250,000 people are expected to die every year around the world, between 2030 and 2050, due to climate change, World Health Organization.
“I hope that everyone understands the importance of being educated on climate change issues, and I hope that they go out and advocate as well,” Jake Breen, Founder of ClimaFacts Atlantic.
Some truths may not be easy to digest or even popular, but it is necessary that they be known so that people can act decisively upon certain issues and solve the important problems of humanity and even our planet. One of those truths is about climate change, a topic that sometimes is even denied through misinformation around social media and the internet, something that motivated Jake Breen to make an effort to provide the public with facts that will inspire action worldwide.
Jake was born in Nova Scotia, Canada, where he enjoyed being surrounded by nature along with his older sister. It was his time spent in nature that sparked his interest in advocating for climate change.
“I am from Nova Scotia, Canada, which is a very beautiful place and it has a lot of tourist attractions based on nature. There’s a place called Cape Breton Island which has beautiful scenic hiking trails throughout half of the island. There are lots of beaches and it’s just a really rural community-based place. This is where my interest in this began, because when I was a child, I was always around nature. I spent most of my time in nature, so witnessing climate change is hard when you have such a deep childhood connection so it’s just extra important for me to try to preserve this as much as I can,” says Jake.
Jake is a 21-year-old student at Memorial University in Newfoundland, Canada. He is working towards a Bachelor’s in Science with an honors degree in Applied Math and Chemistry. However, the environmental science classes at his university hold a special interest for him and inspire his learning engagement in this vital issue.
“I’ve always been interested in environmental science and environmental climate change activism issues,” says Jake. “Mostly because it’s an issue that my generation faces on a daily basis, as global warming and climate change are progressing rapidly. Right now, we see changes every day, and we will see major changes in 10 or 20 years, so as an active member of my generation I have to be constantly thinking about it and keeping up-to-date on solutions and what things I can do to mitigate my impact.”
Facts About Climate Change
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) indicates that Earth’s climate has been affected in every region and unless carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions are reduced rapidly and considerably, in the next 20 years global warming may surpass the 1.5°C threshold. It also notes how the emission of greenhouse gases as a consequence of human activities has caused an increase of 1.1°C in the temperature worldwide from 1850 to 1900. This warming is higher inland and more than twice in the Arctic.
The consequences of global warming, according to the report, include the intensification of rainfall and, therefore more intense droughts; the continuing rise of the sea level in coastal areas, creating more severe coastal floods; the loss of the Arctic sea ice; ocean acidification; heat waves intensification in cities, and more.
Furthermore, the World Health Organization calculated in October 2023, that climate change affects food availability creating a nutrition crisis, and if preventive actions are not in place the 700,000 annual deaths caused by vector-borne diseases may rise. Climate change is also responsible for 37% of heat-related deaths, which has increased by 70% in 20 years among people over 65, and – in 2020 – 98 million more people experienced food insecurity in comparison to the average from 1981 to 2010. In sum, the organization estimates that the climate crisis may undo “50 years of progress in development, global health, and poverty reduction.”
Social Media and Climate Change
Although social media can help spread the word about any topic around the globe in seconds, not everything that it shares is truthful or accurate, as Jake noticed.
“Like many students in my generation, I use social media as a source to relax, unwind, and take a break from the daily stressors of work and school,” says Jake. “So, last year, I was mindlessly scrolling Instagram reels after a long day at work. Although my targeted content usually sticks to short satirical videos, I came across a post involving an individual speaking about environmental issues in a negative way. As any social media user is aware, it is inevitable that certain politically charged accounts (from different ideologies) will eventually appear on your page. Typically, I just scroll past and avoid these specific posts, as I am aware the bulk of it is created in a way to increase engagement by inciting anger and arguments in the comment sections. However, this particular post caught my attention. Although the person in the post delivered their “facts” with extreme confidence, I immediately identified the information shared as false. I then took a quick scroll through the comments and was surprised by the amount of people who were blindly supporting the misinformation presented in the video. Initially, the post made me upset and angry, not only because it promoted negative connotations toward climate change and environmental issues, but also because it was based on false information.”
After Jake’s initial feelings, he began thinking about what he could do to combat the climate change misinformation. This idea led to the creation of his organization ClimaFacts Atlantic.
It was during the summer of 2023 that Jake decided to take matters into his own hands and create the organization ClimaFacts Atlantic to spread the truth about climate change around the internet to the general public and fight the misinformation.
“One of the things that worries me is the media as a whole. How some podcasts with anti-climate change movements can influence so many people. It is fundamentally scary to me that so many people can blindly put their trust in these ideologies without doing their own background research,” explains Jake.
The young heartivist invited friends and colleagues to join his effort to spread facts on climate change and with a group of 5, he is now working towards launching a website and social media by mid-2024.
“What the organization aims to do is to provide a platform – through our web page and social media – for individuals to go and have a source to clarify information about climate change, especially people in the general public who might not be as up-to-date on scientific literature or scientific progressions in climate change science,” explains Jake. “We will summarize the information in a way that is easily accessible to the general public and provide an easy source for everyone to learn what they want to know.”
Reaching out to The Pollination Project
In order to buy the technological tools as well as pay for his organization registration, Jake searched online for funds and found The Pollination Project, so he decided to apply for a seed grant.
“I read through the mission and some of the different projects that TPP has funded and I thought it was a great place to at least apply,” says Jake. “I thought my project might be a good seed ground for TPP. When I got the news that I was going to get the funds it felt great. At that time, I had put the project on hold but knowing about the seed grant got me really excited to continue.”
Jake expects to have 15 volunteers to work on the project and upload content to the webpage and social media on a weekly basis, so it remains relevant. He will obtain some of the content through the work and research done by the researchers and scientists from Atlantic Canada. He expects to reach at least 1,000 Canadians in the early stages of the project but hopes to continue his outreach to many more worldwide.
“What does give me hope is that there are so many bright and educated scientists out there right now who are working on these issues and lots of people in my generation that I see advocating for climate change issues. I’ve been to multiple climate change protests over the past few months and the amount of support in my small town that I saw was huge so that gave me a lot of hope for a future,” says Jake, as he continues his journey to preserve our beautiful planet, hoping to inspire others to do it as well.
If you are inspired by this work and have an idea for a project that addresses an issue that you are passionate about, we’d like to invite you to submit an application and together we will build a better, more compassionate future!
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