Archive for the ‘econotheism’ Category

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted October 24, 2018 by allanbaker in econotheism, Environment, Politics

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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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Change for the common good   Leave a comment

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Take Responsibility!

March 24, 2018 was the annual “Earth Hour”, when people voluntarily reduce their consumption of electricity for one hour.

A report on the behaviour of people in Toronto, from the CBC, notes that;

Several Toronto landmarks went dark tonight for Earth Hour, but Toronto Hydro says overall enthusiasm for the event has waned so much in recent years that they won’t supply numbers for energy use declines for this year’s event.” (http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/earth-hour-toronto-2018-1.4592026 )

So, how are Canadians doing with consumption of another energy source – gasoline?

The David Suzuki Foundation reported this week that the increased sales of SUVs and light trucks has offset the increased fuel efficiency for autos, that has been mandated by governments in North America. For more information, read the David Suzuki Foundation report at: https://davidsuzuki.org/story/suvs-trucks-nullify-car-efficiency-gains/

These trends represent a challenge for change in behaviour. It is obvious that we are living in an economic / political system where human behaviour is resistant to change. Someone once said that the only ones who appreciate a change are babies with wet diapers.

Change is possible!

The CBC report referred to above also indicates that people in Toronto are saving on electricity use every day: Between 2006 and 2017, Toronto Hydro says 2,300 gigawatt hours of electricity have been saved in the city, which is enough energy to power 780 large condos.”

 

In addition, Canadian data shows that sales of electric-powered vehicles were up by 68 per cent in 2017. https://www.fleetcarma.com/electric-vehicle-sales-canada-2017/

Change for a better environment is happening every day!

 

Posted March 25, 2018 by allanbaker in econotheism, Environment

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Relationship(s)   Leave a comment

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Wendell Berry, poet, author, farmer, contemplates our human relationship(s) with the rest of creation in a thoughtful essay titled, “The Presence of Nature in the Natural World: A Long Conversation.” He writes that:

The great trouble of our age, involving the human economy from agriculture to warfare, is in our relationship to the natural world – to what we call “nature” or even, still, “Nature” or “Mother Nature.” The old usage persists even seriously, among at least some humans, no matter how “objectivity” weighs upon us.”

“We seem to have forgotten that there might be, or that there ever were, mutually sustaining relationships between resident humans and their home places in the world of Nature.”

page 77 in “A Small Porch”, Counterpoint publishers, 2016

Ontario’s chance to get more from green energy   Leave a comment

Ontario has decided to take a pause in its Large Renewable Procurement (LRP) efforts, citing an electricity supply surplus and a need to reduce costs for consumers.

Which all sounds pretty reasonable, but the devil is in the details.  First off, why do we have a surplus?Not because of solar and wind energy, which still makes up only a small fraction of our electricity supply, providing less than 7% of our power last year.

We have a surplus because Ontario operates three gigantic nuclear plants (including the world’s biggest – the Bruce Nuclear Station).  Demand for electricity has fallen over the past decade in Ontario due to changes in our economy (less heavy industry), conservation efforts, and new technologies (LED lighting), but we have not reduced our nuclear production accordingly.  The result is a large surplus of power.

Second, will stopping renewable power development lower costs for consumers?  Not likely. Ontario Power Generation recently asked the Ontario Energy Board for permission to raise the rate it is paid for nuclear power by 180% over the next decade.  Contrast that with the rapidly falling costs of wind and solar power.  For wind, we have already reached the point where it is more than competitive with nuclear power costs.  For solar, that crossing point is only a few years away.

Benefitting from the green energy revolution

Which means that we are at a crossroads.  Old energy technologies such as nuclear are being quickly overtaken by more flexible, easier to deploy and – increasingly – less expensive options such as solar and wind.  Ontario can try to ignore this worldwide trend or it can work through the transition and come out the other side with a more dynamic system that it is a better fit for our changing needs.

That’s the challenge that should be at the heart of the province’s current efforts to revise its Long Term Energy Plan (LTEP). And that revised plan also needs to strongly support the province’s climate change efforts.  Far from needing less electricity, we will actually need substantially more if we are gong to de-carbonize our energy use by moving away from sources like natural gas for things like home heating and accelerating the adoption of electric vehicles.  Counting on 50-year-old inflexible nuclear plants to fill this need is taking the wrong path – we will be throwing good money after bad.

The government made a commendable decision to kickstart a new high-tech green power industry in this province.  That effort has led to thousands of new jobs and has set the stage for the next generation of Ontarians to thrive in a world of electric cars, distributed energy and smart grids.

The community advantage

We know the people of Ontario still support green energy – recent polling showed that 81% think we should continue to develop renewable sources like solar and wind.  But the public is rightly concerned about how we are currently going about this task.  Too often, they feel left in the dark by processes like the LRP program or the LTEP planning cycle.

So this “pause” gives us a valuable opportunity to rethink how we are going about the business of building a modern, green energy system.  When renewable power systems are developed locally by co-ops, school boards, municipalities or community organizations, they keep dollars and jobs in our communities, provide revenue that can used for everything from fixing arenas to improving schools, and enable those communities to become more resilient and better able to ride out severe weather events.

Through its Feed-in Tariff program, Ontario has quietly developed a leading-edge community power sector.  This is the foundation we need to build on in creating a healthy, safe, reliable and cost effective electricity system that is supported by communities because it puts communities first.

Good News in the Forest   Leave a comment

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The Great Bear Rainforest agreement has been decades in the making.   Photo by Jens Wieting.

Good news from Canada’s west coast arrived last week.

20 First Nations; advocates for the environment; government(s) and forestry companies all endorsed a land use planning agreement concerning the Great Bear Rainforest. Although negotiations took too much time, and there were countless protests by environmental advocates, the accord is an illustration of what good-hearted people can accomplish.

Read more about this agreement at: http://thetyee.ca/News/2016/02/01/Great-Bear-Rainforest-Deal/