These in-their-own-words pieces are told to Patricia Lane and co-edited with input from the interviewee for the purpose of brevity.
Hazel Thayer uses social media to make us laugh about the idiocy of climate and economic unfairness.
This 26-year-old economics graduate and web developer from Victoria, B.C., has become a formidable social media commentator with her short, punchy comedic videos on TikTok, Instagram and YouTube.
I caught up with her in Los Angeles, where she is shooting a series of videos on climate fairness with Pique Action.
Tell us about your project.
I post videos to counteract disinformation and point out solutions to the climate crisis. They are irreverent and people find them funny and informative, so I often have tens or hundreds of thousands of views.
What kinds of topics have you covered?
I cover current events and policies like degrowth, oil and gas misinformation, the implications for consumers of the Shaw-Rogers merger, walkable communities, subsidies to the dairy industry, buses as sensible travel, climate solutions, and others. I keep the dialogue short and snappy and present a friendly, happy — if somewhat exasperated — persona that seems to draw people in.
In early 2022, 26-year-old Hazel Thayer started posting punchy, colourful videos about climate change. She found it was a quick, easy way to spread the word about the need for action. #YouthClimateAction
The cheapest, cleanest, most reliable energy? debunks these claims of a fossil gas executive. At one point, I’m cleaning up some spit spilled on her keyboard. “Well, I’m shocked.”
Real Life Conspiracies. The fossil fuel conspiracy theories are starting to come out and they are wilder than even I thought they would be and that is saying something! House Democrats are starting to read the emails from PR firms that work for fossil fuel companies and wow… Shell has admitted net zero is not part of its business plan and here’s an ad talking about how it will get there. They are straight-up lying.”
You're the one getting railed points out the ridiculousness of subsidizing highways over passenger rail service in B.C. “Want a functioning rail passenger service on Vancouver Island? Go **ck yourself. A message from the B.C. government.”
Buses are like crabs points out that just as nature loves inventing new kinds of crabs, engineers love to invent new buses and trains and we should encourage them.
In Edmonton, a huge crowd walked through the neighbourhood of Strathcona protesting the concept of a 15-minute city. They probably picked that neighbourhood because it is a walkable, convenient hub close to a lot of amenities with wide sidewalks and traffic-calming laws. That’s what a 15-minute city is, by the way. I show the sources used to support the theories to actually debunk them.
How did you get into this work?
As a student, I worried about climate change but thought the grownups would save us, so nothing to worry about. But after I graduated, I saw that world leaders' solutions of promising net zero by 2050 and planting two billion trees just won’t do it. I realized I'm one of the grownups now and I'll have to do the saving.
As an economics graduate, I was tired of the obviously dead-end narrative that we can’t act on climate because we need to preserve the economy, when we know that we can’t preserve the economy unless we act on climate. As a comedian, I could see that circular thinking could be funny, but as a climate-conscious person, I knew it had terrible consequences. I thought I could use my background in standup comedy with my education and familiarity with social media to point out the irony. Those early videos did well and I was off to the races.
What makes your work hard?
It is a big responsibility. If I get it even a little bit wrong, I contribute to the misinformation spread by industry and let down potentially hundreds of thousands of people.
What gives you hope?
The momentum is crazy right now. For example, I had been posting videos about gas stoves and the damaging effects of methane gas for quite a while and then suddenly, it became a big topic. Now it's everywhere!
Did the way you were raised help you to land here?
I was raised as a vegetarian. Back then, it was just weird but now there’s a vegetarian option in every restaurant. I learned the things we accepted because they were normal are not necessarily the best. Vegetarian diets are healthier. If we get the energy transition right, we will all be better off. The world doesn't have to be just slightly less dangerous. It can be better.
Do you have any advice for other young people?
You can work on climate doing whatever you want to do. Just point in that direction. The people in it are great and you will make a difference. I work with producers, marketers, designers, scientists, economists and foodies. Everyone can contribute. We need you all, and it's really fun.
What would you like to say to older readers?
Young people can protest all we want but your voices matter more to decision-makers.
We can all learn about the solutions, talk about them with our friends and demand them from decision-makers.