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Dr. Thomas Pedersen, Executive Director of the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions, speaking at the opening of Franke James Art Exhibition, "The Real Poop on Social Change: at the The Dock, in Victoria BC. October, 9, 2014.
Tom Pedersen: Thank you. Well I'm delighted and privileged to have been asked to say a few words tonight. My name is Tom Pedersen. I'm Director of the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions at the University of Victoria.
And I am so delighted to see what Franke has done over the last several years with respect to helping us meet this challenge because, as a scientist I've been speaking for it all of my career now to audiences and I've been berating them with facts.
“Look, here's the Keeling Curve showing CO2 going up. Do something! Do something!” Nothing gets done. It hasn't worked. I haven't been able, I've failed as an individual to reach the audiences that need to start responding to the challenge and the scale of the challenge.
But Franke, on the other hand, she's meeting those audiences. She's relating to them in ways that I could never conceive of and you know, that poster in the corner there, "Do not talk about climate change." Brilliant. So simple. So brilliant. And it's captured so much attention.
Her book is behind on the table there, I don't know if you have any copies left. It's called Banned from the...
Franke James: Banned on the Hill.
Tom Pedersen: Banned on the Hill. It's absolutely outstanding. It's a tour de force and if you haven't bought a copy, buy one. And then buy a second one for your kids and your grandchildren. Because we've got to get the youth. We don't have an awful lot of youth in the room here tonight.
We need more youth to start reading these books because it, it resonates with them. Franke gave me a copy, I have a 17 year-old son. He looked through it and he said, "Wow." He said, "Dad this is better than anything you do." (laughter)
Well, he's right. He's right because he immediately related to the visual [power that Franke generated]. Now on the cover of that book you'll see the, the clock tower, in Parliament and on the side of it there's a big cockroach and that cockroach is there because a friend of Franke's and a friend of mine, Richard Littlemore, he's a brilliant writer based in Vancouver, suggested to Franke that she was being a cockroach.
A kind of a pest to the Federal government and so she, she stuck it on the cover of her book. I don't know if you entirely agreed with that particular connection.
Franke James: No, no, no I do agree. I understood it metaphorically. (laughter)
Tom Pedersen: But actually, I think there's a better metaphor. I don't think Franke is a cockroach at all in the metaphorical sense. (laughter) I think she's a bedbug. (laughter)
Audience: That's an upgrade. (laughter)
Tom Pederson: That's an upgrade. Yes, thank you. I think she's right there biting and scratching and itching and tormenting. (laughter) And you know, we have to have that if we're going to make progress with the current government that we have ensconced in Ottawa.
We're not going to make progress unless we have thousands of bedbugs out there agitating all the time for change. So the role of art in fomenting change in our society I think, is critical.
I'm not, I haven't been good at it but I'm so glad that we have people like Franke and I want to close these few comments with a, some paraphrasing from a speech that Bill McKibben gave in 2011.
And you all know Bill McKibben. He's the founder of 350.org. McKibben said to somebody in somewhere, he said, "I know that simply persuasion will not do. It's taken me years to realize that. But the one thing that we need to get across," and here's where I paraphrase, is that Franke "is not the radical in this fight."
"The radicals," despite what Mr. Harper might say, she is not the radical in this fight. "The radicals are the people that are fundamentally altering the composition of our atmosphere. This is the most radical thing that people have ever done." And he is right.
We need to fight with art and with music. Not just the side of our brain that likes bar graphs and pie charts, the kinds of things that I populate all of my talks with. But with all of our brains and all of our souls, we need to fight with unity. Hence, the bedbug idea.
We need to have a coherent voice. We need to speak with one loud voice. We are fighting for our future. And we are. Thank you.