A question as old as time, can be contained in a singular word, and one I ask myself frequently – Why? Usually these “whys” are along the lines of, why am I doing this, why should I care, and if I’m feeling existential, why am I here? As environmentalists I’m sure “Why should I care” resonates especially well when thinking about the issue of climate change, and convincing those who don’t yet care, why they should.
The first “Why” I would like to address is why I, Alex Goddard, am here. This question is not quite as existential as it seems, as by this I mean why am I here in Canada. If you don’t know me, I was born and raised in Barbados, a small island in the Caribbean, and spent my whole life there until I was 17. At that point I decided to pursue an education in Canada as I thought it would broaden my education, and I was privileged to attend Grades 11-12, University, and complete my Masters in Canada. I live here now, and you would think someone who has chosen to move from the tropics to Canada, would maybe do so because they like the cold, or at least somewhat enjoy it. Unfortunately, I loathe cold temperatures, and have had no luck with winter sports thus far – here’s another why – I can surf, why can’t I snowboard?! As such, I often am asked why I’m here. Honestly, sometimes I don’t know. Truthfully though, I’ve always been under the impression that leaving home forces you to escape your comfort zone and find ways to become your best self. One day when I have enough experience, I would like to return home and try to make a difference in my community, something that I’m sure many of you can relate to as you have left your respective homes for school or work. We always want what is best for our communities as they are the places that raised us. Climate change is of course a global, not local issue, and as such a positive change in Canada results in a positive change for the globe – as a result, even though I’m in a different country, I know my actions still have positive impacts at home.
The second “why” is one many environmentalists have heard hundreds of times, “Why should I care?”. For me, personally, I care because I’ve been able to witness the effects of climate change. As I mentioned, I’m from Barbados and as a result have spent a lot of time at the beach. Snorkeling and freediving is a hobby I’ve had since I was young, and over the years I have watched as reefs die due to coral bleaching, overfishing, and construction near the high-water mark of our beaches. We also have much more extreme weather events, with the island having to go on water bans due to extreme drought and facing more instances of storms. As a result, this is why I wanted to enter the field of environmental science from when I was young. This is unique of course, not everyone has access to beaches or feels the effects of increased hurricanes. Being able to witness these events firsthand would turn most people into environmentalists, however, I’m sure those reading have also noticed changes. Christmases haven’t been as white as they used to, extreme heat warnings in summer shattering heat records daily, and air quality warnings due to smog are all similar instances of the climate being different from years past. Access to the internet and news also allow us to learn of climate events happening and tell us why we should care.
Another “why should I care” I often hear, is with regard to individual actions towards the environment, when it is large corporations that create the bulk of emissions. For instance, “why should I go vegan when another oil spill just happened”, or “what difference will one metal straw make”. These questions, to be honest, have always annoyed me a little. Consumer habits influence corporate action, if there is a demand, action will be taken to create supply, so, only buy products that are pro-environment and more sustainable products will be made. Furthermore, why not do both? The issue does not need to be so black and white. Why not lobby your local MPs and politicians to implement more sustainable systems in your communities, while also eating a little less meat? Why not attend a protest against large corporate emissions, while using a protest sign made of reused cardboard, and staying hydrated with a metal straw? Why not? I’m sure almost all of you reading this do these without thought, but next time someone asks you why bother with individual actions, simply ask them, “Why not?”.
The final “why” I would like to address is once again the question of “Why am I here?”, not in Canada, or on this planet, but why am I at A\J? This week I took on the role of Editor, Digital Media here at A\J, having worked with the company in the past. I’m here at A\J to help increase the amount of content posted on socials while maintaining the high standard set in the past. I’m here to help the company grow its online presence as A\J shifts towards more online and digital content as opposed to traditional printed magazines.
The time to focus on digital is now for a multitude of reasons. Firstly, supply chain issues caused by a seemingly never-ending pandemic have caused issues within the print industry, creating uncertainty in whether magazines can be printed and causing deadlines to be missed. Digital media removes this uncertainty, allowing for content to be regularly delivered, and also allows more to be done with this content, for example hyperlinks and embedded videos in articles. Second, digital is more sustainable than print. Printed material not only requires paper to be printed on, but also the transport to and from printing facilities, as well as associated transport with product delivery to the consumer. Digital does not require any of these and as a result, is more sustainable.
The overarching theme of all of these “whys” has been the environment. Many people have different reasons for caring about the environment and climate change, and sometimes those who don’t care just need to be asked why not. It is a global, not local issue that if addressed, will benefit us all. I hope that this piece has made you think about your own “whys” and hope that some of the answers to my own resonate with you. I’m looking forward to a busy month of content on A\J and hope you are too. And like I said, next time someone asks why take individual action, just ask them, “why not?”.