21 April 2013

Earth Day Musings 2013

Earth Day Canada poster, 2013
Earth Day 2013 is tomorrow. I used to be a huge fan of Earth Day, organizing events wherever in the world I found myself at the time. But then, I used to be a huge fan of Christmas, too. The sheen has worn off a bit. 

So, as my Earth Day gift to you, here's a selection of random ramblings.


The goal of life is to make your heartbeat match the beat of the universe, to match your nature with Nature. — Joseph Campbell

Ha! How many of us even think in terms of Nature anymore? Years ago, when I was in an ineffective relationship (did I express that delicately?), I read every self-help book about love that I could get my hands on. One author suggested that women should try to match their breathing to the rhythm of their husband's breathing. I tried that (I was desperate!). I nearly suffocated. It was a horrible feeling. The strategy made no sense! But I love the thought of this ... matching my heartbeat to the heartbeat of the universe. The First Nations drumbeat here in Canada is said to be the heartbeat of the world. This Earth Day, let's listen for the heartbeat of the rest of Nature, of this Earth, of our Universe.

Dave Roberts at Grist wrote an article the other day called "None of the world’s top industries would be profitable if they paid for the natural capital they use." In it, he said, "The notion of 'externalities' has become familiar in environmental circles. It refers to costs imposed by businesses that are not paid for by those businesses. For instance, industrial processes can put pollutants in the air that increase public health costs, but the public, not the polluting businesses, picks up the tab. In this way, businesses privatize profits and publicize costs."

Roberts goes on to summarize a report by "environmental consultancy Trucost on behalf of The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) program sponsored by United Nations Environmental Program." The results are shocking, but not a shock.

"Of the top 20 region-sectors ranked by environmental impacts, none would be profitable if environmental costs were fully integrated. Ponder that for a moment. None of the world’s top industrial sectors would be profitable if they were paying their full freight. None!"

People who don't get that we need a radical, transformative, complete revolutionary overhaul of our economic system just don't get it. Paul Hawken (quoted in this article) puts it this way: "We are stealing the future, selling it in the present, and calling it GDP." And we think we're soooooo smart.

The Ecological Society of America (ESA), representing 10,000 ecological scientists, made a recent statement that's quite pertinent. They believe that as the world attempts to recover from the latest financial crisis, there's an opportunity to "rebuild the economy for long-term sustainability. The key, these scientists say, is to take natural capital—ecosystem services such as clean water provisioning—into account.  Because they lack a formal market, many of these natural assets are missing from society's balance sheet and their contributions are often overlooked in public and private decision-making."

The ESA has laid out four strategies for moving towards sustainable economic activity:
  • Create mechanisms to maintain ecosystem services
  • Require full accounting for environmental damage
  • Manage for resilient ecosystems
  • Enhance our capacity to predict the environmental costs of investments
You can read more about their statement here.

A friend who's an investigative reporter made me want to throw up with her latest article. Guess what? You know those tar sands pipelines I've been protesting against? They're a red herring. The "rich people" have been buying up rail capacity and that bitumen is shipping by rail. Needless to say, I'm more than a little miffed that I allowed "them" to "keep the greenies busy in the bushes," as another activist friend used to say. 

Here's a quote from Cory Morningstar's latest piece, in Counterpunch:
Barack Obama is a charismatic smokescreen for the oil industry. Utilizing his charisma, he safeguards his toxic neighbor to the north, Canada, protecting it from US public scrutiny. For its part, Canada has quietly played a vital role in tar sands expansion via rail utilizing the corporation Canadian Natural Resources Ltd board of directors, which includes Gordon D. Griffin, former US Ambassador to Canada (1997-2001), director of CIBC, Transalta Corp., Canadian National Railway, and registered US lobbyist for Nexen Energy Inc., part of Syncrude.
For a moment, try to imagine the progressive greens if this same scenario was unveiling itself under the (Republican) Bush administration. Organizations such as 350.org would be having a field day. Yet, with a Democratic administration and a Black American president in the White House, the dominant left organizations have never found it so easy to protect capitalism and white privilege via strategic discourse. The native peoples who live on much of the poisoned land and endure much suffering, are used for beautiful "Stop KXL!" photo-ops all while oil mining, refineries and fracking continue to flourish and expand at an unprecedented rate. 
An important question that must be asked is this: Why do people continue to believe that NGOs such as 350.org/1Sky that are initiated and funded by Rockefeller Foundation, Clinton Foundation, Ford, Gates, etc. would exist to serve the people rather than the entities that create and fund them? Since when do these powerful entities invest in ventures that will negatively impact their ability to maintain power, privilege and wealth? Indeed, the oligarchs play the "environmental movement" and its mostly well-meaning citizens like a game of cards.


Well, what can I say? Despite a century of Mother's Days, people still abuse their mothers. And despite decades of Earth Days, people still abuse their Mother Earth. So there's not a lot of good news these days, and my ramblings aren't very upbeat. Nevertheless, I hope you can find some time today or on April 22 to contemplate whatever blessings the Earth still affords you. Happy Earth Day, my friends. Let's try to make the Earth happy, shall we? 

1 comment:

  1. you might find this interesting: http://rabble.ca/books/reviews/2013/04/10-key-points-becoming-more-compassionate-activist

    10 key points for becoming a more compassionate activist by Judy Rebick & Velcrow Ripper


I would appreciate hearing your thoughts or questions on this post or anything else you've read here. What is your take on courage and compassion being an important part of the solution to the climate change emergency?