Vancouver Climate Change Action: 350.org

What amazed me about yesterday's climate change protests in Vancouver was the number of young families in the crowd. Unlike protesters who braved the bitter cold in Edmonton yesterday, we had a beautiful day. A day without rain in Vancouver this time of year is like a small miracle. The north-bound lane of the Cambie bridge was packed with an estimated 5000 protesters. Everyone from the Raging Grannies to stilt walkers, poi spinners and anti-freeway activists were there. But I'd guess that close to a quarter of them were families in their mid-30s with one or two young children.

One couple with a young daughter who talked with us briefly spelled it out pretty clearly: "Since we've had the little one, we are taking all of this much more seriously. She's the one that is going to inherit all this mess." Familiar words, sure. But hearing them coming out heart felt from a young father's mouth really made me wonder how many other couples are coming to understand these issues through their love for their children. [some videos after the jump]


After the opening speeches that called for Ottawa to stop blocking progress at international climate change negotiations, the crowd marched from the bridge to Science World (at one point connecting the two sites with one long walking and rolling sea of people). I've loaded up a set of photos (courtesy of Lunatrix) on Flickr that captures some of the days highlights. They are CC licensed, so feel free to grab them and mash them up anyway you like.

Canada had the second largest number of events of any country (second only to the US). There is little word so far on an official response from Ottawa. But I'm sure I'm not alone in having low expectations. So far environment Minister Jim Prentice (who apparently has three children himself) has reiterated his catch phrase about the need to be "realistic" about environmental goals. "Realistic" in this sense seeming to mean coming up with targets that have no hope of actually achieving the goal they were put in place to achieve. I see Jim and I have a significant difference in the way we define realism ... and the kind of mess we want to leave behind our children.

But that for another time.

The finally tally of global events under the 350.org banner clocked in at over 5200. Let's hope that their are politicians somewhere with enough sense to take this popular support and turn into some real action.

Here are a few clips:
"The Crowd Heads to Science World"


"Mardi Gras Band"


"The Extinctoraptor Dances"


Comments

6 Responses to "Vancouver Climate Change Action: 350.org"

Anonymous said... 26 October 2009 at 13:43

As a senior citizen I was pleased to see all the young people out there. Climate change protestors, anti seal hunt protestors, anti freeway protestors. Good for you. But where were you when it came to voting in people into city hall, provincial and federal governments? When officials get elected with less than a majority and you young people stay home, you can't really have a say in what they do. Make your presence be felt at the voting booth.

Alex Aylett said... 26 October 2009 at 14:19

I completely agree. It's just as dangerous to think that protest is the only way to communicate to politicians as it is to think that democracy stops at the voting booth.

A healthy democratic society needs people at the polls and in the streets. (And then of course politicians willing to listen to them.)

Vancouver BC realtor said... 27 October 2009 at 08:45

Agreed also, seems like young people only like shouting and protesting all over the city but when it's time to make the real decision in the elections they bail. I wonder if they think that protesting is actually more powerful than voting. But mostly, I think they don't attend because of the simple fact that politics seems boring to them and they don't quite understand the whole deal about electing a politician, I may be wrong though...

Jay

Alex Aylett said... 27 October 2009 at 14:12

Hi Jay,
I found an intersting discussion of why youth voter turn out is so low and the link is below.

The main reason that they identify is a general lack of connection between young voters and their political representatives: they don't feel represented by the available candidates, don't feel that their vote would matter and don't relate to the issues being discussed during the election.

I think that that is something we can all relate to, young or old. The first past the post system that we currently have makes it very difficult for parties willing to take risks and propose change to get a seat in the House. (see what's happened to the Green Party, for example, despite winning an ever increasing percentage of the popular vote.)

So do we need to vote? Absolutely. But we also need politicians who will actively engage with issues of concern to young voters (and difficult issues more generally, not the red herring debates that are so often the focus of elections).

I feel that protest is a legitimate and important part of a democratic society. The fact that, as far as I know, there has been no official response to Saturday's marches is shameful. I'm sure more people, not only youth, would vote if they felt that their voices were really being listened too.

http://www.mapleleafweb.com/features/voter-turnout-canada

Ted said... 28 October 2009 at 22:55

Perhaps what we need is more young candidates for younger voters to choose from. How about it Alex?

Alex Aylett said... 29 October 2009 at 12:23

LOL. Thanks for the support. But by the time I'm ready to consider running, I probably won't be so young anymore!

About




This is a blog for news and views on the future of sustainable cites. A major revamp is in the works. Until then I am keeping this version up as an archive of my past writing.

You can expect occasional updates, but not with the same frequency as in the past.

You can also find my writing on urban redesign and sustainability in ReNew Canada, The Mark, Sustainable Cities Canada, WorldChanging, and other more specialized academic publications.

Info on my consulting work, c.v. and current research focus is all here.