care deeply about the environment. I attended an Ottawa River Keeper meeting which was a great way to connect with a local group. Look online for events in your area. Events at museums and town hall meetings are great ways to engage with people who are passionate about environmental reform. Always bring business cards with you! 

How to be a climate change activist if you're just a normal person

Join different organizations and participate in their actions

Do you want some action? There are many organizations you can join that are organizing actions and campaigns. I joined Ontario Nature and I’m now a social media ambassador for the organization. I work with several wildlife conservations and sanctuaries in my region. I raise awareness about their efforts and try to raise funds for the centres. I became a Canadian ambassador for Team54 Project. I even founded my own initiative, Ottawa Valley Eco-Advocates. Look up organizations in your region and offer your help. Taking action with an established organization is a great way to shift the culture in your community. 

Volunteer! If you don’t like the culture you live in, change it

Volunteering is another great way to change the culture. It’s also an incredible way to participate in democracy. By volunteering, we are impacting the community and shifting it to align with our values. You are creating the community you want to live in. One of my favourite volunteer organizations I work with is Girl Guides of Canada. I’m a Girl Guide leader. I have a Brownies unit of smart and compassionate 7-10-year-old girls. Girl Guides are passionate about nature and the outdoors, so it’s easy to get them excited about environmental preservation. They want to save the animals, stop pollution and conserve natural habitats. Getting them passionate about it at a young age makes me feel like I’m encouraging the next generation of environmentalists. I’m shifting the culture! Volunteering is also good for your mental health. And it’s just fun! For one night a week, I get to act like a big kid.

How to be a climate change activist if you're just a normal person

The best leaders lead by example

Being a leader means you have to hold yourself to a higher standard. As environmental activists, we need to show the community that it’s easy to make green changes in our daily life. I’m fortunate enough to live across from a package-free grocery store and a farmer’s market. I can buy everything I need from small businesses instead of from large, big-box stores. I live across from the eco-retailer Terra20, which means I can get all of my chemical-free cleaning products from them and have them refilled to reduce my waste. I bring my own straw to restaurants and use eco-friendly products at home. I’m trying to live package free and plastic-free, and I upcycle as much as possible. I walk or use public transit. I shop at thrift stores and buy things used. I implemented a better recycling program at my workplace. When people witness this type of behaviour, they are inspired to adapt their behaviour. It motivates people to try out a new change or make a sacrifice in the name of environmental reform. Leading by example is a great way to educate people without them being aware that they’re learning something.

How to be a climate change activist if you're just a normal person

Just like people, not every environmental activist is the same. We are all on different journeys, with different passions and different resources at our disposal. Being able to rhyme off statistics and scientific facts is great, but just because you can’t do that doesn’t mean you can’t be an environmental activist. As an activist, I may not be capable of doing everything, but I can do something. Even the smallest changes are significant. 

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1 Comentarios

  1. Dr Tim Ball – Historical Climatologist

    Book ‘The Deliberate Corruption of Climate Science’.

    Book “Human Caused Global Warming”, 'The Biggest Deception in History’.