October 23, 2009
"Someone who works in a morgue, who sees so many bodies so many times doesn't realize the impact that someone else would."
It's an analogous situation with us and climate change, we sometimes keep observing events, in the newspapers, and we miss the profoundness. This is what Suresh Prabhu, told us when Rebecca and I caught up with him at the global screening of The Age of Stupid. Prabhu is a member of the Parliament of India and former Minister of Industry and Minister of Environment and Forests, among other posts.
The environmentally-minded politician saw Stupid as an effective wake up - a film that brings out these events with the necessary context.
Certainly it does that. Watching it is an experience, with the context provided by a number of stories of people today, in India, Louisiana, England and Nigeria. Most of these people want to do the right thing, but it isn't in their best personal interest do do so. It became evident to me that a significant change in our economy and job could be one of the significant and necessary changes that would both help these people and the impacts they make on the planet.
So what can we do? We asked Prabhu his thoughts on youth as activists.
"One man can change the world, look at Mahatma Gandhi," said Prabhu. "Transformational change must come from government, but we also need to ensure lifestyle change, things will not change by law alone."
He told us that massive education and movements were key to success. Government is just a starting point.
"You call the fire engine to stop the fire," he said.
This is what we youth and adults are doing across Canada Saturday. We're calling 911. Though "911" is "350". And longer-ter, we must work to change minds, that so easily get accustomed. "A process of unlearning," Prabhu called it.
Over in India, where each person contributes roughly one tonne of carbon dioxide compared with the average Canadian's twenty, the youth movement is taking strong action.
Much of the emphasis of the Indian Youth Climate Network is their delegation team and work with the Indian government. The youth have in fact asserted themselves so that they are being listened to by Lok Sabha, the Indian lower house.
The current Minister of Environment and Forests, Sabhu's successor put out a media release on their consultations.
Indian youth are a significant proportion of the voting population, and are engaged in citizenship. What can we learn from them? How can we demand that our concerns on climate are put into action by the Harper machine? If we don't have many politicians like Prabhu, maybe we have to be this change ourselves.
Stupid is playing across Canada tomorrow. Remember to act as well.