A Saanich woman critical of governments for not doing enough to fight climate change has recently launched her own site to inspire others into voluntary action.
Leslie Miller-Brooks launched co2reductionplan.org as a grassroots effort by ordinary citizens to encourage all people to voluntarily reduce carbon dioxide emissions and global pollution.
“Our local, provincial, and federal governments cannot or will will not act quickly enough in order to avert environmental catastrophe,” her site reads. “Each of us must commit to action — we can no longer afford to be bystanders.”
Miller-Brooks reiterated this appeal in a recent interview with the Saanich News. “They [governments] are really not leading us,” she said, as she questioned the provincial government’s decision behind the Site C dam and its support for liquefied natural gas. “There is no plan,” she said later, when talking about efforts to introduce emission-friendly vehicles.
The site itself lists voluntary actions that participants can take each month. For example, June, the first month of action, is Plastics, Paper and Styrofoam month.
“As much as possible, don’t buy products that are plastic or [Styrofoam] or are in plastic or [Styrofoam] containers,” it reads among other recommended actions. “Try not to replace with paper, we need our trees, take your own containers.”
Would-be participants can do some or all of the items over the course of the 12 months, or just do the months that they want to do. They can start any time, and go beyond the recommended actions for each month. It is completely volunteer, and the site currently lacks mechanisms that allow users to track the impact of their reductions and ensure their commitment.
“The reward has to come from doing it yourself,” she said. “I don’t think we can assure anybody’s commitment to it,” she added later. “I don’t think that is possible. I think people will have to come to their own conclusions.”
This said, Miller-Brooks said she encourages users s to share with others what they are doing, and the site is still evolving, with the possibility that such features may appear in the future. For now, it exists as “a sort of primer” for action in the spirit of any plan being better than no plan at all.
The site itself evolved out of discussions with friends, who do not want the government to tell them what to do on one hand, but still want to do something on the other.
“It [climate change] is such a frightening thing — the floods, the fires,” she said. “I believe a lot of people my age don’t know where to start, and they believe nothing they do is going to make a difference anyway.”
Miller-Brooks’s site aims to cut through this mixture of collective fear and perceived personal powerlessness, and to spread its message, Miller-Brooks has reached out to local politicians, as well as media, and personalities like Bill Nye The Science Guy.
And despite her claims of lacking digital skills, Miller-Brooks has shown herself to be as savy as the current generation of Fridays for Future school children who are using the internet to spread their messsage in the digital and analog world.
When she and her husband recently visited the United Kingdom, she pinned a piece of cloth with her website’s address on her back. Carrying this form of viral messaging all around London produced several memorable moments, including the following.
Miller-Brooks was walking up some stairs in London’s Tate Modern museum, when a woman tapped her arm from behind.
“She had a little boy with her, who was nine, and she said ‘thank you.’ And I said, ‘well, we got to do something.’”