20 October 2019

Guest Post: "A Short Rant about LOVE, and the CLIMATE"

When I read Antonia Paquin's "short rant" this morning, I asked her right away if I could post it here for you. Antonia is a young friend nearby who gives her life's energy to ensuring a future for us all. Much love to you, Antonia, with thanks for sharing this with my readers!

Antonia Paquin, in Victoria (with thanks to Creatively United)





















































































A Short Rant about LOVE, and the CLIMATE
Sometimes I find myself disconnecting from the word "climate," because it seems obscure and somewhat nebulous unless you're a scientist who studies this stuff.

I've found the following to be helpful in bringing "climate" into my immediate experience:
  • Notice the breath you just took ... now the one you are about to take. You are taking climate into your body.
  • Look outside, look around you, really LOOK, noticing the trees, the sky, the soil. You are looking at the climate.
  • Feel your heartbeat ... touch your fingers to your wrist, or neck to feel your pulse, or just feel your body moving ever-so-slightly by your heart beating. You are a living creature, interacting with your surroundings. We are also climate.
Remember the Earth is extremely resilient. She knows how to heal herself. Humans are also resilient. We can adapt to change. Though the world feels grim right now, especially with this messy [Canadian federal] election, we are inevitably forced to call into question the major systemic failings that have led us to where we are, which is a good thing!

We are being collectively called to question the ideologies, and the political and economic systems that led us into this mess, the colonial way: "Dominate people, dominate land, YOU SHALL HAVE NO HEART."

This is the movement to end all movements.

We are now being called to decolonize the crap out of ourselves and remember who the hell we are as humans.

Could it be that humans aren't somehow above the natural world?

Could it be that we don't have the right to pillage and rape the Earth?

Could it be that humans are actually inextricably ~connected~ to the Earth?? WOW! You don't say?

David Suzuki, our beloved national man of science, is preaching this message loud and clear. Time to wake up and smell the soil, friends!

Here's how we "fix the climate":
  • Tune into what Indigenous land defenders and water protectors have been saying for hundreds of years. Support these movements with your money, time, energy. Uplift voices of black and indigenous folks, people of colour.
  • Breathe deep, ground yourself in gentleness and self-compassion so that you feel safe. Then take time to call into question your own belief systems, assumptions, attitudes. We can all do this together.
  • Have "adventure conversations" with others. Bring up things like climate, the human condition, hope, guilt, fear, grief, love.
  • Vulnerability is powerful. Connect deeply with your fellow humans, know that they probably have similar fears and doubts that you have, and when we share ... it can be so healing.
  • Cry and cry and cry, then laugh. It's okay to feel like a mess. [This is my favourite line! JJ]
  • Spend time in nature, FOREST BATHING, to remember that Earth is magical and resilient. Every single cell in your body is made of the Earth. The trees and rocks and rivers are your kin. 
  • In so many ways you are also magical and resilient. Often our minds forget this, but somehow our hearts can never fully forget this. 
Okay, my rant is over. 
Thank you. I love you. 
*****

And our thanks and love to YOU, Antonia, for these wonderful calls to reconnect ourselves with our first mother.

11 August 2019

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

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


SOS from the Kids

This is an SOS from the kids 

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

Please change the story 

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

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

Please change the story
Re-write the plot 

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

Don't listen to the fat cats, 

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

Please change the story 

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

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

04 August 2019

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With passionately fierce love,

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

28 July 2019

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

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

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




Here's an animated version!





Greta Thunberg's Speech


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




02 June 2019

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

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

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

Conformity is killing us.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

26 May 2019

Compassion Tune-Up: An Oldie (But a Goodie), Like Me

Well, I've just celebrated another turn around the sun. I think I'm going to have to accept the fact that I'm not young anymore. ;-) And I think I feel a midlife crisis coming on. 

This new version of a wonderful Joni Mitchell oldie by Counting Crows is an excellent reminder that we don't have to throw out the old to make room for the new in the work we're doing. It's also a sad reminder of how much worse things have become in the last few decades. (This song was released in 1970, and Mitchell is 75 now!) Plus it has prompted me to examine my life, to be sure that I do know what I've got before it's gone.

Here, for your melancholic listening pleasure, is Big Yellow Taxi. Enjoy.


Big Yellow Taxi

by Joni Mitchell
They paved paradise 
And put up a parking lot 
With a pink hotel, a boutique 
And a swinging hot spot 

Don't it always seem to go 
That you don't know what you've got 
Till it's gone 
They paved paradise 
And put up a parking lot

They took all the trees 
Put 'em in a tree museum
And they charged the people 
A dollar and a half just to see 'em 

Don't it always seem to go 
That you don't know what you've got 
Till it's gone 
They paved paradise 
And put up a parking lot

Hey farmer farmer 
Put away that DDT now 
Give me spots on my apples 
But leave me the birds and the bees 
Please! 

Don't it always seem to go 
That you don't know what you've got 
Till it's gone 
They paved paradise 
And put up a parking lot

Late last night
I heard the screen door slam
And a big yellow taxi
Took away my old man

Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot
© Siquomb Publishing Company

19 May 2019

Faith Rather Than Hope

We "countryfolk" are housesitting for friends and getting an extended "city fix," which is always fascinating. City streets sure are lonelier, especially with everyone checking out their "screens" as they bustle along. But shopkeepers and restaurant servers have been quite friendly (perhaps reflecting back our small-town vibe?).

Hanging in our friends' kitchen is this little sign:



"And faith for the future" ... that's the part that struck me. You know how I feel about hope and hope mongering, where feeling hopeful about the climate crisis is more important than actually doing something about the climate crisis. (If what environmental education guru, David Orr, says is true — that hope is a verb with its sleeves rolled up — I figure it's only because it wants to get a tan on its arms.)

But faith. Faith. Doesn't that seem different somehow? The non-religious definition is "complete trust or confidence in someone or something." The moment I read that sign, I realized that I do my work on the climate change emergency with some sort of faith in my heart that ... well, that we humans will at last pull together. 

It could well be too late by the time we get our act together (indeed, it's maybe too late already, given all the warming we're already committed to due to the ocean heat lag ... and all the warming that will be added when we stop fossil fuel burning, since fossil fuel particulate pollution has been masking a certain percentage of the warming to date), but if nothing else, I'd like today's younger generations to know that we finally, after a huge collective forehead slap, "got it" and came together for their sake. 

Still waiting for our collective facepalm
The quote below isn't quite correct. The IPCC has told us that we only have until 2020 to get our carbon emissions into rapid decline if we want to be able to meet our 2030 and 2050 targets (50% reduction and virtually zero, respectively). 

But the sentiment is one that resonates for me. It speaks to the faith that arises when people — listening to the love in their heart, instead of the fear — start doing exciting, courageous work together.
It is true that the IPCC tells us that we have only 12 years to act ... but in the world there are thousands of projects. They do not start from pessimism or optimism, they start with people who choose to follow their heart, and do what they feel called to. Science tells us that it is possible.  — Diego Galli

21 April 2019

A New Anthem for Saving the World? From Lil Dicky?

ALERT: I am about to shamelessly show my age!


The other day, a young friend sent me this new music video by Lil Dicky (never heard of him). It's called Earth (not very original, but I'll take enviro songs wherever I can get 'em ;-). 

You know, we've been searching for an anthem for the climate change movement. Environmental activist extraordinaire Guy Dauncey explains the importance of finding a song for this movement.
"[An] Earth Anthem ... will inspire our hearts to sing. As soon as that song is written, we will know it — and from that moment on, victory will be that much more possible. We need to believe in the future. Earth's creatures and our own children and grandchildren ask nothing more."
I'm not sure we've found the anthem in this song though. But I do like the simple chorus (it's the rest of the song I'd have a problem singing while marching in a protest):
We love the Earth
It is our planet
We love the Earth
It is our home
My questions to you. (This is where I get to show my age.) Is this song edgy, or just offensive? Is it cool, or just stupid? Is it helpful (for a certain generation — not mine, that's for sure!), or just gratuitously over-the-top? It has 2 million likes (as of today) but also 51,000 dislikes (so I'm not the only one feeling torn about the usefulness of this song?) and several "reaction" videos (which I haven't watched). What do you think? How does the song make you feel?

This part at the end is cool: "Honestly, everybody, scientists are saying that we have about 12 years* to turn this environmental crisis around or we're screwed. Whaddya say? You guys wanna save the world? Of course you do!" 

You can visit this website "for more information on how to save the Earth": https://welovetheearth.org

* Actually, while many people seem to have latched on to the "we only have 12 years to save the world" meme (which gives people an out for the next 11 years or so), the IPCC has warned in several assessments over the last several years that emissions must be in decline by 2015-2020 to give us a chance at keeping global temperature increase to a survivable level — which gives us ONLY ONE YEAR to "save the world."

Lyrics are available here (but if you're my age, better to leave some lyrics unheard): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDNNGhsL9Oo&frags=wn



*******
Now, if that song kinda makes you feel a bit slimed (you know, cuz you're of my vintage) but you'd like to share it, here's a link to a cleaned up version: https://youtu.be/S2SMvfGe72U.

And then let me leave you with this lovely thought on this day before Earth Day 2019:
"What is the mark of a good life? Who should be considered a success? Easter offers a surprising and helpful answer: success is not about obvious worldly triumph, it’s about developing an ability to use one’s own suffering as a route to compassion for others…. May we transform individually, so we can truly transform collectively, building a better world, a better life. This Easter Sunday, let's think about the kind of world we’d like to create."
— Prof. Kamran Mofid, Founder, Globalisation for the Common Good Initiative (GCGI)

14 April 2019

David Buckel Memorial Day of Mourning for the Climate Crisis

from a 2017 photo of David Buckel by Terry Kaelber
Today, my beloved and his co-author, Elizabeth, spoke at the local Unitarian Church about their book, Unprecedented Crime: Climate Science Denial and Game Changers for Survival. Afterwards, we participated in a webinar with The Climate Mobilization entitled Meditation for Climate Emergency—Grieving the Future you Thought You Had. It was only after the webinar that I realized we hadn't said a prayer for David Buckel, who died one year ago today.

I wasn't blogging much at this time last year. My depression had kicked in, and I remember that I was gardening every chance I got in order to ground my grief and anger about the climate change emergency. If I had been blogging, I would have told you about David Buckel. 

David S. Buckel was a leading LGBTQ+ lawyer in New York City. Then he became interested in environmental issues. He died in Prospect Park (the scene of a huge Extinction Rebellion event today called Extinction Mass: Remembrance for Lost Species) early in the morning after setting himself on fire. The email he left behind read:
“Pollution ravages our planet, oozing inhabitability via air, soil, water and weather. Most humans on the planet now breathe air made unhealthy by fossil fuels, and many die early deaths as a result — my early death by fossil fuel reflects what we are doing to ourselves.”
Comparing his death to the self-immolation of Tibetan monks protesting oppression by the Chinese government, he continued:
“This is not new. Many have chosen to give a life based on the view that no other action can most meaningfully address the harm they see. Here is a hope that giving a life might bring some attention to the need for expanded actions, and help others give a voice to our home, and Earth is heard. I hope it is an honorable death that might serve others.”
May David Buckel's suicide inspire courage in the rest of us — the courage to be of service in all the different ways that can fight the climate crisis. (I'll leave you with a list below.)

WHAT YOU CAN DO NOW
  • Don't fear sacrifice. Grieve what has to be given up ... and then get busy being a climate change activist.
  • Become politically active. Create political will by writing, emailing, faxing, phoning or visiting your elected officials — at all levels. Ask them (if they haven't already) to declare the climate change emergency. And then ask them what climate action they're supporting. Don't vote for anyone who isn't putting climate action first.
  • The most important demand to make of our government leaders? They must stop subsidizing fossil fuel industries around the world to the tune of $5.3 trillion every year (according to the IMF) in direct and especially indirect subsidies. Make the polluters pay the costs of the social (health) and environmental damage they create. The moment these subsidies stop, that famous invisible hand” of the market will swing investments over into clean, renewable, everlasting energy technologies.
And don't forget to, you know, conserve water (a huge percentage of a city's energy usage is for pumping domestic water!), drive less, and eat lower on the food chain if you're not already vegan.