Democracy and the Climate Change Crisis   Leave a comment

We all know that there is a crisis happening now with respect to the climate(s) that we are living in. Denial, however, seems to be more powerful than the will to act to deal with the crisis.

The David Suzuki Foundation has written an important commentary on how the lack of leadership by people in positions of responsibility is affecting our democracies in North America. This certainly applies in Canada, and particularly in Ontario where there is no definite plan to counter additional greenhouse gas emissions. The Suzuki Foundation has written:

“In the face of an overwhelming crisis that threatens our very future, it might be time for an overhaul of our democratic and political systems, which are clearly failing the people they were designed to serve.”

More on this is available at: http://community.davidsuzuki.org/index.php/email/emailWebview?mkt_tok=eyJpIjoiTnpRMU5tVTVNalkzWVdaaSIsInQiOiJWME1MRjFNdVdUXC9GTE1Cd0ZSdWh1NndmTUFFRnpWVnJuZHJMa3NXdVErQTFDUXdFVzJSUVdQTG9kbmVEd1c3N1htMlZ5TWp6Nm9FTUEzOXZaSVM4R25tWEdURytsejRGSjBuN3MrbTFcL2N4bm5qNXorT1pmem8yc1RlNGE3bTZzIn0%3D

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Carbon tax needed

Donald Gutstein has written a book on how politicians have been influenced on this issue, and how people can inform themselves so that we can challenge their claims that they are taking meaningful action on global warming. The book is called:

“The Big Stall: How Big Oil and Think Tanks Are Blocking Action on Climate Change In Canada”

Here’s a brief review from the Toronto Public Library website:

Summary/Review: “In fall 2015, the new Trudeau government endorsed the Paris Accord and promised to tackle global wamring. In 2016, it released a major report which set out a national energy strategy embracing clean growth, technological innovation and carbon pricing. Rather than putting in place tough measures to achieve the Paris targets however, the government reframed global warming as a market opportunity for Canada’s clean technology sector.

In The Big Stall, Donald Gutstein traces the origins of the government’s climate change plan back to the energy sector itself – in particular Big Oil. He shows how, in the last fifteen years, Big Oil has infiltrated provincial and federal governments, academia, media and the non-profit sector to sway government and public opinion on the realities of climate change and what needs to be done about it.

Working both behind the scenes and in high-profile networks, Canada’s energy companies moved the debate away from discussion of the measures required to create a zero-carbon world and towards market-based solutions that will cut CO2 emissions – but not enough to prevent severe climate impacts. The progressive-seeming Trudeau Liberals have been co-opted by the embedded advocates of the oil and gas industry. The result: oil and gas companies can continue profiting from exporting their resources, instead of leaving them in the ground to minimize climate change. The door has been left wide open for oil companies to determine their own futures, and to go on drilling new wells, building new tar sands plants and constructing new pipelines.

This book offers the background information readers need to challenge politicians claiming they are taking meaningful action on global warming.”–

 

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Harry Leslie Smith – adieu   Leave a comment

Smith’s writing drew parallels between his own brushes with global crises of the past, and the current turmoil that affects marginalized groups. (Toronto Star – Submitted by the Smith family)

Harry Leslie Smith became a hero of the Millennial Generation in Canada and the United Kingdom because the youth of these nations recognize that neoliberal economics is simply a way to re-institute the feudal economic and social system of the past – a past that Harry describes in his book, “Harry’s Last Stand: How the world my generation built is falling down and what we can do about it”. This book contains many teachings about the exploitation of workers in the past, and what, collectively, working and middle class people did to improve life for all people.

Harry was interviewed by the CBC a year before his death, and that conversation can be found at: Senior podcaster Harry Leslie Smith says he’ll ‘drop dead’ before he stops fighting for equality

A short reprise of Harry’s life can be accessed at:

https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2018/11/24/refugee-advocate-worlds-oldest-rebel-harry-leslie-smith-passes-away-in-belleville-family-says.html

In the concluding paragraph of  “Harry’s Last Stand”, Harry wrote:

“While I am here I will keep doing all I can to fight against inequality and make my little patch of the earth a better place. Right now, however, it is very late, and I am very old, so I shall bid you goodnight, and a better tomorrow.”

The baton has now been passed to us. God bless you Harry!

Canadians are concerned about climate change   Leave a comment

The results of a recent Canada-wide poll by Abacus Data demonstrates that 90 per cent of respondents are concerned about climate change.  What do Canadians think that elected officials ought to do about this crisis – such as adopt a method of carbon pricing? The results of this poll can be accessed at:

http://abacusdata.ca/can-the-conservatives-win-in-2019-by-running-against-carbon-pricing-its-no-slam-dunk/

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HOWEVER, in the world of politics, denial of the effectiveness of climate change solutions by those who are in elected positions seems to have morphed. An article in the Globe and Mail by Merran Smith and Dan Woynillowicz discusses the new methodology of climate change denial in the political arena.

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/business/commentary/article-denying-solutions-is-the-new-climate-change-denial/

Denial is not an option, and authentic political leaders understand that. What is needed is a congruence of words and actions in democratic countries, including Canada.

Acting on Climate Change   Leave a comment

The release of the most recent report by the IPCC (October 6, 2018) has motivated me to abandon my passivity and write a letter to the Premier of Ontario concerning the price of carbon emissions in Ontario. I hope that, for the sake of our common environment, and life on Earth as we have known it, many others will also be taking similar actions.

If we believe in democracy, we have to believe that the political class will hear what we have to say.

 

My letter of October 22, 2018 is as follows:

October 22, 2018

Dear Premier Ford;

What will a 1.5 degree Celsius rise in global temperature mean for the “the people” of Ontario?

On October 6, 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) spelled it out in plain, damning details. The question now is: who listened?

Will the leadership in our Province of Ontario pay attention to these urgent warnings and start facilitating and implementing solutions at the pace required to forestall climate disaster? How do you suggest that we respond when our children, and grandchildren, ask us in 20 years time about what we did to prevent the type of climate catastrophes that were predicted in 2009 when James Hansen published, “Storms Of My Grandchildren”?

A week after the publication of the IPCC report, the Globe and Mail, a conservative voice in Canada, editorialized on this issue. The conservative Globe and Mail advocates a policy of taking immediate and effective action to deal with the rise in the temperature of our Earth’s atmosphere. As their editorial states; “every bit of warming hurts”.

The policy advocated by the Globe and Mail is also a policy that has been thoroughly researched by the person who was awarded the Nobel Prize in economics, William Nordhaus. As the Globe editorial states; “Mr. Nordhaus is not some lefty. His work shows that a carbon tax is the most efficient way to lower emissions, because it depends on market forces rather than on direct regulation.”

In the 2018 election campaign I heard that a Ford government would promote “efficiency”. A carbon tax, Mr. Nordhaus says, is “efficient”.

As you know, the Province of British Columbia has demonstrated that a carbon tax has been good for its economy, AND good for the environment. They have ten years of experience in this. You might ask their Premier if you wish to have additional information on how the economy of British Columbia has actually grown with a carbon tax in place.

The editorial to which I have been referring concludes with a call to action:

the UN and the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences have shown that fighting climate (change) is the world’s most important collective endeavour, and that carbon taxes are the best way to join that fight. Canada must do its bit.”

We are part of a global village Mr. Ford.

  • The science says we must act now.

  • We have a means of acting effectively.

  • British Columbia has shown that it can be done.

Let’s have a meaningful carbon tax here in Ontario as soon as possible. We can do our part.

Yours truly;

Allan Baker

Cc Rod Phillips, Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks

Cc Andrea Horwath, NDP Leader

Cc Mike Schreiner, Green Party Leader

Cc Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change

 

 

It is not too late!   Leave a comment

On October 6, 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) spelled out in plain, damning details what will happen if the Earth’s atmosphere warms by more than 1.5 degree Celsius.

The IPCC also provided a list of possibilities for policymakers, available at: http://report.ipcc.ch/sr15/pdf/sr15_spm_final.pdf

The David Suzuki Foundation has a thoughtful commentary on this important document:

https://davidsuzuki.org/story/will-the-world-act-on-climate-change-before-its-too-late/

No, it is not too late for us to change our course. However, we must resist the powerful forces that believe in the status quo. To quote an American author, Chris Hedges:

Resistance is not only about battling the forces of darkness. It is about becoming a complete human being. It is about overcoming estrangement. it is about our neighbour.It is about honouring the sacred. It is about dignity. It is about sacrifice. It is about courage. It is about freedom. It is about the capacity to love. Resistance must become our vocation.”

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Sunrise at Cape Spear

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Human Planet: How We Created the Anthropocene   Leave a comment

There is a review by Crawford Kilian of a newly published book about The Anthropocene. The review was published on October 12 Oct 2018 in TheTyee.ca

The book is called: The Human Planet: How We Created the Anthropocene by Simon Lewis and Mark A. Maslin, Pelican (2018)

Crawford Kilian begins his review with these words:

“Given the grim prospects offered by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in its recent Special Report, this book might offer a way out. But it won’t be an easy way, and it won’t be the status quo.”

Is “progress” a trap for humanity? The whole review is accessible at:

https://thetyee.ca/Culture/2018/10/12/Humanity-Progress-Trap/?utm_source=daily&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=121018

Farm-BW-Illustration.jpgWas farming one of humanity’s biggest mistakes? This and other big questions explored in ‘The Human Planet.’ Photo illustration from Magasin Pittoresque, 1857 (Shutterstock).

We are the salmon   Leave a comment

Salmon and the circle of life

By Jim Taylor – September 26, 2018

The conference hall was packed full. Five hundred people leaned forward to watch as an elder from a First Nations community along the B.C. coast moved down the aisle towards the microphones on stage. His red-and-black blanket cloak swished as he walked; the mother-of-pearl buttons adorning it flashed back at the spotlights following him.

            This happened long before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission called for better relationships with Canada’s indigenous peoples. But the church, my church, was making its first tentative moves towards that goal.

            The old man – he may not actually have been old, but he was older than I was, and he had a deeply weathered face – climbed the stairs onto the stage. He took the microphone from its stand. He held it to his mouth.

            We waited, breathlessly, for his words of wisdom.

            “We are the salmon,” he said.

            Then he put the microphone back, and left the stage.

 DSC01012           Well, that may not have been exactly how it happened. But that’s how I remember it. Because anything else, after that opening statement, was padding.

            “We are the salmon” said it all.

            The annual salmon run up B.C. rivers defined the circle of his people’s lives. The food that fed them. The culture that sustained them. The myths and legends that shaped them.

            They and the salmon were one body, indivisible.

All are one

            We who live in an industrial cocoon are slowly learning that truth. Life has no individual components. You can’t treat the salmon, the forest, or bears and wolves, in isolation. They are one integrated whole.

            Botanists wondered why the spruce and firs along spawning rivers grew taller, stronger, than forests a mere hundred metres further back. They found it’s because of the salmon. Bears catch the salmon, drag their catch back into the woods, leave the remains under the trees.

            The rotting fish fertilize the trees. The forest, in turn, controls water flow into the stream. Provide shade to control the stream temperature. Shelter the bears who catch the salmon.

            It is a single interlocking circle of life, and death, and new life.

            This year is supposed to be a dominant sockeye run for the Adams River, possibly the finest display of spawning salmon in the entire province. At its peak, 10 million deep red salmon look like a solid mass filling the river’s pools.

            But only about two out of every 100 fertilized eggs will survive a winter in the river gravels, a year in fresh water, the long migration down to the ocean, two years roaming wild in the Pacific, and then 500 kilometres back up the rushing Fraser, Thompson, and Adams river to spawn and start the cycle again.

            The river flow, the forests along the river banks, the sediment runoff, even the smells in the water that the salmon follow to their home ground – all can be affected by as little as a slight change in temperature.

            Tinkering with one variable in the great equation of life affects the total outcome.

            Including the lives of the People of the Salmon.

            It took me more than 500 words to express that concept. It took the elder in his buttoned blanket only four.

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Copyright © 2018 by Jim Taylor. Non-profit use in congregations and study groups, and links from other blogs, welcomed; all other rights reserved.

                  To comment on this column, write jimt@quixotic.ca

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Posted September 26, 2018 by allanbaker in Canadian society, econotheism, Environment

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