The Climate Reality Project Canada recently sat down with Steve Bentley, an active member of the Calgary Climate Hub. We got to hear a little more about Steve's background as a climate activist and what the Hub has currently been up to.
Steve, could you tell me a little more about your background?
I was born in Calgary, Alberta, and lived all over Canada before finally moved back to Calgary to settle in for good. I got my Bachelor of Arts in English at the University of British Columbia, and have never stopped learning. I have taught myself a working knowledge of both atomic and quantum physics in the hopes of better understanding the larger forces governing the Universe, as well as cultivating an eye for truth and context in a time of widespread, ever-growing confusion and misdirection. I’ve grown to become a stalwart crusher of climate denialism and do-nothingness while always looking towards the big picture solutions the moment requires.
Why did you join the Calgary Climate Hub?
Prior to joining the Hub, I was part of a group called Pathways to Sustainability that worked on climate initiatives, and it was there that I began to legitimately move the ball on climate issues. When that group disbanded, I reached out to my fellow climate change allies to find a new home that would help me achieve my climate goals. Dr. Joe Vipond was one of those allies, and he invited me along to this new group he’d heard of called the Calgary Climate Hub. On the very first day, we met a bunch of very smart people and hit the ground running with a specific strategy and solid, impactful goals. I found my home, and though the key players change from time to time, we’ve never stopped moving that ball together.
How has your involvement within the Calgary Hub evolved over the years?
In the early days, I helped design the strategy and implementation of our initial outreach to Calgary's citizenry and government. I spoke at City Hall (24:43) about the critical necessity for the city’s climate plan to be properly planned, and funded, executed, and generally participated in just about every Hub initiative I could get my hands on. In time, the opportunity for a paid position running our Community Climate Conversations initiative came up, and I jumped on it! I believed it to be an important chance for the Hub to show leadership by making “Climate Worker” a bonafide career. The Conversations were a success. Before COVID-19 arrived, we held 8 events in communities across our city. We thought it was important to not let the Hub lay fallow during the pandemic, so started an ongoing weekly livestream interview series asking Canadian thought leaders some of the critical questions we're all asking ourselves during these wildly unprecedented times.
What do you see in Calgary Hub’s future?
I believe with all my heart that the road to a climate-friendly Alberta runs right through the Calgary Climate Hub.
What motivates you about the climate movement, and what do you think needs improvement?
What motivates me about the climate movement is that we’re right at a time where it’s critically important to start being right. The stereotype about climate activists is that we’re all granola-eating tree-hugger hippies. The movement I know is chock-full of doctors, scientists, engineers, and some of the smartest people I’ve ever met in my whole life. On top of that, all of us spend a great deal of time and energy caring about something beyond just ourselves. I’m inspired every time we meet and that goes for my engagement with The Climate Reality Project as well.
The biggest thing that needs improvement is we all need to get on the same page and transcend our silos. We all need to be talking to each other more. Every climate and climate-adjacent group within every jurisdiction needs to be talking to and helping one another wherever possible, coalescing into one bigger group wherever feasible, which in turn communicates and helps groups in other jurisdictions. We need to come together. We’re not there yet.
Finally, who is one person who particularly inspires you?
The person who inspires me the most has to be Greta Thunberg. I don’t think it can be overstated how much she has impacted the climate movement worldwide. As a writer, I’m constantly in awe with how effective and flawless she is at saying exactly what needs to be said. Closer to home, Dr. Joe Vipond (mentioned above) was integral to the coal phase-out here in Alberta, and continues to show leadership within the Hub day in and day out, even as he goes out as a Calgary emergency physician and fights on the very frontlines of the COVID crisis.