Friday, November 10, 2006

Your Vote Against Climate Change

Last Saturday, 25,000 protestors took to the streets of London, England demanding firm action on climate change from all political leaders. The marchers included people of all ages, social groups, ethnical backgrounds and religions. This vast range in diversity is unlike the young hippy crowd of the 1960’s. Climate change is becoming more than just a green issue, it’s also a global peace and economic issue.

The Kyoto Protocol Conference currently underway in Nairobi, Kenya, has put out several reports stating Africa is most vulnerable to climate change. Global climate change is already impacting the very poor through increase floods, droughts and hurricanes. African governments and humanitarian organizations are screaming for international governments to take action to mitigate the effects of global warming. But not much is changing. The single-minded pursuit of economic growth is rendering the international community incapable of tackling climate change. However, according to economists, addressing climate change is the only way to preserve our ability for economic growth.

New studies are saying that we only have a 10-15 year window to take the action needed to avoid crossing a catastrophic turning point in regards to climate change. The students here at Waterloo understand how important it is to make changes in our everyday lives. Recently, the UW Sustainability Project held a Climate Change Fair to raise awareness here on campus. There were guest speakers, information booths and movie showings.

If you feel you would like to take greater action on climate change but can’t seem to find time to attend protests or organize events, or don’t think you have a loud enough voice in this global issue, well, you’re wrong. One way to make your voice heard is by partaking in a fundamental act of democracy – voting.

As some of you may know, the municipal elections are this Monday, November 13th. I urge you, plead with you, and am willing to peer pressure you into voting. It is crucial to vote for who you think is going to do the best job. In the past, voter turnout for the municipal elections in Ontario has been deplorable. In 2003, only 40.18% of Ontarians voted in the municipal election.

To change this – vote, and ask your friends, family and neighbours to vote as well. Investigate the people who want to be your mayor and local ward councillors. They make decisions that affect your roads, sewers services, by-laws and recreation services. Also, be sure to investigate those people who are running for your regional chair and regional councillor positions. These people want to be part of your municipal government responsible for things such as garbage, housing and development, public transit and public health. If you want to push for a much needed green agenda, vote for the candidates you think will take serious steps to achieve environmental sustainability. If we hope to be environmentally sustainable globally, we must act locally to stop climate change.

After voting in the elections, stay informed on local issues. Hold your newly elected representatives accountable. Participate in your local governments green initiatives. Write letters to your local government pushing for change. You can crank up the volume of your issue by writing an informative letter and mass emailing it out to others asking them to sign it and mail it to the appropriate representative. If your representative is sluggish in responding to your environmental concerns, tell your neighbours, flyer your neighbourhood or write to the editors of your local news sources. If they are still not listening to you, vote for someone else next election or better yet, make yourself a candidate.

This Monday, be sure to get out and vote. It’s as easy as visiting the SLC Great Room between 10am and 8pm.

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