From left, environmental artist Regan Rosberg talks to the audience at Pugwash District High School about climate change following a presentation by herself, Project Drawdown’s Chad Frischmann, and Robert Cervelli, the executive director of the Centre for Local Prosperity. The public presentation was part of the Pugwash Thinkers retreat in 2017. File photo

TRURO – With news that climate change is increasing at a rapid rate, citizens are starting to stop and think about their own actions.

Bob Cervelli, executive director of the Centre for Local Prosperity, says the biggest thing people can do these days is to “pay more attention” and “engage.”

But how does one engage, he asks?

“A lot of communities are forming climate change screenings. It could be as simple as attending a municipal council meeting and start to engage at that level,” said Cervelli. “It’s finding what is the most meaningful way and to be more audacious…it’s a surprising willingness to take a risk.”

Cervelli says the centre is currently in discussions with a number of different international organizations on climate change, and says Project Drawdown is described as “one of the most comprehensive set of solutions” toward fighting climate change.

Project Drawdown saw 65 researchers work together for three years to come up with multiple solutions to global warming, solutions that work best when implemented together.

Some of those solutions (found at www.drawdown.org) include offshore wind turbines as renewable resources, rooftop solar panels throughout the world, and even switching to electric vehicles or bicycles. Instead of hoping on a plane for a business meeting, use technology such as Skype. Eat all the food purchased instead of throwing some out, and reduce meat intake.

It’s taking carbon out of the atmosphere and putting it in the soil, introducing managed grazing, and even restoring forests to their natural state.

Efforts from the top down, said Cervelli, which would be considered state or federal governments, are relatively ineffective.

From the bottom up, which is an individual level, is good as it allows people to become aware of what they can do.

“At least they’re building awareness, but they may not have the impact we need on time,” he admitted.

Working with inter-organizational networks – and from the middle out – could have the most impact.

“Organizations and groups are combining together their strengths, and that can be done on all kinds of levels,” he said, adding the push can be made to the top level to influence policy makers, as well as to the bottom level for individuals.

He said the centre has a good working relationship with two of the individuals working on Project Drawdown, and said the group is working on a Drawdown 2.0. Drawdown hubs are starting to form around the world, and Cervelli said the local centre is looking at creating local Drawdown communities, where communities inspire to achieve Drawdown.

“Drawdown is when you are sequestering more carbon than you’re putting into the atmosphere,” he said.

Over the last two years, the Centre for Local Prosperity has hosted the Pugwash Thinkers retreat, a multi-day gathering of some of the top thinkers from around the world. The first Pugwash Thinkers retreat was held in 2017, 60 years after the first retreat held regarding nuclear proliferation. From 2017’s gathering, a documentary was made, which has been screened throughout Canada and the U.S. building awareness on climate change. The 2018 retreat saw the thinkers sign a Pugwash Declaration, a list of actions everyone in Atlantic Canada can immediately take to lessen the impacts and decrease the risks and subsequent harm from global warming. Both the documentary and Pugwash Declaration can be found online at www.centreforlocalprosperity.ca.

The 2018 declaration lists a variety of actions an individual can take now, including conducting an assessment of their home’s energy; look for ways to save energy; learn to garden or know who grows their food; among others.

With some provinces taking the bold move to ban plastic shopping bags, or restaurants to stop using plastic straws, Cervelli says it’s a lead-in to the overall issue.

“It’s an example of one of the many things we need to do – those sorts of things will offset plastic pollution.”

He said it’s a “little after the fact, but we have to start at some point.”

Along with being the executive director of the Centre for of Prosperity, Cervelli is the chairman for Transition Bay St Margarets, which focuses on building resilience in a community to address possible global changes in the future. Through this organization, Cervelli was part of a climate emergency preparedness workshop recently.

“Everybody wants to know how fast sea levels are rising, including bureaucrats trying to build policy,” he said. “Scientists are realizing constantly they are underestimating things and the acceleration of sea level rise is greater than they thought.”

Cervelli said one of the take-homes from the workshop is that if someone is doing a new build of a home along the shore, to add at least a metre of height above sea level.

“You’re going to be glad you did,” he said.

With most existing builds on shorelines, he said, higher dykes and more pumps are just “band-aids”.