As a frontline fundraiser and community campaigner I get the general feeling that public opinion is leaning towards the necessity of action on climate change. More and more people are telling me that a movement needs to happen, because government action (or lack of) is not in tune with public opinion. I don’t know what the polls are saying but people who talk to me are showing real disappointment at our current standing on the world stage.
In the last 6 weeks I have spoke to dozens of people across the spectrum. One of the most memorable being a retired farmer and his wife who staunchly believed that Greenpeace goes too far with its campainging. It’s a common misunderstanding, I would argue fueled by lack of knowledge and occasional media misrepresentation. I am always grateful when anyone with an opposing point of view allows me to clear up any inaccuracies or listens to the many ways GP works and not just the stuff they see on TV. Turns out our lovely farmer and his wife are organic, anti-GE sheep farmers who are furious at the expansion of corporate dairy and diversion of water sources in South Canterbury I gave them our current climate change and farming factsheet and talked about smart farming and my part in an action to highlight and stop this. Their point of view was genuinely changed about Greenpeace and an aggressive almost confrontational interaction dissolved into mutual respect and positive vibes. I didn’t sign them up but I’m sure they will consider it more next time they meet us on the street or check the website.
In a similar encounter, I met a fiery but passionate lady in Woolston. She really believed there was no point in doing anything about the environment because nobody cares. But, after speaking with her for awhile, it turns out she cares, and I care, and as I explained to her, that millions of others care all over the world. I showed her pictures of things Greenpeace had done and what we’re working on right now. I reminded her that we mustn’t let good individual actions be undermined by a Government that’s allowing big business to clear forests for corporate dairy expansion and sanctioning the export of thousands of tones of coal each month. She signed up as a volunteer before bidding me farewell.
It’s an amazing thing to inspire people to become involved and the feeling you get from helping people get past their own misconceptions or reservations. I’ve met many people who have thanked me for being persistent and getting them to take action. And many people I signed up in the past, who are still stoked to be part of what Greenpeace does. The other day I ran into a brilliant lady called Sophie whom I signed up 3 years ago. She rocked up to me all grinning like we were best mates and thanked me for my hard work and then told me she had bequested her house to Greenpeace in her will!. The love truly gushed forth that day.
All these one-to-one conversations may seem a long way from the heady negotiating tables of Bonn or Copenhagen but we have to remember that those people nutting out global emission reduction targets or “special treatment requests” or refusing to participate, represent us! We put them in those positions and they work for us. The message cannot be ignored that the citizens of the world demand climate change action and climate justice.
I am an optimist by nature and have met enough people to know there are many who are ready willing and able to voice their opinions and are ready for strong leadership.