Updated: Nov 4, 2021
Summer should be a time of abundance for our farmers, with ample pasture grasses for livestock and fresh greens from the vegetable patch. But climate change is making summer increasingly stressful for many. This summer was the worst yet.
Olivia Schneider lives with her family on a hobby farm in the Boundary region, in the hills west of Grand Forks. This year, by mid-July their fields were bone dry and the creek that runs through their property, usually so dependable, had slowed to a trickle. They were adding electrolytes to water troughs, and had to open up fences to give livestock access to more shade. Then the well ran dry. That meant hauling water for washing dishes, for bathing, everything.
“In the city, I don’t think people really understand – they might have water restrictions but they don’t really run out of water.” Olivia said.
Olivia and her family have always been deeply involved in their community and aware of environmental issues. At 13, Olivia took on the role of environmental officer in her 4-H club, and used every opportunity to increase awareness of climate change and other issues. She also wrote a letter about what we can do about climate change, and had it published in a local paper.
Now, in her final year of high school and with the impacts of climate change becoming increasingly evident, Olivia is thinking about how she can make even more of an impact. In August she joined the BC Climate Alliance, and this month published a passionate letter in her local paper, the Kettle River Echo.
Her words speak for themselves. Her letter is reprinted below, with her permission.
I am scared. I am a seventeen-year-old who is supposed to be looking forward to what the next few years have to bring: graduating high school, traveling, starting university, meeting new friends; but I can’t. Though the last five summers have been very stressful for my family due to the heat and prolonged dry spells, this year has really driven home what scientists have been telling us: the planet is warming, and every person, plant and animal is going to suffer for it.
And what are our governments doing? Talking about emission targets while buying pipelines, introducing “carbon pricing” but still subsidizing the oil and gas industry, and seeming to make every excuse as to why more action can’t be taken right now. It makes me sick. I cannot sit and study while my future is being thrown away. I am tired of doing nothing, so I am speaking up: Governments must take immediate action on climate change. If we can bend the whole of our society around COVID-19, why are we not doing the same to curb a disaster that will be even more costly, widespread, and affect generations into the future, perhaps the fate of all humanity?
I beg anyone who cares: Speak up! Governments and politicians need to know that climate action is important to us. Think of your children, your grandchildren, your home, your community, your self, whatever it takes. But please, don’t stay silent.