30 June 2009

159 Days - What Role Does Trust Play in Our Climate Change Solutions?


"Trust" has been a recurring theme in my life these last few days (including in my dreams at night), and maybe that's for a reason. What role does, or should, trust play in our climate change deliberations?

I keep reading reports from high level United Nations meetings or OECD meetings that underscore a perverse sort of trust: We can definitely, it appears, trust developed nations to ignore their role in the climate crisis (not to mention the economic crisis), and to do whatever they can to not have to change.

But that's not the kind of trust I mean.
Wouldn't it be great to be able to trust that politicians at all levels will remember their humanity and act as human beings (there is certainly reason to doubt this at times, when we witness their staunch refusal to grasp that human life is dependent on the rest of Life), with children and grandchildren whose future they care about?

Wouldn't it be great to be able to trust that our neighbours and friends and fellow community members will always (well, almost always) put the collective benefit before their own personal desires? ("I need chocolate chips... I must have chocolate chips NOW... I'll just run —read: burn fossil fuels by driving — to the store and get some" becomes "Oh well, I'm out of chocolate chips. The next time I'm out shopping, I'll buy some. Tonight, I'll make oatmeal raisin cookies rather than chocolate chip cookies.")

And finally, how do we come to trust ourselves, so that when that choice point comes (flying away on vacation or staying close to home, for example), we do what is for the greatest good of everyone, and not just our small circle of family and friends?
In other words, how do we become trustworthy in the face of climate change? Is it like forming a new habit? They say it takes three weeks to form a new habit, whether good or bad — so how about saying no to driving, flying, heating, burning, buying for 21 days, to see how it feels? How about if we spend three weeks always putting the face of an African child in our mind's eye when making a decision that could release carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases into the (our shared) atmosphere? What about discussing every climate-change-related decision with someone else before making it?

And what if, when we write to politicians and others (climate scientists or environmental groups? big banks and big corporations?) in whom we must entrust our future, we use the language of trust? For example, "Dear Mr/s. President or Prime Minister, may I trust that you will do everything — absolutely everything, at every opportunity — you can to safeguard the future of your children and mine?"

Let's plant the seed of trust ... and maybe those in charge of our climate future will become truly worthy of our trust.

29 June 2009

160 Days - Climate Change in the Land of Ironies

Okay, this one is going to be sort of weird and esoteric.

I've been noticing several ironies lately. Here they are:
1. This hope thing. It drives me crazy. Everybody's into "hope" — as though hope is all of a sudden going to melt the ice in the hearts of greedy CEOs of rich fossil fuel corporations.

But (and here's the irony), even though hope is not getting us anywhere (as in, hope versus a $300 per ton carbon tax), and there is practically no hope left that we can avoid climate chaos (especially for the most hopeless in the world), I do this work because I hold hope in my heart. As Paul Hawken said recently in his now famous 2009 convocation address: "Hopefulness only makes sense when it doesn't make sense to be hopeful." Ironic, eh?

2. Recently I wrote that we have to start loving others as ourselves, and valuing the lives of others as our own. The irony here is that one of our big problems as climate activists is that we're too nice. We have to stop being so blinkin' nice! So on the one hand, we need to spread the message that loving your fellow human beings is part of the solution to the climate change emergency, while on the other hand, we need to start getting brutal (or least brutally honest) with and about those who are standing in the way of doing the right thing for future generations. How do we hold those two extremes in our hearts?

3. I complained on a listserve recently that we are too ready, too willing to criticize fellow climate activists if they make the least little mistake or go out on a limb to make a point. It shocks me sometimes how quick we are to jump on someone who is on our side (the side of safeguarding the future for all species).

It's ironic, then, that one of the biggest problems we have in the fight for climate justice is that climate change scientists and environmental organizations aren't speaking the full truth — yet no one is criticizing their reticence and cowardice!

4. And finally, there's fear. Most climate activists say we can't scare the public because fear will immobilize them. But folks, the public is already immobilized! By Hollywood and TV and advertising and boring jobs and long commutes and family problems and getting ahead. If we don't frighten them with the truth of the seriousness and urgency of the climate change crisis, how will we ever get them on board?
Conundrums, eh?

28 June 2009

161 Days Left - Time is Running Out: Kofi Annan's TCK, TCK, TCK Campaign

Just a short one today (we're joining a bike ride send-off for our young friends who are cycling across Canada this summer to raise the climate change emergency alert — follow their Pedal for the Planet journey).

Climate Justice Allies including Desmond Tutu, Rajendra Pachauri, Wangari Matthai and Jeffery Sachs, among others, have joined former UN Secretary General Koffi Annan in the TCK TCK TCK Time for Climate Justice campaign.

This is a brand new, global, new media-centred (Web 2.0, Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, Youtube, etc.) campaign to tell the world that time is running out to deliver climate justice at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 15) in Copenhagen, December 2009, where negotiators from the world's nations will attempt to finalize a successor to the Kyoto Protocol (and so far, they're failing miserably).

The campaign's goal is to recruit Climate Allies from around the world. The more that general public participants engage with the campaign, the more their status as a Climate Ally increases, making the campaign interactive and engaging (at least for young people and new-media-savvy oldsters), and securing a commitment of attention and assistance for the cause.

*****
Sometimes people think that "just talking about it" is a waste of time. My research shows that "finally talking about it" can be viewed as action. By talking about it, you are
  • reinforcing your own understanding of the issue
  • raising awareness
  • spreading the word
  • teaching others
  • making it okay for others to talk about it
  • getting it into the public discourse.
The "it" in this case is climate justice, something that human beings have never had to think about before now (the climate was the climate, every region of the world had its own —stable for the last 10,000 or so years — and human beings did not affect it).

The notion of climate justice is asking those of us living in greenhouse gas-spewing developed nations to recognize that we have wrecked havoc with the global climate, and that the impacts of this climate chaos are hitting the least developed regions of the world first - and to do something to mitigate these impacts.

But our day has come; to wit, the severe drought affecting agriculture in the southwestern USA. "There but for the grace of God go I" will not apply to us much longer.

What we do to the children of the poor and "climate innocent,"
we do to our own children.

Tck, tck, tck.

27 June 2009

162 Days - The Missing Ingredient: Valuing Life Itself

The special guy in my life has told me more than once that the human species probably isn't going to survive this challenge of all challenges ... because most of us don't care about anyone outside of our small group of family and friends.

In other words, our selfishness and chauvinism ("prejudiced belief in the superiority of one's own") will be the end of us.

Yesterday, I read something in a short piece called "Utopia" by Jim Anderson, which explains Peter's fear quite well:
Listen: It is not a law of nature [that our utopian dreams should fail]. It is simply what we do to each other. It is a failure somewhere deep in the heart, soul and psyche of human beings.

Maybe we should finally see this. The cold shattering reality is that in this world we really do not care enough for each other. The crushing force that finally destroys all beautiful visions of utopia and dreams of "Liberté! Equalité! Fraternité!" is that other life on this planet is never worth more than our own life. All we really know and finally care about is our own personal and private lives. This is the essence of all greed, brutality and inhumanity on Earth.
Gulp. Hold onto that thought as you contemplate what compassionate climate action looks like. We have to care for more than our circle of family, we must care for the whole human family. We must value more than just our little lives, we must value Life itself.

Call me an optimist, but I want to believe that we can (re)plant this seed of an idea — and it will sprout and grow and choke out the weeds of consumerism and individualism and greed.

To end, here's a nostalgic little gift of sunshine to help this seed along, a song of peace and love, originally by The Kingston Trio, and sung here by The Youngbloods (with poorish quality visuals).
GET TOGETHER
C'mon people now,
Smile on your brother
Ev'rybody get together
Try and love one another right now

26 June 2009

163 Days - Note to President Obama: Please Leave Your Coal in the Ground!

We had strong suspicions when we saw support ads for Obama's presidential candidacy from the American coal industry, but now we have confirmation that it's true.

Barack Obama is a coal man. Damn.

In an interview reported in The Grist yesterday (25 June 2009), Nancy Sutley, chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality and therefore Obama's chief environmental advisor, said, "[C]learly coal is a part of our energy mix now and it's likely to be so in the future....

President Obama, please, with all due respect, coal is a carbon sink that should be left in the ground. Once you burn it, you've destroyed both the past and the future.

Plus hey, it ain't going anywhere! Maybe after you have developed "clean coal technology" (a better oxymoron than even "military intelligence"?), then you could start eyeing it as part of your "energy mix" (which, I take it, is not something the White House disc jockey creates to get Americans up dancing).

From where I sit, it looks like you're willing to trade the future of your beautiful children for votes from the coal industry.

For the sake of children everywhere, of all species, please leave your coal where it belongs!

25 June 2009

164 Days - People Don't Realize What "Copenhagen" is Coming to Symbolize

When you think or hear the name "Kyoto" (which we all mangle if we don't speak the language), what do you think of — the city in Japan or the consternating climate change protocol?

As someone who has wonderful memories of Copenhagen, who fell in love in Copenhagen and with Copenhagen, part of me is agonizing that this Danish city that I love so much is coming to symbolize the moment when humanity decided it just couldn't get its act together quickly enough to protect its children and survive as a species.

Talk about Judgement Day! I wouldn't wish this distinction on any locale, and can't think of a single city or town that I would want to vilify or burden in this way.

Here's the thing. Copenhagen is going to come to mean turning point, crossroads, crucial juncture, critical choice point. Despairingly, it's looking more and more like it's going to come to mean:
  • the turning point where we didn't turn in time and crashed and burned
  • a crossroads where we went the wrong way and ended up in oblivion
  • the crucial juncture where the future became a thing of the past, and
  • a critical choice point where we did not make the right decision to safeguard the future for life on Earth.
Copenhagen, sometimes referred to as the Paris of the North, is København in Danish, and comes from the Danish Købmandshavn, which means Merchants' Harbour.

By 19 December 2009, we'll know whether it also means Harbour for Merchants of Death.

24 June 2009

165 Days - Note to Self: COURAGE IS CONTAGIOUS

Dr. Hansen, you're a hero!

Anyone following climate change news has already heard that NASA's Dr. James Hansen was arrested yesterday when protesting mountain top removal coal mining in West Virginia.

I got a shiver when I heard the news. It was the last prod I needed to screw up my courage enough to start not caring what people "think" of me anymore. I'm ready to start not being nice in my work to safeguard the future.

Dr. Hansen certainly has more to lose than I do when sticking his neck out for the children of all species and all generations. (Kudos to Darryl Hannah and the other brave protestors / arrestees, too.) It turns out that courage is contagious!

We've started a conversation about the courage that climate scientists and activists are going to need in order to save the world. Check it out at Clean Energy Project in Germany.

And now, repeat after me. "Nice" is getting us nowhere. Courage is what's needed and courage is compassion in action.

23 June 2009

166 Days - Message to Everyone: When It Comes to Geoengineering to Save the Planet, How Can We Say No?

I've heard from two friends now that a recent presentation by a climate change expert ended badly because so many people became dissenters when he suggested a deep sea way to capture and store carbon.

So what gives? These armchair critics of geoengineering forget that their whole lives have been geoengineered in a way ... that they owe their comfort and, dare I say, their survival to the geoengineering of the planet that has taken place over the last 150 years or so. (Granted, some — see the article below — would call geoengineering a more deliberate manipulation of the Earth than what we've been up to — making things worse "by accident" while trying to get rich or make things better.)

Why, when people suggest geoengineering as a way to survive global climate change, do these same people get all huffy and suddenly quite protective of the sea, the land and the sky? Isn't it just a tad hypocritical?

Sure, be reluctant. Pose questions. Fear the unforeseen consequences. But remember that we have been inflicting unforeseen (and, I pray, unintended) consequences on the biosphere since the industrial revolution.

We can't now fear for our individual child's health when we have put the future of every child on Earth at risk. We can't all of a sudden "care" what happens to our oceans when we've been decimating them for decades. We can't get all worried about the atmosphere now, when we've been pumping up CO2 and methane levels like crazy for over a century.

For a discussion on why geoengineering might be our only chance at survival, see It's Time to Cool the Planet by Jamais Cascio, in the 15 June 2009 Wall Street Journal (I take my allies where I can find them).

"Altering the Earth's temperature, of course, is hardly anything new. Human civilization has been changing the Earth's environment for millennia, often to our detriment. Dams, deforestation and urbanization can alter water cycles and wind patterns, occasionally triggering droughts or even creating deserts. On a global scale, industrial activity for the past 150 years or so has changed the Earth's atmosphere, threatening to raise average world temperatures to catastrophic levels, even if we were able to stop releasing carbon into the atmosphere immediately."
— Jamais Cascio

22 June 2009

167 Days - Message to Young People: TAKE BACK YOUR PLANET!

We've been meeting once a week with a young friend I've told you about before who will be bicycling thousands of kilometres across Canada this summer to carry the message that global climate change has become a planetary emergency.

What my husband took to the meeting today resonated for each of us. Here is his simple yet excellent idea (which apparently grew out of something he read about what young people in India are calling for):

Youth in all countries and states or provinces could demand to have deputy-minister-level representatives (chosen by them) to represent their "vested" interest in a viable future and a climate-safe planet. These chosen young people (or perhaps, in some cultures, trusted elders?) would participate in all government energy and climate change policy discussions and decisions.

Their message at every table would be climate justice for all today's youth!

Our young friend loved this idea. We hope the idea flies around the world, and that young people everywhere demand the right to take back their planet.

21 June 2009

168 Days - Message to Climate Scientists: Show Some Emotion - Please!

Great long reports of climate science research keep crossing my desk. Luckily, I have our GreenHeart Education climate science advisor sitting next to me. He reads, digests, synthesizes and then shares with me what these huge tomes have to say.

And it's always the same. Very calm language depicting the climate change emergency in words that don't depict a climate change emergency!!

Here's an example. The brand new 196-page Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States is introduced at Global Warming is Real.com with this headline: "U.S. Government Report Says Climate Change a Clear and Present Danger." But when you go to the actual report, you can't find the word "danger" — or "emergency" or "urgency" or "catastrophe." Instead, they use language like this: "Responses to the climate change challenge will almost certainly evolve over time as society learns by doing" (p. 157).

Climate change "challenge"? Like it's a game show or something?! What's with these scientists? They're human, too (right?) Aren't they afraid for their children and grandchildren? Don't they care about future generations of all species? Don't they feel any compassion for the billions of climate-change-vulnerable and the hundreds of thousands of people already impacted by the climate change crisis?

I can't help but think that what would actually help is a little bit of urgency, of panic, of fear, of scared-silliness on the part of these scientists. These are the people who know what is going to happen, and they (with a few notable exceptions) keep saying nice, calm, this-is-not-an-emergency sorts of things like "Temperature rises above 2 degrees C will be difficult for contemporary societies to cope with" (p. 12). (That quote is from the Synthesis Report of the biggest climate change conference of the year, held March 2009 in Copenhagen, entitled Climate Change: Global Risks, Challenges, and Decisions [pdf]).

What does it take to get thousands of scientists excited? "Difficult for contemporary societies to cope with"?! Thousands and thousands of people are already losing their lives and their livelihoods, their food security and water sources, their homes and their whole nations at only +0.78 degrees C of global warming! The fact is, 2 degrees C is a target for catastrophe!

Why are climate scientists not jumping up and down, yelling and screaming, standing on their heads, going on hunger strikes to get the point across — THAT WE ARE BEYOND DANGEROUS INTERFERENCE WITH THE CLIMATE SYSTEM!

Are scientists SO programmed with rationality that they can't ever let their hearts speak for them? Here's another quote from the Copenhagen conference synthesis, to make my point:

"Defining 'dangerous climate change' is ultimately a value judgement to be made by societies as a whole" (p. 12). Well, I'm society and I value life on Earth and my fellow brothers and sisters of the human species, so I'm making the value judgement: WE'RE BEYOND DANGEROUS, DUDES! Now get on with safeguarding the future.

20 June 2009

169 Days - Laugh or Cry? Climate Heaven or Climate Hell?

Sometimes I just break down and weep. I am one of the unlucky ones ... I understand global climate change, I see it happening, I know who is being impacted the worst (and it ain't rich white people with big cars) — and it breaks my heart.

If I didn't feel the pain, I wouldn't spend hours every day doing this work for the sake of the future. I'd be having a good time.

I lament that more people don't share this burden. I've often thought that if everyone did their share, no one would have to do it all. And some days, it feels like we can count the world's real climate activists on our hands and maybe one foot.

Anyway, after a cry and a short walk today to clear my mind (and restore my heart), I sent a resource to a fellow activist by email. His response was almost immediate. To which I replied: "Now ... what are we both doing indoors at our computers on such a lovely day?????"

His response made me laugh: "My computer and I seem attached at our navels, though I don't know who is feeding whom. Anyway, as you know weather does not distract me from climate."

Oh well, I found it funny. ;-)

Anyway, here's my point — and my compassionate climate action for today: In order to do this work, to be dedicated climate activists on behalf of the children of all species, we have to feel some pain, we have to cry, to despair, to occasionally lose faith in our species, to get angry at the stonewalling and denial and obfuscation.

And then we have to remember that if we don't do it, maybe nobody will. We have to carry on and do what we can do. We have to reach out, support others who are making the effort, encourage those who are contemplating making the leap. (It takes courage to jump into climate change activism.)

And then every once in a while, we must laugh.

Have you heard the one about the climate change activist who walked into a bar ...? (Neither have I.) Okay, try this website for some late-night global warming humour.

Here's my favourite:
"According to a new UN report, the global warming outlook is much worse than originally predicted. Which is pretty bad when they originally predicted it would destroy the planet."
— Jay Leno

And here's one last one that I found in an essay on the dearth of global warming humour:
"Interviewing the presenter of a CNN programme called 'Planet in Peril,' Stephen Colbert asks, 'Are you talking about Planet Earth?' ('Yes.') 'Could that eventually affect Planet America?'"

Get it?

Okay, back to the serious work now.

19 June 2009

170 Days - Compassionate Climate Change Solution #6 Get Ready for Alternative Transportation

Are you old enough to remember when flying was still special? I am. And I have a dear elderly friend who is old enough to remember when nobody took airline flights. They stayed home, walked, or took the wagon (or the sleigh in winter).

Getting to zero greenhouse gas emissions means changing how we do things, and one of the most interesting things we're going to change is how we get around. No more "I popped to Los Angeles for the weekend" or "I'm heading home to see my family in Australia for the holiday."

Nope, people are going to start living where they're born. And vacationing close to home. What a concept!

In the meantime, here are ways to get ready for the alternative forms of transportation that we should all be calling for:
  • Get fit. Think about transportation for a moment. Have our legs (at least in the developed nations) truly become vestigial, like our appendixes? Have cars replaced our legs, like prosthetics? Let's start using our legs again, by walking and bicycling. If we start young, or get back in shape and then stay in shape, we'll be able to walk to our graves!
  • Take a Hundred Mile/Kilometre Vacation. A change is as good as a rest, so you don't have to go far to go on vacation. Become a tourist in your hometown. Swap homes with a friend across town. Stay in a local fancy hotel or theme motel. Want to go further afield? Take a bus or train, a bicycle path or a subway to the end of the line. Get off. Explore.
  • Join the Slow Movement. Just slow down. So what if dinner isn't eaten til 8 pm? Don't head out to insert-name-of-fast-food-joint here (on your prosthetic, fossil-fuelled wheels!) because you're tired after work or can't think of what to cook right away. Relax. Take your time. Say no to commitments that will make you rush through dinner. Or start out earlier and walk and talk and nibble.
  • Learn to love staying home! Sleep on your balcony or in your guestroom or backyard. Make your home cozy. Get to know your neighbours. Plant a garden and enjoy watching it grow. Literally ... take a cup of tea into the garden every day and see what's changed. It's a delight! Take up a winter hobby that creates something (embroidery, woodworking, gourmet cooking) — spending more time at home does not mean spending more time watching TV. Volunteer at a local food bank, hospital or seniors centre (that you can walk, bicycle or bus to).
The point is that times are changing and we have to get ourselves weaned off fossil-fuel dependent forms of transportation. Why not start now while it's a fun challenge? Oh, you don't think this will be a fun challenge? Well, as my friend, visual essayist Franke James, says, "Do the hardest thing first!" (She got rid of her SUV altogether.)

18 June 2009

171 Days - Compassionate Climate Change Solution #5 END DEFORESTATION



I've been forgetting that I started this blog to bring COMPASSION to the dialogue about solutions.

Deforesting the planet has caused innumerable problems: devastation of biodiversity (due to habitat destruction and loss) — think orangutans and weep; erosion and landslides (oftentimes leading to silt-up of streams, which leads to more loss of biodiversity); increased flooding; and the driving of indigenous peoples from their ancestral homelands (which leads to a loss of ancient, Earth-based wisdom and knowledge).

But the really bad news is that deforestation is a major factor driving global climate change. "Scientists say one day's deforestation is equivalent to the carbon footprint of eight million people flying from London to New York."

We know that trees sequester carbon (in the short carbon cycle) — we just don't understand all the connections within natural systems. This March 2009 article (Amazon Rainforest Carbon Sink Threatened By Drought) in ScienceDaily explains a few of those vital connections we sever with the unintended consequences of our wasteful lifestyles.

To learn more about the connection between deforestation of tropical rainforests and global warming, see The Prince's Rainforests Project. As Prince Charles explains, "If we lose the battle against tropical deforestation, we lose the battle against climate change."

What can we do without in order to safeguard our forests? What can we do about:
  • clearcutting?
  • wads of toilet paper from old growth forests when you're going to wash your hands anyway?
  • newspapers, magazines and books you're not going to read?
  • tropical wood patio furniture? (what's wrong with local wood, selectively logged?)
  • hamburgers from rainforest beef cattle?
  • palm oil? (lots of tropical forests are being cleared for palm plantations; palm oil is in many if not most of our packaged foods — let's eat real food and cook from scratch)

17 June 2009

172 Days - Sharing a Fantastic Resource, Crisis Guide: Climate Change

Here's a great multi-media resource on the climate emergency that we discovered this morning. It's from the Council on Foreign Relations, which is US-based so some of it has an American focus, but that's okay.
I know that school is out or almost out for the summer in many parts of the world, but that makes this a perfect time for teachers to educate themselves on the climate crisis.
One tip: Don't bother reading anything older than 2008. Research findings are coming at us so fast and furious that anything older than about 2007 could be out of date already.

Get ready to go back to school (or work) with a firm grasp of why climate change constitutes a global emergency ... and then teach that to your students (or colleagues) — they have a right to know.

16 June 2009

173 Days to Copenhagen - That's 25 Meatless Mondays!

Thanks to Paul McCartney, Yoko Ono and the city of Ghent in Belgium, it's now okay to talk about going vegetarian to combat climate change.

While Ghent (a lovely city of canals and old buildings) is going meatless on Thursdays, McCartney and his gang are suggesting Meatless Mondays.

So, for all the carnivores and lazy omnivores reading this, here's my list of easy ways to go veg on Mondays.

EAT BEANS: beans from a can with maple syrup — so Canadian! — or mustard or veggie wieners, lots of different kinds of beans, from cans or otherwise (get yourself a stainless steel pressure cooker — beans cooked from scratch in 20-30 minutes!!), Spanish white beans with pesto sauce and salad on the side, mmmmm!

EXPERIMENT WITH GRAINS: many of us grew up on spaghetti and white rice ... now try bulgar wheat (tabouli salads rock), couscous, amaranth, quinoa, millet, kasha or buckwheat, different rices (red, black, wild) from around the world — just go nuts in a health or natural foods store! Put them in jars on open shelves and they become a work of art.

JUST GO NUTS: yup, if you give up meat you get to eat nuts, lots of them, expensive ones! Brazil nuts, pecans, cashews, hazlenuts, almonds — and not just at Christmas or holiday times; try fancy nut butters, too — if they seem expensive, just remember that you don't devour the whole jar at once, and they're taking the place of expensive meats.

EAT LOTS OF SALAD AND PIZZA: you can't go wrong with salad and pizza (unless they pile on the cheese — simply ask for light cheese or no cheese) ... when making your own, go crazy with toppings: nuts, seeds, artichoke hearts, olives of all kinds, even in/on your salads.

GO "ETHNIC" (unless you live in Greece, Greek food is considered ethnic elsewhere): let's try this ...
  • Greek = Greek salad, vegetable shish kebab, spanikopita, dolmades, artichoke hearts with lemon sauce

  • Indian = raita salad (yogurt with cucumber and spices), vegetable curry, dal (a lentil stew), and rice

  • Mexican = bean enchiladas, Spanish rice, salsa, guacamole

  • Asian = pad thai, stir fries with tofu, broccoli with black bean sauce (buy lots of "ethnic" sauces for times like this), sushi, teriyaki or tempura veggies, fried rice
Need I continue? If you're not already vegan or vegetarian, please try Meatless Mondays. The Earth, the Future, and the Children of All Species (especially the ones you don't eat) will thank you.

15 June 2009

174 Days - When Will the Abuse Stop?

Here's my climate action today.




That's right. No action on climate change on Day 174. I decided to mourn other things today. Climate change can wait til tomorrow (and believe me, it won't go away while I'm busy with other things for a few hours — unfortunately).

I worked today with a little guy whose life of abuse, violence and anger has saddened me to my core. How in hell are we going to give a damn about future generations of children when we still allow child abuse in our midst?

I've often lamented that people who are ill or very poor or in horrible relationships shouldn't be expected to "green" their lives in deliberate and mindful ways. They already have big problems to deal with. It's up to the rest of us who can make changes to make them.

Anyway, my heart goes out to all the people in the world who are ill, who are very poor, and who are stuck in terrifying relationships. For them (for you?), I will redouble my efforts on climate change so that they can concentrate on what's hurting them right now.

14 June 2009

175 Days - What I Learned from "Fierce Light" is the Importance of Love and Solidarity

We saw the movie Fierce Light: When Spirit Meets Action, by Canadian filmmaker and media activist Velcrow Ripper, last night. It's currently playing at film festivals and in selected theatres around the world.

One of the best things about the movie was that we enjoyed a full half hour of it before hearing that "hope" word. What a wonderful half hour! I'm so sick of "hope" — people around the world are dying, starving, being flooded or parched, ill, losing their homes and their whole nations because of global climate change, but people in my culture have to feel "hope." Blech. Hope is a drug that takes other people's pain away — from you. Feel the pain, people! Feel their pain! Feel your own anguish! Feel it, then do something about it. (That is when spirit meets action.)

Anyway, a shining light in the movie was Congressman John Lewis, a hero of the 1960s civil rights movement in America, who was beaten almost to death for taking part in a peaceful march for voting rights (on a day later known as Bloody Sunday).

Mr. Lewis exuded a calm during his interview that I have long forgotten. He reminded me of the importance of doing our activist work in a spirit of love and solidarity — and compassion.

I came away with this zany urge to send flowers to Rex Tillerson, CEO of Exxon Mobil Corporation. Exxon is the world's biggest oil and gas company, which makes Tillerson one of the Earth's biggest enemies and one of my least favourite people on the face of the planet.

I realized that we can't save our love and compassion just for the poor and climate change vulnerable (though they certainly deserve all our solidarity). Rich people like Tillerson, whether they know they are frying their grandchildren's future or they are so ignorant that they don't realize they're doing it, are going to hell either way. (Oops, sorry, that wasn't very loving, was it?) I'll report back if I do send those flowers. You could help me figure out what to write on the card!

In a post to ACTivist Magazine, Fierce Light's Ripper included a poem from the Dalai Lama. I'd love for the Dalai Lama to get right on board with climate change (since it's the biggest spiritual crisis and the greatest threat to human rights ever), but that's another story. [UPDATE: Turns out he's done it! He just needed to see those Tibetan glaciers melting before he decided to give it his focus.] I'll leave you with his poem:

No matter what is going on
Never give up
Develop the heart
In your country too much work is spent developing the mind
Instead of the heart
Be compassionate
Not just to your friends
But to everyone [including the CEO of Exxon]
Be compassionate
Work for peace
In your heart and in the world
Work for peace
And I say again
Never give up
No matter what is happening
No matter what is going on around you
Never give up.

— The Dalai Lama

13 June 2009

176 Days - A Simple Action: Ask World Leaders to Actually Attend the Talks!

Here is a Greenpeace International petition that is definitely worth the ten seconds it will take to sign:

Astoundingly, few of the world's leaders have committed to even show up at the UN Climate Summit in December, where decisions about the future of our planet will be made. Can the fate of the world really be delegated? Ask them to take personal responsibility to see to it that the right deal is sealed.

ASK WORLD LEADERS TO PERSONALLY ATTEND THE CLIMATE CONFERENCE
  • President Barack Obama, United States of America
  • President Hu Jintao, People's Republic of China
  • President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Brazil
  • President Nicolas Sarkozy, France
  • Prime Minister Gordon Brown, United Kingdom
  • Chancellor Angela Merkel, Germany
[And let's throw Primer Minister Stephen Harper, Canada into that list - tiny population, HUGE carbon footprint, a LOT of bad carbon karma!]

Dear leaders,

I call upon you, not as representatives of your countries, but as leaders of the world, to personally attend the United Nations Climate Summit in Copenhagen this December.

Decisions which will be made at this meeting will impact the lives of everyone alive today, and determine the shape of humanity's future.

This is the world's best chance to avoid runaway climate change.

You owe it to the world to attend, to set aside your national interests, to safeguard our future, and to do what you were elected to do: lead.

My request is simple: promise now to personally attend.

SIGN HERE

12 June 2009

177 Days - Stonewalling the Climate Negotiations: Who's Winning While Life on Earth Loses?

It's scary watching what's going on at the UNFCCC international meetings leading up to the Copenhagen climate talks in December.

It's scary because many developed/industrialized/Annex 1 countries continue to stonewall the talks (including, I'm ashamed to say, the representatives of my country's minority right-wing, in-Big-Oil's-pocket government).

Many of the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are literally begging for their survival, and we fat cats just can't seem to see that their fate has anything to do with us — or ours.

The people and countries who gain from obfuscating and obviating, and from being obstreperous and obnoxious, what do they believe they are gaining? What's truly in it for them? If life is just a game (survival, obviously, is not a game) to these people and countries, why won't they even consider making it a cooperative game rather than a highly competitive one?

The planet's survival is not a zero-sum game, as in if "they" lose, we win. No, if anyone loses this game, we all lose. The atmosphere and the biosphere belong to every living being on Earth.

What outright imperious arrogance for some people and countries that they are so narrow in their view of winning the climate battle that they can't see past their own borders. It's criminal.

Has it not reached the point where these people and countries should be charged with crimes against humanity? And left out of the negotiations?

11 June 2009

178 Days - Don't Know What You Can Do About Climate Change? Adopt a Negotiator!

It's easy to feel like there's nothing we can do to influence the Copenhagen climate talks. They're so far away — in both time and space — for so many of us.

But there is one way to stay virtually involved, and that's through Adopt a Negotiator. Young people around the world are shadowing their countries' climate negotiators at all the different climate talks (nice way to see the world, at least!). And we can track the trackers' observations.

Here's how their website describes what they're up to. Well worth keeping your eye on these young climate heroes in training!

A fair, ambitious, and binding agreement coming out of the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference (COP15) in December could mean the difference between a manageable future and dire climatic consequences. But who knows what really goes on at these meetings? For an event described as “the most important meeting in the history of the world,” scant little seems to be known about what goes on behind the scenes. Through Adopt-a-Negotiator, we are lifting the veil and shining light on this diplomatic process. Launched at the Bonn intersessional talks in June, we’ll track the negotiations through Bangkok, then Barcelona, and on to Copenhagen, following the lead negotiators and delegates from 12 key countries, and sharing news and updates of their positions along the way.

So join us and let the negotiators know that we are watching and willing them to negotiate a Climate Change deal that is safe, fair and will ensure that we all have a future.

Each of our Climate Trackers will follow the Lead Climate Negotiator from their country and update you with the latest information., so you can stay up to date and either support or put pressure on your country’s climate negotiator to aim for a safe and fair deal.

Some of Adopt a Negotiator’s Lead tracker’s include Anna Collins from the United Kingdom, Adam McIsaac from Canada, Andrea Cinquina from Italy, Ben Jervey from the United States, Cara Bevington from Australia, Eri Aoki from Japan, Florent Baasrch from France, Fontane Lau from China, Jonathan Sundqvist from Sweden, Juliana Russar from Brazil, Leela Raina from India, and Ole Seidenberg from Germany.

Adopt A Negotiator is a project supported by the Global Campaign for Climate Action (GCCA). You can found out more about GCCA and its other activities at tcktcktck.org.