Community members were on the march this weekend to bring attention to their cause: climate action.
About 125 people marched through downtown Nanaimo and then held a rally at Maffeo Sutton Park on Sunday as part of the Global Climate March.
The worldwide event, spearheaded by environmental group 350.org, was meant to catch the attention of politicians during the Conference of Parties 2015 climate talks in Paris.
Guy Dauncey, author and activist, spoke about the problems of fossil fuel use, unsustainable forestry and a globalized food industry. He argued that it’s “100 per cent possible” for communities to move to 100 per cent renewable energy.
Humans first burned firewood for thousands of years, then fossil fuels for hundreds of years, he said, and “we’re now in the middle of discovering how to get it directly from the sun through solar energy and renewables. This is the third great energy revolution. And whereas the age of fossil fuels lasts 300 years, this age lasts until the sun turns into a red dwarf.”
Dauncey rejects the notion that environmental activists stand in the way of progress of fossil fuel extraction projects.
“We are the ones promoting progress and development for a new energy for the planet, for a sustainable future, for a beautiful future,” he said. “That is what I call progress.”
Filmmaker Paul Manly, one of the organizers of the local march, called for people to join him in protesting the transportation of contaminated soil across the Strait of Georgia.
Ian Gartshore of Energy Solutions for Vancouver Island called for participation in car sharing and a solar co-operative.
Marjorie Stewart of Nanaimo Foodshare Society targeted the food industry, saying that large-scale livestock and dairy farms emit methane and nitrous oxide that’s “far, far worse” for the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. She also stressed the importance of a living wage in ensuring that good, locally grown food is affordable for people.
“So for policy [from] the governments: nothing less than a minimum income, instead of charity, to buy your food with,” Stewart said. “And corporations – stop buying their bad food.”
The 350.org group’s name signifies a goal: 350 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is considered climate safety, whereas current levels are above 400 parts per million.
“I’ve really sensed a turnaround in the public’s getting engaged in the issue … and realizing just how dire the situation is,” Dauncey said.