Carl Duivenvoorden

Speaker, writer, green consultant, and Bullfrog Power customer

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Carl Duivenvoorden

Carl Duivenvoorden is a speaker, writer, green consultant and Bullfrog Power customer. He recently spoke with Bullfrog Power about his work on making the science of climate change understandable.

“One analogy that I’ve used to describe how we should approach climate change involves whitewater rafting. I ask my audience to think of us as people in a raft, going down a whitewater river. We’ve got rapids ahead—for example, a bad economy. But that’s just a class two rapid. There’s another, much bigger one ahead—a class five. It’s called climate change. And I believe we can get through it just as rafters get through category five rapids, but there are two prerequisites. One: we need to listen to the person at the back of the boat—the guide. Two: everybody paddles.”

Speaking to schools and business audiences, Carl has made it his mission to get the word out about climate change and to motivate people to start making simple changes for the environment. But there are challenges.

“The biggest barrier when it comes to explaining climate change to Canadians is a lack of scientific literacy. You can spend your career learning about climate science, but few of us have the time. If we don’t have scientific literacy it becomes difficult to grasp the more complex concepts. People are bombarded with information and there’s a lot of confusion.” Carl’s goal is to provide scientific certainty in the face of rhetorical skepticism and to begin to bridge the gap between talk and action.

Maybe you can’t change the whole world, but you can change your little corner of it.

“I’ve always been concerned about the environment. When I was a kid, my elementary school was next to a huge industrial complex. Smoke from that complex would come out over the schoolyard and on days when the pollution was bad, we couldn’t go outside for recess. Or when we were allowed out, we’d come back in with our throats burning from the fumes. I would ask: where does this smoke go? The answer I received always seemed to be ‘Well, it just goes away.’ But even then I knew that it doesn’t ‘just go away.'”

Carl’s interest didn’t dissipate either. “Growing up so close to sources of pollution sowed the early seeds of my concern for the environment. My first son was born in 1999 and my second in 2001 and becoming a parent made that voice inside me that was insisting that I do something grow louder and louder. But I didn’t know what to do. And then out came An Inconvenient Truth and that just changed everything for me.”

“I remember reading the book and telling my wife: ‘I think this will change the world.’ When I found out that Al Gore was training people to deliver the climate change message here in Canada—I knew that I had found my calling. As a result, I became one of the first Canadians to complete Al Gore’s program.”

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Carl in Greenland, Sept 14, 2011, as one of 23 volunteer presenters joining Al Gore in “24 Hours of Reality”, an awareness-building event live streamed around the world.

“For me, what made An Inconvenient Truth successful was a combination of powerful visuals and the way it broke complicated concepts into simple, understandable ideas.”

As someone who speaks regularly about climate change, Carl has a number of anecdotes to bring these visuals to life. The point of each is to make the reality of climate change comprehensible as an issue—to make it relatable.

“A few years ago, I came across a website that calculated how much land it takes to sustain your lifestyle, so I thought I’d give it a try. The website asked about elements of my lifestyle like: What type of food do we eat? How much do we waste? How many people live in our house? How big is the house? What type of vehicles do we drive? And so on. I finished the quiz and I was shocked when it told me that if everyone lived like me we would need four planets. I’ve been working as hard as I can ever since to reduce my footprint—and to motivate others to try to as well.”

For Carl, the first step is to communicate the seriousness of the problem. To overcome the sense that climate change can appear to be an overwhelming issue, he suggests a few concrete actions that everyone can take. Carl’s own household is a model for doing what you can to green your life. As he explains, “One of the most important choices I made was to sign up for Bullfrog Power.”

“I first heard of Bullfrog Power during Earth Hour 2011 at an event in Fredericton’s Boyce Farmers’ market. People set up booths and mine demonstrated the power consumption of different common household items. I was speaking to one person and she told me that her house was bullfrogpowered with green energy.”

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Carl speaking in Charlotte

“I went home, researched it, and signed up immediately. People need to hear exactly what it is that they can do to change their own part of the world. Bullfrog is a great way to make that change.”

“I often close my presentations by sharing the best advice I ever received—it came from from my Mom—when I was leaving home for college. I can still remember her saying this and it’s where the name of my website, ChangeYourCorner.com, came from. As I’m leaving she says to me, ‘maybe you can’t change the whole world, but you can change your little corner of it.'”

As a guide through climate change’s uncertain waters, Carl has been helping Canadians to find ways that they can do just that. The next step is to begin taking action for the environment today; as Carl puts it, “Everybody paddles.”

For more information on Carl Duivenvoorden, check out his website at ChangeYourCorner.com.