“Humans are Just Like Soybeans”
By Krystal-Anne Barber, University of Ottawa student and Co-President of the University of Ottawa Environmental Law Students’ Association (ELSA)
Climate change has been called the biggest challenge of our time. Not only will changing temperatures lead to devastating environmental impacts, it will also drastically affect our economy. Consider this: soybeans are one of Canada’s top five agricultural exports and their crop yield drops significantly in hotter temperatures. According to Professor Nic Rivers, “humans are just like soybeans” ––as the global temperature increases, crop yields drop and so does human productivity in the workforce. This was just one of many memorable take-aways from last week’s Climate Teach-In.
In preparation for the Global Climate Strike on Friday, September 27th, the Institute of the Environment hosted an inspirational panel featuring five uOttawa experts. Professors Jeremy Kerr, Nic Rivers, Jackie Dawson, Heather McLeod-Kilmurray, and Stewart Elgie, spoke about the different dimensions of climate change, its impacts and potential solutions. The event was the perfect way to kick-off Ottawa’s Climate Strike and inspire students to demand action from law-makers and politicians now.
Professor Jeremy Kerr started off the panel with a discussion of climate change and its causes. He remarked that climate change is caused by humans and that it’s impacts are only going to get more dangerous with time. He also reminded students that we have the power to fix it. This was a recurring theme throughout the event, with each speaker taking the time to address potential solutions and provide concrete ideas for students to take with them as they called for action on Parliament Hill.
Professor Sonia Wesche noted that climate change has unique social impacts on Indigenous peoples in Canada’s North. She discussed the devastating effects of melting ice and rising sea levels on food security and traditional practices in Northern communities in particular.
Ending off the panel on a positive note, Professors Heather McLeod-Kilmurray and Stewart Elgie reminded students that some positive steps are being taken in Canada, such as the recent carbon pricing initiative. While there is still a lot that needs to be done, they were clear that we have the technology to stop the worst impacts of climate change from becoming a reality. Among other things, like reducing our food waste and changing our consumer patterns, Professor McLeod-Kilmurray advised students to “vote for the climate” in the upcoming election. Professor Elgie made the important point that “we must reject the argument that we need to choose between the environment and the economy.”
Among the thousands of Canadians present at the Climate Strike on Friday, there were hundreds of uOttawa students demanding climate justice from our politicians––and demanding it now. Thanks to the Institute of the Environment, these students have a much better grasp of the issues and understand the practical solutions that they should be asking for.