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It's Time Adults Catch Up With Youth on Climate Action. Now.

An interview with Climate Reality Leader Grant Linney

Grant Linney is a career outdoor and environmental educator whose classrooms include forests, meadows, ponds and streams. He regales in sharing the life support systems of our planet with participants of all ages. He is also an avid outdoors person himself. Among other things, you can find him canoe tripping, sea kayaking, bike touring and hiking, all with photography gear in tow.

We sat down with Grant to discuss his latest initiative as a Climate Reality Leader. Grant recently created a moving and impactful video featuring young Canadians demanding real climate action from the adults in power.

Grant, what was the trigger for you to start getting involved to fight climate change?

Since the 1990s, I have had a growing concern about climate change and the destruction of our environment. Being an outdoor enthusiast myself, I felt the urge to do something about the climate crisis. I saw Al Gore’s documentary An Inconvenient Truthand I very much wanted to become part of the solution. The Climate Reality Leadership Corps Training felt like the right first step to really get involved in the movement and start learning about how we could come together and fight this crisis.

Since my training in Nashville in 2010, I have delivered 440 presentations and got involved in numerous other acts of leadership. For example, I directed Hamilton’s first-ever Youth Eco-Summit for 1,000 Grade 7 to 12 students last November. More recently, I produced a video featuring Canadian youth speaking up about climate change.

Why decide to create this video?

I am inspired by 16 year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, I think that her critique of we adults and our leaders is so very needed, and I felt the need for a Canadian version of what she is saying. When parents really stop and think about it, the ONE thing that matters most is their children, and surely this includes what kind of world they will inherit from us. Overwhelming statistics and dire forecasts are not enough … this must be personalized. People must be galvanized into action and I think this video is a great way to share this feeling.

It seems people don’t really know where to start when thinking about climate change and its impacts. So let's say I am a parent, and I want to act meaningfully for the safety of my children, what should I do? Where should I start?

Katherine Hayhoe, one of Canada’s top climate scientists, speaks of the importance of having regular and meaningful conversations with friends and family about climate change. This breaks an unspoken taboo in dealing with the elephant in the room. This creates mutual concern and empowerment. I now give this as a homework assignment to classes requesting my climate change presentations. You also need to support, and even encourage your children to attend Fridays for Future / School Strike 4Climate events … we need masses of people, including young people, speaking up and demanding action. We need to make this THE issue of our forthcoming election campaign, and there’s a lot more to it than whether or not we have a carbon tax. As Al Gore himself says, “It’s more important to change laws than light bulbs.”

In your opinion, as activists, how do we highlight the climate emergency without demotivating people to act? Do you think young people and adults go about this balance differently?

We must“tell it like it is.” There is no sugar coating this clear, present and increasing danger. I believe that the motivation to act must come from the very time-limited framework we have to work within. This is a climate emergency. Focus, adrenaline and drive are needed. A massive mobilization effort is needed. A new vision (e.g., a Green New Deal) of how we operate as a society must not only be articulated but quickly acted upon.

Many young people instinctively get this because they know it’s about their future. Parents need to better put two and two together and realize that it’s also about their future, not only within their own lifetimes, but those of the ones they value most – their children.

What are 3 pieces of climate news that make you optimistic?

  • Greta Thunberg and the global student climate strikes give me great hope. We see more and more young people who are becoming activists.
  • The growing number of communities, and, now, even countries like the U.K., who are declaring a climate emergency.
  • The growing traction of the Green New Deal and its “all-inclusive” approach that sees social and environmental justice as closely related. 

Do you also want to contribute to making the earth climate-safe for your children? Head to climatehub.ca to learn how you can join forces with your neighbors and start acting locally.

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