We keep hearing about the climate crisis in the news: more than 700 people died in BC in the late-June heatwave, just a harbinger of more problems to come. Canadians are among the worst per-capita emitters of the gases causing climate change, and Canada is the only G7 country whose emissions have risen since 1990, and by a whopping 21%!
For our Grandchildren (4RG) has been operating in Peterborough since 2013 to “Inform, Educate and Motivate” on the climate crisis. We offer ways to connect you to the single most important issue affecting you and our children’s lives. In spite of the name, 4RG is for anyone concerned with the climate, not just grandparents. Climate change is already affecting all of us, and we have members across all age groups.
A wealth of resources
If you are just beginning this journey, it can be difficult to process, to find accurate information, to know what you can do. 4RG can help. We have a great website with reliable information at www.4rg.ca . Our members have excellent knowledge on topics of interest to most people – such as how to best renovate your home to minimize the loss of energy. Once every month we have our public online 4RG Meets to explore topics of interest.
Once you are ready to act, 4RG has many ways to help your involvement. A great start is through our website www.ToAllOurRelatives.ca which lets you record a message to someone dear to you about what you are doing about the climate crisis and why you are hopeful. The name came from Indigenous elders who are helping us change our relationship with the earth.
What you can do
One of the best ways to reduce the climate crisis is to talk to your friends about it, and we can help with that. Many of our members are trained in facilitating a “kitchen table conversation” where you can get your friends and family to share their concerns. This can be very difficult for a person to do on their own, but this approach works.
The 4RG website posts “Monthly Actions”. By joining our 760-person email list you will receive our monthly newsletter and occasional petitions from national and international groups working on similar issues. Be energized as part of a larger movement.
Another approach is to attend some of our public events, once covid restrictions are past. 4RG has sponsored or co-sponsored many public climate-information events in Peterborough, including ones on responsible investing, the rising cost of insurance, grieving the planet, and health effects of the climate crisis. If there is something that interests you, bring it to the 4RG Executive and see if they are willing to work with you to follow that interest. How about the effect of climate change on fishing in the Kawarthas?
Getting governments to act
Individuals alone can’t solve the problem, but governments in Canada at every level have been slow to action. As youth activist Greta Thunberg said recently, you can’t solve a crisis that you don’t treat as a crisis. 4RG has sponsored, with partners, a participatory All Candidates Meeting in every recent election. Attendees are asked to bring their questions and, after brief introductory speeches by the Candidates, everyone joins tables to talk about the pre-identified issues. It is heartening to see Candidates leave their carefully rehearsed party notes to really listen to their voters, to question their own policies and to learn what people expect of them.
In the last Peterborough City election, 4RG joined with other partners to create “Vote for a Sustainable Peterborough” (V4SP). We recorded the voting record of City councillors through a Sustainable Peterborough lens. We handed out hundreds of these report cards and a brochure on what a Sustainable Peterborough would look like. We had over 4,000 hits on our webpage! We were told often, “We’ve been waiting for this help in voting for what we believe in – a Sustainable Peterborough”. Please join us to facilitate action in the upcoming federal election as well as the provincial election in June 2022, and the municipal one in November 2022. An active democracy is critical if we are to solve the climate crisis.
4RG shared in the community movement for City Council to declare a climate emergency, from January 2019 until its passing by Council in September 2019. That work is not finished. Our next Day of Action, sponsored by 4RG and the Peterborough Alliance on Climate Action (PACA) in partnership with others, is Monday, September 20 when we will meet at Millennium Park from 4-6 pm to Dance for the Planet. (The arts are an integral part of change!) At 6 pm we will walk together to Confederation Park and surround City Hall to “hold space” for our city counsellors and staff to help them understand our needs in the climate crisis. Please mark your calendars to bring yourself, family and friends to this event, covid-19 restrictions permitting.
A crisis with many faces
“The way to get involved” list is endless because addressing the climate crisis will have many co-benefits. One example is our health. About 21,000 Canadians die prematurely every year from the particulate pollutants from oil and gas, many more than the 15,000 people who died of covid-19 related causes in 2020.
Immigration is another connected issue when we realize that the world will be facing over 1 billion climate refugees by 2050, about 1 in every 10 people! Poverty and racism are also critical to address as it is the most vulnerable in our society that will be the most affected. Reconciliation with our Indigenous peoples has also been important in local 4RG work. With other groups we organized Reconciliation events for schoolchildren in 2018 and 2019, where 400 youth at each event experienced Indigenous culture, practice and knowledge…an important bridge from our own culture which has largely ignored Indigenous ways of knowing.
Our events are often created by individual or just a few people. Three 4RG executive members with an interest in carbon sequestering by trees are working to organize a family “Tree Event” this fall at Ecology Park, in cooperation with Peterborough GreenUP. We work in partnership in most projects and often with youth. Working with groups with similar goals is empowering.
We look forward to meeting you and finding out your interests. What do you need from us? How might you want to work with us on the climate crisis? For new memberships, sign up at the website and you will be contacted. For general information use firstname.lastname@example.org.
Linda and Alan Slavin have been active in climate and related issues since the late 1980s. Retired from paid work, they spend much of their time on the climate crisis when they are not gardening, cooking, walking and sharing life with good friends and family.