Here I sit, enjoying some leftover meat pie, and watching the snow finally fall, as I write this social and environmental review for 2018.
After a holiday season of overindulgence, we must mentally prepare ourselves for upcoming after-work events and other social occasions—aka places where outdated or unfounded opinions are often numerous. Why? Because in 2019, I wish you all great success in openly sharing and discussing scientific information.
Here were some of last year’s hot topics: the Pact for Ecological and Social Transition, the yellow vest protests, the IPCC report, the poor turtle with a straw up its nose, change for cities and nothing for regions, and the famous, “We can’t save the planet, it’s already too late.” Here you’ll find verified and verifiable information to fuel your conversations (and who knows, maybe even convince your boss to sign the Pact!).
When your co-worker Chantal thinks global warming doesn’t exist because it’s -20 °C outside.
You can talk to her about the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that was created by the UN, and the alarming special report it released last fall. At the rate things are going, global warming, which is caused by greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, could reach +1.5 °C between 2030 and 2052. This temperature rise, as we already know, is closely linked to extreme weather events (like last year’s major snow storms in the United States, Chantal, or the deadly heat waves that hit us this summer). With a +1 °C temperature increase, 4% of the Earth's ECOSYSTEMS would change drastically, and with a 2 °C increase, 13% of ecosystems!
(Sources: Futura Sciences and the public IPCC report)
When your father-in-law says that young people today are individualistic and don’t care about politics.
If we look at statistics from the last elections, he’s pretty much right. The participation rate among 18 to 35-year-olds is indeed lower than that of other voter groups. With that in mind, the last provincial election saw a 66.45% participation rate, the 2nd lowest participation rate ever recorded, across all age groups. A-ha! No, but seriously, citizen-run democratic initiatives with direct community impact are increasingly being launched. Like Soupe Locale, for example, a non-profit organization that invites you to support local initiatives by purchasing a soup and a vote for $5. Bring your father-in-law to one of these events and prove him wrong. ✊
When your boss doesn’t understand why straws are problematic.
First of all, the problem isn’t just straws, it’s plastic in general. A straw’s useful life lasts approximately 20 minutes—and then it gets tossed into a trash can. This straw, along with all the other 57 million straws used by Canadians EVERY DAY, will take 200 years to decompose, and sometimes end up polluting our oceans, or endangering marine life.
If your boss ultimately agrees that this is appalling, tell them that several companies, such as Ola Bamboo, are tackling the root of the problem by offering reusable or biodegradable bamboo straws. And why not take this opportunity to ban straws altogether in cafeterias? Solutions exist, we just need to be aware of them and implement them.
(Sources: Greenpeace and Radio-Canada)
Finally, when your neighbour complains that culture is expensive and is only accessible to hipsters in the Plateau, as they’re walking their dog Spike.
You might think this statement is true when you look at the price of new books and show tickets! And yet, we’re buying fewer paper books and CDs, and downloading more books, movies and songs at more affordable costs. No need to pay for an entire album if you only want one song; many audiobooks are cheap or entirely free … and let’s not forget Netflix! In short, over a 5-year period, we pay $384 more per year for telecom services (mobile phone, internet, cable), and $342 less for material cultural products. And there you have it when it comes to culture accessibility! Then, for all that isn’t viewed on a screen, there’s Give-a-Seat, a rather unique company that offers low-priced show tickets and gives a lovely 80% of sales to charities chosen by ticket donors. Consider inviting your neighbour to a nice concert (or not lol)!
(Source: Institut de la statistique du Québec)
We’ve already reached the end of our 2018 summary. I hope that, thanks to this review, your upcoming debates will be fact or data-driven, ultimately giving others food for thought and a taste for change in 2019. I believe in the value of facts, science, reliable sources and critical thinking; it’s through well-reasoned arguments that ideas eventually get across. With this, I wish you all a new year filled with inspiration, sustainability and positive actions. ✌️
Photo credits: Jonas Verstuyft