World Religious Leaders: Bold Action Needed On Climate Change

Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Since Monday, dozens of religious leaders from diverse faiths have been gathering at the University of Winnipeg at the G8 Religious Leaders Summit. Besides Christian, Jewish, and Islamic leaders, there are also representatives from Buddhist, Sikh, Hindu, Baha’i, and Shinto traditions as well as Indigenous Spirituality. It is the first time Canada has hosted the Summit which, for the past five years, has been organized to complement the meeting of G8 political leaders. G8 leaders are meeting in Huntsville, Ontario, later this week.

A significant part of each Interfaith Leaders Summit is the writing of a statement, which underscores the nature of the G8 commitments to the Millenium Development Goals and other processes that move toward equality and justic for all children, women and men. The working statement, which is undergoing discussion and will be different at the end of the summit, can be read by clicking on: “A Time For Inspired Leadership and Action“.

I attended the summit yesterday as an observer, and was impressed and encouraged by the sense of importance and urgency that underscored the 1 1/2 hour discussion on climate change. The statement reads, in part:

Climate change has become an urgent and felt manifestation of our collective abuse of the very environment that gives us life. We see the consequences in melting icecaps and rising sea levels, lost habitats for animal and plant species, and erratic weather episodes that threaten the lives of millions of people.

As scientists discover new accelerators of climate change and note the compression of time available to avoid irreparable damage, it is clear that bold action is needed now. We need to move beyond short-term political interests and arguments over who pays. In our indivisible planet we all pay – and future generations will pay dearly – if we continue to delay decisive action now.

Around the table there were calls for courageous and concrete action. Katherine Whitecloud, an aboriginal leader from the Dakota First Nation and a descendant of Chief Sitting Bull, spoke powerful words to the gathered religious leaders. She reminded the room that the rivers are the veins of Mother Earth, and they are now poisoned.

My grandmother said, someday we will eat our children. That time has come. We are foolishly and arrogantly raping Mother Earth so She has nothing left to offer…Mother Earth is crying, attempting to rid herself of all the toxins we have poured into her [author’s note: it has been extremely wet here on the prairies recently]. You cannot wait for your president, or another elected official, to do something about this. You have to decide what YOU are going to do for your children, for your grandchildren.”

Katherine then went on to ask the assembled group about the meaning of sacrifice, because that is what is going to be needed at this point in human history.

“Sacrifice is going without so someone else will live…Now is the time for courageous and concrete action. In your heart, you know what that means.”

Katherine demonstrated the kind of bold and courageous leadership that we needed to steer through this crisis, and make the dramatic changes necessary so that our children aren’t consumed. What is each of us prepared to do?


BP Disaster in Gulf: “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”

Via Climate Progress, the background to this video from David Yarnold, Executive Director of The Environmental Defense Fund:

From a comfortable distance the BP oil disaster is depressing and horrific. But up close, it’s worse.

Two days in the Gulf of Mexico left me enraged – and deeply resolved. Both the widespread damage and the inadequacy of the response effort exceeded my worst fears. I’d spent a full day on the Gulf and we ended up soaked in oily water and seared by the journey.

By Tuesday night, I was home. My throat burned and my head was foggy and dizzy as I showed my pictures and video to my wife, Fran, and my 13-year-old daughter, Nicole, on the TV in the family room.

Images of the gooey peanut-butter colored oil and the blackened wetlands flashed by. Pictures of dolphins diving into our oily wake and brown pelicans futilely trying to pick oil off their backs popped on the screen. And, out of nowhere, Nicole put on the music from the season finale of Glee.

With all these horrific images on the screen, she had turned on the show’s final song of the year, “Somewhere Over The Rainbow.” The song, a slow, sweet, ukulele and guitar-driven version, couldn’t have added a deeper sense of tragic irony.

…The inspiration [for this video] was Nicole’s. This is for her, and for all of our kids – and theirs to come.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8jPjJPVdR4g&feature=player_embedded]

Links:

Environmental Defense Fund

Read the full post on Climate Progress.

Is there a different way of doing things, that moves us away from this dirty fossil fuel addiction we’ve developed over the last century?  Yes!  Check out Four Years.Go: A campaign to change the course of history.

“Hole In the Ocean”

“Hole in the Ocean” was written written by Joe Monto & Steve Bartlett to keep the focus on the BP oil spill disaster unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico. This is already the largest environmental disaster in United States history, and the oil is still gushing out of the oil well.

The song is dedicated to the 11 men who lost their lives on the Deepwater Oil Rig on April 20th, 2010.

The words to  Hole In The Ocean” are:

The wave crests on fire
And storm clouds below
The oozing dark monster

Creeps silently slow
The heartache of many
The future unclear
We stand on the shoreline
Surrounded by fear

Chorus:

There’s a hole in the ocean
That’s breaking my heart
When will it end
Why did it start?

Can we ever return
To our blue watered bay
There’s a hole in the ocean
That stands in our way

2nd Verse:

For the diving birds diving
And the fish ‘neath the waves
There is so much to do
There is so much to save

With bitter tears stinging
For the ones who were lost
Is there really a way
To assess what this cost?

Bridge:

Eleven souls sailing
That April day
It happened so quickly
‘Twas no time to pray

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WtIWvkDvVUM]

Click here to send a message to President Obama to ban offshore drilling permanently.

Click here to find out how BP is quietly breaking ground on a controversial project in B.C.’s Rocky Mountains without a provincial environmental review.

A Response To Indecent Exposure to Cars: World Naked Bike Ride Day

Billed as the “craziest, wildest, most insane event of the year,” today is World Naked Bike Ride Day (WNBR). WNBR’s many goals include to promote cycling to save the planet, put a stop to the pollution that cars create, increase body/self awareness, and build community.  The first coordinated WNBR happened in 2004, and six years later there are rides happening all over the globe, including Australia, Greece, Spain, the U.K, as well as Canada and the United States. There was none in my prairie city, though! Maybe next year….

The WNBR website outlines the reason for the rides:

According to the United Nations, close to a million species of plants and animals could disappear from the face of the earth in the next 50 years as a result of greenhouse gasses being released primarily from motor vehicles.

We face automobiles with our naked bodies as the best way of defending our dignity and exposing the unique dangers faced by cyclists and pedestrians as well as the negative consequences we all face due to dependence on oil, and other forms of non-renewable energy.

Photo from Enzyme Auckland WNBR

Fresh from today’s ride in Trafalgar Square in London comes this short clip:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4WaLU6CX1uA]

For more links, and to join in next year’s ride (I know I’m going to circle the date on my calendar – and fyi, the dress code is “as bare as you dare”!), go to the WNBR website – click here. There’s also a trailer for a new movie WNBR has put out.

I found out that it was WNBR day on the CBC Radio show “Go” this morning. Their show this morning was all about cycling and cyclists – click here to go to their home page, and click on “listen to the whole show” to hear it.

PM Harper Continues to Ignore Calls From International Community To Put Climate Change on G8/G20 Agenda

I’m up early this morning, listening to the rain come down on an already saturated prairie city.  When my husband and I went out last night to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary we found the water in some places on the road came up to our wheel wells.  The roads weren’t as badly flooded as after the record-breaking rain Winnipeg experienced 10 days ago, when motorists were stranded in underpasses as the city’s drainage system was overwhelmed (click here for a picture).  On the CBC Radio Morning Show yesterday, there was a story about how farmers’ fields are flooded and either the crops they’ve planted are under water or their fields are too soggy to plant in. The Manitoba government has received as many crop insurance claims so far, 6 months into 2010, as is the norm for most entire years (and more are expected). And yet not a word was said about how climate scientists have been warning for decades that the warming of the atmosphere will result in global weather “weirding”!

We are starting to pay the price for unmitigated climate change, in insurance claims (from crops to flooded basements) as well as in unpredictable weather.  I grew up in this province, and I know that Manitoba summers should be hot and sunny.  2009 was the summer that wasn’t, in this part of the world – rain, rain, and more rain!  We shall see what 2010 has in store for us, but one thing we should know for sure is that we can’t count on the weather any more.  The implications for our economic system, which will be stretched to the limit, and likely past it, with dealing with the fall-out from freak weather, are enough to make any tax-payer shudder.  This should make politicians wake up and address this issue now, while dealing with it is still manageable. But instead the majority of our national leaders are short-sighted and focused only on making their political opponents look bad today, and, in the case of Minority Prime Minister Stephen Harper, shoving his minority agenda down the all of Canadians’ throats. Mr. Harper wouldn’t recognize climate change if it came up and introduced itself to him over breakfast one day.

Yet another high-profile call for putting climate change on the G8/G20 agenda in Toronto has come in, this time from six Nobel Laureates.  Their letters, sent separately to PM Harper as well as to the leaders of other countries attending, warn climate change threatens both the planet’s economy and the planet’s security.

“Environmental degradation and global warming, and their impacts, are economic and security issues as well as environmental ones. Failure to address climate change will put the global economy at further risk, and plunge millions who are already living on the economic margins into deeper poverty. This poverty leads to more migration, more violence and greater social and economic insecurity for both developing and developed nations.”

Instead of recognizing that economy is interwined with many other issues, including climate change, Mr. Harper has chosen to cancel the usual meeting of environment ministers that generally happens concurrently with the main G8/G20 economic summit.  He has also rejected calls from international leaders such as UN Chief Ban Ki-moon, EU President Barroso, and Mexican President Felipe Calderon, to put climate change on the agenda of the Toronto summits.

If you are concerned about the Harper government’s increasing isolation internationally, and the damage being done to Canada’s reputation, why don’t you let him know?  Here is his contact information: telephone: 613-992-4211, email: Harper.S@parl.ga.ca, fax: 613-941-6900.

If you are on Facebook, you can join the group “Tell Harper to put Climate Change back on the G8G20 Agenda”. Click here to go to that page.

More links:

“Nobel Laureates Urge Harper To Put Climate On G20 Agenda“. Canada.com

“Man. Crops Getting Washed Out” CBC.ca

Climate Change Denier Christopher Monckton’s Fabrications Eviscerated By University of Minnesota Professor

From Climate Progress, Professor John Abraham’s step-by-step deconstruction of one of the most famous of the anti-science deniers, the Viscount Monckton of Brenchley, a.k.a Lord Chris Monckton:

The number of errors Chris Monckton makes is so enormous it would take a thesis to go through every single one of them.”

Click here to see the slide presentation of Professor Abraham, where he addresses Monckton’s talks, slide by slide, and shows how erroneous his assertions are, and how he twists the data of real scientists. A must-see!

Meanwhile down in the Gulf of Mexico BP still can’t say whether the oil will stop after it’s latest attempt to stop the underground volcano. Here’s a video from Greenpeace USA taken last week showing the extent of the disaster at that point, and hundreds of thousands more gallons have poured into this fragile ecosystem since then.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yxoIZIG7IZY]

Click here to go to 1,000,000,000 Strong Against Offshore Drilling’s “Write a Letter to the Editor” action page to make your voice heard against Big Oil’s push to “Drill Baby Drill”.


Time for Canada to Shift Paradigms And Get With Green Economy

Senator Grant Mitchell is the Liberal Senator who is sponsoring Bill C311, Climate Accountability Act, as it makes its way through the Senate.  If this bill, which has already passed 3 votes in the House of Commons, is made into law, Canada could start to lead the world out of the mess our reckless burning of fossil fuels has gotten us into.  As Senator Mitchell points out in this article, first published in the Hill Times, addressing climate change now doesn’t have to lead to economic hardship.  It’s NOT addressing our greenhouse gas emissions that will decimate our economy, as we will struggle to deal with the natural disasters and food shortages brought about by a global weather weirding.

Here’s what Mr. Mitchell has to say about the need for Bill C311, The Climate Accountability Act:

One unfortunate prevailing idea held by this government is that dealing with climate change needs to entail significant economic hardship. This view ignores the human and economic costs from unmitigated climate change. Many expert economists and studies also indicate that climate change action will be much more affordable than we now think, especially if we start today. There are also a host of other issues, like energy security and economic volatility from oil prices that can be eased by rethinking our carbon and energy consumption. The climate change issue is not a problem of facts; it is the failure to imagine what is possible and what the stakes are.

While we see next to no action at the federal level, the Globe 2010 conference which Senators from the Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources recently attended is a microcosm of what is happening globally in the green economy. The resounding reason I heard there for immediate climate change action can be summed up with the line from Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign, “it’s the economy, stupid.”

The good news is that significant business players are becoming involved in the green economy. Far from being a gathering of only environmental activists, the major banks, insurance companies and CEO’s of oil and other commodity companies were there. They are working with carbon markets, developing feed-in tariffs for renewable energies, investing in carbon capture and storage and building a solar energy fed city in the desert. It is exciting to feel the energy these people have. And, it was clear at the conference that these players accept climate change science and believe that we must begin dealing with its implications quickly.

Huge economic opportunities will emerge as we restructure our economy to meet the climate change challenges and green industries become mainstream.  It was repeated frequently at the conference that clean tech is the largest venture capital sector worldwide. CIBC recently appointed a renewable energy vice-chair in its wholesale banking division. But, more needs to be done and that involves shifting our paradigm. The ‘green’ economy is just the economy, and ‘green’ jobs are jobs. Period. This is the way Canada’s major trading partners and competitors are thinking and we are losing ground by hoping slight, incremental changes will be sufficient.

In Vancouver, which hosted the Globe conference, I was struck by the work that is being done regardless of the federal leadership vacuum on climate change. The city and the province of British Columbia, are proof positive that tackling carbon emissions and making green investments can stimulate the economy. Vancouver has a goal of being the greenest city in the world. It is working hard to build a clean tech hub, similar to the IT hub that exists in Silicon Valley, and it is attracting jobs and investments to its fast growing economy. For the Winter Olympics, Vancouver built the greenest neighbourhood in North America to serve as its Olympic Village. The city also has a strong provincial partner. BC has had foresight to price carbon and will be implementing a cap-and-trade system. BC Hydro is developing its smart grid and is rolling out smart meters to every customer. The province will make its public sector carbon neutral by the end of this year and has set up a crown corporation, the Pacific Carbon Trust, to generate the one million carbon offsets that will be required. This will create new opportunities for BC businesses and farmers.

The governments of Vancouver and BC have implemented proactive policy, through a carbon price, and it is driving innovation and economic growth. A typical criticism of prospective government leadership in this area is that we need to ‘let the markets work’. This is absolutely true. But, our markets are currently distorted because carbon emissions are essentially free despite the significant costs of its negative externalities. We need governments to price carbon, for instance, through cap-and-trade, or alternately develop strong incentives for low carbon activities like the feed-in tariff program in Ontario. This will develop the economies of scale needed to commercialize new technology and massively deploy it. This, in turn, brings down prices for consumers. We seem to forget that government has intervened like this before, most notably in the Oil Sands where the cost of oil extraction would not have been economic without significant government investment.

The Conservative government says we need to wait for US cap-and-trade legislation to take action here. But, a cap-and-trade system may not be achieved in the US for several years and Canada cannot afford to miss several formative years of green economic development. Even without cap-and-trade the US is spending significant amounts on clean energy and technology, eighteen times more per capita than we are. China is investing similar amounts. In fact, China and the US have a wide ranging agreement on clean energy partnerships that is far more substantial than our clean energy dialogue with the US, which at this rate has turned into a monologue. Canada may bluster about being a clean energy ‘superpower’, but frankly, our money is nowhere near where our mouth is.

Click here or here for a sample letter to send to Canadian Senators, and their email addresses.

Click here to go to Senator Mitchell’s blog.

Just a note to let my faithful readers know that Peter Sinclair, maker of the fantastic videos addressing denier’s fabrications and distortions, Climate Crock of the Week, got enough votes to win the $5000 prize awarded by Brighter Planet. So, thanks to everyone who took the time to vote for him (especially my mother-in-law, Ruth, who took the time to figure out how to vote, even though she and computers are not on overly familiar terms!). Click here to read more.

Now, get busy and contact those Senators.  This opportunity to shift Canada’s paradigm from dirty oil to a greener future is too good to miss!

The BP Disaster Illustrates The Problem is Oil, The Solution Is to Break Our Addiction

It’s time we kick the fossil fuel habit – melting ice caps, global weather weirding, and now the BP oil catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico make this clear.  And then there’s the economy, which, according to our esteemed Prime Minister Stephen Harper, trumps everything, as if there isn’t a planet to live on when we’re finished extracting resources like we were liquidating a business!   With all due respect, Mr. Harper, it’s time to start fighting climate change now while we still have an economy to fight it with!

The Daily Kos put it this way:

[Louisiana Governor] Jindal probably likes the sound of his voice when he says he has a solution to dealing with this leak, but the fact that his solution is such utter nonsense underscores this one central, immutable fact: oil is dangerous, and there’s no way to make it safe. Yes, we’re addicted to it. No, we’re not going to stop using it overnight. But we must break that addiction. And if don’t learn that lesson from this tragedy, we’re going to be taught it again, and again. And each time the consequences will keep on getting worse.

Click here to read the full Daily Kos post.

Here is a video on how badly BP has dealt with the protecting the Gulf coast after the disaster – with a warning, there is very crude language in this video but many of us feel that kind of outrage when we see the @!!@@ mess in the Gulf – all done in the name of making an almighty dollar!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vx8kMXufu3w]

Read more:

Conservative Economics, The Windmill Technique, and Climate Change“. Father Theo’s Blog.Wordpress.com

Join the FaceBook Group “1,000,000,00 Strong Against OffShore Drilling”

Click here to go to the Live Oil Spill Camera.

“The Gulf Appears To Be Bleeding”: Today is Day of Action, Night of Mourning Against Offshore Drilling

As I mentioned previously, today has been declared a National Day of Action, Night of Mourning Against Offshore Drilling. From Rising Tide North America comes this call to action:

Once again the fossil fuel industry has brought crisis to the Gulf Coast. Devastation of untold proportions spews non-stop from BP’s oil well as politicians try to save face with empty promises, and oil companies preserve their profits with PR campaigns. This catastrophic spill comes on the heels of Obama’s plan to expand offshore drilling. The price of burning fossil fuels is too high. From combustion to extraction the oil industry poisons our communities, destroys ecosystems, and destabilizes the climate. Now is the time to stop offshore drilling dead in its tracks and drive another nail into the fossil fuel industry’s coffin.

People are encouraged to take action to demand:

-An immediate ban on all offshore drilling

-A rapid and just transition away from fossil fuels

-No bailouts for the oil industry. All recovery costs must be paid for by BP, Halliburton, Transocean and other implicated companies.

-The federal government must remove any caps on liability for oil companies.

-BP provides full compensation for impacted communities and small businesses.

-BP provides full funding for long-term ecosystem restoration for impacted areas.

-Oil companies operating in the Gulf fully fund restoration of coastal ecosystems damaged by canals, pipelines, and other industry activities.

Actions To Take:

Click here to go to Rising Tide’s National Day of Action page for more information on specific actions to take.

Click here to sign Avaaz.org’s petition against offshore drilling.

Click here if you live in Canada and want to sign a petition to protect our Pacific Coast from oil spills.

Also, if you are Canadian, please take the time to encourage our Senators to pass Bill C311, The Climate Accountability Act, as it makes its way through the Senate. The bill will have its first reading in the Senate near the end of May, only a few weeks away.   Click here to get the Senators contact info. Keep in mind that Senators are not elected and therefore they have no constituents,  so it’s best to contact as many of them as you can.

Take time to talk to people today about how offshore drilling needs to stop, and that there is a better way to power our economy and our cars than dirty fossil fuels.  (Click here to read “We Have Better Choices Than Drill Baby Drill” if you want ideas about how to start the conversation).

Phone your elected representative and tell them it’s time to stop drilling and start focusing on a cleaner, greener way to get our fuel.

To get galvanized into action, check out this YouTube video filmed by local Brinkley Hutching and narrated by her father as they fly in his plane over the Gulf right to “ground zero” of the oil volcano that is erupting. When he says “The Gulf is bleeding”, you can see what he means!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uG8JHSAVYT0]

To read Brinkley’s heartbreaking account of the catastrophe, go to “A Local’s Account of the Deepwater Disaster”.

Glacier National Park Turns 100, Will Soon Need New Name

From the Seattle Times, May 11, 2010:

The gorgeous million-acre park in northwestern Montana celebrated its 100th birthday Tuesday. But many of its glaciers have melted, and scientists predict the rest may not last another decade.

The forests are drier and disease-ridden, leading to bigger wildfires. Climate change is forcing animals that feed off plants to adapt.

Many experts consider Glacier Park a harbinger of Earth’s future, a lab where changes in the environment will likely show up first.

Average temperatures have risen in the park 1.8 times faster than the global average, said Dan Fagre, a U.S. Geological Survey scientist.

The change is visible to the naked eye, with the vast moraines left behind as the giant glaciers melt away. Climate change is blamed for the increasing size and frequency of wildfires, and lower stream flows in summer.

St. Mary Lake, Glacier National Park, photo by Ken Thomas

Click here to read the full story on The Seattle Times.