We are all in this together!

9 August 2013

Reflections from the summer camp

Written by Sarah Newton, Summer camp participant from the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition

I’m feeling so inspired and enlightened by all of the amazing people I have met here at the Young Friends of the Earth Europe Summer Camp. The theme of the camp is climate change and we are all connecting the dots across our issues globally.

We have a group here from Nigeria where Shell has decimated the environment and made it so difficult for people to live there over the last 50 years. The stories are devastating. Environmental racism is alive and well at the present time. They were also talking to us today about Project REDD which was a false solution climate solution that came down from the UNFCCC. REDD is a project to protect forests from deforestation, by getting countries to pay money to other countries not to deforest so that the forest will continue to sequester carbon. This is hopeful in principle, but in reality, the forest is then not available to the indigenous people to harvest from. Forests play an important role in food security, and the act of sustainably harvesting from a forest has been shown to increase bioproductivity and is the basis for the idea of holistic resource management. This premise uses grazing, but human sustainable harvest is of the same principle. It just goes to show how ridiculous these policies can be in practice when the motivation is profit.

Everyone here is an amazing activist and is working on the issues they face in their own capacity. We are bridge-people who draw the connections between seemingly unconnected issues such as missing and murdered Aboriginal women, environmental racism, corporate culture and climate change. We are talking about how we can all make a difference. The rainbow tribe prophesy has been mentioned numerous times: about a time when things would become so terrible for the people and Mother Earth, that a people would rise of all colors, backgrounds and viewpoints who would come together in order to promote justice and peace.

I feel really empowered by the idea of divestment in the fossil fuel industry. This idea was put forth by the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition, who brought me here. The premise is simple, put pressure where ever your scope of influence lies (high school, in a college campus, church group, municipality, company, pension fund etc…) to freeze investment in fossil fuels immediately and completely remove investment from fossil fuel companies in five years. This is an attainable goal for any fund that has a socially conscious component. More importantly though, some pretty convincing arguments can be made financially.

I am blown away by the scenery here on the Lofoten islands. This gorgeous area is currently under threat of seismic testing for off shore oil drilling. It is a nursery for many fish species that are important food sources around the world. It is home to one of the few well managed fisheries around the world and is a popular tourist destination. The jobs from off shore drilling would likely go to people who are not from these small Arctic communities and could endanger a crucial ocean fishery. The salmon here have already been decimated by fish farms and could be facing a new threat. This is just one of those places that industrial development just doesn’t make any sense. It’s frustrating, but 300 young Norwegians and 100 international youth are here to prove that they will not let this area be developed easily. I’m humbled.

Someday soon, the Rainbow Tribe will show its face as being all faces. We will prove that we are all in this together. We need tolerance, we need peace, we need to create a way forward that includes all people in abundance, prosperity and health. It’s possible. We are smart monkeys and if we all put our collective energy towards it, we can do it.