Canadians Answer The Call To Defend Our Coast While Climate Silence Reigns South of Border

Photo: DefendOurCoast.ca

It was a cool rainy day in Victoria, British Columbia yesterday, but that didn’t stop thousands of people from coming out to the B.C. Legislature to show both the provincial and the federal governments that they are opposed to the two pipelines that industry and governments want to build to carry tar sands oil across the province for export to China. But it’s more than just about these two pipelines, as the Defend Our Coast website makes clear:

We’re here because the Canadian tar sands are the most destructive industrial project on earth, and will be “game over for the climate” according to NASA’s Jim Hansen. We are here because we’re tired of being bullied by the biggest, most profitable industry on earth, Big Oil. And we’re pushing back on the anti-environment, anti-democratic, dissent-crushing actions of Canada’s federal Conservative government.

The head count varied, from 5,000 according to the organizers to the 3,000 reported by the CBC. Shaun Atleo went up the middle and tweeted that there were 4,000 people at the Legislature. In my experience, organizers try to get an accurate count and (these days, at least) the media chronically under reports the number of protestors. Here’s one report on the protest by CTV News:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LT3w6ULaayo&feature=share]

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And here’s another more personal video:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a7ADypWF1rE&feature=youtu.be]

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Meanwhile south of the border the mockery of democracy that’s called the American election continued with a third debate between presidential contenders Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. As @petridishes  tweeted, it was “...the most aggressive bout of Two People Basically Agreeing On A Large Number of Points I’ve seen in a long time.” And the climate silence continued – for the first time since the 1980s when the world became aware of the threat of global warming, there was no mention of it in any of the presidential debates. 350.org put this out before last night’s debate, and sadly it remains true, only the number is now 390 minutes:

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In contrast, via Grist.org comes this video from 24 years ago (!!) showing how the threat of global warming was addressed during the vice presidential debate between Dan Quayle and Democratic challenger Lloyd Bentsen in 1988:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tVZo5m5uSug&feature=player_embedded]

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Grist’s David Roberts does an excellent piece on the reasons behind this dangerous silence – Climate Silence: It’s the Right, Stupid.

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*Thanks to Emma for the Defend Our Coast links!*

The World’s Experiment With Catastrophic Climate Change Continues

Russia, August 5:

Forest and peat bog fires have burned hundreds of homes, leaving thousands homeless in the hottest summer since records began 130 years ago, prompting leaders to declare a state of emergency in seven of the worst-hit regions.(Reuters)

As of July 30, the wildfires had scorched more than 25 million acres of grain – what Time Magazine reported as an area equivalent in size to the state of Kentucky. The fires, extreme heat and widespread drought have affected food prices throughout Russia,  prompting the government to ban grain exports and declare a state of emergency in many parts of the country. Smoke from the fires has blanketed Moscow and other cities with a thick, toxic soup, causing some foreign diplomats to leave the country. The soil moisture in some portions of the country has dropped to levels one would expect only once every 500 years.

Recently Russian President Medvedev clearly drew the line between the extreme conditions Russia is experiencing this summer and climate change:

“What’s happening with the planet’s climate right now needs to be a wake-up call to all of us, meaning all heads of state, all heads of social organizations, in order to take a more energetic approach to countering the global changes to the climate.”

This is the same leader who, two months after Copenhagen, called the global-warming debate “some kind of tricky campaign made up by some commercial structures to promote their business projects.” Vladimir Chuprov of Greenpeace Russia commented on Medvedev’s dramatic change of heart:

“You don’t just throw comments like that around when you are the leader of the nation, and if you look at what is happening with this heat wave, it’s horrible. It’s clearly enough to shake people out of their delusions about global warming.”

Go to this link to view a dramatic video of people fleeing a Russian village over a road that’s on fire.

Pakistan, August 8:

Officials estimate that as many as 13 million people have been affected by the worst flooding in the country’s 63-year history. About 1,500 people have died, most of them in the north-west, the hardest-hit region.

These two unfolding disasters, involving excessive fire and water, are  related to the extreme climate conditions that scientists project will become more frequent in a heating world. Are we ready yet to start addressing our part in the warming of the atmosphere? What will it take for Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to change his mind on global warming? In the past, he called the Kyoto Protocol “a socialist scheme to suck money out of wealth-producing nations“. This summer, more than 100 communities in Saskatchewan declared a state of emergency after severe weather events. Provincial Fire Commissioner and Director of Public Safety recently said:

…while there have been forest fires and flooding in other years, 2010 is seeing an unprecedented number of events.

“When you start adding up all the events and the compressed time … this is remarkable,” he said.
2009 was a record summer for British Columbia fires. The British Columbia government spent over $400 million dollars fighting these forest fires and more than 2,105 square kilometers (210,579) of forests were burned.

It’s clear that the dangers of global warming that scientists have been warning us about are here now. We do not need to wait until the end of this century to experience climate driven catastrophes. Don’t wait for our leaders to take action – 350.org is calling for a people-powered movement to start pressing for change that can’t be ignored. What will you tell your children and grandchildren 20 years from now when they ask you what you did to help avert this disaster? Check out Bill McKibbon’s recent blog: We’re Hot As Hell and We’re Not Going to Take it Anymore: Three Steps to Establish A Politics of Global Warming.

More links:

Russia is Burning! Climate Deniers Silent, US Media Totally Useless

Fire And Water On a Hot Turbulent Planet

Foreign Diplomats Leave Moscow Amid Fire and Smog