By Brad Fougere
The college hosted Al Gore’s 24 Hours of Reality project that seeks to spread the message of carbon’s effect on climate change.
“We decided, this year, to host an event on campus in conjunction with the live broadcast,” said environmental studies professor Jay Smith, who volunteers with the Climate Reality Project. He brought the event to campus Oct. 23 as a way to engage his class.
“I’m an aboriginal person so I feel it’s probably my duty to help out and preserve the earth,” said volunteer and environmental science student Adam George.
The event included live coverage of the online event as well as a panel of speakers who spoke on local and national issues.
“I lie awake worrying as much about my little girl’s mental health as about her physical well-being,” said University of Ottawa professor Gaye Taylor, in her opening remarks as host of the panel.
Taylor then introduced the speakers who presented the real-world examples of climate change they have witnessed.
“I got a notice from my insurance company this summer saying ‘we’re reducing your coverage for flooding in your basement by $15,000 because of climate change and aging infrastructure, ‘” said Charles Hodgson , an Ottawa environmentalist. Hodgson’s plea was to engage government requesting they take action on climate change. His Climate Ottawa website is the main platform from which he pursues environment action.
“The Arctic has been among the first regions in the world to feel the first direct community-level impacts of a warming planet,” said Terry Audla, president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK), the national Inuit organization. “Inuit have been sounding the alarm for many, many years.”
Audla’s message included startling facts and figures on melting sea ice and the impacts accelerated climate change has on the North.
“Today, the final kilowatt of coal power is being generated in Ontario,” said Chris Henderson, president of Lumos Energy. “Because of smart, progressive policies by this Liberal government – credit where credit is due – we have taken coal off the agenda.”
Henderson, author of Aboriginal Power, is a businessman who has taken the challenge of global warming as a positive opportunity for the development of green power initiatives on aboriginal lands.
Outside the Commons Theatre, George worked to promote the event by engaging students in conversations on climate action. He maintained positivity on the future of climate action in Canada.
“You love your country so you should definitely respect your country,” he said.