By Associate Editor Natalie Gates

Sometimes I worry people are getting sick of hearing about climate change and the environment’s bleak future. At times it seems like there is nothing we can do that will really slow or stop the process because the Big Dogs’ power is just too strong.

But I’m going to talk about it anyway.

I got another whiff of motivation recently after watching Before the Flood with Leonardo DiCaprio. [Insert inappropriate joke about the Titanic not running into that iceberg if global warming had started sooner]. He and National Geographic posted the documentary on YouTube for anyone to watch free of charge. So far it’s got 10 million views—while the Pen Pineapple guys has 150 million (that’s the internet; I won’t deny how strangely entertaining that 45 second video is). Still, I hope many more people take the time to soak up Before The Flood.

The good news is we’ve got a PM who acknowledges climate change exists and has a plan. The good news is that Obama made some serious progress on the issue.

The bad news is we’ve still got a long way to go. The bad news is Obama’s pretty impressive progress could simply be undone under America’s new presidency.

That’s terrifying.

Leo’s been advocating for the environment since his late twenties when he interviewed Al Gore, and recently spoke at the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris as a designated UN Messenger of Peace.

Trump at one point called climate change a “Chinese hoax”, but China (one of the world’s most polluted nations) and some European countries have made amazing progress with solar and wind energy. Why isn’t North America taking the initiative to follow suit and aid in setting an example?

And yet, some North American companies are proving that renewable energy is extremely efficient. For example, Tesla is making serious strides with factories fuelled solely by solar power by use of new, strong, cost-efficient solar panels and batteries. Imagine the progress if bigger companies followed their lead.

It’s heartbreaking and infuriating that North American politicians have not yet made this effort—how they have not yet seen that shifting to renewable energy doesn’t even mean that fossil fuel companies will go out of business; they will just change. Doing so could help get power to people in developing regions extremely cheaply, if we show them that it can be done.

Sometimes, when society’s ideas of an issue shifts, leaders’ stances also tend to follow suit. For example: as a candidate in the 2004 senate election, Obama stated he didn’t support gay marriage because that’s what people wanted to hear. 11 years later as President, he managed to legalize it across the nation.

Maybe this will continue here in Canada until renewable energy becomes the focus in development.  Maybe the Great White North can set the example.

Until then, we can still do our personal part. You know the drill: recycle, buy and throw out less stuff, turn off your lights and the tap, vote for leaders who care about the environment.

Be aware of your diet; eat local when you can. Eat less beef. I don’t mean become a vegetarian or even cut it out completely, but reducing your intake of beef can make a great impact. Beef cattle use more land than any other resource in North America and are serious methane producers.

Buy fewer products that use palm oil. The palm oil industry is causing miles and miles of rainforest to be burned to the ground, which releases copious amounts of CO2 into the air and of course destroys fragile species’ habitats. These are largely the processed foods that are bad for your body anyway, so who needs to eat them all the time?

These are just a couple things.

If climate change has become a background buzz to you, take this little rant as a reminder and a suggestion to stop and listen again. Maybe if enough of us stay engaged enough for long enough, something will happen. Check out Before the Flood, or do some research elsewhere, or have a deep drunken conversation about it with your friends—whatever. Don’t wait for Earth Day.

Now in her fourth and final year of a political studies major and journalism minor, Natalie has been on The Nav team for about two years. When she’s not brainstorming stories or studying, she’s usually on her yoga mat, going for a hike, listening to Springsteen, or fantasizing about what to cook for dinner.

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