On Friday, March 15, West Coast youth joined millions of students worldwide on a strike for the climate.
Inspired by a global movement started by Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg, Ucluelet Secondary School (USS) student Toby Theriault rallied her friends and family for Tofino’s climate action march at South Chesterman Beach.
“You can see things that are happening,” said Theriault as she marched along the shoreline towards Frank Island holding a banner that read ‘Protect’.
“I’m a skier. I go around and I see that there is less and less snow every year. Is this a sport that I will be able to do in the future?” said Theriault, the co-chair of the USS Surfrider Youth Club.
Surfrider Pacific Rim’s youth co-ordinator Alys Hoyland attended the climate action event.
“Climate change is something that affects everyone,” said Hoyland.
“We’re a small town out here on the Coast, but we’re surrounded by the most beautiful landscapes that all these kids are really eager to protect for their futures.”
Theriault spoke about making change.
“I’m one person. But if you think how many millions of people there are, if they all make the same decisions then it does make a really big difference,” she said.
“You can do many different things every day. Everything you do you can make a decision. Anything like if you’re going to a coffee shop, bring a reusable coffee mug. If you’re going to the beach, why don’t you bike there instead of drive? Anything you do in your day you can make a decision that can change the world a bit,” said Theriault.
“Reduce the amount of disposables you are using. I think it’s really important to remember that the plastics economy is a petroleum-based economy so when you are reducing plastics you are effectively reducing climate change as well. We’re reducing our need for those petro chemicals,” she said.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change. According to a special report released by the IPCC, human-induced warming of the planet has already reached about 1 C above pre-industrial levels.
By the decade 2006-2015, human activity had warmed the world by 0.87 C compared to pre-industrial times (1850-1900), notes the IPCC report. If the current warming rate continues, the world would reach human-induced global warming of 1.5 C around 2040, states the report.
Limiting global warming to 1.5 C above pre-industrial levels would require major reductions in green house gas emissions in all sectors, according to the report.
Dramatic reductions in Arctic sea ice cover, changes in average sea level, flooding, forest fires, and dry spells have all been attributed to human-induced global warming, according to the Government of Canada.
“We’re here to make a difference,” Theriault said, during Friday’s climate action protest.
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