Jamie Bastedo will become a grandfather in a few months.
When he thinks about the future, he worries his grandchild “might not get to experience (nature’s) beauty.”
A Yellowknife author of fiction and non-fiction, Bastedo’s new book is Protectors of the Planet: Environmental Trailblazers from 7 to 97. It profiles 11 climate “heroes” and how they remain steadfast in their environmental missions in spite of disparaging messages of the Earth’s deterioration.
In October 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned the planet has until 2030 to keep global warming to a maximum of 1.5C “or else we’re basically cooked,” Bastedo states in the book.
In May 2019, the United Nations released a report warning that one million species are at risk of extinction.
With the emergence of disheartening reports and figures, Bastedo urges readers, and all people, to fight the helpless feeling that may follow.
“The central theme of this book is hope and inspiring people to positive action because I think any thinking human these days would agree, we’re in pretty spooky times,” Bastedo said.
From nature photographers, giraffologists, protestors and educators, Bastedo’s interviews run the gamut in action and age but all focus on environmental activists who “think globally, act locally.”
The book aims to answer a question Bastedo has often faced as a tour-guide, biologist, and outdoor educator – what can I do?
At the end of each activist’s chapter, or trailblazer as Bastedo calls them, there is a summary of “trailblazer tips” on how readers can take steps forward. Among them, staying positive, using online tools for research and engagement, not taking no for an answer, appealing to audiences through visual storytelling and playing the long game.
Bastedo acknowledges the “disaster fatigue” that comes from constant bad news. He said the book “pulls you into the very opposite direction towards hope, and a sense of empowerment.”
Bastedo adds that, Elizabeth May, in their trailblazer interview, told him being hopeful is not the same as being unrealistic.
“This is not the dreamy, dewy-eyed hope of the diluted,” Bastedo quoted. “Hope is a verb with its sleeves rolled up.”
Protectors of the Planet was intended for a young adult audience, though Bastedo said readers of any age could yield positivity from it.
“Any of these people just get the hairs on the back of my neck tingling and my eyes welling up,” he said. “I find, personally, so much inspiration and it was a great honor to connect with these people.”
Bastedo has written more than 30 natural history magazine features and several novels including, Falling for Snow: A Naturalist’s Journey into the World of Winter, Shield Country: The Life and Times of the Oldest Piece of the Planet and Nighthawk!
In writing Protectors of the Planet, Bastedo said he learned some lessons of his own.
He said writing biographies has inspired him to be “increasingly fascinated” by the people around him.
“Anybody walking this earth has a story to tell,” he said. “The shaping factors in our lives are always a fascinating story.”
In the opening chapter of the book, Bastedo writes, “In following the trails blazed by these remarkable people, may you discover excellent adventure, deep inspiration, practical advice, and rekindled hope for the future – as I have.”