When Premier of British Columbia Gordon Campbell asked delegates at the World Conference on Sport and the Environment whether they had flown to the Vancouver event on Monday, hundreds of hands shot up. If any of them saw the irony of reaching an environmental conference through the carbon-intensive method of jet travel, they didn’t let on.

Thomas Kineshanko, a 2008 graduate of Vancouver’s Simon Fraser University, spoke up Tuesday about the dilemma at a panel on “Inspiring Youth Through Sport.”

As an 800-meter track runner, he traveled with his college team to places such as Tennessee and Fresno to compete in races that would last less than two minutes. “It finally struck me that this is kind of an absurd pastime,” he said.

He tried to lead the team in becoming carbon neutral, but it didn’t work out. He now manages his grandfather’s firm, Habitat Enterprises, helping it transition into a carbon-trading consultating firm. He’s set a personal goal of overseeing the reduction of 25 million tons of carbon emissions in his lifetime.

His musing on the problem of jet travel was one of a few back-to-earth moments the youth panel provided at the idea-heavy conference.

“I think that if young people were given the opportunity and the tools, they could do so  much,” said Theresa Seymour, 24, a member of Canada’s Sto:lo Nation. “It’s not about spoon-feeding young people with what they need to know. Because this world is becoming their very quickly.”

Seymour spoke about helping teenagers in aboriginal groups connect with their communities through traditional sports, such as dugout-canoe races. She said traditional competitions required fasting, bathing, and prayer beforehand, things that inevitably led to a broader awareness of one’s environment. 

“Because it was about your heart and your mind. It wasn’t just about one aspect of your being,” she said.

Seymour is also an up-and-coming hip-hop artist, as are two lads from Richmond, British Columbia, who won VANOC’s “u-reduce/u-produce” video storytelling contest this month. Check out this offering from 15-year-olds Darrick “D-Pain” Lee and Michael “Phat Mike” Darnel. I’m pretty sure it’s a hybrid SUV they’re using to knock SUVs and plug hybrids, despite the tricky camera work. But the video is solid. Decide for yourself: