Today, we’re talking with Climate Ad Project copywriter Aaron Hagey-MacKay. Thank you for joining us. Could you tell us a bit about yourself, and how you got into climate activism?
My name is Aaron, and I live in Toronto. I’ve lived here almost all of my life. I’m 35. I spent my 20s and my 30s doing comedy here in Toronto, I was in a sketch troupe called ‘Jape’ for over 10 years. We won some awards, you know, but eventually, I was kind of like, ‘I’m in my 30s, and my career — writing comedy — I’d gotten some TV spots, some radio, but frankly, I was kind of getting dissatisfied with where I’d been able to get with that. So I started doing odd jobs here and there, and eventually, I realized… Yeah, I’ll get a little personal, my therapist said, ‘well, what would you be doing if money wasn’t an object, if it wasn’t a problem?’ And I said, ‘I don’t know, solving climate change?’
I was already doing some copywriting. So I just transitioned full time into copywriting after that. I just looked for ways to contribute my skills to what needs to be done. ‘How can I make this problem less difficult for the world? How can I help?’ was the question I kept asking myself, so that’s how I got into it. I joined the Climate Ad Project, and I make my own videos, and sometimes I even get paid to do copy work for clients that are in this space. So, it’s been a joy to be able to do that.
On your Twitter, you have a link to one of your videos. It’s not called this, but my sense after watching it was that it was teaching, ‘How to Talk to Your Angry Uncle about Climate Change.’
I don’t actually have one of those. But you know, the angry uncle is a stereotype you can easily glom onto. There are a lot of conservative folks out there that are against climate action for various reasons, mostly because they’ve been bathed in a decades-long disinformation campaign. And part of what I realized in learning more about climate change is that actually, solving the climate crisis is 100% a conservative value. Like, if conservation is not conservative what in God’s name is conservatism, right? What are they actually conserving, if you’re willing to basically throw away the entire biosphere? What is that ideology? So, yeah, there are a lot of conservative arguments for solving climate change. I’m all about trying to get people to think in different ways about the problem. Just getting people talking is my end goal. Because if we don’t talk about it, we’re not going to solve the problem.
One of my takeaways from your video was that you’re still using your comedy background in your activism. Is that part of your approach?
Yeah. I was writing for the Canadian equivalent of The Onion — it’s called the Beaverton — for about seven years. And I was always trying to find satirical ways to get people to think about this issue, and various other ones, from a different perspective. And again, I was asking myself, ‘with the skills that I have, how can I contribute?’ I was pretty good at writing comedy, so I thought, let’s just see what I can do with this. And that’s how I started my YouTube channel.