30 November 2009

6 Days to Copenhagen - Oh No, Not the Noodles, Too!

Some people can't live without their daily bread. But that's not me. I often describe myself as a potato person (it's the Irish in me). But if you really want to make me happy, feed me noodles. I am so renowned for my love of pasta that my stepson calls me Noodle.

Imagine, then, my angst at reading this headline: Global warming threatens to rob Italy of pasta

It was in

And not only that. Poland will lose its ability to grow potatoes, Spain will become mostly desert and lose its place as a major producer for Europe of fruits and vegetables, and France — France will no longer be able to produce champagne.

Threats to agriculture have been ignored for too long, probably because of specious early "research" (obviously not in the field) that said plants would grow better with the higher concentration of carbon dioxide, completely forgetting about heat and water and weather and stuff like that. It's that old reductionism again.

We are an agricultural species now and have been for many thousands of years. What we call civilization is dependent upon systematically growing our food, versus hunting and gathering. Indeed, many of our cultures and societies are based on agricultural food systems. Think France and its wines, Italy and its pastas, Mexico and its corns, India and its lentils, and so on.

India this year suffered a huge lentil crop failure due to lack of rains ... rains that traditionally used to come at the same time each year.

That's the thing with climate change: it's the lack of stability and predictability. Agriculture is based on a stable climate and being able to predict what to plant when and where. That's what we're losing with climate disruption. (Bozos who say they had a cold winter so that means there's no global warming just don't get it.)

Especially if we allow the Arctic summer sea ice to melt away, agriculture in the northern hemisphere is going to be in big trouble. Already we're seeing droughts and desertification and unreliable rains and wild weather events lowering crop yields. Already we've lost our reserves and "buffer stocks," so it's estimated that we're only one bad year of crop failures away from a real food crunch. And because we're so globalized nowadays, our food supply could be impacted by lack of monsoon rains half a world away.

The problem is not just increases in temperature and sea level but also increased climate variability and extremes, including more intense floods, droughts, and storms. Plus, it's not just about what we eat. It affects livelihoods and whole economies, as well.

"An abnormal monsoon can result in the loss of seasonal employment, shortage of food and income due to crop failure; a spread of diseases, and have an impact on industrialisation, economic activity, government saving, inflation and overall market sentiments," according to the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific.

I'm sorry, but this is enough to make me want to stuff my face with spaghetti.

29 November 2009

7 Days to Copenhagen - Compassion for the Environmental Refugees

Beautiful photo by Nattu

You know how our hearts have been going out to the people who have to evacuate their homes because of wildfires or floods? We feel particularly anguished for those who lose their houses in these blazes or inundations, which don't respect the human territory staked out in their path.

Could we perhaps reach out our compassion a bit further, to those living in the Carteret Islands, for example, a coral atoll off the coast of Papua New Guinea? These islanders are literally losing their homeland, taken by the sea — first through salination and tidal destruction of their gardens, and now through submersion of their islands.

Though some commentators are calling this the first evacuation of an entire people because of climate change, the deniers and skeptics are out in full force, saying the islands are disappearing because of tectonic movement or isostatic adjustments of the seafloor. But the cause doesn't matter; their evacuation remains an environmental tragedy for these islanders, and they deserve our compassion.

I hope it's not just because I'm an islander myself, living off the west coast of Canada, that I can relate to what these people are experiencing. It is said that they have lived on their atoll for over 1000 years — long enough to feel rather attached to it, I would think. (I've been here 11 years, and I'm feeling rather attached.) Imagine having to pick up a whole people and resettle them in a new place. I don't think we'd be too happy about it. There but for the grace of the Universe....

I think we'd better start asking our governments what their environmental refugee policies are going to be. Evacuations, migrations, shifts, conflicts are starting to happen in Pacific Islands and African nations and low-lying countries like Bangladesh. Are we going to start accepting climate refugees in our nice comfy countries? (With our current winters, I'm not sure they'd want to come!) Are we going to help out financially, as we promised to do when we signed onto the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1992? We have to pose these questions in order to get our policy makers thinking about them.

Meantime, my heart goes out to the Tuluun people of the Carteret Islands.

28 November 2009

8 Days to Copenhagen - This is Starting to Sound Like a Christmas Song


Come on, sing along!

With only 8 days til Copenhagen, my true love said to me ...

... Obama said he's going

... what's up with our prime minister?

... Al Gore has a new book out

... the Carteret Islands are sinking

... coral reefs are doomed

... oceans are acidifying

... deniers and skeptics are still bellowing

... we're still pumping out greenhouse gases

... and the temperature continues to rise at the North Pole!

27 November 2009

9 Days to Copenhagen - Are We Ready to Make Sacrifices for the Sake of Our Children?

Quite invisibly to the public eye, psychologists from around the world — especially those who specialize in conservation psychology and/or ecopsychology — are wrestling with the question of how to help people move towards behaviours and lifestyles that will lead to sustainability.

As an educator, I get to sit on the sidelines of these listserves and listen in. Sometimes I contribute a thought or two. Recently, some of the discussion focused on "framing" our messages so that people will listen and take them to heart.

In this discussion, a dichotomy seemed to be set up between what's called "motivational framing" (which, according to some research, increased "perceived competence") and "sacrificial framing" (which apparently decreased perceived competence to take action and make changes) (Louise Comeau, Royal Roads University). Put another way, "encouraging competence is more effective than emphasizing sacrifice" (Robert Gifford, University of Victoria).

While not wanting to argue with anyone about their research findings (I figure "competence" will be moot if the governments don't get off their butts and legislate the necessary changes — but who is going to ask their governments to do this?), my heart was telling me something else, so I chimed in:
Have we (as a society) actually done much asking of people to sacrifice? Sacrifice as in "the act of giving up something valued for the sake of something regarded as more important or worthy"? Or, in our research, are we just asking people how they would feel if we asked them to give something up?

The word "sacrifice" comes from the Latin
sacer, meaning "holy," which reminds me of a point my husband and I have been discussing recently. Does behaviour change come more easily to people who hold the Earth and life as sacred? And are those people more willing to make sacrifices for the sake of the greater good?

I ask because I have a hunch that asking people to make sacrifices for the sake of their children's future well-being in a carbon-constrained and climate-wracked world might actually work. If we appealed to their sense of love and compassion and "ancestorhood" (I suppose as a way to "frame" what we're asking for), we might be surprised (in either direction) by the reaction and results.

Another problem, perhaps, is that we've done an extremely poor job of educating the public about the impending impacts on their children's future lives — not making the impacts visual/graphic enough for people, for example, or not personalizing/localizing them. Since North Americans and Europeans are, generally, living in the most comfortable age and circumstances ever for human beings, it's hard to get them to see what climate chaos will do to their children's chances for similar comforts, or even survival. (And this is before we throw in the all the misinformation of deniers / skeptics / ignorers / delayers.)
This last idea came to me accidentally, several years ago, when I showed An Inconvenient Truth to three social studies classes in a secondary school and asked the students to write down the one thing that struck them most from the movie. The vast majority of these bright kids said it was the visualization of sea level rises.

That's when I realized that people have to be able to "see," in their mind's eye, what's going to happen to their children if we don't halt the carbon emissions. But when you do that, you are accused of presenting doom and gloom, of being a doom monger or an alarmist. Man, are our kids ever going to be pissed off with us when they realize what we didn't do because we were oh so afraid of being labelled "alarmist."

So, my question stands. Are we actually asking people to sacrifice today for the sake of their children's tomorrow? Sacrifice as in "the act of giving up something valued for the sake of something regarded as more important or worthy"?

If EuroAmericans truly love their meat and their cars and their money more than their kids, let's find that out now.

26 November 2009

10 Days to Copenhagen - Hackers and Deniers/Skeptics, Beware!

We've blown your cover.


All this talk of hacked emails had me daydreaming today about what hackers would find if they hacked into my emails ... snore. They sure wouldn't find much to amuse them.


Instead, I got into the fray a couple of days ago at Grist, when someone named Phil asked, "For God's sake, why don't you folks discuss the content of these emails?"


He was, of course, talking about the hacked emails that skeptics and deniers somewhere will have paid good money for — and in which they are now revelling. I asked Phil to consider (a) that scientists are human beings with human frailties, and (b) that there are far more important things to be discussing. (Like carbon feedbacks, or getting to the Age of Renewable Energy, or going veg to reduce methane emissions and buy us some time in the Arctic.)


However, my husband spent a large part of yesterday going through all the hacked emails (not just the juicy, cherry-picked ones) and he discovered something that no one else is talking about.


Here's what Dr. Peter Carter has to say about the hacked emails:

Of course, the emails are very different in their full context and for sure there are a few (very few) containing emotional content that has no place in professional correspondence. We all know, however, that the email story coming just before the UN Copenhagen Climate Conference is part of an orchestrated campaign to deny the scientific reality of catastrophic global climate change.


The amazing thing that comes out of reading these emails is the steady stream of harassment that our top climate change scientists are subjected to by the aggressive campaign of the skeptics/deniers.


The scientists at Hadley are being continually forced to spend an inordinate amount of their time in defending their science from totally unfounded claims that appear on climate change blogs and get reported in the media. As this is a battle over complex computer models based on masses of scientific research, the climate scientists are at a huge disadvantage to prove that the statements of the deniers on the models are wrong.


The scientists spend a great deal of their out of work time educating public audiences on the climate change facts to counter the denial disinformation campaign. The scientists, as a result of all this, operate under a high degree of personal stress. The harassment includes threats of civil litigation and they are also subjected to personally insulting emails on their work. In other words, there is an aggressive campaign that has been constantly waged for years, against the scientists and the science. I would not be surprised if some of the scientists have been at nervous breaking point at times.


Reading the emails, it comes across so clearly that these scientists are trying hard to protect the future of humanity from global climate catastrophe (inevitable if greenhouse gas emissions don't fall) and the deniers don't care one bit that their campaign has already condemned to death and suffering countless millions of the most climate change vulnerable and innocent. In my mind, the deniers are a bunch of .... Oops.


I have been critical of the reluctance of the IPCC scientists to tell the full extent of the terrible risks that the world is facing. Now I know the reason for their reluctance.

So, take that, you accursed hackers and deniers! We're really starting to find out what a rotten bunch of bastards you are (I'm no longer afraid to say it). How about you having a little compassion for the scientists who are doing their best to help us all understand the grave situation we're in? How about you holding in your hearts some compassion for all the children, of all species, and all future generations? Oh, sorry, I forgot. You don't have hearts.

25 November 2009

11 Days to Copenhagen - A Request to All Women Attending the Copenhagen Climate Talks


A request to all the women attending climate talks!

PLEASE WEAR BRIGHT COLOURS!
Please inject some life into the talks — wear the colours of flowers and forests and sunsets and fresh fruit and children's smiles.

BE A MOTHER OR A GRANDMOTHER FIRST. Believe in your power! The "powers that be" need to hear that all the mothers of the world want what's best for the children of all species. Please represent all the mothers and grandmothers around the globe. Even if you don't have your own biological or adopted children, you are still a mother of all the children, everywhere. Speak up for them.

REMEMBER THAT CLIMATE CHANGE KNOWS NO BORDERS. Try to forget that you're in Copenhagen representing a country. Think of the planet as one nation, under one atmosphere that knows no boundaries. Speak for all human beings, as well as the rest of nature, which has no seat and no voice at the talks.

LET COMPASSION BE YOUR COMPASS. Remember that prosperity and a thriving economy are impossible if the natural environment is ailing. We must get our priorities right! If a decision doesn't have the Earth and the children's future at heart, then that decision is not a compassionate one.

CALL FOR ZERO CARBON ALONG WITH SOME URGENCY IN ACHIEVING IT. Try to rev up the imaginations of world leaders and negotiators of all ilks (even the heartless, uncreative ones). Help them envision the Golden Age of Renewable Energy that we're heading into.


LET COURAGE GUIDE YOU. Women are courageous in so many — often unsung — ways. Courage in Copenhagen, though it won't be easy, will be simple. What a privileged position you are in! Please take advantage of it and be brave enough to speak up for all those who have so little — now and in the future. Be the peaceful warriors who safeguard the children.

REMEMBER THE GREAT WOMEN WHO HAVE ALREADY DEMONSTRATED THEIR COURAGE, women like Rachel Carson, Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, Biruté Galdikas, Donella Meadows, Hazel Henderson, Sylvia Earle, Erin Brokovich, Sister Dorothy Stang, Severn Cullis-Suzuki, Lois Gibbs, the women of the Chipko Movement, Beatrix Potter, Wangari Maathai, Julia Butterfly Hill, Betty Krawczyk, Vandana Shiva, Starhawk, Sheila Watt-Cloutier, Hildegard of Bingen. Stand on their shoulders — and be climate heroes in Copenhagen!

STANDING ON THE SHOULDERS

(click here to listen to part of this song)

by Joyce Johnson Rouse

(aka Earth Mama)


I am standing on the shoulders of the ones who came before me

I am stronger for their courage, I am wiser for their words

I am lifted by their longing for a fair and brighter future

I am grateful for their vision, for their toiling on this Earth


We are standing on the shoulders of the ones who came before us

They are saints and they are humans, they are angels, they are friends

We can see beyond the struggles and the troubles and the challenge

When we know that by our efforts things will be better in the end


They lift me higher than I could ever fly

Carrying my burdens away

I imagine our world if they hadn't tried

We wouldn't be here celebrating today


They lift me higher than I could ever fly

Carrying my burdens away

I imagine our world if they hadn't tried

We wouldn't be so very blessed today


I am standing on the shoulders of the ones who came before me

I am honored by their passion for our liberty

I will stand a little taller, I will work a little longer

And my shoulders will be there to hold the ones who follow me


24 November 2009

12 Days to Copenhagen - There's Good Laziness and Then There's Deadly Laziness

If you're the kind of lazy person who sits around watching the grass grow in the yard (or the dust settle on your furniture, depending on the season), then that's a good kind of laziness. You're not burning any fossil fuels, you're not hurting anyone. I commend and encourage that type of laziness. More people should stay put and do nothing more often. Or maybe do a jigsaw puzzle. Personally, I'd much rather play with my hair and think about life than work any day!

But there's another type of laziness that is dooming the future, and that's the laziness of climate change deniers, skeptics, ignorers and delayers. These people are too lazy to learn, too lazy to research, too lazy to find out for themselves, too lazy to ever change their tune (by gawd, they are boring!), and too lazy to give a damn about their children's future.

They just keep pushing the same (usually partisan) stuff. They lack imagination. They never seem to learn anything new. They'll glom onto "same old same old" stuff that suits their purpose (which usually has to do with maintaining a status quo that maintains their wealth and/or comfort and/or worldview), but they don't offer anything thoughtful or compassionate or wise. I read their schlock from time to time, then tear myself away from doing nothing to research their claims (haven't found one to be correct yet). Why can't they do the same?

Too blinkin' lazy. Too lazy to do the research. Too lazy to learn the basic physics. Too lazy to learn how people in other parts of the world are already being impacted. (Google "Carteret Islands + climate change" — can you say climate refugees?) Too lazy to imagine that money might not be everyone's motivation. Too lazy to feel any compassion for the children. (It's not easy to feel deeply.)

Just when you wish they were rocking away in their La-Z-Boy™ recliners, with their children or grandchildren on their knees, they rev themselves up for a little hacking and cherry picking, obfuscating and misleading. Why do they have the energy for that, but no energy for safeguarding their children's future?

It's enough to send me back to watching the dust gather.

23 November 2009

13 Days to Copenhagen - Can Bumper Stickers Save the World?

Here in North America, where much of our social discourse has been reduced to sound bytes and commercial slogans, it seems that s/he who wins the bumper sticker battle wins the war — or at least skews the beliefs and morale of the troops.

So it was interesting to hear a very passionate promoter of the vegetarian diet at the seminar the other day also promote bumper stickers.

"Bumper stickers are the way to ensure that our message is read by the people we will never have a chance to speak to," he said. "If it's on the back of our car, then other drivers will see it even if they don't want to see it."

Later, he lamented that most people — indeed, most vegetarians and vegans — still don't know that the livestock industry is the biggest culprit in our greenhouse gas emissions. They just haven't heard yet that diet has a huge impact on global warming.

I then found a blog post by LogicalOne about bumper stickers and what they say about certain, um, parties (this is obviously an American blog):
"A few weeks ago I heard a TV commentator advise that Democrats needed to learn from Republicans how to speak in 'bumper stickers.' This is the common wisdom that by labeling an issue, you control it.

Drill, Baby, Drill!

No New Taxes!

Life Begins At Conception!

Death Panels!

Secede!

Of course, this is a lot easier for Republicans. They think and communicate via bumper stickers. 'Nuance' is an epithet that Republicans use to denigrate Democrats. Institutes of higher education are always 'bastions of liberalism.' The mainstream media always has a 'liberal bias' (as compared to?). Climate change is a fraud. President Obama isn't a citizen. Evolution is just a theory. Medicare is not a government run health plan. Do you see a pattern here?
... Bumper stickers may be a simple way to summarize your position, but they don't form the basis for a discussion and they do nothing to convince anyone that you know what you are talking about."
That's a compelling critique of bumper sticker politics. But what if they actually do work? Maybe we should be using them a lot more. Remember when I talked about climate change memes, and mentioned Greenpeace's 6-words-or-less slogan contest? I'm thinking maybe that was all very wise. Maybe we really do have only a few seconds at an intersection while waiting for the stoplight to turn green (ooh, green!) to help people understand the global climate change emergency.

Maybe we really have been turned into a society of mindless boobs driving about with cars as prosthetic legs believing only what we see and seeing only what is six words or less. Maybe our society has ramped up life to be so fast that people don't have time to think for themselves anymore, so they just grab the coolest slogan that fits their worldview.

Well, I'm going to try this one out somehow:
Think food is cool? That's right. We can't live without it. Know where food comes from? Yup, farms and gardens that rely on good soil, lots of water and plenty of sunshine (it's called "a stable climate"). Know what's gonna happen if we continue heating the globe and melting the summer sea ice in the Arctic by burning every fossil fuel in sight? Right again! You'll be able to kiss that food goodbye. Northern hemisphere agriculture without the cooling effect of the Arctic summer sea ice will give new meaning to "Would you like fries with that?"
Sheesh, I might have to get a bigger car just to fit my new bumper sticker on it. In the meantime, check out http://www.pavf.org to get your own, much shorter, bumper stickers. People Against Violence for Food is promoting a vegetarian diet to fight global warming and climate change. Neat place to visit and learn, if you're into reading more than just bumper stickers.

p.s. An example of a too-nice bumper stickery message,
from the Humane Society of the United States, which advocates a different 3Rs
(which could make a nice bumper sticker):
REDUCE our animal consumption.
REFINE our diet by switching to higher welfare animal products (e.g., cage-free).
REPLACE animal products with readily available vegetarian options.

22 November 2009

Two Weeks to Copenhagen - Who is Dispensable?

Imagine travelling to a nation's beef and oil capital — and offering a seminar called "Creating a Healthy Planet with a Plant-Based Diet"! That's what we did yesterday here in Canada, in a city that shall remain nameless. During the 1970s oil crisis, these were the folks who put the slogan "Let the eastern bastards freeze in the dark" on their bumper stickers (talking about their fellow Canadians in eastern provinces, which is where I was living at the time). So I, at least, came with some trepidation.

It was, happily, a wonderful event, attended by wonderful people ... some life-long vegetarians/vegans who wanted to learn the connection between meat and global warming, some new to this diet and seeking support, and some just learning about it for the first time.

During the question period, a well-known and respected vegan in this community asked my husband to comment on what seems to be an orchestrated campaign by "certain interests" to wipe out hundreds of millions of human beings. "There's a group of people who have no conscience whatsoever," this gentleman said. "They are aiming at controlling, through the economy, the whole of the Earth. Their prime goal is to reduce the population by 80%...."

I must admit that even though my Pollyanna view of the world has been rocked by the global climate change emergency, I had never quite looked at it this way. Yet it fits perfectly with what I talked about yesterday — our inability (or wanton unwillingness) to view human beings outside our circle of familiarity as members of our species.

The gentlemen, as I understood him, was not only talking about the very powerful denialist machine that has ramped up again, pre-Copenhagen, to sow confusion and spew falsehoods about the science of global warming and climate change. He was pointing out that our inaction on the climate crisis is a form of population control. And definitely not the kind of population control many of us have espoused or worked towards, through higher levels of education for girls and women, funding for family planning, and reproductive rights for women everywhere.

No, this form of population control is akin to genocide, and it is leading to progenycide.

The tragic irony is that by being willing to dispense with the lives of all those who aren't "like us" (or contributing to "our" economy), we are risking 100% population control ... the end not only of human civilization, but of human life itself.

Photographer: H. Armstrong Roberts

21 November 2009

15 Days - Meat Eating Gone Very Wrong

In trying to uncover the reasons why we humans are doing the unthinkable (committing progenycide), we recently came across a report in the Guardian on findings that suggest the Neanderthals disappeared at least in part because Homo sapiens ate them.

This news has us thinking that one of the main reasons we're letting the Earth go down the drain is that we aren't very good at considering fellow human beings our kin. We are not species-aware or species-sensitive, therefore we don't hold our species as sacred — nor do we think in terms of species survival. (We are egocentric and think in terms of our own personal survival and perhaps that of our own family — although even that is questionable these days.)

So, we wondered, could that be because we have poorly developed schnozzes? Since we human beings didn't evolve with a powerful sense of smell in order to identify each other through our noses (like most animals do), then perhaps we were destined to not recognize our own kin. (Hey, this is all so depressing and frustrating that we're reaching for anything that will help us understand climate change deniers and industry-seduced politicians.)

If this is true — that we don't "recognize" our fellow humans — well then, we've got to start consciously putting aside our instincts and start viewing the whole human family as worth safeguarding. If we allow one child to die because of our climate change neglect, then we risk all the children — of all nations, all species and all generations.

p.s. Thanks to Oliver Kurth for the artwork.

20 November 2009

16 Days - Perhaps It Is a Matter of Belief

I've sometimes found myself teasing deniers about the fact that they don't "believe" in global warming, as if it's a religion that one can choose to believe in or not. (Ironically, many of the deniers would probably tell you they believe in God, quite without the evidence they demand from climate scientists.)

So I was quite fascinated yesterday to hear my husband muse out loud that perhaps the whole global climate change thing IS a matter of belief — it's about whether or not you believe the Earth is sacred.

If we believe that the Earth, and its diversity of life, is sacred, then we won't tolerate any risk to that diversity of life. We won't allow or accept any risk to the planet and its biosphere.

Yet we're doing the exact opposite. It seems the purpose of climate science is to tell us how great a risk we can take with the planet and get away with it.

It's quite evident that we don't hold the Earth — or life itself — as sacred.

Similarly, we are ignoring risks to agriculture, even though we are now an agricultural species. If we believe that our civilization exists because of agriculture, then shouldn't we hold agriculture as sacred? Shouldn't we be taking zero risks with our agricultural systems? If we risk agriculture, we risk our survival.

But we aren't even considering yet the risks we're taking with our food security, and most people still don't view global climate change as a food issue.

We no longer hold as sacred those things that help us survive and keep us alive. We no longer believe the Earth is sacred. So it IS a matter of belief.

19 November 2009

17 Days - Could We Survive Without Electricity?

Our season of power outages here in our little island community has begun. Winter's high winds bring branches crashing down on power lines, and we all get to experience Earth Hour for hours (and sometimes days) on end ... bringing with it an appreciation of both electricity itself and the silence of a world without that constant hum.

It was interesting for me this morning to realize that I couldn't get up and blog. (Since I started last spring, this is my first winter of blogging.) "Now, what is it that people with no power do?" I asked myself. "Especially when they don't know how to knit?"

So, on this dark, wet and windy day, I sat by candlelight and wrote a letter to my brother and sister. On paper. With a pen. I haven't done that in years. Then I read, again with the candle's light helping what little daylight the day offered, the introduction of a new vegan cookbook.

Anyway, since it's already time to write tomorrow's blog and the wind has come up again, I'll leave you with this thought: Could we survive without electricity? No, probably not. Perhaps you could, and I could (I was a Girl Guide), but there are masses of people in the developed world who simply would not know how to survive.

So why aren't we making the switch to renewably-produced electricity sooner rather than too late, when we might have to shut down all fossil-fuelled power plants as an emergency climate change mitigation measure?

18 November 2009

18 Days - This is Really Going to Hurt a Lot of People

Not sure why I didn't think of this sooner (perhaps because I drink neither wine nor coffee), but global climate change is really going to "hurt" a lot of the people who are currently totally oblivious to the emergency.

That's because it's already impacting coffee growers and wine producers. (My compassion today is towards these growers and producers, not, I must admit, towards the coffee and wine drinkers.)

According to an August 2009 article in
SciDev (the Science and Development Network website), coffee is the most valuable tropical agricultural export in the world — and it's already impacted because of rising temperatures, and droughts interspersed with heavy rain.

This is bad news because coffee grows well "within a limited climatic range."
"As temperatures rise, so will coffee — to higher altitudes and latitudes. But space is limited and there will be competition with other crops. Coffee farmers will experience climate change through greater unpredictability, with more droughts and floods — the last thing any farmer wants."
The article (please read it) is fascinating in its breadth and its understanding of the interconnectedness of all things climatic and agricultural and economic:
"As the New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman put it, globalisation is where everything is connected and nobody is in charge. And that highlights the weakness in the neoliberal agenda — global problems such as climate change cannot be solved by the invisible hand of the market."
So, adults around the world will have to pay more — and then perhaps give up completely — their morning drug of choice [I will leave out my editorial comment on the hypocrisy of a generation that talks of needing their morning fix while telling kids to just say no to drugs]. And, it turns out, they're might be losing out on their evening drug of choice, as well.

Wine growers from around the world met in Spain recently and global warming emerged as the industry's top concern on their agenda. Check out Winemakers Face Climate Change with Dread at Grist.

Yikes, imagine what a grouchy world this will be with no coffee and no wine. That's got to be reason enough for laggards to get on board and start demanding urgent action on the climate change emergency from their governments and other leaders.

Yo, you beer drinkers, don't get smug. The price of your beer is going to rise while its quality falls because rising temperatures and other climate changes are impacting the quality of hops. With global climate change, fun just ain't going to be as much fun as it used to be.

17 November 2009

19 Days - "Governments Can't Do Everything Alone ..."

"... so they get together with other governments and agree to do nothing together."

That line, or something similar, is from a student of a good friend of ours. And it explains perfectly what's happening right now with the Copenhagen climate talks.

None of the governments with any clout or power have decided to be a climate hero, or to lead the pack, or to sound the alarm on the climate emergency. No, they have all decided to say "Screw you!" to future generations, to developing nations, and to all those who are already losing their lives, their livelihoods, their food and water security, their homes and their homelands.

Indeed, here in Canada, we watched our (Not Very) Prime Minister of the Tar Sands smile last night on the news (I don't expose myself to the news very often) as he explained the lack of progress on a Copenhagen treaty.

Does this arrogance, this complete disregard for the children, frighten anyone else? Are politicians in other countries as mean-spirited as ours here in Canada? Do these politicians not realize that times are changing, must change? Are their futures so tied to economic growth that they cannot see their way clear to safeguard the future?

16 November 2009

20 Days - Standing in Deep Water, a Compassion Tune-Up

Sometimes my blog post springs from a number of small ideas, comments and events converging. Today, I'm combining a song sent by a young friend, a chance glance at a review of a new movie about Woodstock, and a realization that we have become our own worst enemy, despite the ethos of our generation when we were young.

So have a listen to the lyrics to Deep Water (below the video), performed at Woodstock in 1999 by Jewel. If you're in my mindset right now — with the Copenhagen climate talks crumbling before they even start, with news that Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan Chase are set to pay record bonuses of $29.7 billion this year, while several American states are facing bankruptcy — you'll appreciate the chorus.


Hey, Jewel even sounds a bit like Janis Joplin towards the end, to help us really "get back to the garden," which was supposed to be the message of Woodstock and that era. How did we allow ourselves to get so hoodwinked? So exploited? So numbed and dumbed? And which ones among us have been doing the hoodwinking, exploiting, and numbing and dumbing? Any chance it could stop now, since your kids are going to be as much at risk as everyone else's?





DEEP WATER  (approximate lyrics)
When you find yourself
Your hopes in the sky but your heart like grape gum on the ground
And you try to scrape yourself up
But you keep seeping out like cheap gin through a broken cup
And you try to find yourself
In the abstractions of religion and the cruelty of everyone else

And when you're standing in deep water
And you're bailing yourself out with a straw
When you're drowning in deep water
And you wake up making love to a wall
Well, it's these little times that help to remind
It's nothing without love

When you realize your only friend
has never been yourself or anyone who's cared in the end
That's when everything fades or falls away
Cause the chains which once held us are only the chains which we've made

Cause when you're standing in deep water
And you're bailing yourself out with a straw
When you're drowning in deep water
And you wake up making love to a wall
Well, it's these little times that help to remind
It's nothing without love
Love, love, it's nothing without love
It's nothing without love

We compromised our pride, sacrificed our health
We must demand more, not from each other, but more from ourselves

Cause when you're standing in deep water
And you're bailing yourself out with a straw
When you're drowning in deep water
And you wake up making love to a wall
Well, it's these little times that help to remind
It's nothing without love
Love, love, it's nothing without love
It's nothing without love