A Conscious Transformation

February 1, 2013
By Becca Williams BRONZE, Claremont, Other
Becca Williams BRONZE, Claremont, Other
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

The critical barrier that Canadians face locally, nationally and globally when addressing environmental issues is the disconnect between awareness, leadership and action. This may manifest in a number of ways. Some people may not know the issues; a lack of education. Some may know the issues, but not how to act, and in acting may feel that their actions as individuals are not significant. Yet others may know the issues and how to act but are apathetic and therefore do nothing. Sadly, there are many environmental issues of concern in today's world about which we must all be vigilant. Examples include our unsustainable dependence on fossil fuels for energy and the resultant problems with climate change that come with it, including global warming; factory farming and it's negative contributions to greenhouse gases and human health; loss of biodiversity, which leads to the extinction of species and unhealthy ecosystems; and the pollution of our water, air and land which further contributes to the poor health of the planet and everything living on it. All of these challenges are solvable under the right conditions. These conditions call for a perfect storm of awareness and education, leadership and coordinated action.

In the production of my environmental videos to date, I continue to struggle with the idea that even though I can make people aware of environmental issues, what I really need is for them to act for there to be any measurable change. I can influence the viewer with my message and entertain them with whatever creativity I can muster, but my goal must be to educate them and give them strategies they can use to make their own impact. This applies across every environmental issue on every level. On every level we need knowledge integrated with strategies for coordinated action. We must have all of us participating; individuals, community groups, businesses, corporations and local, provincial and federal governments. Environmental issues do not discriminate and sooner or later affect all of us and so we must strategize across all social groups to eliminate the barriers to inaction if we are to find long-term sustainable solutions to these serious issues.

One can ask, “How does an individual act in the face of a major issue like global warming?" This is part of the barrier to addressing environmental issues in Canada and around the world. Some of these issues are so big and daunting that one may be intimidated to start and not know where to begin, and may often be left with the feeling that their own actions wouldn't have any significant impact. This is the mindset we need to overcome if we are to make any significant impact on such a large-scale problem. To get there, coordinated action is really needed, as well as education, awareness and specific directed strategies. The Blue Box Recycling Program is a good example of what can happen with multi-level coordination, mass marketing and leadership from government, industry, community groups and individuals. The key here has been a combination of environmental awareness and education, leadership and coordinated action. This has led to transformations in behaviours that were once habitual and long-held, and were damaging to the environment. We need that same type of transformational process to tackle these other major issues like global warming. Whether it is a strategy that includes efforts to reduce fossil fuel consumption, a government supported carbon exchange program or a local push to develop more bicycle and pedestrian-friendly routes to make alternative transportation more accessible, achievable and safe, we need transformational leadership. Ultimately, to work, any plan to address environmental issues must be coordinated on all levels, and the connection between awareness and action strategies must be clear, fair and sustainable. In the end, we must all transform into environmental leaders to overcome these barriers.

The author's comments:
I hope this article will help people overcome the critical environmental barrier between awareness, leadership and action that we face everyday.

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