21 October 2018

A Compassion Tune-Up: Pat Benetar's Invincible

It's been a long time since I shared a song that's really impacted me. When my hubby played this blast from the past (well, the 80s) the other night, it really struck me that we've condemned younger generations to a future of fighting. "We can't afford to be innocent. Stand up and face the enemy. It's a do or die situation. We will be invincible." That's the verse that really got me. Cuz it is a do or die situation. And they won't be invincible unless we're doing a lot more today to ensure it.

Then this: "We've got the right to be angry. What are we running for? When there's no where we can run to anymore." Too true. And tragic.

Have a listen. The lyrics are below.



Invincible
by Holly Knight and Simon Climie

This bloody road remains a mystery
This sudden darkness fills the air
What are we waiting for?
Won't anybody help us?
What are we waiting for?

We can't afford to be innocent
Stand up and face the enemy
It's a do or die situation
We will be invincible

This shattered dream you cannot justify
We're gonna scream until we're satisfied
What are we running for?
We've got the right to be angry
What are we running for?
When there's no where we can run to anymore

We can't afford to be innocent
Stand up and face the enemy
It's a do or die situation
We will be invincible
And with the power of conviction
There is no sacrifice
It's a do or die situation
We will be invincible

Won't anybody help us?
What are we running for?
When there's no where, no where we can run to anymore

We can't afford to be innocent
Stand up and face the enemy
It's a do or die situation
We will be invincible

And with the power of conviction
There is no sacrifice
It's a do or die situation
We will be invincible

Yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah

We can't afford to be innocent (yeah)
Stand up and face the enemy (yeah)
It's a do or die situation 
We will be invincible

We can't afford to be innocent
Stand up and face the enemy ....

14 October 2018

All Sorts of Reactions to the IPCC 1.5ºC Report — Except the Right One

If I don't talk this week about last Sunday's release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Global Warming of 1.5ºC Report, I could possibly be the only armchair pundit who doesn't. So I will, but only to let you know my thoughts and feelings about the reaction to the report.

Although I live in the bubble of environmental non-governmental organizations (ENGOs) and enviro activists, it was impossible not to hear President T**** admit that he hadn't looked at it. "It was given to me. And I want to look at who drew it. You know, which group drew it. I can give you reports that are fabulous and I can give you reports that aren't so good," he said. I wonder where he gets his "fabulous" reports from. 

(This report was prepared by over 90 scientists from 40 countries who synthesized over 6,000 scientific references. It was then approved by all the governments in the world, although I heard from someone who was there that the US and Saudi Arabia and a handful of other countries threw up lots of roadblocks to that approval.)

Unlike their president, Republican politicians in the United States did have opinions — fatuous though they were. As reported by the Huffington Post, Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) said, "They might as well be calling on me to sprout wings and fly to Canada for the summer," and Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) said of the actions urged by the report: "It's totally unrealistic. They must have parachuted in from another planet. There's not enough money in the world to pay for that. That's the problem with the UN that they come up with these policy ideas that are just 'La La Land.'" 

And yet President T**** is bragging these days (at the La La Land UN) that he just upped the US military budget to over $700 billion, an increase of 10%. So there's money enough for threatening, invading, killing, maiming, and destroying, but not for safeguarding life. Funny that.

Oh, and let's not forget the $5.3 trillion (TRILLION!) in direct and indirect subsidies that we taxpayers give to fossil fuel corporations every year. So there's money enough for coal, oil, gas, pollution, but not for the renewable energy technologies that could safeguard life. Funny that.

But I found the hardest part of this week were the responses of ordinary people like you and me who understand the climate crisis, who care about the climate crisis, who would perhaps call themselves climate change activists, but who are taking this report as a signal to stand down. I can't believe how many are giving up. Guy McPherson is in vogue again with his abrupt climate change "It's too late" message, so "live, love, and aim for excellence" (as one online commenter suggested to me). (By the way, there's nothing "abrupt" about this. We've known about it since at least the 1800s.)

Well, NO, damn it! I'm not giving up or giving in. I don't want to live excellently; I want my niece and all the beloved kids in my life to live, period. If we're going down, I want to go down swinging. I am going to carry on believing in the possibility of miracles through imagination and creative problem solving. I'm going to keep believing in the power of love and compassion to show our leaders that their own offspring will be impacted. I'm going to keep trying to teach ecological literacy and connecting with the rest of Nature. I'm going to keep seeing the potential for a return to simpler ways and a huge global race to zero carbon. Until my last breath. 

I believe that's the right reaction to the IPCC's 1.5ºC Report. For the sake of all the children, of all species, for all time.

p.s. I liked this article: Do we need an IPCC special report for humans?




07 October 2018

"Navigare Necesse Est, Vivere Non Necesse"

We have to sail, we do not have to live,
Sailing is more important than living
— Ancient Latin Motto



To sail is necessary; to live is not. When I saw that saying yesterday, it resonated with me right away, before I even understood it. 

Plutarch attributed it to Pompey (Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus) who in 56 B.C., when he was ready to set out on his voyage home to Rome from Africa, faced a huge storm on the sea. The story goes: "The captains of the ships were reluctant to set sail. But he [Pompey] led the way himself and ordered them to weigh anchor, shouting out to them: 'We have to sail, we do not have to live.' So, with good fortune assisting his own daring and energy, he filled the sea with ships and the markets with grain. In fact, he provided so much of it that there was a surplus left over for the use of people outside Italy, the supply overflowing, as it were from a welling fountain, in all directions."

Are you seeing the parallels with the climate change emergency? 

We must set out into the huge storm of climate chaos if we want to find the solutions that will safeguard the future, but many of us aren't willing to feel bad about it let alone die trying to save the day.

Here's my version of Pompey's rallying cry:
To find solutions is necessary; 
To feel good is not.
Here's my poor attempt at a Latin translation:
Inuentionibus fiunt solutiones quaestionum
necesse est.
Sentire bonum non necesse.
In any case, let it sink in. If you've had your children, then biologically you're pretty much done — just one job left, and that's to help them survive so that they can reproduce. Avoiding helping to ensure their survival because thinking about the climate crisis makes your today feel a little less nice is the height of cowardice, no?

As this is the Thanksgiving holiday weekend in Canada, may I wish you a year of gratitude for whatever blessings have helped you avoid losing your own life or that of your loved ones, your livelihood, your food security or water sources, your home or entire homeland. 

And may we all spend some time feeling bad for our friends — of all species — in Indonesia and elsewhere who are struggling through so many crises, some of them climate change related or exacerbated, some not.

May our continued good fortune assist our own daring and energy as we push through the bad feelings to get to anger and then action and solutions!

30 September 2018

On Becoming a Political Person

My husband and I are at the Green Party of Canada biannual convention this weekend in Vancouver. Some lovely friends convinced us to come, and our shared hotel room has been like a grownup's slumber party. ;-) 

One of the nicest things about attending this convention has been running into dear old friends from the environmental movement who, like us, have found their political tribe in the Greens. Loved your new music video, The Gasoline Breakup Song, Franke and Billiam James! "Sound Activism" ... fabulous! And Dr. Warren Bell, it was good to reconnect after years of watching your continued online activism and involvement with the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment. (My hubby, Dr. Peter Carter, was a founding director of CAPE in the mid-1990s.)

Highlights? 

I'm going home psyched up to help people understand proportional representation (PR) so that they vote "YES" in my province's upcoming referendum on PR. Our first-past-the-post system puts all the power in the hands of one party, even if they have less than 50% of the votes. See Fair Vote Canada.

Elizabeth May's speech at Saturday night's banquet (the most vegetarian banquet I've ever attended!) was, in turns, quite moving and very rousing. What got the most resounding applause? When talking about the climate crisis, she said:
"The Green Party doesn't want to be a one issue party but if the one issue is survival then there is only one issue."
— Elizabeth May, Leader, Green Party of Canada
Another highlight for me was the Saturday morning keynote address by Caroline Lucas, a British politician who in 2010 was elected the Green Party's first Member of Parliament. She said several things that resonated for me, for example: "You can't just bolt the environment onto business as usual." Exactly! We need a transformation in how we "do business." (You can watch her half-hour speech here, from 3:00 to 31:44 — https://www.facebook.com/GreenPartyofCanada/videos/1825623187581859/.)

It's been interesting for me to observe my reactions at this political party convention. I'm proud to say that I helped Elizabeth May get elected twice now — she's my federal Member of Parliament — but it simply meant putting her bumper sticker on my little car and manning a Saturday table at the shopping centre in my tiny community before the election. I wasn't "involved in politics." It was something Caroline Lucas said that reminded me to be watching the political machinations this weekend:
"Complacency is a more dangerous enemy than denial."
— Caroline Lucas
And what I witnessed was a kinder, gentler political "beast" than I knew possible. Mind you, check out this refreshing UN address by New Zealand's prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, about her government's determination to focus on kindness. Kindness! Imagine that. (I've started her speech near the end, but it's worth listening to the whole thing.)




Don't get me wrong, the Green Party members in attendance at this convention got plenty excited at times and were generous with their standing ovations. They are certainly not a staid bunch. But the feeling here is that if they can't achieve their goals and still be decent people, then their goals aren't worth achieving. Souls are not for sale in the Green Party. People don't have to sell out any part of their beliefs or ideals. (Although my friendly amendment to a proposed policy to make it more ecologically literate in its wording — "people and other animals" instead of "animals and people" — was not accepted via the consensus process (too many red cards), which I'll admit was a bummer for this newbie. Our language choices can have a transformative effect, but some people either don't realize that, or are more comfortable with status quo — i.e., biblical — understandings of our species. But the consensus process worked to keep things rolling along ... and I can always try again another time.) 

Anyway, I just wanted to share my #GreenConv18 experiences with you. I hope that wherever you live and with whatever time you have available, you can contribute to making our political systems kinder, gentler, more ethical, and perhaps a tad more ecologically literate.