26 December 2010

Economic Solutions to Climate Change — A Boxing Day Round-up

Boxing Day. December 26. The day after Christmas. Day of consumer frenzy. It's as good a time as any to look back on the year and summarize all the great economic solutions we've suggested that no one has implemented — yet. So, grab a vegan eggnog, sit back, and replace those post-Christmas blues with some post-Cancun we-still-haven't-done-a-freaking-thing-about-climate-change blues.

There are lots of common sense ideas for fixing our economic system that no government has had the audacity to take on. For example:
1. Let's end subsidies to fossil fuels and the meat industry. Wham! Huge impact, practically overnight. Every parent and teacher knows ... if you keep rewarding negative, inappropriate behaviour, that behaviour will continue. Let's extinguish the two greatest causes of greenhouse gas emissions by not rewarding them anymore with subsidies.

2. We need to start subsidizing perpetual (renewable minus biofuels [no more burning] = perpetual) energy technologies. Rewarding good behaviour is one way to ensure it continues. (And since governments will be saving billions by no longer subsidizing the oil, gas, coal and livestock industries, why not re-invest that money where it will do some good?) Wham! The very next day, investment in green industries sky rockets!

3. We have got to start taxing carbon. Period. Wham! Overnight change in our relationship to carbon-based fuels and lifestyles. And none of this lily-livered 2¢ per litre of gasoline. A tax on carbon has got to hurt. (Remember, we have to stop rewarding destructive behaviours.)

4. We have to change the corporate charter. Let's just make it illegal (around the globe and across the board, to ensure a level playing field) for companies to externalize social and environmental costs. Period. Wham! Huge difference practically overnight. The law would be simple: Pay social and environmental costs before determining your profits. You'd better believe that shareholders would force companies to pay attention to lessening these costs.

5. Let's outlaw grotesquely, obscenely, insultingly huge incomes. Really, has the world become a better place as the wealth of the top seven richest people in the world has reached around $250 billion? No. As the rich get richer, the future looks bleaker. So, let's threaten to cap incomes and Wham! that would bring back tithing, charity and compassion in a hurry. You know, make them cool again. Bill Gates has made a good start ... but he's not even the richest guy in the world anymore.

6. It's time for a Global Green Fund. All the money we churn into militarism needs to be churned into a global fund for helping the most climate-change-vulnerable nations. After all, we're all in this together (the atmosphere knows no borders), and any coming wars will be climate/water/food security related — and held at bay by financial compassion on the part of those nations who are hit by climate catastrophe last.
Anyway, there's a few talking points for your New Year's Eve party this Friday night. The more we talk about these things, the more we turn them into possibilities!

Talk to you next in 2011. Here's hoping for a new year filled with compassionate climate change solutions!

20 December 2010

Climate Change Extravaganza!

EXTRAVAGANZA: from the Italian stravaganza, meaning extravagance.
1. a musical or dramatic composition or production, as comic opera or musical comedy, marked by a loose structure, a frivolous theme, and elaborate costuming and staging.
2. any lavish or opulent show, event, assemblage, etc.

I attended a Christmas Extravaganza last night with my hubby (who protested the whole time, but secretly enjoyed the tribute to Motown) and three friends. My friend, Shelley, when they started singing White Christmas, whispered in my ear, "We should do a climate change extravaganza!"

So, the seed is planted. I am now searching (so please send them in!) for songs, dances, stories and jokes about climate change that we can work into a vaudevillian show. Can you picture it?
  • I'm Having Nightmares of a Green Christmas
  • Stop! In the Name of Life
  • I'm Singin' in the Cyclone, Just Singin' in the Cyclone
  • Don't Worry, Be Hungry
  • Tsunami Safari
Okay, I've got it started. I'll need you to contribute your ideas. Auditions for the singers, dancers and musicians will begin in July. Anyone want to contribute their skills in choreography and musical arrangement?

Folks, the Cancun climate talks proved that the whole international climate scene is a complete and absolute farce. Why not carry on the theme?

By this time next week, another Christmas season will be over. Life, at least in the Western part of the northern hemisphere, will quiet down for a few weeks (til the next opportunity for a consumer orgy — Valentine's Day). What better time to put together our Climate Change Extravaganza? I'll look forward to hearing from you.

12 December 2010

Cancun Rhetoric ... Kiss the Future Goodbye

NOT.

Did you know that if this were a blog about recipes or crafts, I'd receive sometimes up to 70 or more responses after each post? But because it's about the future of life on Earth, I hardly ever hear from anyone?

Mind you, with the denialists trolling around out there, I'm pleased that they either haven't found this blog or can't argue with compassion. I've never heard from a single one! (Although there was that one guy who called me an ecoweenie — for caring — on his own blog ... does he count? ;-)

That said (can you tell I've been searching for recipes and craft ideas this past week?), let me give you my take on the results of the Cancun climate conference, which ended early yesterday — from the perspective of climate compassion.

It's simple. For some weird-ass reason, almost all the negotiators, heads of state and NGOs thought that "saving the process" is more important than saving the world and protecting the children. They're all patting themselves on the back for "saving the process." (And again promising more money to developing nations* and again deciding that they'll save the world next year** and again concurring on halting deforestation*** and again realizing that the industrialized nations ought to reduce their emissions and again agreeing that, ooh, we really should peak our carbon emissions soon — but not yet.)

Only Bolivia had the cojones (if Sarah Palin can use the term, so can I) to stand against the Cancun Agreements. "Responsibly, we cannot go along with a situation that my President has termed 'ecocide and genocide'," said Pablo Solon, Bolivian ambassador to the United Nations. Of course, Bolivia is losing the source of drinking water and irrigation for its capital city, La Paz — due to global warming. So they might know a thing or two more than your average-idiot must-continue-burning-fossil-fuels-at-all-costs head of state when it comes to the climate change emergency.

There are lots and lots of reasons NOT to celebrate this agreement. (Bless them, Friends of the Earth, through Asad Rehman, said, "The emissions cuts on the table could still lead to a global temperature increase of up to five degrees, which would be catastrophic for hundreds of millions of the world's poorest people." It was Greenpeace's Wendel Trio who said, "Cancun may have saved the process but it has not yet saved the climate." And Kate Blagojevic, of World Development Movement, said, "A year after the Copenhagen Accord little has changed, and 300,000 more people have died from climate change-related impacts. Another year will pass where more lives will be ruined by climate change.")

Here's the scariest for me (you know, besides the entrenchment of the 2ºC warming target and other future-killing agreements like that).

Until now, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change process has been based on achieving 100 percent consensus — which is why the United States has been able to delay, delay, delay global action. Until now. Now, it's okay to ignore Bolivia's disagreement with the proposal. Now, it's okay to bang the gavel (because all the big boys were on board) and simply ignore a country that is already being impacted by one of the scariest of climate change impacts.

So, on the list of the 194 or so countries at the table, where is the line drawn? Above this line, if they disagree, there's no consensus and back to the drawing board. But below this line, well, that nation doesn't count much so @!#& 'em. Where has that line been drawn? Translation: We, the people, have no power. Zero. Zip. Naught. Nada. Nichts. None whatsoever.

If the Cancun Agreements signal "progress," then we can kiss the future goodbye.


* The multi-billion dollar Green Fund promised to help developing nations fight climate change doesn't have to start for another year (it's been a commitment in the UNFCCC text since 1992), and it's to be run by the World Bank. He he, that's a funny one.

** When time is of the essence and the climate change emergency is already impacting the most climate-change-vulnerable populations (a preview of what will befall us all soon), why do negotiators keep putting off doing anything real and really effective until the next Conference of the Parties (in Durban, South Africa next year)? Why? No, really, why?

*** REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation + replanting, etc.) has been fought by indigenous peoples around the world. Why did they have no say in these agreements? Not only that, but their top spokesperson, Tom Goldtooth, was denied access to the talks, escorted away by security for being critical of the process. And this is "success," is it? Bah, humbug.

05 December 2010

Guest Post - Letter to Leading Climate Criminal, Senator James Inhofe

Today, I would like to share a guest post from, as he describes himself, a one-man climate injustice campaign: http://www.climatecrimeshumanity.com/about.html. No mincing of words here!
4 December 2010
Letter Sent to Leading Global Climate Criminal Senator Inhofe
Attention: James M. Inhofe
US Senator Oklahoma
453 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510-3603

Senator, today I read the text of your videotaped message to your climate denial co-conspirators who are attending the UN Cancun climate conference with respect to the failure of the conference.

I write to urge you to cease and desist your most deadly campaign of sabotage to greenhouse gas emissions control measures and to the work of all those who are trying to prevent the global warming, climate change and ocean acidification catastrophe to planet Earth.

You have the audacity to state that you "couldn’t be happier that nothing is going to happen in Cancun this year." You urge your treasonous co-conspirators to "Keep up the good work — and for those of you in Cancún this week, stay strong, take no prisoners, and enjoy the party!"

Celebrating your terrible "success," you state, "I was right and they were wrong" — meaning those who, having a conscience and a sense of human morality, have been working for climate change control legislation in the United States and internationally. You have the most perverted sense of right and wrong. You claim to be a devout Christian. God will surely judge the evil of your deeds by the destructive desecration of His Creation.

What you call your "success" in effectively sabotaging the international negotiations for the prevention of global climate catastrophe makes you a leading contender for Public Enemy Number One in America and the world and for all time.

You must know that your successful campaign has the world committed to a temperature increase above 2.0ºC which means worldwide climate catastrophe.

You may be deluded by your apparent megalomania into believing that America is invulnerable to global climate change. If so, on this you are dead wrong. The latest climate crop models show that the great American agricultural breadbasket of the world will be hit hard by global warming and climate disruption.

Your home state of Oklahoma, which you are supposed to represent in government, is right in the middle of computer-model-projected regional heat waves and droughts and so will suffer devastating agricultural and economic losses — at temperature increases that the world is on track for within the next 25 years. On track for thanks to your work.

Additionally, if as most scientists believe, the Arctic summer sea ice is in irreversible melt down, the loss of its cooling influence to the entire northern hemisphere will further devastate American crops. Americans will then experience famine along with those billions of people who are today recognized as the most climate change vulnerable.

This statement of yours to the Cancun climate conference will surely stand as your own record of your own guilt in this worst crime against humanity.

Language has not been invented to adequately describe the enormity of this crime. The crime surpasses all the crimes of all the worst tyrants and terrorists in human history all rolled together. The successful sabotaging of the US greenhouse gas emissions control policy and international negotiations for global climate change mitigation policy condemns billions of the most climate change vulnerable and climate change innocent human beings to a horrible death from global warming and climate disruption, depleting their already meagre food supplies and already stressed water security compounded by the multiplication of tropical and infectious diseases — which after malnutrition is the second greatest cause of the already high premature death rates to these economically oppressed and deprived populations.

Not surprisingly, being recognized as congress’s most outspoken skeptic on climate change, you are now gloating at what you describe as the "success" of the conspiracy to sabotage to international attempts to control global greenhouse gas emissions.

You were speaking to Americans for Prosperity, a group partly financed by the oil industry that opposes government action on climate change and that has sponsored many Tea Party groups.

In your message you urge your troops to take the attack against climate change mitigation to counter the US EPA greenhouse gas regulations.

Intoxicated by your psychopathic success you openly admit your guilt in leading this greatest crime against humanity.

Please, please, for God's sake, reflect on the inevitable terrible result of how you are abusing your powers, and use your considerable skills and influence in securing a future for America and the world by the conversion of the fossil fuel energy economy (which has no future however it is looked at), with the safe, clean, zero-carbon, everlasting world energy economy that is the only future that America and humanity has.
Here's the scary part. Inhofe says all these things with a straight face, like he's proud of himself. Ignorance (though I suspect he's more paid off than ignorant) is a dangerous — and in his case, deadly — thing. I pity the poor Oklahomans, and all Americans who believe that money is more important than life.








28 November 2010

Less Than Zero Expectations for Cancun

Can anyone believe that a year has passed already since the Copenhagen climate talks became the biggest global disappointment of all time? (Worse, even, I suspect, than Bush illegally invading Iraq following peace vigils and protests all over the world — which were wonderful but one-offs. Climate activists in this household spend up to 16 hours every day on this issue, so Copenhagen was shockingly depressing.)

The Cancun climate talks begin tomorrow. I don't care. I know nothing good will come of them. The new UNFCCC executive secretary, Christiana Figueres, has told us to expect nothing. The outgoing Yvo de Boer had nothing promising to say before he left his post. Journalists are already using pessimistic terms to describe the negotiations, slated to run from November 29 to December 10, 2010 in Mexico.
  • Battle lines drawn for Cancun climate conference
  • Delegates brace for setbacks
  • UN talks in Mexico to seek modest climate steps
  • EU sets sights low for climate talks
  • United Nations climate talks in limbo
  • No hope for climate talks, says Britain's chief scientist
  • Two hundred nations, one mission: to repair the mess left by Copenhagen
  • Hopes low as Australia heads to climate talks
  • Prospect of climate deal slim: Analysts
  • Doubts surround climate deal
  • Cancun conference: Climate change back-burnered
  • Cancun & the climate 'standstill'
  • Stalled on treaty, climate talks turn to money
  • No big surprises likely at Cancun meet
  • Optimism, though cautious, remains ahead of Cancun climate conference [Me: optimism, though cautious, equals pessimism]
  • Horror summer fails to shift Russia climate scepticism [Me: many Russians are still convinced climate change is an American conspiracy — no, wait, the Americans think it's a ....]
  • Climate change will make a billion homeless [Me: oops, sorry, thought I'd throw a little reality in there]
Already negotiators are talking about things like "notching up progress" on a few issues "to help revive faith" in the UNFCCC process. According to Artur Runge-Metzger, the European Union's chief negotiator, all parties "want to show the world that this process can deliver, it can move the international climate agenda forward." Harvard professor, Robert Stavins, has said, "The most sensible goal for Cancun is progress on a sound foundation for meaningful long-term action, not some notion of immediate triumph."

Got that? No talk of saving the world or safeguarding the future. No mention of Africa and small island states. No mention of the children of all species. No mention of actually %$#!ing well doing something!!!!! Why wouldn't we want immediate triumph, for heaven's sake?

Gee, shucks, people have lost faith in the process. BLOODY RIGHT WE HAVE! And for good reason. Because "governments" care more about the process and who's "winning" and who's "losing" than they care about the Earth and the future and their own children.

So go ahead, Cancun. Achieve something. Do something good. I dare you. But I ain't holding my breath — I'm not setting myself up for the deep depression I suffered last year post-Copenhagen. Nope. Not me. I know you're going to keep diddling while the Earth burns. You're all ignorant, you're mean-spirited, you're avaricious, and you're cowardly — and you certainly don't have a creative neuron in your 200 brains put together.

I'm just going to keep doing what I do ... teaching people about the urgency of the climate change emergency — and encouraging them to feel some compassion for the world's most climate-change-vulnerable and become heroes for their own children.

p.s. Hey, just thought of something! What if all the negotiators who love their children just walked out? Just said, "Screw it!" to their bosses back home? Just went to the beach? Ah, I guess I am still a little bit optimistic.

22 November 2010

Time to Be Proactive for Our Own Survival

Let's start with a quiz. Look at the two photos below, and tell me which one feels "right" to you.

Property Before


Property After

If you guessed that the moonscape is legal, and the gorgeous garden is illegal, you're right. (And that's how insane my little corner of the world is.)

Here's the story...

A friend of ours bought a 2.5 acre property in a sort of no man's land, not quite rural, not quite urban, sort of suburban (though we don't often equate 2.5 acres with suburban). Before our friend purchased it, the seller had used an excavator and dump truck to mine and scrape the land bare of top soil, sand and gravel. When our friend moved in, he told us, "There were no worms, no grasshoppers, no birds, no butterflies; essentially — no living creatures!"

Here's our friend's tale of what he and his partner have done since:
Since 1999, we have made a tremendous effort to heal the land, beginning slowly, one wheelbarrow at a time. It has been a gradual, organic process, from planting a few fruit trees and having a small growing area, to expanding with more hand-made soil using wood chips from local tree companies and a small amount of horse manure from local stables. Now we have 4 kinds of bees, several types of dragonflies, numerous types of butterflies, frogs, toads, snakes, and hundreds of birds and much more! We have dedicated our time to supporting hundreds of community members who have sought guidance on how to become more sustainable in their own lives; from educating people on how to support sustainable local initiatives, to teaching families how to grow their own food. Three years ago, we also started a successful farmers' market.
Now, here's the scary part of the story. This couple has been advised by their local level of government that they must "cease all agricultural activity" on their property. Because one neighbour complained about some piles of soil/manure. Then the bylaw officer found out that they sell some of their produce at a farmers market. Sheesh.

This neighbour obviously does not understand where food comes from. Our society is 99% ecologically illiterate. How else can we explain neighbours turning in neighbours for growing food — instead of suggesting over the fence that it's time to turn in the piles of manure?

Our friends were heaped (pardon the pun) in with people who have "filth, discarded materials [let us not forget that poo has, for thousands of years, been recycled, not discarded] or rubbish, unused or stripped automobiles, trucks, trailers, boats, vessels, machinery, mechanical or metal parts" on their properties!

Given that agriculture and food growing in the northern hemisphere depend on a stable climate, which relies on the cooling effect of the Arctic summer sea ice — which is disappearing! — it behooves each of us to start becoming our own food suppliers. Our food crops will not be able to withstand the heat waves of an ice-free Arctic summer (witness Russia in the summer of 2010 and their loss of crops). We must start learning to grow food closer to home, and at home — to hell with neighbourhood appearances! Beauty is a wondrous thing, but we can't eat it. With local food, we can at least try to adapt it to local growing conditions.

So, the caution here? Find out ahead of time what your local bylaws say about food growing, and make sure you will be supported. Be proactive. Explain the climate change emergency to your municipality. If necessary, get the bylaws changed before they get in your way.

And start growing!

16 November 2010

Leaders and Followers and Betrayal

I've been quiet lately. Too discouraged to know what to do, say or write.

But tonight, I need to rant. First, I'd like to mention that a Canadian political party that I have a lot of respect for is calling for Canada to show "climate leadership." Well, I think it would be quicker and safer for Canada to show climate "followership."

We should be following the nations that have already felt the impacts of the global climate change emergency — who KNOW that something drastic must be done.

Next, I want to apologize to the world on behalf of all the Canadians who, today, were mortified by our appointed senate politicians. They pulled a fast one on us, and our already not-strong-enough climate legislation is now dead. Just before Cancun.

A dear young activist friend of ours is devastated. Here's her response to our bully of a prime minister:
I would like to express my extreme discontent with the decision made in Senate to kill Bill C-311. Last summer, I rode my bicycle to Ottawa, from BC, to tell you that we need (at least) Bill C-311 — that we have a MORAL OBLIGATION to protect the future of today's children. Yes, that includes your children. I am devastated by this decision and its implications for further stalling of progress in the UN climate negotiations and the embarrassing position it puts Canada in on the international stage--an international stage that I would like to believe is slowly waking up to the climate emergency. Shame on Canada for not taking a leadership role in the fight against climate change; the greatest threat to human civilization. This evening, I go to bed with a heavy heart and a great feeling of uncertainty as to what my future holds in the face of a rapidly changing climate. This evening, I am embarrassed to be Canadian, and I feel a deep sense of compassion towards those people around the world who have done NOTHING to deserve the climate devastation that is being inflicted upon them, and that will continue to wreak havoc on their survival. This is so unjust; this is criminal.

Sincerely,

NN

17 October 2010

One Single Little Declaration Would Change It All

DANGER! We are beyond DANGEROUS climate change!

That one little declaration on the part of any nation with influence at the international level would change the game — and the future — at the Cancun climate talks coming up later this year. (And yes, I'm oversimplifying to make a point.)

That's because "avoiding dangerous interference with the climate system" is the objective of the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), to which most nations in the world are signatories (and therefore legally bound). Since we have no only not avoided dangerous interference, we have surpassed dangerous interference, there should be huge legal and political ramifications.

But the developed (Annex 1) nations get away with this because they haven't yet "defined" dangerous interference. And if there's no definition, well, how can we be held responsible? Annex 2 (developing) nations, I'm afraid, are just as guilty here — they could have (and should have, considering they're already experiencing the dangers of interference with the climate system) defined and called dangerous. I think they're afraid of larger nations cutting off aid and development funding. (Don't get me going on that one! The UNFCCC says that developed nations should be helping smaller nations develop clean energy technologies, etc. but not much of that has been happening either. We are SO short-sighted and stingy!)

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says they can't define "dangerous" — it's a value judgement that only society can make. Only a handful of climate scientists has dared wander into this fray. James Hansen, John Holdren, Hans Schellnhuber, Bill Hare, and perhaps a few others have stated that we're flirting with climate catastrophe (my words, not theirs!).

Society (at least in influential countries) ain't about to declare "dangerous interference" anytime soon, partly because the denial industry has people so confused all they want to do is watch TV, and partly because their favourite TV show is coming on in just a few minutes. Certainly anyone intimately connected to rape-and-pillage capitalism isn't going to sound the alarm.

So, maybe that leaves the one profession that mops up after "dangerous" every day: the healthcare profession: doctors, nurses, public health officials, and other associated groups. But it can't be about "change the lightbulbs in your clinic" — we're way beyond that personal actions stuff now. If no one else will do it, all the doctors of the world should stand up with their allied colleagues and declare, in a loud, influential voice: "HOLY CRAP! IF THIS ISN'T DANGEROUS INTERFERENCE WITH THE CLIMATE SYSTEM, I DON'T WANT TO BE AROUND WHEN THE $#@! REALLY HITS THE FAN!"

Oh, sorry, did I say that out loud? Let's try it again:

Doctors and other healthcare professionals should stand up with their beleaguered colleagues from Russia and Pakistan and Niger and say firmly: "We know danger, and this is it."

Visit Climate Change Emergency Medical Response for more information.

11 October 2010

What I Learned on 10/10/10 - Real Life Compassion and Ladders of Engagement

Since we were in town anyway (granddog-sitting), we were able to accept the invitation of a fine new friend to his "Bring Your Own Laptop" work party to commemorate 10/10/10, an international day of action on climate change.

The original agenda for this work party included a widget campaign (see the widget at the top left of my blog as an example, which you can download at CO2 Now), but our strategic discussions and just plain connecting with like-minded and like-hearted souls here in town and in Seattle and the Maldive Islands took up our time. We left feeling recharged and revved up.

I'd like to share with you some stuff I learned and experienced on 10/10/10.

Never underestimate the importance of "preaching to the choir" because (a) it feeds the soul, and (b) you never know if there are new members of the choir there that day.

Connecting via Skype with a wonderful science teacher (who had just held a full day of activities for his students and their families) on the island of Gemanafushi in the Maldives meant that we were able to hear directly of the impacts that climate change is having on a more (or, shall I say, earlier?) vulnerable region. Because of stormier weather, it's becoming harder for people of the Maldives to go out fishing while at the same time, supply shipments by boat are hampered at times and residents sometimes have to go without. When was the last time a whole community in North America had to "go without"? The point is, we had the opportunity to feel compassion almost in person ... it wasn't a theoretical someone in a foreign country: it was a real man living in a real community in a real country that is under siege from the changing climate. Call it self-interested compassion, if you want ... what is happening to the Maldives (and Russia and China and Pakistan and Niger) now is going to happen to us in some way or another in the not-too-distant future.

Our host and CO2Now.org's founder, Michael McGee, presented a wonderful idea — not sure if it was his idea, another's idea, or a hybrid idea, but it's basically a set of metaphorical ladders (drawn on paper to make them more visual) where each rung represents a more advanced step on the way to the full solution to climate change.

Michael suggested and we talked about a Climate Literacy (and Numeracy) Ladder that would help people learn (through education, training, public awareness campaigns) the concepts and the "numbers" of global warming and climate change to help them understand why it's an emergency; a Local and Global Leadership Ladder (both grassroots and "grasstops" leadership) that would help people see what their next steps are; and a Zero Carbon Emissions Ladder that would start with personal/family emissions reductions and then move up to community-wide efforts, etc.

(Ah yes, I just remembered. Michael said that evangelical churches in the USA use engagement ladders, where a potential new congregation member might be invited to a potluck dinner at the first rung, but several rungs later they might be invited to fund a huge church campaign.)

Today is Thanksgiving Day in Canada. I am grateful that I had the opportunity yesterday to meet some very committed climate activists. I am grateful for the luck and timing that have afforded me a life and a living so far unaffected by the ravages of climate change (though we're starting to see changes in our climate, for sure). I am grateful that my family still has abundant food on the table whenever we are hungry. I am especially grateful for the love, kindness and compassion of those working around the world (and right beside me) to help ensure a future for the children of all species.

p.s. Don't forget ... the most important number in 350 is that little ZERO at the end. And why not support the call for 300 pppm (since human civilization was built on 280 ppm) and zero carbon emissions in the Cochabamba People's Agreement — now included in the draft negotiating text for the Cancun climate conference! Woohoo!

03 October 2010

Let's Start Honouring the Children

I was reminded again today of the vital new philosophy or worldview suggested by Raffi Cavoukian, a world-renowned Canadian children's singer/entertainer who has turned his focus to the adults of the world, knowing that it's adults who make the decisions. (Too bad it's not the kids! See Speak for the Children.)

Child honouring is the simple — but transformative and, for many cultures, revolutionary — notion of putting the children at the centre of deliberations and actions. A sort of golden rule:
Do unto the world what will be best for all the children.
I said it was simple! But it makes a damned good guiding principle, doesn't it? Especially if one understands that children are more sensitive to famines and environmental toxins and other degradations than adults are — in the literature, they are called a "susceptible sub-population."

So if we care about the children of the world, and we love the special children in our own lives, please, can we start implementing the precautionary principle? I commented the other day to someone who knows our prime minister that I think he must hate his children. She responded that he probably loves them more than anything in the world (besides his cats) — he just "doesn't believe in climate change."

"Well," I responded, "that's the same as hating his children." He is certainly condemning them to a hellish future, and that — to me, at least — does not come across as love.

It is time to put the children at the centre of our moral compass!


p.s. Somalia and the United States of America are the only two countries who have not ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. That sort of fits the US attitude to the climate change crisis as well, doesn't it?

26 September 2010

My Blahg — and One Bright Light in Cancun (Klimaforum)

There was an excitement, a real sense of anticipation in the air, before the Copenhagen climate change conference a year ago.

But the mood this year, in lead up to the COP 16 Cancun climate change conference, feels more like a forced smile. And I don't think it's just me who's feeling rather blah about it.

I know that Copenhagen was an engineered let-down, and I resent having been manipulated last year. But this year, "they" are manufacturing complete pessimism, saying that nothing will be agreed to at Cancun (including the outgoing and incoming executive secretaries of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change). I ask myself, then, Why bother?

Why bother even holding the meeting if the point is to agree to not agree on anything? What a waste of time, money, people's energy and fossil fuels! What a waste of optimism.

For about three minutes yesterday, I thought, Wouldn't it be neat to do a Countdown to Cancun — and blog every day until it starts on November 26? But why force the smile? Why expend the time and energy for something that has already decided to be a failure? It's too, well, blah.

There is one bright light, however, and that is Klimaforum, which is planning a grassroots initiative in parallel to the COP 16 summit. Organizers are calling it "an autonomous environmental summit, an atmosphere in communion with nature, an inspiring space, where people of all creeds can focus on the search for consensus on international actions towards climate justice."

Their low-carbon Global EcoVillage (with camping spaces for thousands of participants and a vegetarian "world kitchen") will offer forums, expositions, workshops, conferences, and cultural events — all in a natural environment.

Here is Klimaforum's rallying cry:
Beyond corporate interests or political influences, a transparent global voice for the Earth is summoned.
The stabilization of the climate is essential to the survival of all species on Earth. It is a matter of intergenerational justice. People of all ages and creeds unite in the demand for effective solutions that will preserve life on the planet. We, the people, have the capacity and the necessity to solve these issues with understanding, solidarity and perseverance. We have the possibility to create another world!
Change the system, not the climate!
I know that the Klimaforum10 Mexico organizing committee has already faced formidable challenges, so I want to wish them all the very best. What an exciting, optimistic alternative to the UN climate meeting they are organizing! Please support them in any way you can. They're the best news in a long time!

You can visit their website at klimaforum10.net or klimaforum10.com/en/the-committee/international-call. Prepare to be inspired and leave the blahs behind.

20 September 2010

I Went There ... and I Cried

I was trying to ignore the Russian summer. And I was definitely trying to not notice the floods in Pakistan and the drought and famine in Niger. (I haven't "noticed" the landslides in China yet.)

And I certainly did not want to go "there" — there meaning, Russia's deadly fires and heat waves mean they lost a lot of their crops, so they're not exporting any grains this year ... and Pakistan's crops have been washed away while Niger's never came.

The United Nations estimates that over 21 million people have been affected by the floods in Pakistan (killed, injured, homeless, without food, whole villages destroyed). Imagine that! Australia's whole population is less than 21 million. There was a point where about one-fifth to one-quarter of Pakistan's total land area was underwater due to the flooding.

And Niger has experienced a "double whammy" leading to their worst ever famine disaster. According to Christy Collins, the country director for the American charity Mercy Corps, "in most years, even if the country's primary crop failed, at least the secondary crops survived. This year there was so little rain that not only did the fields of millet not bloom, but the secondary greens used for animal fodder also failed." This means that their livestock — their only "insurance" against famine — is also starving.

I didn't want to notice these disasters of epic proportions. But they finally found their way into my life, into my heart. And I cried.

By the way, is it "compassion fatigue" or just downright mean-spiritedness that leads people to make comments like this (truly):
"Who gives a crap?"
"Floods in Pakistan, killer smog in Russia, and famine in Niger. Tragedies all, but sorry, the good old USA is out of $$$$$ and has problems of its own in the Gulf States, in Iowa and in the economy. These people are just going to have to do the best they can, we are tapped out."
"And there are kids starving in every country... and the point is? Isn't that country against US or UN assistance, except when it benefits certain entities? It would be better to put the money into a failed stock than to give it to that country. Same difference. Sorry, those are humans there. But there are humans here. And just about everywhere on this fragile Earth that is being exploited. Let them work out their own problems."
Wow.

p.s. We are going to organize a fundraising event here in our small community. In the short term, it seems to be all we can do to help. In the longer term, we need to stabilize the climate — fast. "There but for the grace of God go I."