R U Human?   Leave a comment

A reconstructed Neanderthal at the State Museum of Prehistory in Halle, Germany


 What is it that makes us “human”?

Science is blurring the lines between humans and other species. Maybe we’re not the pinnacle of Creation after all.

Toronto author Alanna Mitchell explores the question of what makes us “human” in the following article, published in The United Church Observer. This is a magazine of “Faith, Justice and Ethical Living”.




Optimism about Climate Change   Leave a comment

(Photo: Carlos Barria/Reuters)




Here’s Why Al Gore Is Optimistic About the Fight Against Climate Change.

A new study predicts that more than half the world’s energy will come from carbon-free sources by 2030. “The 2030 Market Outlook is Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s long-term view of how the world’s power markets will evolve to 2030. These are the findings from the global overview report, covering the major economic and technological findings.”


The full report from Bloomberg is available at: http://bnef.folioshack.com/document/v71ve0nkrs8e0/who42hnkrs8fo

World Cup: part of the machine   Leave a comment

Originally posted on Theology in the Vineyard:


In his brilliant Technics and Civilization (1934) Lewis Mumford analyzed the massive commodification of sport—and this was in the 30’s! Here are a few of his bons mots:

The machine had come into our civilization, not to save man from servitude, but to make possible mass servitude to the immoral standards of consumption that had grown up among the military atrocities.


Thus sport which began as a spontaneous reaction against the machine, has become one of the mass-duties of the machine age. It is a part of the universal regimentation of life, for the sake of private profits or nationalistic exploit.


Sport has turned out to be one of the least effective reactions against the machine, the other less effective in its reaction to the machine, more ambitious and ultimately disastrous, war.

This use of sport of course has been with us since Rome delivered bread and circuses…

View original 134 more words

Posted July 11, 2014 by allanbaker in Uncategorized

Investing in Toronto’s Environment   Leave a comment

Morningside Park - Toronto

Morningside Park – Toronto

The Toronto Environmental Alliance – TEA – advocates that City Councillors ought to invest in our common environment. To delay is unjustifiable, they argue, just like failing to repair a leaky roof.

In 2014 the people of Toronto have an opportunity to elect people to City Council. TEA has outlined some of the major environmental issues, and offers some possible questions for candidates. This is all available at:


If you are not in Toronto, there is a possibility that similar issues apply to where you live.

Walking in the ‘Tar Sands’   Leave a comment

Healing the wounded earth requires many steps - By Carolyn Pogue  July 3, 2014

It looked a little like a refugee camp, with small tents pitched cheek by jowl along a narrow strip of land by Lake Gregoire. It was in a way, considering what brought hundreds of us together was a flight toward sanity in a world hell bent on using fossil fuels.

We were welcomed to Treaty Six land from all around North America: the Northwest Territories, Victoria, B.C., Texas and Vermont. We were all ages: senior to babies at the breast. We were First Nation Elders and chiefs, artists, religious people, lawyers, actors, environmentalists, university professors and grandparents — simply citizens. This was the fifth and final Healing Walk organized by The Athabasca River Keepers. My husband, former United Church Moderator Bill Phipps, noted: “This was not about stopping a pipeline, it was about the healing of the land. People came great distances because they care.” To me, the weekend felt like a living, breathing prayer.”

On the first day, we listened to actor Tantoo Cardinal, activist Crystal Lameman, Manitoba Grand Chief Derek Nepinak and other speakers whose passion and tenderness for Earth were inspiring. Annette Campre from Fort McKay First Nation told a silent crowd that she hasn’t used her tap water for 10 years. It is unsafe. “In my community we bathe babies in bottled water,” Campre said. I thought about donations I’ve made to Ryan’s Well, an organization that digs water wells in Africa. In Canada, we have an abundance of safe drinking water, but when there is oil in the ground, it may be poisoned, like in Fort McKay, Fort Chipewyan and other places downstream. Fracking poisons water, too. At the school on the Blood Reserve in southern Alberta, you can light the tap water on fire. Dr. John O’Connor, who was removed by the federal government from Fort Chipewyan after he spoke about detecting an abundance of cancers, also addressed us. Others spoke of skin rashes and persistent pneumonia, as well as fish with bulging eyes and skin diseases.

Healing Walk: Crystal Lameman explains protocol at the Healing Walk. Photo by Carolyn Pogue

Healing Walk: Crystal Lameman explains protocol at the Healing Walk. Photo by Carolyn Pogue

But we also heard of the unanimous and hearteningSupreme Court decision that traditional Aboriginal lands can be protected under law. We ended this day dancing to the beat of Dene drummers around the sacred fire.

The next morning, we walked 13 kilometres along a highway to see the wounded Earth, tailings ponds, scarecrows, relentless canons and extraction plants. The drums kept our spirits up, but some could not help but weep. Seared in my memory is an image of 13-year-oldTa’Kaiya Blaney, a Sliammon First Nation actor, songwriter and singer. We stopped to rest, sitting in the grass by the roadside while Ta’Kaiya sat apart. For a long time, I watched her look out over the poisoned water at the belching smoke stacks. I imagined she was looking into her own future.

Ta’Kaiya, like many others, wore a mask during the walk; the air is foul. The grass was, too. The next morning, we saw angry red rashes on some people who sat on the grass wearing shorts.

At the end of the walk, Bill thanked the RCMP officers who had accompanied us. One said: “You guys are great. You’re doing a good thing.” And so we were. After a feast, the dancing went on half the night, sending our prayers out to the world.

Environmental Aspirations yet to be Attained   Leave a comment

IMG_0238Ontario’s Environment Commissioner, Gord Miller, has some sobering news.

He says Ontario has lost the ambition it once had to address climate change, and warns extreme weather events will continue to dominate the news and strain the capacity of the insurance industry worldwide.

Environment and Climate Change Minister Glen Murray says closing the five coal-fired power plants was equal to taking seven million vehicles off the province’s roads when it comes to cutting greenhouse gases.

Full story at: http://www.thestar.com/news/queenspark/2014/07/09/ontario_warned_it_will_miss_2020_greenhouse_gas_emissions_target.html

Posted July 9, 2014 by allanbaker in Environment, Politics

Tagged with , ,

Tsilhqot’in Decision: Time to Grow up, Canada   Leave a comment

In June, 2014 the Supreme Court of Canada reached a decision that will have immediate and far-reaching implications for the relationship of First Nations peoples and settlers in the land called Canada.

Like Rafe Mair, I grew up, and was educated in an anthropocentric worldview. Part of that worldview was our relationship with “the Indians”, who I now recognize as First Nations peoples. It has been quite a journey for me, as it has for Rafe Mair, whose reflection on this journey begins as follows:


Schoolbook depiction of Iroquois society: growing up in Kamloops, a white child learned about some eastern First Nations but virtually nothing about those in B.C.

The Tsilhqot’in (Roger William*) case is a game changer.

There is aboriginal title and it does not depend, as our title to our houses does, upon the Crown but is totally independent of Crown interests. Moreover — and this is perhaps of more immediate concern — no longer are developers just required to consult with First Nations in proposing development, they must get consent.

There will be, of course, more cases but they’ll be by way of explanatory rather than breaking the new ground. No doubt other First Nations will want to define their rights and there may be actions by developers with respect to their proposals. At the same time, because of William, one can expect governments to be much more in the mood to settle, especially since First Nations seem incapable of losing in the Supreme Court of Canada!

The full story is at: http://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2014/07/07/Tsilhqotin-Decision/





Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 93 other followers