It's the belief that we'll respond to risks that inspires people like me to speak out about environmental concerns. We sound the alarm to educate the public and encourage change. Far from being pessimistic, we speak out because we're optimistic. We believe that change is not only needed, but that it is possible.
I've always been passionate about the environment. In Grade 6, I started an anti-litter campaign in my elementary school called "Clean Up Your Act" -- I was that kid. When I was 11 years old and telling kids to clean up their trash, I never would have believed that I would drive an electric car in my lifetime. But now the technology exists, it works, and it's more popular than ever.
We live in a society where it is impossible to live a functional lifestyle and not consume products made from petro-chemicals every single day. As such, the notion that environmentalists -- such as Neil Young for example -- have no right to criticize oil sands developments, pipelines or fracking because they "choose" to heat their homes and drive cars is downright nonsensical.
More and more often, we are reading in the news about the federal government and various intelligence and law enforcement agencies allegedly "spying" on aboriginals and pipeline opponents. I am both of those things. I have no idea whether strangers are picking up shards of information from my emails and text messages. I have no idea what kind of beautiful stained-glass mosaics their imaginations might create.
Recently I had an awesome opportunity to go to Australia and speak about GMOs for the Uplift Festival. After our 23-hour flight, it finally hit me. We're really here. My life may be changed forever. It was so refreshing to be around other like-minded youth who believe you are never too young to change the world!
Across the world, vast areas of oceans and lakes are running out of oxygen, making it nearly impossible for marine life to survive. In the 1960s, there were 49 dead zones throughout the ocean; today there are more than 400 and the number is still growing. When water becomes too low in oxygen, or "hypoxic," marine life flees and everything that is too slow or cannot move will die, creating a dead zone. This will not go away on its own.
This time last year, the world watched as the Arctic melt hit a record low and more ice disappeared than ever before. On September 15 Greenpeace has called for an international day of action to bring together the millions of people who have spoken up to protect the Arctic. Large-scale, family friendly bike rides -- we call them Ice Rides -- are being organized across the globe.
Recently, a concerned parent pointed me to a film being shown to his child's sixth grade class, called The Story of Stuff. The movie, created in 2007, depicts a world in which big corporations, in cahoots with big government, pretty much destroy the entire planet and maliciously poison the environment for their own filthy ends. This is merely one example of how The Story of Stuff misleads.
The idea of a stranger listening to our phone calls, monitoring our Internet searches, reading our emails, trawling our social media accounts. These things are not only possible, but thanks to government fear mongering feeding our increased tolerance for supervision in a post-9/11 world, they're also entirely legal. Welcome to modern Canada.
Clayoquot Sound has become known around the world as a test area for conservation and for economic activities that don't undermine the environment. Yet little progress has been made in securing legislated protection for Clayoquot's ancient forests and in advancing the title, rights and community aspirations of the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations of the area.
British Columbia had all the makings of Canada's "environmental election." Pipelines and tankers, forests and coastlines, oil and gas, dominated much of the political debate and news coverage. But in the end, pro-development Christy Clark won. So, should pro-growth advocates be celebrating the end of the road for environmentalism as a political force? Not so fast.
The protection of at-risk species, once maintained so well by our government, has taken a backseat to business development. Now when habitat needs to be protected to ensure the survival of a species, government and industry often balk and backpedal. This signals a failure to understand that we depend on nature for our well-being and survival.
When B.C. filmmaker Velcrow Ripper started making Occupy Love in 2009, some of his activist friends weren't sure what to make of his questions. How can the crises we're facing socially, economically and environmentally become - of all things - a love story? But as he continued to film social movements from the Arab Spring to the European Summer, Occupy Wall Street and environmental movements, he started seeing a shift, with more and more people responding: "Of course it's a love story."