On April 22, an alliance of pipeline fighters — ranchers, farmers, tribal communities, and their friends — called the Cowboy and Indian Alliance rode into Washington DC and set up camp on the National Mall.
For 5 days, they will hold ceremonies and demonstration to remind him of the threat this tar sands pipeline poses to our climate, land, water and tribal rights.
On April 26 [note date change], the Alliance has invited friends and allies against the pipeline to join us as we conclude our camp and march together to make an unmistakable message to Pres. Obama.
The Cowboy Indian Alliance is raising funds to support Cowboy Indian Alliance members to send the strongest message possible to President Obama this April and beyond. Your contribution will make sure organizers from along the pipeline route can make it to DC and bring all of the beauty and power of our movement along with them, and support this fight for the long haul as we continue to work to stop the pipeline together.
Some of the things you’ll help fund include:
– Direct support for Cowboy Indian Alliance members
– Food, logistics and spiritual items for the camp
– Ongoing work to build support to stop Keystone XL while President Obama approaches his final decision
The congregation of across the country Trinity-St Paul’s United Church in Toronto voted unanimously on Sunday at its Annual General Meeting to lend its voice to the fast-growing divestment movement, and to ensure that its own funds are not invested in any of the world’s 200 largest fossil fuel companies. The vote confirms a long-standing commitment to climate justice, which has been a key priority of the congregation for the past decade.
Jeanne Moffat, a member and representative of the Climate Justice Group of Trinity St. Paul’s, sees the decision as deliberately aligning with Christianity’s core teachings of justice. “For too many years governments have not dealt decisively with the impending climate chaos, largely to the peril of low- income countries and low-lying regions of the world. Low-income countries are neither responsible for the heat-trapping gases that will cause more droughts and floods, nor do they have the resources to adapt. Not to act in the face of the realities of climate change is to violate our call to justice. We call upon all people of faith to join us in this movement.”
The timing of the decision coincides with other churches’ and institutions’ decisions to stop profiting from the companies whose business model includes plundering the planet. The decision represents clear dissatisfaction with the inadequate climate policies of the world’s wealthiest countries.
“We have been working on climate justice for well over a decade as individuals and as a congregation,” says Moffat, who proposed the motion on behalf of the Climate Justice Group. “We have been part of a range of campaigns to call for climate action at the scale and pace needed to avert climate catastrophe. We see this as a necessary, logical step in the mass movement away from fossil fuels and toward renewable energy and energy efficiency. This movement is growing and growing fast. We invite our sibling congregations across Canada to support this movement away from the fossil fuels that threaten all of Creation.”
Trinity-St. Paul’s United Church is a congregation of the United Church of Canada. Trinity-St. Paul’s seeks to live the love, justice and freedom of Jesus Christ. Worship of God, nurture of one another, and the struggle to be faithful to God’s call lie at the centre of its community and its outreach.
The United Church of Canada is the largest Protestant denomination in Canada with over 3,000 congregations and other ministries across the country.
406 Billion dollars in government subsidies go to the fossil fuel industry per year to create 7 million jobs globally. Renewable energy provides 5.7 million jobs already, but with 60 Billion dollars, less than one sixth of government support.
The HawkkeyDavis Channel on YouTube does an excellent job of compiling extreme weather events from around the world at regular intervals during the year. Here’s the end-of-the-year compilation for 2013. As the video’s description notes, this is not viewing for the faint of heart; all kinds of extreme weather events are escalating both in frequency and in severity. Is there any doubt at all, folks, that it’s time to tax our climate-destabilizing carbon emissions with a straight-forward, bureaucracy-free, revenue-neutral carbon fee and dividend? I don’t think so. To find out how you can be part of the change, go to CitizensClimateLobby.org or (in Canada) CitizensClimateLobby.ca.
Here in Northern Ontario our lovely boreal summer is in full swing. The blueberries are starting to ripen, the ethereal call of the loons drifts up to our windows at night, and the zucchini are plentiful. This summer in my community we are lucky to be growing some “really cool old squash” that Winona LaDuke gifted to us with during her visit here last September. The squash seeds are descendants of 800 year old seeds found preserved in an earth ball at an archeological dig in Wisconsin several years ago.
Unfortunately, this summer also brings ominous news from the arctic; some maverick climate scientists are even suggesting that one cyclone could break up what remains of the summer ice cover by this September. This means the summer polar ice cap will be G-O-N-E. Right now, for the first time ever, there’s a lake covering the remaining ice, as this photograph by the North Pole Environmental Observatory shows:
I’ve just returned from a 5 day canoe trip that gave me the opportunity to disconnect from the cyberworld, and to refresh my mind and spirit. It was jarring to return and be confronted with even more alarming evidence of the climate precipice upon which we are poised, and yet note that “business as usual” continues.
After spending an evening logged on to my computer absorbing the latest climate news, and feeling the impact of that on my psyche, I knew that it was time for me to shift gears. The science of climate change is clear to anyone who chooses to examine what the scientists are saying, or even is willing to look at the evening news or out their window. What is just as clear is that people are choosing, en masse, not look this monster in the eyes. When I started blogging in the fall of 2009, it was because I was becoming aware of how acute the threat of climate change is to my children’s future and as a mother I felt compelled to act on this knowledge. Blogging about it was a way for me to educate myself as well as raise awareness. It also became the way for me to connect with other concerned people inside and outside Canada. While I’ve shed many a tear as I researched my blog posts, I will remember the past four years on 350orbust as a stimulating ride, full of twists and turns and surprises. In the process, I’ve not only learned a lot about climate science and climate activism, I’ve learned about myself and “life, the universe, and everything”.
In 2013, the pace of climate change is quickening. It is no longer something that is going to happen to my children and grandchildren, it is something that is happening in my own backyard, and across the globe, right here and now.
Eat, Pray, Garden, Breathe. Repeat.
We are hurtling headlong into a time of great change, and I want to be using my time and energy wisely in the days and months ahead. That is not to say that I think we’re screwed and it’s time to throw our hands up in despair. Absolutely not; exactly the opposite. As France Moore Lappé writes in her most recent book, EcoMind (which I highly recommend):
To those declaring our species’ near-future demise, I find myself wanting to shout, Wait a minute!
Half the world is getting by right now on a daily sum equal to the price of a single American latte – or less. About 1 billion of us lack the food and water we need. In the Global North, millions are struggling and stressed as well. Even before the Great Recession, it was estimated that almost 60 percent of Americans will live in poverty for at least a year during their adult lives. In short catastrophe is already the daily experience of huge numbers.
So here’s my question: Too late for what?
I agree with [Ross] Gelbspan that it is too late to prevent the massive change in the climate we humans have taken for granted for thousands of years. Erratic, extreme, and destructive weather is already with us. It is too late to prevent suffering. Terrible suffering is already with us.
But it is not too late for life.
The cracks in our unsustainable way of life are showing, and getting bigger every day. But as Leonard Cohen has written, There is a crack in everything, That’s how the light gets in. There’s the possibility, the glimmer of hope, that fundamental change will come from the convulsions we will all be experiencing from our collective inability to “connect the dots” between our every day actions and choices and the impacts these have on other, unseen, people as well as the earth that sustains life.
Am I fearful when I consider the scope of what is facing us? I am well acquainted with fear, but while it may seem counter-intuitive, I can say honestly that I am less fear-filled now than at any other time of my life. The things that I used to be fearful of , like not “keeping up appearances” (whatever that might mean – being at the “right” weight, wearing the “right” clothes, having children who reflected well on my parenting, etc), don’t seem important any more. Even the ultimate fear in our society, death, doesn’t hold the same power over me. Our culture teaches us to be obsessed with amassing external wealth and the outward trappings of “success” in large part because we are also taught to be afraid of dying – and this includes most people who identify themselves as “religious”. The unspoken lesson is that if only we surround ourselves with enough “stuff” we will be immune. Ironically we can forget to enjoy life, so focused are we on accumulating. What is clear now is that we are hastening the death of the ecosystem that sustains us because of this blindness. Immersing myself in the darkness of what we collectively are doing to other people, to our children’s future, to our biosphere and to those beings that share this planet with us has made me realize that there are worse things than dying. Continuing to live according to the shallow and destructive values of our society is one of those.
The time has come for me to focus my energies away from 350orbust to other things. Canada’s Citizens Climate Lobby is gearing up for our first official conference and lobbying days in Ottawa November 16 – 18th, so that’s one of my top priorities.
My local transition group is one of the places- next to my family and my garden – that I draw the most energy from, so I’m going to spend more time on working with this great group of people to increase our local resilience. I also manage their website (although not very well these days) so you can visit me at TransitionRedLake.wordpress.com. My understanding and supportive family will also be getting a little more of my undivided attention, because I can’t think of a better place to continue building resilience and community than right here under my own roof; and besides, they are a lot of fun to spend time with!
I also feel compelled to stay connected with the people of Fort McKay and Fort McMurray in Northern Alberta after meeting some of them and hearing their stories during the Tar Sands Healing Walk early in July. I’d like to help other Canadians hear their shocking stories of having their land, their traditional food, and their families poisoned because of the unchecked expansion of bitumen extraction in the tar sands. What is happening there is just wrong.
This is my opportunity to say thank you to my faithful readers – and even the not-so-faithful ones! Knowing that you were out there, checking in when you could, and giving me feedback when you felt moved to, has made this journey such an inspiring one. Many of you have touched my life, and for that I say “meegwech”, (an Anishinaabe thank you).
I don’t want to leave you without resources. You are welcome to touch base with me on Facebook (Christine Penner Polle) or follow me on Twitter, @350orbust1, or on Pinterest (350orbust). I can still be reached by email at email@example.com, although I plan to spend much less time on my computer and much more time in my garden. 350orbust won’t be completely inactive, as my weekend posts are set for the next few months as well as some video links that are set to be shared.
I’d love to meet you in Ottawa during Canada’s Citizens Climate Lobby National Conference. My recent trip to Washington to participate in the 4th annual Citizens Climate Lobby International Conference & Lobbying days had a huge impact on me and my climate activism, and I think Ottawa will be equally inspiring. The conference will include training in lobbying for change, which would be helpful even if you choose not to participate further with Citizens Climate Lobby.
If you want to follow what’s happening with the climate, there are excellent websites out there, which I’ve listed a few of below. I would also recommend that you follow Paul Beckwith, an “unmuzzled” Canadian climate scientist who studies abrupt climate change. You can find him on Facebook or on Twitter (@PaulHBeckwith) or on his blog on the Sierra Club Canada website. If you are on Facebook, “I Heart Climate Scientists” page is great to follow for regular updates and graphics to share. If you are in need of inspiration or a boost on a bad day, check out Upworthy.com.
For the latest on our changing climate:
The experts of the Arctic Methane Emergency Group post updates on ArcticNews.
Climate Nexus is also a great resource. They are “a strategic communications group dedicated to highlighting the wide-ranging impacts of climate change and clean energy solutions in the United States.”
I wish you joy on the journey, and I won’t say goodbye but rather à la prochaine –until next time!
Sheldon Whitehouse, Democratic Senator for Rhodes Island, is a climate hero. He tirelessly pushes back against the heavily-polluter-funded deniers in the Senate and elsewhere, presenting the scientific facts and the risks of climate inaction. Here is Senator Whitehouse presenting on the Senate House floor last week, talking about what’s at stake. He says:
“…many of the answers carry stakes so high, that they plead for prudent and rational choices. The down side is so deep, that the balance has to be towards precaution, if we are indeed a rational species.”
As President Obama unveiled his plan of action to address climate change earlier this week, my husband and I were part of a group of 370 citizen lobbyists from across the U.S. and Canada who fanned out over Capitol Hill to make the case for the market-based approach of a revenue-neutral carbon tax to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. What a whirlwind of a week! While I can’t say that we solved the climate crisis, I can tell you that our meetings with 435 congressional offices, the World Bank, the IMF, and the Canadian Embassy are shifting the conversation about pricing carbon pollution.
In his speech at Georgetown University to debut his climate plan, Obama announced that he would direct the Environmental Protection Agency to complete carbon pollution standards for both new and existing power plants.
Mark Reynolds, Executive Director of Citizens Climate Lobby responded to President Obama’s speech by emphasizing the conservative nature of a straightforward carbon tax:
“The President is making good on his State-of-the-Union promise to address climate change, when he said, ‘If Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will’. We’re here to tell Congress there’s still time for them to act, particularly if they want to avoid the use of increased regulations to reduce heat-trapping gases. The clock has started on the process that will eventually result in the use of EPA regulations to reduce carbon pollution in the energy sector. Is this what Republicans want? Or would they prefer using a market-based solution that speeds the transition from fossil fuels to clean energy?”
A number of conservative economists, including Reagan advisor Art Laffer and Romney advisor Greg Mankiw, have backed a revenue-neutral carbon tax as the most efficient and effective means to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. They maintain that carbon-based fuels enjoy an advantage over clean technologies because their costs to society – health, security and environmental – is not reflected in the price that’s paid for them. Correcting this distortion would allow the market to function properly and reduce the demand for fossil fuels.
“We believe this solution – a tax on carbon that gives all the revenue back to the public – could be embraced by conservatives, especially as an alternative to government regulations. That’s the message our volunteers are taking to Republican offices today.” Mark Reynolds, Executive Director, Citizens Climate Lobby
Citizens Climate Lobby wrapped up a three-day conference today with hundreds of volunteers conducting meetings with 439 House and Senate offices.
“The President’s speech couldn’t be better timed,” said Reynolds. “It gives Republicans a good reason to take a serious look at a revenue-neutral carbon tax. Like objects in a passenger-side mirror, the tipping point for a carbon tax might be closer than it appears.”
In case you missed President Obama’s awesome speech, here it is:
Paul Beckwith is a part-time professor and PhD student of abrupt climate change in the Department of Geography at the University of Ottawa. He recently wrote this paragraph in response to a shift of 40 degrees Celsius in two days in Ottawa:
Not a typical January in Ottawa. 10 degrees C for several days one week; -30 the next; followed by 10 the one after that. Why?
Normally the high altitude jet streams that circle the planet are predominantly from west to east with little waviness. Weather is cold and dry northward of the jets (Arctic air sourced) and warm and wet southward (moist tropics and ocean sourced). Now, and moving forward, the jets are extremely wavy and as the crests and troughs of the waves sweep by us each week we experience the massive swings in temperature. The extreme jet waviness is due to a very large reduction in the equator-to-Arctic temperature gradient caused by an exponentially declining Arctic reflectivity from sea-ice and snow cover collapses (which causes great amplification of Arctic temperatures). Additional amplification is occurring due to rapidly rising methane concentrations sourced from sea-floor sediments and terrestrial permafrost.
Observed changes will accelerate as late summer sea-ice completely vanishes from Arctic within a few years. Largest human impacts will be food supply shortages and increases in severity, frequency, and duration of extreme weather events.
Here Professor Beckwith explains it in one minute and thirteen seconds:
So, COP18 in Doha has ended with a whimper not a bang – quelle surprise! Seems like greed is still trumping common sense, as well as compassion for both our children and the global poor. While Doha did win recognition for poorer nations for the “loss and damage from climate change” that they are suffering, and a promise of financial compensation from richer polluter countries, its “big” accomplishment was the extension of the Kyoto protocol. This is the same Kyoto protocol which has done nothing to keep the world from careening ever closer to the edge of climate disaster since it was signed in 1997.
“I would like to know how leaders from countries like ours can be so indifferent to the looming reality of a world 4 degrees warmer than today. The science is clear, the solutions exist, the economy is thirsty for it, and the impacts of inaction are increasingly devastating – so where is the political will and leadership? Leaders let the world down again this year by coming to the table largely empty-handed on meaningful ways to close the growing gap between where they are and where they have promised to be to avoid 2 degrees of global warming. The Canadian Government was determined to lead the race to the bottom on the central issue of finance, insisting on holding out for at least 3 more years until they contribute to the Green Climate Fund. In Doha the critical path we need to be on is still alive in this process, but it needs leadership and political will to move forward and that is clearly missing here.”
“Bopha, Sandy, floods in Pakistan, droughts in China… How many reports from the likes of the World Bank, NASA and the International Energy Agency will it take? How many preventable catastrophes until our leaders realize that climate change will not be solved by nice speeches and empty promises? Countries like Canada and the U.S. have promised to reduce their greenhouse gas pollution and provide adequate financial support for developing countries, they have so far failed on both counts.”
– Steven Guilbeault, Deputy Director, Equiterre
“The package we got today in Doha won’t keep us on a secure pathway to prevent warming of more than two degrees. We have a very vague process that might lead to increased ambition but only if political will shifts. In recent years we have seen a serious lack of political will from countries like the US and Canada who have continually blocked the process. This crisis was created by wealthy big polluters like Canada and the U.S., and they need to step up and show leadership in solving it. Governments must stop working for the polluters, and start working for the people. In order to do this, Canada must stop reckless tar sands expansion and pipelines projects.”
– Patrick Bonin, Climate and Energy Campaigner, Greenpeace Canada
“World leaders have failed in their commitments at COP18, Canada most of all. Canada’s lack of ambition and commitment with these negotiations is rooted in the unsustainable expansion of the tar sands and the influence of dirty energy, dirty money and dirty politics. In spite of the cries of youth from around the world we are far behind keeping temperatures within the 2 °C limit. This will have serious implications in the most vulnerable parts of the world, where the people who are the least responsible for creating this crisis are experiencing, and will continue to experience, this devastating climate legacy.In terms of finance, Hurricane Sandy alone is set to cost $60 billion, the same amount being asked for in climate finance in Doha. If one storm costs that, its clearly nowhere near enough for the whole world.”
-Perla Hernandez, Canadian Youth Delegation, COP18
“Despite demands from civil society both within and outside of the country for responsible action, the federal government had outraged us again both nationally and internationally by continuing to defend business as usual, and by blocking ambitious achievements at the global scale. We demand that the Canadian government put an end to this inaction and join provincial and local governments in taking a strong stand against locking us into infrastructure that fuels our dangerous addiction to tar sands and shale gas.”
– Aida Ahmadi, Climate and Energy Campaigner, AQLPA
“As the conference ends, I am very concerned about rules of conduct tightening for civil society participation. With more and more restrictions, the contribution to the process by environmental groups, and especially the youth, is seriously compromised.”