Yesterday evening, I was out trying to collect email addresses for Toronto 350’s events email list.
I wasn’t being pushy – mostly just wandering around with a clipboard and a 350 t-shirt saying ‘good evening’ to people and then trying to engage the ones who responded in a discussion about climate change and the group. Over the course of two hours, I got 10 email addresses – one of them totally illegible. Many of the people who I spoke to yesterday declined to give me their email because they were already inundated with similar messages from other environmental groups. A few others explained that they didn’t see climate change as the environmental issue on which we should be concentrating our attention.
It’s a slow business: trying to build up a group run by a handful of volunteers, without any resources or connections to influential people in the city. My hope is that once I start at the University of Toronto it will become a lot easier to recruit members who will be willing to organize and participate in events. Then perhaps we can begin to engage effectively with the question of how to motivate interested members of the general public to take useful action on climate change.
That challenge of motivating people may be the central problem of climate change. There is a small group that has a huge interest in maintaining the fossil fuel status quo, and they are doing an effective job of pushing that agenda. The majority of people probably do support the transition to a post-fossil-fuel economy in a general sense, but they aren’t willing to push for it or to accept the sacrifices that it is likely to involve.