Past generations sat around a figurative elephant in the living room, studiously avoiding its gaze. Its name was climate change.
Today’s youth call it life or death.
“A lot of people say the climate crisis is going to impact future generations, but I think we are that future generation,” Devon Fernandes said.
Fernandes is the manager of Humber College’s sustainability office.
The office has been running for nine years and has taken strides to change the culture around the environment at the school, like organizing TTC photo ID day, interactive waste sorting events, and sustainability plans for Humber yearly.
The office hosted a COVID-themed webinar centred around sustainability at the start of the pandemic.
“The goal is to demonstrate national leadership in developing sustainability on campus, and to scale our impact,” Fernandes said.
“It’s important for students to know that you don’t have to have a background in the field to address climate crisis. “he said. “It’s such an intersectional issue that we require everyone on board.”
Fernandes and his team believe the ripple effect will increase awareness of environmental sustainability among students and their various communities.
“Empowering them to bring up questions around climate, and be advocates in their own spaces I think is really the goal for me,” he said. “That all ties into a strong culture of sustainability at Humber.”
Humber also offers a Sustainable Energy and Building Technology program to new or returning students.
Enrolees in the program are mostly returning graduates, who “seem to have thought a little bit more about their place in the world,” Kerry Johnston, program coordinator, said.
“Humans have historically acted like we own the Earth, and we’re willing to take whatever we want to take from it, regardless of the consequences,” Johnston said.
“No one person or program can solve the world’s problems,” he said. “So what we’ve done is identify four areas of focus where grads can work: design, construction, operation, and maintenance.”
According to Clean Energy Canada, the clean-energy sector is expected to employ up to 640,000 people by 2030, a 50 per cent increase from the 430,500 employed today. In comparison, the fossil-fuel sector expects a nine per cent drop.
“Every decision we make is a contribution in our own small way, which in turn contributes to real change in the world,” said Michael Datcu, personal trainer and owner of Datcu Fitness Lab.
Datcu leads a vegan lifestyle, and advocates for its benefits.
“By implementing a plant-based diet, I’m not only building a strong foundation but being environmentally sustainable as well,” Datcu said. “It’s my role as a health professional to guide others on the right path.”
Environmental sustainability drives decisions in other parts of his life, as well.
“It’s a lifestyle,” he said. “I typically vote for whoever I feel will serve the environment best. It affects my personal life and relationships and I find I can only date someone who shares these values.”
“It has definitely impacted my life greatly and continues to do so,” he said.