10 February 2019

The Cold, Hard Truth

Another storm with high winds caused a 24-hour power outage this weekend for my community. My beloved and I spent that time in the cold and the dark (why we didn't build a fire in our woodstove and stay cozy and warm is a longer story). 

I had a fun novel on hand (thanks to a friend) and lots of marking (done by flashlight, candlelight, and then sunlight) to keep me occupied. Peter is reading Matthieu Auzanneau's Oil, Power, and War: A Dark History — the perfect book when the power is off and the lights are out.  

All this to preface what I realized yesterday, curled up in bed with a toque and mitts on. I am overwhelmed. Well, I'm feeling overwhelmed (and realizing that we ain't seen nothin' yet). Between schoolwork and housework and trying to hang on to friends and trying to keep up with all the climate change happenings (but definitely not succeeding), I'm not doing anything well. 

Not only is the climate change emergency going to continue to shower us with [pick your region's worst nightmare: storms, floods, droughts, sea level rise, food shortages, water conflicts], but while we're dealing with those crises, life has to continue. We have to continue to make meals (sometimes without power and, in the not-too-distant future, without ingredients that used to be widely available). We have to keep getting the kids ready for school (until schoolyards are taken over for food production and the children are growing it). We have to continue to do our jobs (until societies break down and jobs are useless because everyone's labour is needed just for survival). 

In 2018, the world experienced 39 weather disasters that cost over $1 billion. (We're talking hurricanes, flooding, wildfires and severe weather.)
The U.S. had the most billion-dollar weather disasters in 2018 of any country, with 16. That's its second-highest total on record, behind the 20 billion-dollar weather disasters of 2017. NOAA has not yet released its final list of billion-dollar disasters for the U.S. in 2018 due to the government shutdown. China had seven billion-dollar weather disasters in 2018.

The combined economic losses (insured and uninsured) from all 394 weather and earthquake disasters catalogued by Aon in 2018 was $225 billion (2018 USD), which is 33 percent above the 1980-2017 inflation-adjusted average of $169 billion. The great bulk of the 2018 total came from weather-related disasters ($215 billion of the $225 billion).

And yet, I still read comments like:

"CO2 is fine the way it is, without need of 'fixing.' Plants in greenhouses with fortified CO2 do much better of course." [Ooh, ooh, I love that one. Because of course the real world of agriculture is just like a giant experiment in a greenhouse. With no pests, no storms, no floods, no droughts, no heatwaves to worry about. No sirree.] 

"While flooding and more severe weather events are bad consider the alternative if nature takes it's [sic] course." [I think she's taking her course and it's obvious she's miffed.] 

"We still haven't returned to the Medieval or Roman Climate Optimum. Until then, I am not worried. :)" [That's someone who doesn't get the "global" in global warming.] 

"So, you're afraid of the havoc wrought by milder winters and nights?" [Sigh, yeah. Some people just have zero ecological literacy. Milder winters = less insect kill = an increase in vector-borne diseases + huge swathes of trees killed by bark beetles. Oh, and milder winters also = less snowpack lasting for a shorter time in spring = lower drinking water supply + water shortages by summer.]

I would love to know who created this ... it's brilliant.
You know what? I've just realized what's overwhelming me. It's the inertia. It's that there only seem to be 37 people (and that feels generous) in the whole world fighting against Big Money, Big Oil and Stupid Government in order to safeguard the future. Talk about tilting at windmills. The Don Quixotes of the world are still being laughed at by armchair "experts," excoriated by fake news pundits, fake-scienced by paid trolls, and ignored by the millions (or is it billions) of people who are too overwhelmed with their own lives to share a care for the future. 

Okay, well, now that I understand my overwhelm, I think I'll be okay. I think I'll be able to become Person #38 again, and get back into the fray. Thanks for listening and helping me sort this out. And if you ever need the same sort of help sorting through the cold, hard truth, my hearing is still pretty good and I've got strong shoulders. Send me a message!

03 February 2019

The Real Truth About the Climate Crisis, Part 2

I didn't want you to miss out on Dr. Peter Carter's participation in a panel discussion about climate change at the Real Truth About Health Free 10-Day Conference. Here he is speaking with several others, including Dr. James Hansen, on January 30, 2019.

27 January 2019

The Real Truth About the Climate Crisis

Sorry that I'm posting later than usual this week. I saw my hubby off to a big health conference in New York City this morning (everyone else was flying to Mexico!), and just got home a while ago.

Peter will be speaking on The Global Climate Change Emergency: From Personal to Planetary Health, and then joining a panel that includes one of his greatest heroes, the preeminent climate scientist, Dr. James Hansen, who wrote the foreword to Peter's book (co-authored with Elizabeth Woodworth), Unprecedented Crime: Climate Science Denial and Game Changers for Survival.

The real truth about the climate crisis seems to be finally seeping into the public consciousness, doesn't it? (Perhaps that's the real reason President T**** shut down the American government! He wouldn't want people questioning his commitment to "clean coal" — the greatest oxymoron EVER.) 

More and more municipal governments are declaring the climate change emergency — which is a declaration of their intention to spend money doing something to safeguard the future for their citizens.

Here is Dr. Peter Carter's presentation:

20 January 2019

“Take It and Run” — Navigating Earth in Decline

Today, we welcome Salt Spring Island (British Columbia, Canada) teacher, writer and activist extraordinaire, Jan Slakov, as our guest blogger. Enjoy!

In his unforgettable commencement address, activist, entrepreneur, author Paul Hawken stated, “Class of 2009, you are going to have to figure out what it means to be a human being on Earth at a time when every living system is declining. […] if you look at the science about what is happening on Earth and aren’t pessimistic, you don’t understand the data. But if you meet the people who are working to restore this Earth and the lives of the poor, and you aren’t optimistic, you haven’t got a pulse.”

Ten years later, and I could feel myself losing hope. When asked what news story from 2018 made him angry, Tim Fontaine of Walking Eagle News replied, "Uh, that the world was gonna end in 20 years and everybody just promptly ignored it.” He referred to the IPCC's special 1.5ºC report on climate change that “was so laid out, it was both a road map to the end of the world and a road map to how to save it and we were more concerned with [anything else, from the royal wedding to flossing].” It’s all the more difficult when solutions, such as those outlined by Project Drawdown, which Hawken is now involved in, would make the world a happier, healthier place.

I know of people who ended up alienating those close to them with their gloom. Feeling myself sinking towards despair, I decided to look for help. I read Michael Pollan’s How to Change Your Mind. Climate activist and healer Christine Penner-Polle offered to include me in her “Climate of Love” energy healing work, I spent more time outside in the garden and woods I love. I read Think No Evil about how an Amish community responded to a mass shooting in one of their schools with radical love and forgiveness. I started making time to focus on sharing loving kindness, for myself and those I love, yes, but also for those whose actions are causing great pain, who I find hard to love.

And then, once again, I went up Burnaby Mountain, this time for an Earth Witness worship meeting. We sat just outside the Kwekwecnewtxw or sacred Watch House, our circle including people of differing faith backgrounds or no religious affiliation at all. It felt like our sharing of silence, gratitude, sorrows, song, followed by warm tea and snacks, was helping to strengthen the spiritual power of that place. No doubt it was also being in community with others who are doing their utmost to protect the world we love.

Romilly Cavanaugh, the environmental engineer who used to work for TransMountain pipeline and then went up Burnaby Mountain last March 20, uncertain if her career would be damaged by getting arrested, was there too. That day in March, she knew she was doing what she was meant to do, as the welcome from indigenous leaders brought tears to her eyes. To this incredibly diverse group of people in which she found herself, they said, “If you come here with an open heart, we welcome you.”

After our Earth Witness circle, Romilly got a text from Stephanie, a doctor who also has been drawn to help land defenders at Burnaby Mountain. The text was an invitation to come down to an Unist’ot’en/Wet’suwet’en solidarity rally at Victory Square, in Vancouver’s downtown east side. By the time we got there, the rally was at Hastings and Main, completely blocking traffic.

Gradually I came to see what a privilege it was to be there. I’m sure many of the people in that space have survived abuse and pain beyond anything I’ve ever known, personally. One woman in the inner circle was crying. I suspect those were tears of joy, to see her people rising up.

I tend to get anxious about inconveniencing others, so I went up to a truck driver who was stuck with a “front row seat” he never asked for: “I’m sorry; I hope you understand.” He didn’t roll down his window but I could tell that, at some level, yes, he did understand. When three police officers made their way through the crowd towards that inner circle, I followed, hoping to be able to help de-escalate confrontation, if need be. One of them embraced a man in that circle; I went back to reassure my friends — these police officers are here to help, no need to worry.

Not long after that we started to move, heading towards the entrance to the Vancouver Port, and occupying the eastbound lanes of Hastings. Two indigenous women were leading; now and then one lowered the megaphone to a girl who was her daughter, I think. Her tiny voice called out: “The people united will never be defeated.” The call back was not tiny. There were hundreds of us slowly heading east, serenaded now and then by westbound vehicles honking their support.

I know some people see Extinction Rebellion tactics of blocking traffic as counter-productive. Often, at rallies, I find myself wishing for something more beautiful and inspiring than tired slogans. But I’ve come to see how we need everyone, doing what they can. As the RAVEN indigenous solidarity group puts it, this is a time to “pulltogether.”

We need Romilly getting arrested, but also her paid work, through offsetters.ca. We need the inspiration and vision of policies elaborated in the Leap Manifesto, policies congruent with those of the Green Party’s “Vision Green.” The policies would result in economic transformation, not economic ruin. (In 2011, Canada's federal Green Party made a special effort to get its platform reviewed by the Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) at the time, who judged the platform favourably. With new legislation giving the PBO a mandate to review party platforms, hopefully Canadians will have a useful tool to better understand the fiscal implications of various proposals.)

It is hard to work for change in a system that feels stacked against us. And maybe we are indeed doomed. But let’s look at how people have faced terminal cancer or killer despots in the past. Some give up the desire to live, knowing death is stalking them and those they love. Some see, in a heightened way, that all that really matters is love.

And for some, there are many would be called miracles. Somehow they live on, defying diseases, abuse or attacks that have been, for others, deadly.

As he ended his commencement address, Hawken spoke of the generations before who had failed. “They got distracted and lost sight of the fact that life is a miracle every moment of your existence. Nature beckons you to be on her side. You couldn’t ask for a better boss. […] This is your century. Take it and run as if your life depends on it.” 

— Jan Slakov