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Out & About: Summer solstice homily discusses climate change

  • Liz Sauchelli. Copyright (c) Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 6/17/2021 11:25:29 PM
Modified: 6/17/2021 11:25:37 PM

Climate change expert Edward Cameron will give a summer solstice homily titled “A World Made New: Beyond Covid-19 to a Low Carbon, Resilient and Inclusive World” from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Sunday during a virtual program at the First Universalist Society of Hartland.

Cameron’s presentation will be followed by a live discussion. Those interested in attending can email Zara Reeves at sdreeves1@gmail.com for the event’s Zoom link.

The talk will begin with an explanation of the causes of the climate crisis and the science behind it so that audience members have a shared foundation, Cameron said in a phone interview last week. It will then expand to the other arenas that climate change impacts.

“It will cover economics and politics and human behaviors,” said Cameron, whose doctoral dissertation focused on the relationship between climate change and human rights and who is now an international consultant and speaker.

During the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, as more people stayed home and fewer airplanes were in the air, greenhouse gas emissions fell. That was only a temporary pause; as communities have reopened, greenhouse gas emissions are once again on the rise, he said. The pandemic also showed that there are people who are much more at risk and more vulnerable to extreme events, such as people who identify as Black, Indigenous and people of color; those who are at lower socioeconomic status, older adults and people who are unable to work from home. But the pandemic has also revealed the ability for the world to respond to a crisis.

“When we set our minds to it, we can respond quite quickly and with great ambition to global problems,” Cameron said. “We’ve learned from COVID is that when we put our minds to the modern equivalent of a moonshot, we can do it.”

Nations threw a lot of money at battling the pandemic, but haven’t embraced the climate crisis the same way, he said.

“I think it’s because COVID is an immediate problem that is very clearly before our eyes,” Cameron said. “It’s something that is very real in our daily lives whereas as climate change has always been represented to us as something that will affect distant people living in distant lands, sometime in the distant future.”

One of the challenges is reframing how people talk about the climate crisis. This means looking beyond the scientific and environmental impacts.

“We never about climate change as a public health emergency,” Cameron said, pointing to the rise of tick-borne illnesses and heat stress. “We talk about it as melting ice caps and polar bears and rising oceans in the Pacific. We need to change that.”

There are also economic impacts such as the rising cost of goods and increasing reports of food insecurity.

“I intend to really draw a very clear line between climate change and how it affects individuals and households and communities and not just polar bears,” Cameron said.

There are changes people can make in their personal lives and many have: They’ve planted pollinator gardens, they’ve advocated legislators to take more action and tried to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels.

“We can’t always speak to people about risks. We have to paint people a vision of what a better world looks like,” Cameron said. “If you feel you have a problem that can’t be solved, why on earth would you try to solve it? But if you feel can make a contribution, then you’re much more likely to participate.”

There also needs to be a change in how people discuss the threats of climate change with those who aren’t as concerned about it. This includes engaging with the business community about the financial impacts of climate change.

“Sometimes, I think we in the environmental community, we have a tendency to talk to each other, but not convert people who don’t agree with us,” Cameron said. “We’ve got to learn to speak like them and understand what motivates them and create much more of an offer to them. You don’t change a lot of hearts and minds by pointing fingers.”

Liz Sauchelli can be reached at esauchelli@vnews.com or 603-727-3221.




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