Welcome to the 12 Toolbox. Here you can find sources, resources, activities and ideas that have helped to form 12. You will also discover the research and writings by the cast of 12. We encourage you to use this to guide your interest in learning more about 12 as well as in climate change–the science, the people and the quest for solutions. For school curriculum links please see below. You can even contact us here if you discover something that you think we should add to our Toolbox!
You can use this Table of Contents to jump to a particular section:
- Youth Fighting For Change
- Research and Sources
- In Simple Terms: Words & Naming In 12
- Wonders of the Earth (Nature Facts)
- Other Sources of Inspiration
- Curriculum & Connections with 12
Youth Fighting For Change
[Image Description: A teen looks at the camera. She wears a brown sweater, has long black hair, and wears a turquoise necklace.]
‘We can’t eat money or drink oil’, said the 17-year-old from Wiikwemkoong First Nation in Canada. Autumn is a Canadian Indigenous water activist who fights for the right of people to drink clean water. When she was 12 (yes!), she walked up to Canada’s Prime Minister and said, “I am very unhappy with the choices you’ve made.” Justin Trudeau replied in 2019, “I understand that. I will protect the water.” In your opinion and research, has he?
Read more about her here.
Boyan is played by Character #7 in episode 10a. He is the Founder and CEO of The Ocean Cleanup. His goal is to create technologies that may solve societal problems such as the climate crisis. In Boyan’s words:
“For society to progress, we should not only move forward but also clean up after ourselves.”
“In 2011 at aged 16, Slat said he found more plastic than fish while diving. He made ocean plastic pollution the subject of a high school project examining why it was considered impossible to clean up. He later came up with the idea of building a passive plastic catchment system, using circulating ocean currents to net plastic waste. Slat discontinued his aerospace engineering studies to devote his time to developing his idea. He founded The Ocean Cleanup in 2013.” (Source from the Ocean Clean up website here.)
“Technology is the most potent agent of change. It is an amplifier of our human capabilities”, Slat wrote in The Economist. “Whereas other change-agents rely on reshuffling the existing building blocks of society, technological innovation creates entirely new ones, expanding our problem-solving toolbox.”
[Image Description: photo of young man in blue shirt with the ocean clean up logo and with loose short brown hair and facial hair.]
You can watch the Youtube video of Boyan’s current SYSTEM 002 below:
[Image Description: A youth on a boat on water wears a dark blue jacket and smiles at the camera. She has long blond hair in a braid.]
Read more about her here.
Greta is played by Character #9 in 12. Greta was born on January 3, 2003, in Sweden. She is an environmental activist who works without stopping, with relentless hope and with core courage to fight climate injustice. She founded the movement called Fridays for Future (also called School Strike for Climate).
Jaden is played by Character #2 in episode 10a. He is the author & super cool creator of Kid Brooklyn, a graphic novel series about environmental and social issues. In his novels, Jaden created a fictional story about a child from Brooklyn who, together with his friends, receives special powers to save the planet from evil aliens (well, corporations). In Kid Brooklyn, once the characters accept their destiny, they must use these powers to stop the alien race from destroying Earth’s natural resources.
“Born premature and under 2 pounds, Jaden Anthony has been a “superhero” since birth and is not only the co-creator of the Kid Brooklyn franchise but also its main character. Aside from his aspirations to be an engineer and scientist, Jaden frequently speaks about his desire to make the world better by helping children.” (Source here).
And now? Kid Brooklyn, Inc. gives a portion of the proceeds to various charities that support education and the environment.
To read even more about Jaden click here.
[Image Description: A youth wears a burgundy sweater that says BROOKLYN. He walks across the Brooklyn Bridge]
[Image Description: A youth marches with one arm in the air. She wears a t-shirt that says “Youth Climate”, has a blue bandana on her head and red ink on her face]
Sources: International Congress of Youth here and Climate One website here.
Read more about her here.
Jamie is played by Character #1 in episode 10a. “Heard of Zero Hour? That’s her!”, says Character 11 to Khalid when Jamie appears.
She’s a youth Colombian-American activist, author, public speaker, and Film & TV student. Jamie co-founded the international youth climate justice movement Zero Hour which led the official “Youth Climate Marches” in Washington, DC and in more than 25 cities around the world in 2018. The marches continue, with over 1300 in 2022!. In Jamie’s words:
“So, every night, I go to bed with wishful dreams of that beautiful near-future post-climate-change world, and every day I wake up and work to make it happen.”
As Jamie, Character #1 says in 12: “No little kid is dreaming and she’s like, I hope to spend the rest of my life desperately fighting against this massive catastrophe!”
“Her identity as a Latina Jewish lesbian drives her passion to fight for those who are marginalized. Margolin’s love for her Pacific Northwest home fuels her efforts.
Jamie is also a writer! Youth To Power, her debut book, is a guide to being a young activist. It was released in 2020.
Sophia inspired our use of multiple languages in the 2023 version of 12. Anna, who plays Character #5, led the research and awakened us all to an enormous imbalance when it comes to who received climate information. Sophia is a 20-year-old American-Iranian Climate Activist and a Member of the UN Secretary-General’s Youth Advisory Group on Climate Change.
Here’s what Anna discovered:
- In 2020, Sophia founded a youth-led nonprofit organization called Climate Cardinals, which is working to make the climate movement more accessible to non-English speakers.
- She also discussed how UN IPCC reports (which contain information referenced in 12), are only officially available in the 6 UN languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish. These combined languages don’t account for half of the world’s speaking population!
- Sophia also stated, “Just 6 years ago, 40% of adults in the world had never heard of climate change”. That’s 2 out of 5 adults!
- With Climate Cardinals, as of 2022-23, over 9,000 student volunteers are translating and sourcing climate info into over 100 languages! They have reached over 41 countries and 350,000 people.
“I just thought this was an idea to share in some way, or even to just for our 12 group to be aware of. Climate change needs to be a global effort, but it can’t be when organizations and governments can’t so much as make their information available to more than just North America. It’s performative activism. This lack of accessible information and climate education within schools is leading to misinformation and public disinterest from the countries, such as Japan and the Philippines, whose communities are being destroyed the most.” – Anna, Character 5 in 12
[Image Description: Youth with long brown hair smiles wears a black toque and white scarf. Holds a sign reads: “Fridays For Future”.]
Read more about her here.
[Image Description: A youth with long brown-blond hair and a green top smiles at the camera. She wears blue bracelets.]
“When this is all over, I’ll be able to look back and say, “I really did something important today.” –Marinel (Teen Vogue Magazine)
Marinel is played by Character #5 in episode 10a and keeps inspiring our 12 team! She is one of the leading youth climate activists dedicated to driving change in Asia (the Philippines). In her words, it’s not about “monetary, fame, nor any material gains”, but simply “the acknowledgment of the climate crisis and to give justice to those who have suffered and died because of climatic disasters.” Marinel added,
“I don’t need people to be touched by my story. I need them to take action.”
In an interview, Marinel said, “My message to world leaders is simple: climate change is already happening and it’s everyone’s problem. Just because you’re not aware that it’s happening or you don’t feel it, doesn’t mean it’s not there. The future of children and young people is at stake and it depends on the actions of all of us, together. Young people have a responsibility, too. We are not just victims and spectators. We must get involved and have a say in decisions that affect our lives. I’m here to raise my voice.
If you’d like to read more about Marinel, click here.
Pronounced “Shu-tez-cat”, this young leader is played by Character #6 in episode 10a. He says he’s part of the “generation with the most to lose” regarding climate change. Inspired by his mother, he’s the former co-founder and Youth Director of Earth Guardians, an organization that gets pesticides out of parks and contains coal ashes. He’s also a hip-hop artist; his music also advocates for change. For Earth Guardians, he said, “We felt as though we had a responsibility to do something about it. So, we did.”
“We are at a tipping point now, where we will either be remembered as the generation that destroyed the planet, as a generation that put profits before future, or as a generation that united to address the greatest issue of our time.” –Xiuhtezcatl (and spoken by #6 in 12)
Youth Who Are Taking Their Countries’ Governments To Court:
Around the World: Sofia Oliveira, Howey Ou, Amaru Alvarez Cantoral
These 3 youths (played by Characters #10, 3 and 8 in episode 8a) are fiercely courageous inspirations to us. Some are literally taking their governments to court for what they call “climate inaction”.
[Image Descriptions of three above: 1. Eight youth standing against a building in Peru (Amaru Alvarez and his co-plaintiffs). 2. A girl in a mask sits in front of a government building in China (Howey Ou); beside her is a sign: “Defending Nature is not a Crime” 3. Two children stand in front of a tree in Portugal (Sofia Oliveira and her brother André).]
In 12, Character #7 announces Sofia Oliveira and her brother Andre with, “The plaintiffs’ claims arise under article 2.22 of the Peruvian constitution; article 12.2 of the International Pact of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; article 11 of the Additional Protocol of the American Convention on Human Rights; article 3 of the Code of Children and Adolescents; article I of Law no. 28611, General Law of the Environment; and article 15 of the Inter American Democratic Charter”. (Source here). In a nutshell, they are fighting for their right to life! For more about their lawsuit, click here or read more here.
When Howey Ou (欧泓奕 in traditional Chinese) was 16, she made some homemade banners and sat in front of Guilin’s City Hall for days on end. She was told by authorities that she “needs a permit”, and they blocked her social media accounts. She then started planting trees all over Guilin. She was then prohibited from going back to school unless she gave up her “activism”.
If you want to read more about Howey Ou, who has been dubbed “the Greta Thunberg of China”, and who Greta calls “a true hero”, here are three more resources:
- Article: “The Greta Thunberg of China, Howey Ou, Raises Her Voice for Environmental Awareness” read it here.
- SBS News article “‘Dubbed ‘China’s Greta Thunberg’, Howey Ou is fighting for climate action in a country where few others will.” check it out here.
- Article from The World: “This teen climate activist is blazing a new path to raise environmental awareness in China.” Read or listen to the article here.
In the words of Sofia, Amaru and Howey:
To read more about what these youth are fighting for (and it’s working!), click here.
In Ontario: Sophia Mathur, Zoë Keary-Matzner, Shaelyn Wabegijig, Madison Dyck, Alex Neufeldt, Shelby Gagnon and Beze Gray.
Character 11 wants to make sure we don’t forget that 7 youth took the Ontario Government to court for passing an Act that weakened the 2030 target for cutting emissions. And they won.
[Image Description: Seven youth stand in coats in front of office buildings.]
Sophia Mathur, 12-year-old applicant from Sudbury, said:
“My generation deserves a future. When I grow up, I want to be a lawyer. I also have lots of other hopes and dreams and I want the chance to make them come true. That’s why it was important for me to start striking for the climate in November 2018, and why I’m working with other young people to take the government to court today.”
Shaelyn Wabegijig, 22-year-old applicant from Peterborough, said:
“Climate change is hurting Indigenous and coastal communities that rely on the land and ocean for cultural and physical survival. I do not feel like I am secure or safe in my future, which is why I am committed to fighting for climate action. I do not want to bring children into a world that is dying, or where they’re at risk of illness or harm imposed by climate change.”
Alex Neufeldt, 23-year-old applicant from Ottawa, said:
“Open for business is Doug Ford’s favourite catchphrase. But if he really cared about protecting the economy for young entrepreneurs like me, he wouldn’t have rolled back the province’s climate targets. We can help stop climate change and also create jobs. But we need the political will to do it.”
(Quote sources Ecojustice Press Release 2019 here.)
More sources on the court case: CBC news here and article about winning the case here.
Research and Sources
Did you know? Climate-Related literature is predominantly communicated in English [see Sophia Kianni and Climate Cardinals here]? In 12, the characters speak in multiple languages to shed light on this. “How can we protect the world from irreversible damage when over half the world isn’t given access to even read the information? (cast member Anna, Character #5).
[Image Description: Infograph displays path of Bill C-12 Planning and reporting process from 2021 to 2050]. Image source here.
“It’s just funny how humans always need some sort of reward system!
One thing I’ve always noticed on government websites is how they always have to put a number on it…as if mentioning the billion dollars they’re investing makes their new initiative more valid. It’s just buzzwords at this point. Billions of dollars is just a concept.” –Anna (Character 5 in 12).
In episode 5, the characters play a word game, trying to find as many terms with “12” in it. Character 5 calls out, “Bill C-12: net zero emissions by 2050?!” Here’s Anna’s research:
“As of today, Bill-C12 continues to be a law in the House of Commons and Senate. 2030 is still the goal to eliminate 40-45% of emissions, and 2050 remains the target goal for net-zero emissions. Environmental organizations like EcoJustice are still urging for the bill to be strengthened and improved.
The Net Zero Accelerator Fund has recently been launched to help large emitters reduce their emissions. For example, Algoma Steel Inc. is receiving up to $420 million from the Fund to retrofit its operations and phase out coal-fired steelmaking processes at its facility in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. This will create 500 jobs and reduce emissions by 3 million tonnes per year by 2030.
The Net Zero Challenge goes along with this, to help businesses transition to cleaner operations, to eventually achieve net zero emissions. As of 2022, 29 organizations/companies have joined the Challenge, including the entire Canadian Cement Industry and Carleton University. This program has participation levels that go from Bronze to Diamond to track company’s progress and create ambition. If organizations do not meet the minimum requirement, they are removed from the program.”
More info on Bill C-12 can be found on the Government of Canada website here.
The 12-Point Climate Action Plan
Characters 9 and 10 list this 12-Point Plan in episode 5, saying, “Point 12: Leave No One Behind”.
Quoting the Ontario Climate Emergency website: “As we make the massive and urgent transformations critically needed to secure our shared future, ensure a just transition for Indigenous, resource-dependent, remote, and marginalized communities, low-income families, fossil fuel workers, and all others disproportionately affected by the necessary shift to a low carbon economy. Prepare our communities for the impacts of the climate crisis to minimize human suffering and infrastructure damage. Address environmental racism and intergenerational justice by supporting those most vulnerable to climate change impacts including future generations. Recognize that our only way forward is to act together urgently, collectively, [our italics!] massively to safeguard the present and secure the future for ourselves, our children, and for generations yet to come.”
Here’s their 12-Point Climate Change plan:
- Set binding climate targets based on science and justice consistent with global efforts to limit planetary warming to 1.5°C.
- Prioritize and respect Indigenous sovereignty and autonomy.
- Invest in a thriving, regenerative, zero-emissions economy.
- End all fossil fuel subsidies immediately and rapidly wind down all fossil fuel use.
- Prioritize public health, as the climate crisis is our single greatest health crisis.
- Accelerate the transition to zero-emission buildings.
- Accelerate the transition to zero-emissions transportation and ensure ongoing sustainable community development.
- Urgently protect natural biodiversity.
- Invest in local, organic, regenerative agriculture and plant-rich food systems.
- Institute a broad public education campaign, as we all have the right to know what’s at stake.
- Reinstate an independent office of the Environmental Commissioner.
- Leave no one behind.
More information can be found on the Ontario Climate Emergency website here.
COP27 – Conference of the Parties #27, November 2022
In 12, Character 11 questions the outcome of COP27 in November 2022. This is cast member Brianna’s research:
My research on COP27 “fund”:
When I started my research, I wanted to know what the countries that would put money in the fund are and how they were decided. I read this article here. In it, I found long paragraphs of air, long words and phrases that meant almost nothing that I wanted to know. I just wanted to know who put what in the fund but it was dragging ooonnnn. They kept using fancy paragraphs like this: “In negotiations that went down to the wire over the weekend, countries reached a historic decision to establish and operationalize a loss and damage fund, particularly for nations most vulnerable to the climate crisis.” Ok, sure, that just sounds cool but not informative.
I continued reading and found out that “the agreement was struck early Sunday morning as leaders concluded talks at the two-week-long United Nations Climate Conference (COP27)” but it never explains what the agreement exactly is! It says that many details remain to be negotiated. “The fund is expected to see developing countries particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of the climate crisis supported for losses arising from droughts, floods, rising seas and other disasters that are attributed to climate change” but it never says which are those countries! Here’s what made me disappointed: “While the negotiated text recognized the need for financial support from a variety of sources, no decisions have been made on “who should pay into the fund, where this money will come from and which countries will benefit (#11 says this in 12). The issue has been one of the most contentious on the negotiating table”.
Then the article stopped talking about the fund. It went to this: “Adapting to the climate crisis — which could require everything from building sea walls to creating drought-resistant crops — could cost developing countries anywhere from US$160-US$340 billion annually by 2030. That number could swell to as much as US$565 billion by 2050 if climate change accelerates…” and then more numbers & stats. Report is the key word for me there. This is just a report.
“Who will pay, will they pay, how, where does it go, who is in charge of all of this?! I found no answers and it seems to be because those answers don’t exist yet.” –Brianna as #11 in 12
The rest of the article is about money. Those who question, such as us in 12, admitted: “While many praised the creation of the fund, many also worried not enough was done at COP27”.
Here are my key takeaways from the conference:
- Countries failed to move decisively away from fossil fuels.
- Countries repeated the “phase-down-of-coal” phrase featured in last year’s agreement at COP26 in Glasgow. While the final text does promote renewables, it also highlights “low emission” energy, which critics say refers to natural gas – still a source of GHG emissions!
- Climate finance was front and centre, a key part of COP27.
- More technology. Two UN Bodies announced plans to accelerate the deployment of “transformative” technologies to counter the climate crisis. The UN Secretary-General unveiled a US$ 3.1 billion plan to ensure everyone on the planet is protected by early warning systems in the next 5 years. Anna would say: “Really? In all languages?”
So, that’s my research on the matter. (Brianna)
COP27 in Egypt
In fall of 2022, COP27 was held in Egypt. Cast member (and creative writer) Sebastién (Character #2) did some digging into the choice of this location, and here are his words:
“I did a bit more research on Charm el Cheikh and found a lot of funny stuff ( links with Laurence of Arabia amongst other things). Apparently in the beginning it was just this uninhabited desert rock nobody cared about. Only Egyptian fishermen ever went there to set up camp because the variety of sea animals in its bay is quite incredible. They usually went back to villages and towns with infrastructure afterwards. All this to say it was only a place you passed by, not a place which had homes in its own right. Somewhere in the first world war however, countries discovered that 14 miles northeast of its bay is the strait of Tiram which directly connects to the gulf of Aqaba. Aqaba is the first city Lawrence of Arabia conquers in the movie, with the cannons facing the sea. That sea is the gulf and that gulf connects to Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and of course Egypt ( through Charm el Cheikh ). In 1948, Egyptian guns were set on Charm el Cheikh to prevent Israel from receiving ammunition from a nearby port ( they were having a war of independence at the time ). In 1956, Israel captured the installation and therefore Charm el Cheikh as well during the Sinai campaign. The UN got involved and it wasn’t clear to whom the place belonged until June 1967, when as a result of the six-day war it officially belonged to Israel. I don’t know how they made the link that it would make a great tourist location but they did and started building resorts, investing in the beaches, etc. When peace was made in the 1980’s and the land was given back to Egypt, they continued the work of the Israelis and built it up into what we know it today. Since it’s kind of in the middle of plenty of Arab countries, many Middle Eastern leaders go there to sign peace treaties. That’s why it was given special recognition as a city of peace by UNESCO in 2006 ( kind of funny ). What’s also ironic is that after all those years it still is a place people only pass by on and doesn’t have a lot of homes. Lastly, it is nicknamed ‘The Charm.’”
For more on the COP Meetings, click here.
Canada’s Waste Abroad
[Image Description: shipping containers of Canadian trash that were returned to Canada from the Philippines in 2019 are stacked at Global Container Terminals after being offloaded from the Anna Maersk container ship, in Delta, B.C., June 29, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck]
In episode 11 of 12, Character #4 tells the others a hard truth: Canada exports its garbage to other countries, often developing nations.
Here is more information about this from a variety of sources:
- “We tend to think that if other countries were more like Canada, the planet could be saved,” says Hird. “But if every country was like Canada in terms of all-out consumerism and waste, the planet would be even more messed up than it is.” (Source: Canadian Geographic here.
- “FACT: About 86 percent of Canada’s plastic waste ends up in landfill, while a meagre nine percent is recycled. 5, The rest is burned in incinerators, contributing to climate change and air pollution, or ends up in the environment as litter.… Canada exports about 1,000 metric tonnes of plastic waste per month to developing countries.” (Source: Canada’s Online Guide here.)
- “OTTAWA – In the year since new rules to slow global exports of plastic waste took effect, Canada’s shipments rose by more than 13 percent, and most of it is going to the United States with no knowledge of where it ultimately ends up. Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault said that kind of lackadaisical approach to exporting plastic waste has to stop. “I’m very worried about that and I think we clearly have to do better,” Guilbeault said in an interview. “If we’re shipping plastics that are aimed at recycling, we better make sure that that’s what happens. And frankly, right now, it’s not clear to me that is always the case and in fact there’s been a number of instances where it’s not.”
- Guilbeault said he is talking to his officials about what can be done to fix the problem “because right now we’re not doing a very good job.
“Canada’s shaky history on plastic waste exports got international attention in 2019, when shipments of garbage falsely labeled as plastics for recycling led to a diplomatic standoff with the Philippines.
- It put a spotlight on the global trade in the garbage, which mostly saw wealthy countries putting their trash on container ships bound for the developing world where it often ends up in landfills or burned, causing a raft of environmental and human health repercussions.” (Source CTV news here).
- “Illegal Canadian trash keeps ending up overseas. And the federal government won’t say who’s shipping it.” (2022). (Source CBC news here).
- Additional resources can be found here and here.
In Simple Terms: Words & Naming In 12
11th hour: meaning the latest possible moment before it is too late.
Activist: a person who uses or supports strong actions (such as public protests) in support of or in opposition to one side of an issue.
Anthropocene (an•thro•po•cene): When looking at the history of our planet this word refers to an epoch in which human actions have contributed to the change in the climate. It is a proposed name for the geological epoch in which humans are the primary cause of permanent planetary change. It is the shortest epoch ever to bring about such significant change.
“We have reached an unprecedented moment in planetary history. Humans now arguably change the Earth and its processes more than all other natural forces combined. Climate change, extinctions, invasive species, technofossils, anthroturbation, terraforming of land, and redirection of water are all part of the indelible human signature.” (Source here)
Anthroturbation: This is when humans disturb the soil and/or earth crust by such as with mining.
Bill C-12 (also known as the Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act) is a law that is supposed to make clear parameters for tangible climate action in Canada. This law forces the government to make a plan for climate action and give deadlines. Canada stated that it will reach net zero emissions by the year 2050. However, this bill doesn’t say how we are going to actually do that.
Climate Activism: This term is also referred to as “environmental activism”, “eco activism”, “green activism”, or “sustainability activism”. It refers to the actions of people (individuals or groups) that aim to support the environment. “Climate activism is what happens when people from all over the world come together to put pressure on national and business leaders to take action to safeguard a liveable future.” (Ecowatch here).
Climate Change refers to long-term shifts in temperatures and weather patterns, which can be global or regional. “Often climate change refers specifically to the rise in global temperatures from the mid-20th century to present.” (National Geographic here).
Climate Justice: This is about taking a position on climate change and addressing the legal and political reasons for it. It is about getting the governments to actively respond to climate change by using the legal and political systems to fight for change.
Consumerism: This is a social and economic norm which encourages us to buy things and services. Consumerism’s expectation is that we keep buying in increasing amounts with no need to stop. To learn more watch The Story of Stuff‘s video here.
COP24: In 2018, the Conference of the Parties of the United Nations met to talk about Climate Change. It was in Poland. One of the meeting’s goals was to provoke all the countries to work together to stop climate change. The published follow-up report stated: “The world’s leading climate change scientists warn there’s only 12 years to limit global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees celsius above pre-industrial levels…” Right after this, in December (12th month!) we started to build the first version of 12.
COP26: In fall of 2021 (Oct 31 – Nov 13 2021), the United Nation countries met again in Scotland to talk about Climate Change. The international summit, hosted by Egypt, brought parties together to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. You can read the COP26 Outcomes, here (only available in certain languages).
Deforestation “is the purposeful clearing of forested land”, says National Geographic here. It involves the removal of trees on a large scale usually to allow for human activities. It can cause a loss of biodiversity, destroy natural habitats, upset the water cycle, and cause soil to erode.
Fracking: This a human-invented method used to get oil and gas from underground rocks. It’ is accomplished by injecting liquid into the rocks so that they break apart.
Net-Zero Emissions or Carbon Neutral: This refers to the carbon dioxide that humans create or emit. We create carbon dioxide by breathing, by driving our cars, and a factory creates emissions too. This all goes into the atmosphere. Net Zero is about balancing how much CO2 we put into the air with how much we clean or take out of the air.
Smelting: This is the process where humans heat up rocks to take out the metal, like silver, copper or iron. Smelting consumes an enormous amount of energy and it causes the release of sulphur dioxide and particulate matter (such as dust) to air. According to data analysists and scientists at Wood Mackenzie, the smelting of zinc, copper and lead produced a combined 53 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e) in 2020, and they predict that from 2020 – 2040, zinc production will increase by over 30%, lead over 40% and copper over 45%. They warn that if there is no change in the core technologies or power sources used to produce these metals, a total of 1,008 MtCO2e will be emitted over the next 20 years. (Source here)
Tetrapod: These are concrete structures that humans make (Coastal Engineers) to try to prevent erosion of land mostly caused by weather. Tetrapod comes from the word for animals with 4 legs. Tetrapods often refer to the porous, concrete “breakwater barriers” used to prevent water damage by resisting and breaking up waves.
Wonders of the Earth (Nature Facts)
Coral Reefs, Australia. Bleaching
The National Ocean Service describes bleaching as: ”When corals are stressed by changes in conditions such as temperature, light, or nutrients, they expel the symbiotic algae living in their tissues, causing them to turn completely white.” (Resources: Ocean service here and CNN news here).
Bushfires and their Impact on Animals
“Nearly three billion animals were killed or displaced during Australia’s devastating bushfires, scientists say. The findings meant it was one of “worst wildlife disasters in modern history”, said the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), which commissioned the report. Mega blazes swept across every Australian state last summer, scorching bush and killing at least 33 people. Mammals, reptiles, birds and frogs died in the flames or from loss of habitat. During the peak of the crisis in January , scientists had estimated that 1.25 billion animals had been killed in New South Wales and Victoria alone.” (Source BBC news here). Additional Resource here.
Wildfires across the world can occur naturally, and their periodic occurrences can help maintain and reset ecological balance for both plants and animals. To read about the ecological benefits of wildfires, click here. However, with the climate crisis, wildfires cause further climate change and climate change causes more wildfires.
“When it comes to climate, wildfires occupy an unusual space: they are driven by climate change and they help drive it. As this vicious cycle plays out and predictions of extreme future fire seasons continue, the need for human intervention to interrupt this cycle has never been more clear.… Climate change doesn’t operate like an on/off switch, meaning wildfires aren’t part of a “new normal.” (Source here). We are experiencing the effects of climate change, but they will neither be consistent nor uniform. Rather, climate change is like a slide and, when it comes to wildfires, we are quickly spiralling downward.” (Sources The Conversation here and The Washington Post here.)
Character 7 references sloths in 12. These mammals invite us to consider how our society asks us to do everything quickly, and how sloths have survived for millions of years moving as slowly as well…a sloth.
Sloths are extremely slow-moving creatures. They hang, seemingly motionless on branches, between feeding and sleeping. This can be for 15 to 20 hours every day. There’s a reason, though: survival. Sloths eat a vegetarian diet and balance it with a slow-paced lifestyle, expending as little energy as needed to accomplish their needs.
“The fact that sloths have been around for 65.5 million years—just before dinosaurs disappeared—shows that a slow-paced lifestyle can be a good survival strategy in the wild.”(Source WWF here).
[Image Description: a sloth hangs from a tree branch, and appears to smile at us.]
Nature’s Solutions: Living Bridges
[Image description: tree roots woven together to form a bridge over a river in a lush green forest.]
The Khasi people in India work with Nature to build lasting structures that are part of the Earth, not destroying it. One example are their “living bridges.”
“Living tree bridges in India stand strong for hundreds of years: The entwined roots of Indian rubber trees form bridges that—unlike steel structures—grow more durable with time.” (Source here).
How do they do it? The Khasi bridge builders weave roots onto a wooden scaffolding such as bamboo, and train the roots to grow across the river. Then they implant them on the opposite river bank. Eventually the roots get shorter and thicker. They produce offshoots, “daughter roots”, which they also train to grow over the river. “I dare to hope,” says #11 in 12 after hearing about this.
“One of the very few examples in the world where humans have come up with a successful and natural solution; a way of working with nature to overcome the problems a wild river can cause.” (Source here).
Turritopsis dohrnii – The Immortal Jellyfish
[Image Description: a translucent jellyfish in dark water.]
Immortality fascinates us at 12, the concept that time can possibly be infinite and that some life may not have an “expiry date”. During those rehearsal explorations, one of the young artists, Marisol (plays Character #6) shared their research into a particular sea creature called the Turritopsis dohrnii, or the Immortal Jellyfish.
Here’s how it earned that name, thanks to the researchers at The American Museum of Nature: “In a process that looks remarkably like immortality, the born-again polyp colony eventually buds and releases medusae that are genetically identical to the injured adult. In fact, since this phenomenon was first observed in the 1990s, the species has come to be called ‘the immortal jellyfish.'” They are extremely small and almost transparent, which makes them vulnerable. However, they have an uncanny ability to survive. When they are in physical danger or are near to starvation, they return back to their development process and transform back into a polyp. (For more: go to The American Museum of History here.)
Other Sources of Inspiration
Anthropocene Exhibit, part of The Anthropocene Project
In the second last episode of 12, the characters “travel” to the Anthropocene exhibit at the National Gallery of Canada. This outing actually happened in 2018, and their experience became text in the 12 script. The staging of this scene was inspired by the size and shape of Big Lonely Doug, the second-largest Douglas Fir in Canada.
The exhibit “…explores the impact of human activity on Earth through photography, film installations and interactive technologies.”
From the National Gallery’s website: “Anthropocene is a major contemporary art exhibition featuring new works from the collective of Edward Burtynsky, Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas de Pencier.
Through a variety of techniques, the three Canadian artists created a spectacular and compelling visual experience inviting reflection upon the environmental and ethical issues surrounding our exploitation of Earth’s resources.” (Source here).
Big Lonely Doug
Big Lonely Doug, named after its species, the Douglas Fir, is now about 1,000 years old and stands tall at 66 metres high – taller than Niagara Falls. Why “lonely”? Because it stands alone in the middle of what was once an Ancient Forest of Canada. This now famous tree comes with a story. Big Lonely Doug and the logger who fought to save it, Dennis Cronan, also helped to save the Ancient Forests of British Columbia. One tree and one human made a lasting, far-reaching impact.
Read more about this story here. If you want to go deeper, you can read the book, Big Lonely Doug: The Story of One of Canada’s Last Great Trees, by author Harley Rustad.
Burning of Tusks
Anthropocene: Ivory Burn
In 12, the actors refer to the burning of millions of elephant and rhino tusks. The characters all ask, “I wonder why?” This prompted our research. The burn happened on April 20, 2016 in Nairobi National Park. It sent a deeply symbolic and visceral message to the poaching and illegal trade syndicates, and forced them to bear witness to the loss of animal life and diversity, says the Anthropocene Exhibit team, who were witnesses. It was “the largest ivory burn in history. Eleven pyres comprised of 105 tonnes of confiscated elephant tusks and 1.35 tonnes of rhinoceros horn were set on fire as a clarion call to halt all ivory trade. The street value of the pyres was estimated to be between 105 and 150 million dollars – representing between 6,000 and 7,000 elephants.” (Source here).
Other Sources mentioned in 12
In 12, when the characters go on climate marches around the world (as they march on stage in 3 rotating lines), they call out actions that give them hope. Here are a few of them, and links for more information:
- Avocado Pits and Biodegradable Cutlery: BIOFASE company in Mexico (Source here).
- Costa Rica and how it became a deforestation model ( Sources: earth.org here, conservation in Costa Rica here, and good news network here).
- Sweden and their inspiring recycling system (Sources Sweden Climate sustainability here and trt world.com here).
- The Chemical Valley Project:
- In September of 2022, a play from Broadleaf Theatre called The Chemical Valley Project came to Ottawa. The team of 12 went to the play and spoke with its creators. The co-creators of Chemical Valley came to a 12 rehearsal. In the 2023 version of 12, we have added content that we learned from their play: the actions of Beze and Vanessa Gray, along with other Ontario Youth. They sued the Ontario government over its weakened climate policy! “In Sarnia, Ontario, an Indigenous community of 800 residents, is smothered by the Canadian petrochemical industry. Two siblings from Aamjiwnaang First Nation, Vanessa Gray and Beze Gray, have dedicated themselves to fighting environmental racism and to protecting their community’s land, air and water.” Source, and for more on The Chemical Valley Project and the actions of Beze & Vanessa, click here.
- For more about the *successful* lawsuit against the Ontario Government, click here.
- Just Stop Oil Climate protestors throw tomato soup at Vincent van Gogh’s painting. Character #7 mentions this in the play. (Source CBC news here).
- Bonus! “The Empathy Tool”: This refers to art that invites audiences to empathetically connect as a means to inviting action. “If you enter into an ‘environmental rant’, in our experience, people turn off.” –creators of The Anthropocene Project
Build a Scene
In 12, some scenes are almost like games. In episode 5, the characters try to name as many things as they can that involve the number “12”. In episode 10a, the scene ends with what I call “the Green Olympics”, where the characters try to “out-green” each other by naming anything that has the word green in it.
Scene Version 1: Numbers ( Script in Google doc here)
Here are the steps to build your own scene:
- Pick a number that is important to you or your group. Maybe it’s a date, a deadline, or an age. Make sure it is a number that has meaning to you–either in a positive way or not…or both!
- Come up with a list of as many phrases, words, and ideas that contain that number.
- *Make sure that the list has a balance of seemingly random and/or silly ones as well as those that connect to your deeper meaning/concern. For instance, in 12, character #2 says “twelve drummers drumming” and character #9 says “Ontario’s 12-Point Climate Plan”.
- Put them in an order. Notice that the order you script them in will affect how the audience both laughs at the game but also is impacted by your message with choosing that number.
Scene Version 2: Words (Script in Google doc here)
Here are the steps to build your own scene:
- Pick a word that is important to you or your group. Make sure it is a word that has meaning to the theme of your play, and that also occurs in many other meanings. For 12, the word is “green.”
- Come up with a list of as many uses of that word that you can find.
- Make sure that the list has a balance of seemingly random and/or silly ones as well as those that connect to your deeper meaning/concern. For instance in 12, character #10 says “green eggs & ham” and character #1 says “Green New Deal”.
- Put them in an order. Notice that the order you script them in will affect how the audience’s experience and understanding. They may laugh at the game while being impacted by your message. For our scene, we chose to end it with a very questionable practice, “Greenwashing”. The definition is the process of conveying a false impression or misleading information about how a company’s products are environmentally sound. Greenwashing involves making an unsubstantiated claim to deceive consumers into believing that a company’s products are environmentally friendly or have a greater positive environmental impact than they actually do. (Source and for more, click on What is Greenwashing).
Writing Prompts as Play: Math & Time
(from Kristina Watt, Director & Co-creator): In 12, one of the ways I built the script with the ensemble was to give them a piece of paper and pen, a time limit and an idea, then I said “go.” When it was “time’s up”, they had to stop, even if they were in the middle of a sentence or even a word. I did not always know what would come out or if whatever the cast wrote would end up in the final script. Everything I did with them to help build each version of 12 was framed as a game. For instance, in 12, episode 11a came from two games: one was to write for 3 minutes about anything to do with your connection to the word “math,” and the other anything that they think of or feel when they hear “numbers.”
Try this out with your group:
- Pick an idea that can be stated in one word only
- Set a time limit, such as 3 minutes only
- Hand out little pieces of paper and pencils/pens
- Collect all the writings after “time’s up” but with no one’s name on them
- Read them all out loud, everyone reading something that they did not write
- Invent a scene in which all of the characters offer their thoughts/feelings on an idea. Maybe you don’t include them all. Put them in a particular order that works for your play. For episode 11a, the order is very particular: it is a vacillating arc of those that are more personal and/or dark, and those that may be humorous or seem “random” to the audience. For me, I am very particular about which entry starts the scene and which ends it.
Meet the Creators
Get to know the creators of 12 through mini-interviews with each artist. Just click on their highlighted name and read about who they are and what it means to them to be part of the ever-changing 12. Learn about their specific concerns for the planet, their favourite word, and watch their personal “12 Weeks to 12″ countdown video.
Click here to go to the Creative Team’s page.
While you’re there… Go Deeper with some Activity Questions:
- What’s your favourite fact about the environment and why?
- Do you have similar or different concerns for the planet? What are they?
- If you could ask someone (even the PM) a question about climate change, what would you say?
Think about your Carbon footprint
Our carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gases (including carbon dioxide and methane) that are generated by our daily activities like driving and even the food that we eat.
“Globally, the average carbon footprint is closer to 4 tons. To have the best chance of avoiding a 2℃ rise in global temperatures, the average global carbon footprint per year needs to drop to under 2 tons by 2050.” (Source Nature Conservatory here).
YouFree Calculator online here (use the secondary tab for household and habits).
To read more about Carbon Footprints click here.
When we talk about Carbon Footprints we start talking about reducing our carbon footprint. A result of this has meant Carbon Off-set companies that sell ways that you can purchase ways to reduce carbon emissions such as planting trees to counterbalance your daily activities or your vacation. Read these articles for more information on Carbon Off-setting with this CBC article here and the carbon offset guide here.
Discussion prompt- What are some ways you, your family and school can reduce your carbon footprint?
Character 11 says: The Canadian Charter of Rights & Freedoms says we have the right to life, liberty and security. So don’t we have the right to a healthy environment?
12 Through Time
Since its beginnings in 2018, 12 is a play that changes with time. Why? Because the youth change–they evolve with time or there is a new cast member; because climate science changes as the planet does; and most importantly, because the receivers–the audience–change. Check out the Production History page to track the project’s ongoing history of productions.
Click here tto find out about 12‘s Production History.
While you’re there… Go Deeper with a Group Search Activity:
- Which creators have been part of the project from the beginning?
- What does “Green Lent” mean?
- What are “Friday’s for Future”? Do you think there are ways that you could get involved?
- How has researching 12 shifted your perspective on climate change? How with this change affect your actions?
Curriculum & Connections with 12
Although 12 is communicated in the form of theatre, its content speaks to many areas of life. If you see a curriculum connection that we haven’t made yet, please contact us!
Social Studies, History, and Geography
- Grade 5, 6, 7, and 8: (link)
Social Sciences and Humanities
- Grade 11 & 12: (link)
Canadian and World Studies
- Grade 11 & 12: (link)