11 August 2019

Another Compassion Tune-up! "This is an SOS from the Kids"

Here's another song to share far and wide, written by 12-year-old Simeon and his mom.


SOS from the Kids

This is an SOS from the kids 

All the grown ups take note of this. 
We’re finding our voice, calling you out 
You can’t leave the world in fire and drought.
This is an SOS from the kids.

Please change the story 

Re-write the plot 
This beautiful Earth cannot be lost 
Stop hurting our planet 
Like you don’t care 
There’s only one world 
For us to share

This is an SOS from the kids 
All the grown ups take note of this. 
Wake up and see that you must make a change 
The riches you seek will all be washed away 
This is an SOS from the kids.

Please change the story
Re-write the plot 

This beautiful Earth cannot be lost 
Stop hurting our planet like you don’t care 
There’s only one world 
For us to share

Don't listen to the fat cats, 

they only want their cream 
Always needing oil 
for feeding their machines 
We must care about the animals; 
care about the trees, 
I'll need help from you, 
you'll get help from me!

Please change the story 

Re-write the plot 
This beautiful Earth
cannot be lost 
Stop hurting our planet, 
like you don’t care 
There’s only one world, 
for us to share. 

This is an SOS from the kids 
You can do better than this.

04 August 2019

For Those Who Think I'm "Too Negative" — A Guest Post


As mentioned recently, I find it impossible to write a blog post every Sunday these days. Sorry about that. It's just too, well, negative. (I sometimes laugh that I once lost a friend because, as she put it, I was too positive!)

Today, I'll share with you (with his permission) the words of an activist friend who agreed with my take on the tagline ("subtitle") of a new climate change group's proposed banner. I was glad to discover that I'm not alone in thinking we have got to stop candy-coating what's happening to this precious planet and its 8 million species of inhabitants (not including viruses and bacteria).

Here's the original tagline: "Fighting for Our Children's Future"

Here are the complaints about it, paraphrased: 
  • a bit negative 
  • the word "fighting" has negative connotations
  • it can conjure up battling, arguing, combating
  • am similarly uncomfortable with "fighting"
  • is not our strength that we were not fighting, but rather leading, standing up, organizing, etc.?
  • what about "Standing up for our children's future"?
  • how about a positive word with similar strength (working? acting? leading? organizing? marching?)
  • if we see ourselves working with other stakeholders, saying "we are fighting" might not be helpful
  • the language of “fighting” will alienate a lot of folks, especially if our intent is to reach out and engage, motivate and inspire others to participate and get active
  • if you are fighting, it is a fight against someone
  • many folks who work in the resource extraction business care about their kids; let's not fight against them, let's offer a vision of the future that they can get behind 
  • just drop the "fighting" and have "For Our Children’s Future" ... it's more inclusive
I was fascinated (if a little alarmed) and responded: "It's a fight. A fight not unlike a world war. A fight to safeguard the future for all living things, especially your children. It's a fight. Be proud warriors." 

My friend privately said (paraphrasing), "Well put, Julie! I wish folks would stop soft-pedalling human and species extinction. Perhaps to get Canadians on the same page, they need to see more graphically that children around the world are suffering NOW."

But then proud papa and climate change activist extraordinaire, Howard Breen, chimed in (printed here with his permission):
Such truly good gentle beings we all are. We are loving parents who would do almost anything for our dearest. I am unequivocally convinced of that.

But things have seriously fundamentally changed. The science couldn't be clearer. There is nothing that is even remotely existentially the same in the history of humankind, except the prospect of nuclear winter or a bioterror pandemic. There are more 65 MILLION displaced in refugee camps around the world TODAY (and by 2030 my hunch is that this will at least triple), and North America and Europe are building walls.

President Bill Clinton once was asked how can the environmental movement win? He said that first and foremost, environmentalists are "far too polite," which is why we routinely get out-maneuvered by the corporate world.

Canada and the world are currently on a trajectory to exceed the non-binding Paris Climate Accord (meaning 3ºC or much much higher by 2050). To be honest (in adult company only), I think it's truly over for the next generation. Unless we fight. And with every ounce of courage we can muster.

Given the first responsibility of being a parent is to protect my children and grandchildren, I'm going to risk being arrested in an Extinction Rebellion NVDA [non-violent direct action].... I believe there's no longer any other choice — if I am to do everything moral and non-violently possible.

If anyone is not up for a fight against the worst corporate evil humanity has ever faced, fine, I understand (I may be the only one on this list that has been in a couple of different war zones or ever seen a lot of dead people close up).

But please, good folks, move aside, for those stepping up to fight the good fight for their kids — and feel we need to call it what it is. It is a climate necessity now to use the militaristic metaphors, as it was to go from "climate change" to "climate emergency" at the school district meeting.

That said, and I say this without reservation but with much heartache for everyone on the list that truly means well and feels nauseated by militarism and violence, when things get obviously desperate for everyone's children, those who are not actively "fighting for them" will increasingly be seen as enemy sympathizers.

In the meantime, my animal icon is a mother grizzly with threatened cubs.

T**** [and other leaders whose actions are increasingly planet-destroying and unprecedentedly evil], take note: The Extinction Rebellion "pitchforks" (as the right has taken to calling us of late) are amassing for the children.

With passionately fierce love,

Howard
 "To fight and conquer in all our battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting."  — Sun Tzu
Howard, cher camarade, thank you for your fierce and passionate love for the children ... of all species!

28 July 2019

Compassion Tune-up - Greta Thunberg's Message to the Music of The 1975

When I'm not here every Sunday morning expounding on my thoughts and feelings around the climate crisis, it's because I'm too depressed to do it. It's been weeks now that I've barely done anything on the climate change front. (Well, I did protest our prime minister's visit to the region!)

But then this came my way and I really wanted to share it with you. Greta Thunberg is both a climate hero and an inspiration to many of us activists — of all generations.
"We must all do the seemingly impossible."
Enjoy the background music of The 1975, and then bookmark this page and come back and come back and come back again, until Greta's message fills your heart, overflows into your arteries, and then seeps from your pores. (One friend I sent it to you responded, "I feel like I need to hear it over and over, to keep the awareness at the top of my head all the time. Change now, today, stop the emissions. Rebel.") "Lyrics" are below.




Here's an animated version!





Greta Thunberg's Speech


We are right now in the beginning of a climate and ecological crisis.
And we need to call it what it is. An emergency.
We must acknowledge that we do not have the situation under control and that we don’t have all the solutions yet. Unless those solutions mean that we simply  stop doing certain things.
We admit that we are losing this battle.
We have to acknowledge that the older generations have failed. All political movements in their present form have failed.
But homo sapiens have not yet failed.
Yes, we are failing, but there is still time to turn everything around. We can still fix this. We still have everything in our own hands.
But unless we recognise the overall failures of our current systems, we most probably don’t stand a chance.
We are facing a disaster of unspoken sufferings for enormous amounts of people. And now is not the time for speaking politely or focusing on what we can or cannot say. Now is the time to speak clearly.
Solving the climate crisis is the greatest and most complex challenge that homo sapiens have ever faced. The main solution, however, is so simple that even a small child can understand it. We have to stop our emissions of greenhouse gases.
And either we do that, or we don’t.
You say that nothing in life is black or white.
But that is a lie. A very dangerous lie.
Either we prevent a 1.5 degree of warming, or we don’t.
Either we avoid setting off that irreversible chain reaction beyond human control, or we don’t.
Either we choose to go on as a civilisation or we don’t.
That is as black or white as it gets.
Because there are no grey areas when it comes to survival.
Now we all have a choice.
We can create transformational action that will safeguard the living conditions for future generations.
Or we can continue with our business as usual and fail.
That is up to you and me.
And yes, we need a system change rather than individual change. But you cannot have one without the other.
If you look through history, all the big changes in society have been started by people at the grassroots level. People like you and me.
So, I ask you to please wake up and make the changes required possible. To do your best is no longer good enough. We must all do the seemingly impossible.
Today, we use about 100 million barrels of oil, every single day. There are no politics to change that. There are no rules to keep that oil in the ground.
So, we can no longer save the world by playing by the rules. Because the rules have to be changed.
Everything needs to change. And it has to start today.
So, everyone out there, it is now time for civil disobedience. It is time to rebel.”




02 June 2019

How Do We Cultivate the Courage We Need to Do What's Needed?

A friend sent that quote to me this past week ... a week during which I've been struggling to remain brave in the face of frustrating and nearly overwhelming personal circumstances and still so much nasty gawddamn denial of the climate crisis. Who *are* these deniers? Why are they *so* afraid to be working for a better world rather than the status quo? Because, make no mistake, denial of the climate change emergency is born out of cowardice ... and a shrivelled heart incapable of compassion.

Conformity to "everyone else" is killing us! Conforming to denialist beliefs. Jetting off to lie on some distant beach. Buy, buy, buying to fill some void. Building with steel and concrete rather than wood. Eating industrially raised meat and dairy. Using chemicals on their gardens.

Conformity is killing us.

Globally, crop yields have, on average, started declining. My worst fear (that food security would disappear while people are still arguing that "CO2 is good for plants") is coming true. I need to screw up my courage to a new level. Feel the fear and do it anyway.
"Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free."
― Jim Morrison
It's time for material and energy austerity, folks. All the bad things I've been talking about here for TEN YEARS (!!!) are not only happening but increasing, and increasing at accelerating rates.

WE have to get our carbon emissions into decline NOW. WE have to do that. We can't wait for governments anymore.

What if the Green New Deal was designed to be a giant distraction? What can WE be doing? I mean besides the stuff we've been half-assedly doing for 20 years.

We need to be buying nothing but food. We need to work with our neighbours and in our communities to get growing as much food as possible, in as many local places as possible.

Governments need to get their fingers out of their noses and build public transit that works for real people of all ages and abilities. We need to be using energy-dense nuclear power to smelt the metals to build this public transit infrastructure, as well as the renewable energy infrastructure. 

We need to be staying cool using fans and breezes and shade. No air conditioning. 

We need to be doing as little travel as possible by fossil fuel. Staycations instead. Walking and biking instead. Carpooling and public transit at the very least. WE NEED TO START INCONVENIENCING OURSELVES for the sake of the future. And for some crazy reason, in this most-comfortable-ever era in Western human history, it's going to take courage to do that. 

So screw up your courage, do your best to make whatever changes you can make (cancel a vacation, plant some food, stay home more often or walk/ride a bike), but don't be afraid to screw up or be a hypocrite sometimes (the zero-carbon systems just aren't in place yet!).

We all need good luck now (to be honest, we probably need an all-out miracle) but by being as brave as we can be and making these changes, perhaps we can create our luck, and our own miracle. Oh, and don't be afraid to reach out to others for help. There's more courage to be found in numbers.

(With apologies for a rather disjointed post — but we can't let perfect get in the way of good enough anymore. We just have to get stuff done. For encouragement, see my other posts about courage.)