Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Elizabeth May on youth activism and not politics

I recently had the opportunity to listen to Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party of Canada and former President of the Sierra Club of Canada, speak at an environmental science conference. She was a fascinating speaker, and hardly mentioned politics during her talk, until most of the questions at tbe end focused on government. May spoke about the importance of youth activism in our current society, with the attempt to inspire the conference delegates into action. She talked about the need for science and how it is very relevant. We need to be innovative and find new solutions to many problems. For example, we are now changing the types of light bulbs we use, and finding alternate solutions to burning fossil fuels.

One of her coolest stories was about when she attended one of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The delegates from many different countries were having a hard time with negotiations. The youth delegates at the conference had a very impactful session where each on of them stoof before the assembly and said "look into my eyes and tell me my future is secure". This got the other delegates to realize the greater importance of what they were debating.

When the UN started hosting several conferences on climate change many years ago, not everyone was on the same page. One memorable quote the May said was "Humanity is conducting a global experiment...the consequences are second only to global nuclear war" -said at the a climate conference in Canada about 20 years ago. She spoke about how we need to make severe investments in reducing our CO2. Trees are only a 'feel good' measure, and there needs to be more green energy and carbon credits. She only travels for business, and usually by train, only plane if necessary. She doesn't take vacations to far away places.

By the end of her interesting talk, which was mostly preaching to the converted, many of the questions asked about her politics. May stated that the Harper government is anti-science. They have cancelled the position of National Science advisor. The IPCC graphs on climate change were removed from the Environment Canada website, and there have been significant cuts to research, etc. The White house had a reception when the IPCC and Al Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize, but the Tories did nothing for the Canadian recipient, so instead the other parties organized something. The Tories have also never been briefed by a scientist on climate change, ever, scary.

I'm hinking about going to Law school, so it was interesting to hear what else a former lawyer had done with her career. She mentioned how she understands policies very well, she sees the tricks and is ready for politics. Currently, she's studying theology, and spoke about how it wasn't to promote the religious dogma, but to be more critical when examining texts. She also joked about retiring as a priest after she is Prime Minister.

No comments: