16 October 2016

When You're a Climate Change Activist, Everything Looks Like ...

My 20-something niece is visiting from out east. It's fun spending time together. It's also incredible (as in, unbelievable) how many things she can (and does) do with her computer and her cell phone. 

One thing that she's shared with me is the phenomenon of (young) people watching other (young) people play video games while filming themselves making comments on those video games. For us old fogies, it would be like watching a film of a film critic watching a film while critiquing it out loud. I think. It's called Let's Play gameplay commentary. I guess my generation just watched sports on TV with announcers and "sportscasters" and Don Cherry (if you grew up in Canada).

My niece has a whale of a time, laughing right out loud (loudly!) while watching this one particular online, um, player (is that the term?). She's shown me a couple of his vids -- the ones where he's not playing a video game (I was never one for watching "sports" on TV) but talking with his fans (over a million of them!). 

No, wait, the particular fellow I'm talking about has (at present) ... wait for it ... 14.8 million subscribers. It only took Franklin D. Roosevelt 27,313,945 votes to be elected president of the United States. This guy could have a future in politics.

But all I keep thinking is: "This "Youtube personality" could be saving the world! This gameboy could be instructing all his fans on what to do about the climate change emergency! This guy could be a world leading climate change activist!" Yup, that's what is running through my head when I watch. (Sorry to my niece.)

It happens a lot. There's an expression that when you're a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail. (Others might say "If your only tool is a hammer, then every problem looks like a nail.") So yup, I'm a climate change activist, and everything to me is either a possible activist tool or a waste of a potential activist's time, money or energy. 

It's certainly somewhat of a curse, but it can be a party trick, too, of course. "Let's see how long it takes Julie to work climate change into a discussion of x, y or z." I can sometimes go as long as 20 minutes before making the connection. ;-)

Something similar happens when I find myself watching TV. We don't have a TV at home, so when I'm staying at a hotel, for example, I watch some television to see what the vast majority of North Americans are doing with their evenings ("On average, American adults are watching five hours and four minutes of television per day").

I was at a conference the other day and relaxed afterwards in my hotel room by watching a TV show about a couple looking to buy an island off the coast of Nicaragua. And it happened again. I started shouting at the TV: "Are you nuts? What about sea level rise? Look at the erosion that's happening already!" 

The realtor even pointed out the coastal erosion to these "investors" (he must have heard me yelling) but they bought it anyway. What a lost opportunity for that show to teach about the impacts of climate change, especially in the tropics. Nicaragua is in the top four countries most affected by climate change in the last two decades. (Who knew?)

Like I said, when you're a climate change activist, everything looks like an opportunity to teach (and learn) about the climate change emergency.

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I would appreciate hearing your thoughts or questions on this post or anything else you've read here. What is your take on courage and compassion being an important part of the solution to the climate change emergency?