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Earth Day reminds us we’re not on track to solve climate crisis — so we need it more than ever, advocates say

Earth Day reminds us we’re not on track to solve climate crisis — so we need it more than ever, advocates say

Earth Day reminds us we're not on track to solve climate crisis — so we need it more than ever, advocates say

With Record-breaking wildfires, Deadly heat waves Floods with severe consequences making headlines in the province, along with stories of Climate anxietyHere are some tips. How to helpSave the planet, statistics Carbon emissions gracing our newsfeeds daily, is Earth Day still necessary?

Aren’t we all acutely aware of the dire effects of climate change?

Some say yes: now, more than ever, is the time to acknowledge our accomplishments in protecting the planet, and push for more to be done. 

“I think we need to take a day every now and then, even if it’s just once a year, to celebrate successes,” said climate advocate and Vancouver physician Melissa Lem.

“We must stop and think about how much this planet, and the people who live there, mean to us.”

Earth Day through the years

The First Earth Day on April 22, 1970 was a political movement, and featured rallies and teach-ins at schools across the U.S. by national Earth Day co-ordinator Denis Hayes.

“You have to wonder, over the years, what has happened to all that energy, political co-operation, and co-operation? Lem stated.

In 1990, Earth Day became a global celebration — CBC archives show that an estimated 200 million people in more than 130 countries participated in Earth Day-related events.

Today, in Canada, some schools hold special events on Earth Day to educate young people about climate change and the ways individuals can reduce their carbon footprint, while many families observe Earth Hour by turning off electricity for an hour to conserve energy.

A ‘useful reminder that our track is not in the right direction’

Last year was deemed the sixth hottest ever recorded. Last month, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) detailed how financially Climate change is costly is. The UN also stated that the world is “unlivable”.

A helicopter pilot prepares in advance to drop water on a wildfire that is burning in Lytton, B.C. on Friday, 7/2/2021. Scientists project that indirect and suppression costs for wildfires will cost billions of dollars if climate change is not addressed. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press).

Although the outlook appears to be grim, climate protests led by youth, inspired by Sweden’s Greta Thunberg, have become a Global phenomenon as younger generations demand climate action, while scientists continue to work around the clock to find solutions to what they’re describing as an impending climate catastrophe. 

“I think the vast majority of Canadians care about climate change deeply, but they tend to be preoccupied by other more immediate issues for their lives, things like the cost of gasoline,” says Kathryn Harrison, a political science professor at the University of British Columbia who specializes in environmental policy. 

“Earth Day is a reminder that we’re off track. We can do so much more.

The “we” she refers to doesn’t include just individuals, but the government and industry, too.

Lem says there’s ambivalence toward what the government says it is doing to combat climate change because current climate commitments aren’t enough to prevent the earth from warming.

B.C. B.C. Climate advocates say the government’s plan to cut carbon emissions by targeting the oil-and-gas sector is not sufficient. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

“You hear about the government [is]Lem said that despite fighting climate change, billions of dollar are being given to fossil fuel subsidies. He also approved new projects and approved funding for them. It is confusing.

Harrison said, “I think we really need to have a conversation about what is an efficient fossil fuel subvention in the context of product that causes climate change.”

The oil and gas sector was the largest greenhouse gas emitter in the country in 2020, according to Statistics Canada, and although the government’s new plan to curb carbon emissions specifically targets that industry, advocates have said It’s not enough

“We have to look outwards at what our government’s doing, what is industry doing on top of what individual actions we can take,” Lem said. 

“I believe it’s a good moment to bring everyone into the sphere for thinking about our planet, and our health.”

The Early Edition14:03Climate Change Panel Earth Day

Earth Day is Friday. What impact has this annual event had over the past 32 years on climate policy? Can we still achieve our climate goals by importing oil? To discuss, our climate change panel joins. 14:03

Our planet is changing. Our journalism is also changing. This story is part a CBC News initiative entitled Our Changing Planet to show and explain the effects of climate change and what is being done about it.

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