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.