I was once part of a conversation in which someone insisted that a person could do anything they wanted in their own backyard—contaminate the soil, cut down the trees—because it was theirs.
Of course, the fact is that no “backyard” is separate from what’s around it, despite fences and concepts like private property. The soil, water, air, flora and fauna extend and connect beyond those physical and psychological barriers, integrating us ecologically and socially.
What’s happening in the world is not separate from us here in Ottawa. News about hurricanes, flooding and related catastrophes, drought and wildfires hits hard, whether or not we are directly connected with people and land affected. Climate change affects the intensity and severity of these events. Our response can’t be more of the same, old ways of thinking and (in)action.
George Monbiot writes that powerful narratives, rather than powerful politicians, shape the way we view the world and our understanding of the solutions needed. What we need now, he contends, is a more compelling, positive story—one based on our strengths of community, empathy and diversity.
With a different, positive story that acknowledges how we—humans, environment, climate, economy—are connected and interdependent, my local school might have focused on creating child-friendly, green, active spaces rather than paving much of the field for parking. The City of Ottawa might prioritize the development and resourcing of a clean energy strategy. The federal government might rethink its investments in unsustainable fossil fuel production and distribution. I might ride my bike even more often than I do, and grow more native wildflowers in my backyard—fully mindful of how my choices are affecting those around me.
Along with and as part of taking action at all levels to mitigate and adapt to climate change, let’s advance a new story.
Written by Denise Deby.