STOP: Stop Tar Sands Operations Permanently

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Cool views on hot issue

Posted by mhudema on March 31, 2008

Brian Towie/Metro Toronto

31 March 2008 09:36
brian towie/metro toronto

MuchMusic VJ Hannah Simone believes climate change will be the defining struggle for future generations.

There’s nothing quite like a little star power to raise awareness about global warming for the younger set. And when you’re Hannah Simone and Steve Jocz, you use it if you’ve got it.

Simone, a VJ at MuchMusic, Jocz and Cone McCaslin, the drummer and bassist, respectively, for Canadian pop-punk vanguard Sum 41, travelled to oil-rich Alberta for a MuchTalks television special on climate change that aired in February. Metro picked the brains of the celebrities on the front lines of coolness and where they stand on the issue.

As journalistic and objective as they had to be, the experience was a harsh eye-opener, Simone and Jocz said. Seeing the first-hand effects of large-scale pollution at the hands of a Fort McMurray oilsands drilling outfit brought them a fresh, urgent perspective that transcended the show.

“I went in without any kind of opinion formed,” Jocz said. “But I believe there’s something happening for sure. We went to this oil mine where they were using water to extract oil from the sand, but after they were done, these giant toxic pools of water were left over.

“Down river, there’s a native town where the locals are starting to get rare forms of cancer. There are billions (of dollars) quietly coming out of those oilsands, but we’re looking at an ecological disaster.”

“I did have an awareness of the issue before, but there were two things that really hit home for me,” said Simone, 28, a former model and researcher for ex-foreign affairs minister Lloyd Axworthy. “We took a long hike up the Athabasca glacier and it was shocking to see how fast it was receding. The other was the International Day of Action on Climate Change protest and seeing how many young people were there.”

She doesn’t wonder why. Part of her job is to keep her finger on the pulse of Canadian youth culture, and from what she’s seen across the country, she believes climate change will be the defining struggle for future generations. Getting older ears, especially federal ones, listening to younger voices is part of the fight.

“We asked youth in Jasper and Fort McMurray high schools if they thought the government was doing enough about this and they gave us a resounding, ‘No,’” Simone said. “Canada is supposed to be a leader on these types of issues.”

Both agree media is a big part of getting Information Age youth involved in climate change activism, and that there’s a collective responsibility to make a difference.

“We can’t just blame the oil companies. We all do it,” Jocz said.

“There’s an army of youth that isn’t taking no for an answer,” Simone said. “I’m in a position where I can talk to the country and generate awareness, but this is our issue. It will be a challenge for youth to make a difference, but we’re at a point where there’s still time to turn it around.”

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