There’s been a shift in language from global warming to climate change to climate crisis – the words people are using to talk about how humans are impacting the health of the planet have become more urgent.
While there was a back and forth with the science for decades, scientists are almost unanimous now in saying climate trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities. Even if you believe the weather is changing naturally, our lifestyles are making the situation worse.
APTN‘s Charlotte Morritt-Jacobs produced a five-part series on the topic, from a northern youth perspective. She said ecological grief is real and widespread.
“Elders I spoke with in Tuktoyaktuk said they are unable to predict weather patterns which is something they were all able to do in the past,” Morritt-Jacobs said.
While researching the series, she heard story after story from people worried about the change they’re watching helplessly.
“These are very tangible things we’re seeing, like decline ice, shorter ice road seasons, food sustainability issues,“ she said.
Mariah MacDonald, 19, from Haines Junction, Yukon, says changes she’s seen are worrying. Spring comes sooner, fall arrives later and the deep cold of winter she remembered as a kid doesn’t happen as much.
“Recently it’s been getting warmer and warmer outside during the wintertime and even in the summertime I’ve noticed it’s getting hotter and hotter. Just yesterday in Whitehorse it was around -2C,” she said.
Audrey Logan is a Nehiyaw/Métis woman who teaches traditional growing methods at a Winnipeg community garden and is part of The Good Flood Club, which makes healthy affordable food available through a buying co-op.
She said while waiting for governments and corporations to make sweeping change, people can live more sustainably – quite easily – and do so on a shoestring budget.
“I haven’t been in a grocery store in 10 years,” she said. “In the process I’ve lost 100 pounds and lost diabetes.”
Growing our own food, eating what’s in-season, preserving and dehydrating food, harvesting or bartering/trading traditional food and starting a food-sharing co-op that bulk-buys from local producers is something that can be done in most provinces.
“There’s no reason to not do it other than laziness,” said Logan, adding that getting in touch with regional farm groups and producers’ associations is the first step.
“I get $5 a day for food. So you can do this on a budget.”
Cheyenne Ironman is a Dakota woman and research associate with the Centre for Indigenous Environmental Resources (CIER), a national non-profit that helps First Nations build sustainable communities and protect lands and waters.
She said reducing what we buy and buying used are a couple of easy ways to make an impact as consumers.
She said youth are starting to make changes, like not supporting fast-fashion – clothing chains that mass produce cheap, trendy items that aren’t made to last beyond a trend.
“There are a lot of youth that understand that this is a really big issue but on the other hand there are a lot youth that I don’t think see how urgent it is,” Ironman said.