A child is participating in a climate strike


If You Asked Me 10 Years Ago, I Wouldn’t Know The Planet Had A Climate Problem

Nov 2, 2021

Almost 10 years ago, I came to Canada with my husband and my then three-year-old daughter.

Though I had travelled, I had never uprooted my life before.

But here I was in a new country, witnessing the immense cultural differences. 

Including, I've come to learn, approaches to the environment.

There are very real anxieties that arise in adults and kids as a result of the ongoing climate crisis.

Green Isn't Just Money

The emphasis on being “green” isn’t something I grew up with.

Even though Egypt is a country that features amazing landscapes, natural resources, structures, white sandy beaches and crystal blue water, I was not raised to protect them.

We enjoyed them, but it was never a widely accepted mindset that they could eventually go away.

"The emphasis on being 'green' isn’t something I grew up with."

All I was told was that there is pollution, but it wasn’t much of a green education.

So when we arrived in Canada, and noticed the many natural resources, accessible parks and green spaces, the shift between our two homes felt very clear.

And we were excited to benefit from all of the green around us. 

A Different Vibe

Back home, trees were being removed in favour of concrete infrastructure. 

Without adequate trees, pollution only got worse.

And it wasn’t unusual to see garbage strewn on streets.

Recycling as a concept wasn’t a widely integrated solution to growing problems either.

So when we settled here as a family, my eyes opened a bit. I became more interested in conservation, and I was more mindful of finding strategies to reduce my impact on the environment.

Small Steps

Our initial steps were small, like using reusable bags while shopping or having reusable water bottles to drink from.

And while these steps may come naturally to many people these days, they were very foreign concepts to us.

Accessible challenges can be successful, so we started small. 

"Our initial steps were small, like using reusable bags."

I've lived here for some time now, so I see how is easy it can be to train the mind to believe that the climate crisis is top of mind for everyone. That everyone is recycling, reducing, reusing — and closing that loop.

But I don't believe that's true. 

Because I grew up to think so differently, and I'm sure I'm not the only one. 

Futures Worth Fighting For

I like to walk with my kids to the park on warm days, and I use these opportunities to talk about how privileged we are to have a public space like a park nearby.

We play games where we hunt for the shadiest tree in the park, and we explore how much a tree can help, from the clean air it provides to the respite it offers on hot, sunny days.

These games spark conversations about action. In fact, my kids want to know what they can do to help the trees that provide so much.

So I tell them very simply that it comes down to supporting a tree’s development, which we do quite easily by simply breathing. Trees take in carbon dioxide, humans take in oxygen. Trees provide oxygen, humans breathe out carbon dioxide.

These conversations to my delight started a family fascination with trees.

In Nature

Since moving to Canada, I have taken advantage of hiking trails.

Hiking gives me an opportunity to surround myself with trees, which has had a positive impact on my anxiety and emotional traumas.

I have even started to look at trees in different situations.

I’ve noticed how during a storm, a tree sways and moves with the wind. It bends to the whims of weather, and seems to stand taller when the event is over.

Like us, they go through seasonal changes.

"Being in nature reminds me that nature can heal."

The leaves turn different colours in fall, like their souls are on fire.

Their shriveled and fallen leaves in winter show the difficulty of change, and how beauty isn’t permanent.

But like all of us, there are ups and downs: in spring, the leaves return green and healthy.

While I’m witnessing the life cycle of a tree, our family is going through its own changes.

Being in nature reminds me that nature can heal.

A Wake-Up Call

I can readily admit that my knowledge of the climate crisis is very limited.

But I come from a place where my ancestors flourished because of agriculture.

Egypt, if you don’t know, has been known to have great soil, but these days farms are experiencing some serious setbacks.

The Nile river is facing its own challenges as a result of climate changes.

I fear similar struggles for Canada, given the very real impact of climate on growing seasons — and even on the growth of cattle.

I may not know much about the climate crisis, but our family is committed to learning. And as we learn, it’s clear how different my upbringing was from where the world is now.

I’m just happy our family has a chance to catch up.

Canadian climate strikers demand action from new government.

Making a Direct Impact

Climate change is a heavy concept.

But a way to understand the beauty of the environment, and its ability to naturally provide, is by participating in its life cycle.

My mom started her own vegetable garden in the backyard, and the kids helped plant it.

They would water it daily, and I liked to watch their excitement when they saw the vegetables and herbs grow.

It’s heartwarming to see this kind of generational knowledge transfer.

I’m doing my best to answer my kids’ questions about the environment, but these exercises offer a more immediate impact.

There is a direct outcome of tending and nurturing the land.

I know that individual decisions aren’t enough, that there are much larger systemic issues that need to be addressed for a real shift to occur.

But I do see how these small things help create a connection to the environment, and a personal connection is important to establishing a commitment to change.

My kids want a world to live in, so they are willing to learn about it and connect with it in order to protect it. They read about animals, sea creatures and endangered species.

In The Lorax, there is a line I remember: “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

This quote helps me realize that if too much emphasis is placed on the economy, we may not have a world to live in. At least not a very hospitable one.

And that’s not something I want for my kids.

Article Author Karen Habashi
Karen Habashi

Read more from Karen here.

Karen Habashi is a mother of three wonderful yet exhausting kids. She uses caffeine, sarcasm and writing to try and make sense of life. And hopes she can make the world more empathetic and kind with her writing.

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