Lost in the hum of everyday life, we can sometimes forget how dire the climate crisis has become. Species are dying, glaciers melting, climate systems breaking down. Even as oceans surge, lakes and rivers flood, and wildfires rage, greenhouse gas emissions only continue to rise.
Those of us that pause to consider the situation are at risk of experiencing what psychologists and researchers are beginning to call “ecoanxiety.” Symptoms include feelings of loss, helplessness, guilt, and perhaps above all an existential despair over the onslaught of the climate crisis and the threat it represents to life on Earth.
That’s the bad news. The good news is, the global climate justice movement is approaching critical mass, with more and more of us becoming aware that delaying action is no longer an option. An estimated 6 – 7.6 million people participated in the September 20 and 27 climate strikes globally, only the most recent actions of a global climate movement that is clearly gathering steam.
Here in Niagara, more than 700 members of our community turned up to support the September 27 Climate Strike in downtown St. Catharines, more than for almost any such event in recent memory. As wonderful and inspiring a community event as the Niagara Climate Strike was, it was only the beginning of what will hopefully grow into a sustained push for climate justice in Niagara and globally.
Events like this don’t happen all by themselves. The Niagara Climate Strike was the result of long hours of organization, planning, and volunteer labour by members of Extinction Rebellion Niagara (XRN), a local chapter of the non-violent international climate movement Extinction Rebellion (XR), as well as Fridays for Future Niagara (FFFN). Since September, XRN and FFFN have been busy hosting an Open House at Silver Spire United Church on November 23 and a second Niagara Climate Rally on November 29 outside of St. Catharines City Hall. Another group, Green New Deal Niagara, meanwhile, put together a climate-focused all-candidates debate that packed the Warehouse in downtown St. Catharines in the lead-up to the October federal election.
So rather than despair at the escalating climate crisis, consider getting involved in the climate action happening right here in Niagara. XRN needs folks who can help with social media, graphic design, event planning, collective care, and a number of other tasks. Whoever you are, whatever your background, whatever your skills and strengths, there is a place for you in this struggle. More than a push for climate justice, the project of XRN is to build a sustainable, inclusive community that has the strength to withstand the challenges that lie ahead.
To find out more, can find XRN on Facebook at facebook.com/xrniagara. Reach out to them and subscribe to their email list at xrniagara.com. Support them on Patreon — it’s only $1(USD) a month, but it goes a long way to helping us cover operating costs like web hosting, email and poster printing. Help us spread the word far and wide. Talk with your friends about the climate action happening in Niagara. Talk with your family. Talk with your co-workers, co-volunteers or classmates. Talk with your bus driver. Talk with your MP and MPP. Tell them that Niagara has a homegrown climate movement that will only grow in strength as more of us get involved.
Most importantly, try not to give into despair. Connect with the Niagara climate justice community and turn your angst into action. Together, we are stronger.