Choosing hope: local teens negotiate for the future of our planet
“Hope is a choice. It is not an assessment.” --Phillip Craig, Director of NII Explore
On Earth Day 2022 we reflect on the first-of-its-kind March Break World Climate Simulation for students in Bruce County, hosted at the Nuclear Innovation Institute and generously sponsored by Bruce Power.
This in-person role playing exercise allowed local teens to experience United Nations’ negotiations as they worked to address the global concerns of climate change. By representing an array of countries from wealthy to developing, each group had their unique motivation for the change they wanted to see happen.
From brainstorming to negotiations
Students arrived at NII mid-morning from locations across Bruce and Grey counties—from Kincardine, Wiarton, Port Elgin and Walkerton.
The morning began with a rousing speech to set the stakes for the day, delivered by the event’s mock-UN Secretary General (played perhaps too convincingly by NII’s own Chad Richards—several students asked if he was at the event on behalf of the United Nations!):
“As I look around the room today, I see many delegates who are younger than I am and who, in your lifetime and certainly in the lifetime of your children, will be faced with the consequences of the decisions we make here today.”
The day’s schedule included time for brainstorming, lively (often heated!) negotiations and action proposals where representatives from each country stepped up to the podium with passionate speeches and calls to action.
For the whole process to work, teams had to work carefully by negotiating and collaborating alongside other countries to influence them towards making the largest impact and slowing down the rate of global warming. Beginning at a catastrophic 3.6 °C of warming, students very quickly realized how tough getting global temperatures down to 1.5 °C was going to be.
“At this point, we’ve done all the easy things,” announced Phillip Craig halfway through the day. “So we’re fighting for every tenth of a degree.”
Jumping in with both feet
This fight truly impacted students representing all of the countries, but perhaps mostly teams speaking for the world’s developing nations—many of which will feel the worst effects of climate change.
Said one student from Team India: “People need to realize that no matter what nation you live in, borders are arbitrary. We’re all going to be affected by this and we should all take responsibility.”
Throughout the event, NII Explore facilitators worked to break down massive concepts like climate change, international aid, rising sea levels, political opinion polls and much more.
As NII Explore Program Coordinator Danielle McBride put it, “Students jumped into this experience with both feet, really taking on the responsibility for change—which we found remarkable.”
Celebrating the event winners (all of us, really!)
Throughout the lengthy discussions, negotiations and speeches, judges found that Team European Union were the victors. The group found innovative ways to work alongside fellow nations as well as implement tactical action for change not only for themselves but across the globe.
Even teams who didn’t win came away with a perspective-changing day, however. Said Shaan Banday from Team USA:
“For some, hope is just that—a four-letter word. But to me, hope is so much more. Hope is what will guide us in the future. Hope is not a choice—I think hope is a necessity.”
Impossible without our sponsors
The World Climate Simulation significantly impacted not only the student participants but also the adults in the room, causing all ages to take a real look at where our world is headed.
We want to thank Bruce Power for sponsoring this unique event, demonstrating their leadership in issues that will affect future generations and also giving young minds the chance to realize the intensities of climate change in such a real form.
So today on Earth Day we reflect on the event through NII Explore Director Phillip Craig’s words about the “why” behind this type of climate change-focused educational opportunity in Bruce County:
“We want to paint a realistic picture. But we also want to say hey, the only thing stopping us from being super aggressive in the fight against climate change is getting people to truly care about climate change.”
Learn more about NII Explore's programs and education opportunities at niiexplore.ca.