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Rebelling against extinction: ‘It really is a climate crisis’

Judy Green wears a number of hats, but when she was in Yarmouth May 29 to give a talk organized by the Tusket River Environmental Protection Association, it was in her capacity as a member of Extinction Rebellion, a movement that is calling for major and immediate action on climate change.
Judy Green wears a number of hats, but when she was in Yarmouth May 29 to give a talk organized by the Tusket River Environmental Protection Association, it was in her capacity as a member of Extinction Rebellion, a movement that is calling for major and immediate action on climate change. - Eric Bourque

Judy Green says she doesn’t consider herself an activist, but as a member of Extinction Rebellion – a movement that originated in the United Kingdom that says the world faces “an unprecedented global emergency” – Green is giving talks about climate change and the urgent need for action.

An entrepreneur from Clementsport with a scientific background, Green was in Yarmouth May 29 to speak at a public session organized by the Tusket River Environmental Protection Association.

“It really is a climate crisis,” she said, “so what we’re talking about tonight is clarifying the fact that there is consensus among science (about the impact of climate change). We have a clear consensus.”

In an interview a few hours before her talk, Green acknowledged that with the dire reports that keep coming out about the trajectory the planet is on, it’s a scary situation and it’s time to act.

Green is a wellness coach who, in describing the seriousness of climate change, uses the analogy of someone being diagnosed with a serious health condition and having to make some major changes.

“Let’s consider this our diagnosis,” she said, “and it’s time to change our lifestyle.”

She encourages people who are concerned about climate change to contact their elected officials, but she admits even this may not produce results. When this is the case – if little or nothing gets done despite the letter writing to politicians, even as the evidence of the impact of climate change continues to mount – Green says this is where Extinction Rebellion comes in.

“Essentially, what it’s asking for,” Green said, “is for our governments to do their job. Number one, declare a climate emergency. Act like it’s an emergency. Put some resources into play and start making the changes that we know need to be done. There are other countries already doing this. They’re way ahead of us. Canada is so far behind it’s embarrassing.”

Extinction Rebellion (or XR) started in the U.K. in 2018. On its website, the group says, “Life on Earth is in crisis: scientists agree we have entered a period of abrupt climate breakdown, and we are in the midst of a mass extinction of our own making.”

In an effort to get their message heard, on March 1 in Halifax some XR members disrupted question period in the Nova Scotia legislature for a few minutes, calling on the province to declare a climate emergency and to take action.

Green, who wasn’t part of that protest, says XR is always non-violent and respectful when it holds activities.

“We’re there to get the attention of politicians because everything we’ve done up to this point hasn’t worked and that’s why there’s this worldwide movement,” she said.

"We have some people that are prepared to do things that can get them arrested, within the confines of no violence, no destruction of property, no destruction of environment. I'm not one of those. I'm one of the ones with orange armbands. It's like a mother hen that makes sure everybody is where they need to be and behave themselves. And I do the talks ... that's my contribution, and I do a lot of the sharing on Facebook and let people know what's going on."

As for what Nova Scotians can do to deal with what’s already happening with climate change, Green says, among other things, steps should be taken to help people build small, energy-efficient homes. Perhaps there should be more support for people to live off-grid, she said.

Referring to wetter springs and falls and dry summers, she said municipal units should look at ways to stockpile water.

Two days before her talk in Yarmouth, Green spoke to Digby municipal council and she said the presentation was well received.

Green, who had a career in the military, said she doesn’t think of herself as an activist, saying, “I think I align more with our First Nations friends. We need to live lightly upon the land. It’s not ours to do with what we want. We need to be gentle with it ... We live in an environment that has a certain capacity and we’re living far beyond that capacity and we can’t do that indefinitely.”

Asked if she is optimistic or hopeful about the future, Green says she is; she has to be.

“I have three grandchildren,” she said. “I’m not letting them down. When they ask me (years from now), ‘what did you do, Grammie?’ I’m going to tell them, ‘I fought like heck. I did everything I could.’ I don’t see any other option ... I’m an entrepreneur. I’ve had many businesses. I operate a small business in Digby. I think we need an entrepreneurial type of mindset to fix these things, not a bureaucratic, slow-moving mindet.”

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