Today, I had the absolute pleasure of interviewing (long time friend and high school classmate) but more importantly avid planet fighter, Tim Scolnick. Tim is a regular contributor on DeSmogBlog, a project that began in January 2006 and has since then become one of the world’s number one sources for alleviating the plethora of misinformation on global warming.
Since high school Tim has been busily projecting change, completing graduate research on China’s climate change foreign policy, working for the European Union (EU), as well as both the federal and provincial governments of Canada. Tim’s work with DesSmogBlog is an inspiration of positive individual effort towards calling out planet killing zombies and assisting the average joe (me) in better understanding the false propaganda surrounding climate change. When I originally conjured the idea to interview environmental & social issues experts as a ramp up to the 2011 Projecting Change Film Festival Tim was the first person I thought of – details below!
Q: What is the importance of an event like the Projecting Change Film Festival for an issue like climate change?
The Projecting Change Film Festival is about engaging with citizens on green issues and promoting sustainable living. Climate change affects us every day and is the most important issue humanity has ever faced. Through powerful films and speakers, this event has tremendous potential to make people more aware of climate change. Ideally, individuals will take an interest and be motivated to make a difference producing positive change. This year’s festival is very exciting because through the use of social media like Facebook and Twitter, the event and its green and sustainable message will reach more people than ever before.
Q: What makes Vancouver special when it comes to fighting against climate change?
Vancouver is special because it has so many initiatives in place to reduce its environmental footprint and fight against climate change. Some of these very important programs include mandated carbon reductions, energy-use reductions, improvements in water use, the growth in recycling programs, the massive expansion in bike lanes and public transport, the city’s sustainability mandate or the city’s goal to become the world’s greenest city by 2020 http://vancouver.ca/greenestcity/. Vancouver is unique and is an example for other cities trying to incorporate green and sustainability principles.
Q: What is the key to Vancouver’s success in communicating climate change?
The scale of the challenge we face in reducing our carbon emissions and environmental impacts is daunting. Importantly, the city of Vancouver has not been shy about communicating the climate change issue to the public. The approach is to engage with the public at events and through municipal programs. As well, strong communication strategies help to show the public that their ideas are being directly incoprorated into climate action plans. All of this means that the public is a well-informed partner and stakeholder when it comes to addressing climate change. Reaching consensus and working together is a key to Vancouver success in fighting against the dangers and impacts of climate chance.
Q: How does Vancouver fight through climate relations smog?
A major reason for the difficulty in communicating climate change is the fact that there are powerful dirty energy interests who pay a lot of money to confuse politicians and the public on the issue. Nationally in the U.S. and in Canada, people like the Koch Brothers and companies like Exxon Mobil have been highly effective in convincing some politicians not to act on climate change. Media campaigns by industry have frequently tried to say that human’s influence on the climate is still debatable. This is not true, but a large portion of the public is still unsure.
Thankfully, polluting industries do not have the same influence in a city like Vancouver. It is important to remember that cities and regions are where the worst effects of climate change are taking place. Cities and regions will also have to adapt to the consequences from climate change. Pretending that everything is fine is not going to be helpful for a coastal city. Citizens and politicians see the need to protect the environment and have worked together in this. Decision-makers do not have to convince Vancouverites of the need to protect their environment since they are surrounded by mountains, forests and the ocean.
Q: Why is Vancouver more successful than other places when it comes to climate action?
Part of what makes the city of Vancouver so effective in dealing with climate change and reducing carbon emissions is that on an ongoing basis, the city has taken a proactive approach to learn about climate change and has been relying on the advice from top scientists and experts to inform policy decisions. In practice, what this means is that mayors, city councilors and staff feel confident in the difficult choices they have to make because they are supported by the latest science.
Rather than get caught up in a political debate about whether or not climate change is happening and who is causing it, the city is figuring out what is the best way to deal with the issue. The city is working to reduce its carbon footprint and continues to be highly successful in these efforts.
For a long time now, Vancouver has taken a leadership role when it comes to climate action and recently, the World Wildlife Fund rightfully named Vancouver the top Canadian city when it comes to fighting against climate change.
Q: What is the biggest challenge Vancouver faces in terms of dealing with climate change?
While it is hard to choose one thing above all others, linking is a very important challenge. The city of Vancouver is part of the Greater Vancouver region which is full of municipalities with rapidly expanding populations. When it comes to reducing the city of Vancouver’s carbon footprint, any actions it takes will ideally be copied elsewhere. The challenge here is to make this happen. Deciding where to zone development is very important. This means that the city of Vancouver must work hard to get buy-in from communities like Burnaby, Richmond and Surrey. A project like the Evergreen Skytrain expansion from Vancouver into Surrey is a tremendous way to reduce carbon emissions; however, deciding how to share costs is still a major concern.
To stay up to speed on the plethora of missinformation campaigns on global warming I urge you to take a look through the work of DesSmogBlog. Tim and DesSmog are working hard to put the information out there, all we have to do is read it – and of course take action where and when we can! If you wan’t to get up to speed on some local planet fighters come down and join myself and the Projecting Change Social Media team tomorrow at The Great Turning – an Unconference with an exceptional list of speakers.
Planet fighters unite!