Take Time To Renew Your Spirit

“Action is the antidote for despair.”

~ Joan Baez


Monday, September 26, 2001: Ottawa Tar Sands Action

There comes a time when you need to take a stand. When sending letters and signing petitions isn’t enough. When together we must say, “enough is enough — not on our watch”.

That time is now. We must act together for the health of our planet, our air, our water, our climate, and our children.

Click here for more info

Climate Change: The Basics of 350

From Hans Hansen, this explanation and video of the importance of 350 parts per million of C02:

What does the number 350 mean?

350 is the most important number in the world—it’s what scientists say is the safe upper limit for carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Two years ago, after leading climatologists observed rapid ice melt in the Arctic and other frightening signs of climate change, they issued a series of studies showing that the planet faced both human and natural disaster if atmospheric concentrations of CO2 remained above 350 parts per million.

Everyone from Al Gore to the U.N.’s top climate scientist has now embraced this goal as necessary for stabilizing the planet and preventing complete disaster. Now the trick is getting our leaders to pay attention and craft policies that will put the world on track to get to 350.
Is 350 scientifically possible?

Right now, mostly because we’ve burned so much fossil fuel, the atmospheric concentration of CO2 is 390 ppm—that’s way too high, and it’s why ice is melting, drought is spreading, forests are dying. To bring that number down, the first task is to stop putting more carbon into the atmosphere. That means a very fast transition to sun and wind and other renewable forms of power. If we can stop pouring more carbon into the atmosphere, then forests and oceans will slowly suck some of it out of the air and return us to safe levels.
Is 350 politically possible?

It’s very hard. It means switching off fossil fuel much more quickly than governments and corporations have been planning. But we can change that–if we mobilize the world to swift and bold climate action, and shift the world to a clean energy future.


Global Warming: When You Feel It, It’s Already Too Late


More links:

We Can’t Wish Away Climate Change” NYTimes.February 27,2010


Connect the Dots: Oil Disaster in the Gulf and Record-Smashing Floods in Tennessee

Pakistan Floods Kill More Than 800

I am away this week on a low-carbon canoe trip in Woodland Caribou Provincial Park. Enjoy the video!

Ocean Rower and Eco Adventurer Extraordinaire Spreads the Message That Each Of Us Can Be An Eco-Hero

10 years ago, Roz Savage was living an enviable life by most standards. She worked as a management consultant in London and lived with her husband in a large Edwardian house in a fashionable suburb. Yet she found herself with plagued with a vague sense of dissatisfaction. Some people deal with these feelings by turning to the addictions such as  shopping, drugs, or infidelity. Roz, instead, took the dramatic step of leaving one life for another. She became Roz Savage, Ocean-Rower and Eco-Adventurer. She describes it this way:

I did an interesting exercise one day – I sat down and wrote two versions of my obituary. The first was the one I was heading for if I carried on in my present lifestyle, and the other was the one I dreamed of having. They were very different.

So it was time for a change. I didn’t want to get to the end of my life and look back with regret on all the things I hadn’t done. It was time to stop dreaming, and start doing.

She rowed single-handedly across the Atlantic in 2006, and is currently preparing for the third lap of her bid to become the first woman to row solo across the Pacific.  Savage is also an environmental campaigner, focusing on climate change, habitat destruction, and plastic pollution. Savage’s message is that we can all make a difference. She puts it this way:

My journey from San Francisco to Hawaii took 99 days and a million oar strokes. I could have stood under the Golden Gate Bridge and said ‘One stroke isn’t going to get me anywhere’. But if you take a load of tiny actions and you string them together, you really can achieve almost anything. “


Savage’s latest campaign has people take up the challenge to log one or more “green deeds” a day to get points and connect with a world-wide community of aspiring Eco-heroes, as well as earn prizes. To learn more about her ‘Eco Heroes” campaign  – a cross between a game, a social media site, and a save-the-world environmental challenge – and to sign up, click here.

To go to Roz’s blog, click here.

To go to The Climate Project, one of the causes that Roz promotes, click here.

Earth Hour Saturday, March 27 at 8:30 p.m.

Earth Hour has shown that it’s not about what country you’re from – it’s about what planet you’re from.”

Take a stand against climate change and show what can be done – sign up at earthhour.org, spread the word, and switch off your lights on March 27, 2010!

World Wildlife Fund’s myearthhour.org describes the mission and history of Earth Hour:

Earth Hour started in 2007 in Sydney, Australia when 2.2 million homes and businesses turned their lights off for one hour to make their stand against climate change. Only a year later and Earth Hour had become a global sustainability movement with more than 50 million people across 35 countries participating. Global landmarks such as the, Sydney Harbour Bridge, The CN Tower in Toronto, The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, and Rome’s Colosseum, all stood in darkness, as symbols of hope for a cause that grows more urgent by the hour.

Earth  Hour - Chile

In March 2009, hundreds of millions of people took part in the third Earth Hour. Over 4000 cities in 88 countries officially switched off to pledge their support for the planet, making Earth Hour 2009 the world’s largest global climate change initiative.

Set Your Clock

On Saturday, March 27, 2010 at 8:30 p.m. local time, Earth Hour will once again cascade around the globe, from New Zealand to Hawaii

Sparking a Movement

Since its inception three years ago, Earth Hour’s non-partisan approach has captured the world’s imagination and became a global phenomenon. Nearly one billion people turned out for Earth Hour 2009 – involving 4,100 cities in 87 countries on seven continents.




Earth Hour on Facebook

Confessions Of A Climate-Change Avoider

I have a busy weekend attending a local “Reel Green” Ecofilm Festival, so instead of writing a new blog article, I am reposting this one, which was first posted on December 30 of last year.  Have a great weekend!

I don’t know about other people, but I have been aware of climate change/global warming as a concern “out there” for years.  It was frustrating to have the Canadian government under Jean Chretien and after him Paul Martin pay lip service to the Kyoto Protocol after making Canada a signatory to it, but ultimately do nothing about it.  Then the Liberals were replaced by our current minority government led by Stephen Harper, who as recently as 2002 called Kyoto “a socialist scheme to suck money out of wealth-producing nations.” In the same letter, addressed to supporters of the now-defunct Canadian Alliance Party, Harper writes that the Kyoto agreement was based on “tentative and contradictory scientific evidence” and that it focused on carbon dioxide, which is “essential to life“!!

Now I’m getting sidetracked – Harper can bring out the “ranter” in me. My point is that for “average” people, even ones who try to be informed about issues and who care about the environment, it’s easy to feel confused and overwhelmed by the enormity of the climate change issue. And our confusion isn’t helped when our politicians fail to give us real, visionary leadership. Despite the huge impact global climate destabilization will ultimately have on the planet, it is almost too big for our human minds to grasp. Although change is occurring now, the climate destabilization effects will become more noticeable and widespread over decades, and the ecosystem shifts will occur over generations.

I confess, in the not-too-distant past,  to having turned off the radio or television when the topic of climate change would come up. I only watched An Inconvenient Truth a few weeks ago! The prospect of climate change/global warming disturbed me, and I felt helpless at the same time.  This changed for me after participating in the International Day of Action on October 24 and learning about the “350” campaign.  I realized that I didn’t have the luxury of continuing to be silent and inactive on this issue. My daughters’ futures  are at stake. The 350 campaign is helpful because it makes the issue very clear – 350 ppm of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is where we should be, and we are now above that.  And what was negotiated in Copenhagen in December will leave us with a level of 770 ppm!

I recently came across an excellent CBC News InDepth Report on Climate Change from March of 2005.  I may well have turned it off when it first aired – but it is very comprehensive  and includes stories that put a human face on climate change, as well as excellent photos. Click here to check it out.

Here are some of the voices from the CBC report:

Sheila Watt-Cloutier, chair, Inuit Circumpolar Conference, in November 2004:

We have to give climate change a human face – it is not all about ‘sinks,’ ’emission trading schemes’ and technology. Climate change is about people, children, families and of our relationship with the world around us. To Inuit it is a question of our very survival as a hunting people and a hunting culture. Our human rights – to live our traditional way – are being violated by human-induced climate change.”

Mark Nuttall,  Professor of Anthropology at the University of Alberta and lead author of Chapter 12 of the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment:

The main message that has to get out to politicians … is that climate change has a human face,” Nuttall says. “It is not simply an environmental issue. The real issue [of] climate change is one that affects us as people, affects survival of culture. I think the hope is to try to get that human aspect highlighted.”

Inuit living in the small community of Sachs Harbour, Nunavut had never experienced thunder or lightning until a few years ago.  But what really concerns them is the moisture that comes with the thunderstorms – the Far North is getting rainier, by about 8% a year.  The extra precipitation can increase the rate of melting of the ice and permafrost, and change the ecosystem by introducing new plants and animals.

Across the north, the story is the same – elders say that winters aren’t as cold as they used to be, and summers are hotter.  Environment Canada’s records show a general warming trend over the Canadian North for the last 57 years.

Let’s join together and send our leaders a message that climate change/global climate destabilization is the most urgent issue facing humanity and we  need action now, not in 2020 or 2050.  Humans are infinitely creative and are capable of great things – let’s harness that creativity now!

Starving for Change – Hunger Striker Challenges Parliament to Pass Climate Change Accountability Act

Twenty-six year-old Dante Ryel of Waterloo, Ontario, has been fasting since March 3, ever since Canadian parliamentarians returned to work after an enforced prorogation holiday imposed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.   In taking this action, Ryel hopes to focus politicians’, and Canadians’, attention  on Bill C-311, the Climate Accountability Act that is currently making its way through parliament. By fasting, Ryel is underscoring the importance of addressing climate change now, before millions of people across the world are put at risk of starvation due to changing climate conditions.  Ryel’s Facebook page puts it this way:

Canada has an opportunity to take a historic leadership role in solving climate change. That’s why I, Dante Ryel, have been participating in a water-only fast from March 3rd, the Day parliament resumed, until I can be assured that Bill C-311 will become law. Bill C-311 is also known as the Climate Change Accountability Act. There is a huge difference between Stephen Harper’s made in USA, weak, greenhouse gas targets and the ambitious targets in Bill C-311. If we want to avoid a more than two degree increase in temperature, a climate change tipping point, then our M.P.s must vote for this historic Bill.

The NDP introduced Bill C-311 and the Bloc Quebecois will support it. We must pressure the leaders of the Liberal and Conservative parties to vote yes on Bill C-311. In fact, all we need is Liberal support! However, the Liberals have made no commitment and many people are scared that some in the party will vote no. We need to pressure them. Stephen Harper’s Conservatives have consistently voted against Bill C-311, and have prevented any meaningful progress on climate change, but we should still ask them for their support. You never know. The duration of my fast will be determined by the Liberals and/or the Conservatives because neither party has made a commitment to the bill.

We are so close to making history but we must make sure our politicians do the right thing!

Bill C-311’s preamble states that its purpose is to ensure that Canada assumes its responsibilities in preventing dangerous climate change, recognizing that:

Climate change poses a serious threat to the economic well-being, public health, natural resources and environment of Canada;

The impacts of climate change are already unfolding in Canada, particularly in the Arctic.

Scientific research on the impacts of climate change has led to broad agreement that an increase in the global average surface temperature of two degrees Celsius or more above the level prevailing at the start of the industrial period would constitute dangerous climate change.

Scientific research has also identified the atmospheric concentration levels at which greenhouse gases must be stabilized in order to stay within two degrees of global warming and thereby prevent dangerous climate change.

This legislation is intended to ensure that Canada reduces greenhouse gas emissions to an extent similar to that required by all industrialized countries in order to prevent dangerous climate change, in accordance with the scientific evidence on the impacts of increased levels of global average surface temperature and the corresponding levels of atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases.

Click here to send a letter (it’s all written and ready to go, you just have to fill in your own information and press “send letter”!) to all of the leaders in Ottawa, asking them to pass Bill c-311 now. It has already made it through two votes, and is expected to hit the floor of the House of Commons on March 31st where it could be debated for up to a month.  If it passes in the House it then needs to pass in the Conservative-dominated Senate. Ryel comments that:

We need a senator to sponsor the bill otherwise it could take months to be voted on and if there’s an election the bill will be scrapped. However, I’m hoping that we can at least get the Mulroney-era Senators to vote for it and C-311 will become law. We must email our MPs/Senators to support Bill-C311.

Click here to get the contact information for Senators, and here for the Members of Parliament contact information.

To go to Ryel’s Facebook page, click here. You can view Dante’s first video explaining his initiative below, or go to his Youtube channel, Starving For Change, for more.


Stand With The “Sisters on the Planet” on International Women’s Day

Oxfam’s Sisters on the Planet initiative recognizes that climate change hits poor people hardest—especially poor women, who are disproportionately affected. As their website states:

People like to talk about global warming like it’s a problem to deal with in the future. But the reality is that poor people are already struggling with it right now. You don’t have to go to drought-riddled Ethiopia or flood-threatened Cambodia or malaria-prone South Africa to witness it. Just take a trip to the hurricane-battered US Gulf Coast or look at the damage done by the wildfires in California. Climate change kills off crops, destroys homes, and creates massive refugee problems. There’s no time to waste. We must help poor communities deal with the effects right now…

If we act quickly, we can reduce the damaging impact that climate change has on poor people’s lives and livelihoods. But if we fail to help in time, they will suffer far greater damage, and at a much higher human and financial cost.

Women’s Environmental Network (WEN) recently presented an extensive report on women and climate change to the British House of Commons.  The report documents how catastrophe related to climate change will have a much greater impact on women. Entitled ‘Engendering Change’, the report points out that because of ongoing gender inequality, different social roles, and simple biology, women are more likely to die in extreme weather conditions, to  suffer from increased workload,  and be subject to abuse, including sexual violence, in resource conflicts exacerbated by climate change.  As their Women & Climate Change blog states:

The report’s conclusions include a sobering fact, that women constitute up to 80% of climate refugees, that 20 million women have already lost their homes and livelihoods due to climate change related weather chaos. The IPCC says that extreme weather conditions are set to increase and become more frequent. The United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction shows clearly that since 1970 the numbers of extreme weather events has increased from around 25 per year for floods to 200 per year with incidences of droughts, wind storms and related disasters also increasing. As we discovered in Copenhagen, climate change is already causing chaos around the world and disproportionately claiming women’s lives, safety and health.

If you are a woman, or you have a wife or a daughter or a mother that you care about, use this International Women’s Day to take action to ensure a better, safer future for them.  Some of things each of us can do are:

Tell our political leaders that climate change is an urgent issue and needs to be addressed.  Click here for more on how to do this.

If you are in the US, click here to go to the “action” page of Sisters on the Planet, and sign up to become a sister (or brother).

To read about how climate change is affecting women in Africa, go to allAfrica.com. To find out more facts and figures on gender and climate change, go to this UNIFEM page.

Click here to visit the Women’s Environmental Network blog.

Global Warming – By the Time We Feel It, It Will Already Be Too Late


If you are Canadian, click here to find out how to call Prime Minister Harper on climate change before it’s too late.

If you live in the United States, click here to go to the “Love Winter, Hate the Oil Sands” campaign to send a message to President Obama to stop the expansion of oil pipelines.

And if you live outside these two countries, and don’t know how to take action on climate change, email me at 350orbust@gmail.com and I’ll help you find a way to take action.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

~ Margaret Mead, American anthropologist, 1901 – 1978

Thanks to Maelle for bringing this video to my attention!