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Seth Klein Speaks About Climate Change  

Climate change is undeniable. We have been affected by ongoing wildfires in BC, global warming is changing weather patterns, and storms are increasing in frequency and intensity.   

Seth Klein spoke at the BCTF AGM to inspire delegates about the need to align Canadian politics with the climate emergency we are facing. He suggested that tackling climate change should now be our calling as teachers. Students and their teachers need to be thinking and learning about how to cope and adapt to the climate emergency, and how we can solve the largest puzzle facing human survival.  

To illustrate how we can achieve this, Klein reminded teachers that society has done so before. During World War II (WWII), Canadians mobilized to confront an existential threat. WWII wasn’t an imminent threat to Canadians, and it took leadership to get the public on board. The rich made sacrifices as well as the poor. And it’s important to remember that Canada didn’t wait for the US to join the fight, we did it years earlier. There’s no need for us to wait for the United States to lead the way this time, either.  

“We need to go to war for a collective issue—climate change needs a war time scale emergency response. There’s a gap between what science says we must do and what politics will entertain,” he said. “We have 11 years to get our emissions to net carbon zero. Failure to do so will have catastrophic and terrifying results.”  

He told delegates about five things teachers can do to help:  

  1. Integrate the climate emergency into lessons.
  2. Support BCTF resolutions on climate change and keep it on our agendas.
  3. Encourage school boards to align with this agenda; purchasing electric cars, geothermal heating in schools, locally sourced food for cafeterias, etc.
  4. Defend Aboriginal rights. Future laws need to be in alignment with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
  5. Lower the voting age; our youth are marching, but they can’t vote, and we are failing to make decisions about the world they will live in. The BCTF should add our support to the call to give the vote to 16-year-olds.   

Klein received a standing ovation, and he was followed by Tessa Jones, a Grade 11 student. “What we are working towards is crucial to our future children. We are tired of the divisiveness and we need to be working toward the same thing,” she said. “Change is hard, but no matter what we do, we will see change in the very near future. We have the choice to see that change be either catastrophic or successful.”

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