Why I’m Speaking Out In Defence Of Two Core Canadian Values, Nature & Democracy

On Monday, I will be joining the BlackOutSpeakOut campaign, and joining a committed group of organizations representing millions of Canadians who are darkening  our websites in protest against the efforts of the Harper government to silence our voices. The BlackOutSpeakOut website describes this action this way:

Right now, Parliament is pushing through a bill to weaken many of the country’s most important environmental protection measures and silence the voices of all Canadians who seek to defend nature. Today it’s our voice; tomorrow it could be yours.

Here are the top five reasons to Speak Out:

  1. Charities are being targeted. The government is adding $8 million in new funding for the Canada Revenue Agency to audit charities like environmental groups in spite of the fact they have simply exercised their legal right to advocate for things like laws to fight global warming. This will have a chilling effect on democratic debate. What’s more, under these new laws, citizen groups will likely be shut out of environmental reviews of big projects like oil pipelines. Key government agencies with expertise will also have less input. Well-funded backroom lobbyists and political operatives will have greater influence.
  2. Canadians’ participation in Parliament is being disrespected. Instead of following the established process for making sweeping changes, which allows for thorough public debate, these changes are being shoehorned into a massive budget law. This drastically reduces the amount of consultation on a whole variety of topics. These changes will have serious consequences for all Canadians and our voices are not being heard.
  3. Nature is being put at serious risk. The Canadian Environmental Assessment Act is being replaced with a totally new law. Under it, Ottawa will play a much smaller role in protecting people from harmful projects, while retaining the right to basically rubber-stamp big projects that powerful oil interests want. And the new weaker rules are being applied to review processes that are already underway–so projects like the Enbridge Northern Gateway tankers and pipeline project could get an easier ride.
  4. Too much power is in the hands of too few. The National Energy Board will no longer be able to say “no” to oil pipeline projects that are not in the public interest. Politicians in Cabinet will be able to overrule the expert energy regulator if powerful oil interests don’t like its decision. Permits that allow the destruction of habitat for fish and threatened or endangered species will now be issued behind closed doors without public scrutiny, if they are required at all.
  5. Trusted advisors to government that provide high-quality analysis for balanced policy are being ignored. The 2012 budget eliminates the funding for the last remaining government advisory body – the National Roundtable on the Environment and Economy (NRTEE). The NRTEE provides analysis and advice on how to meet our international commitments to reducing greenhouse gas pollution. Many lakes, rivers and streams that provide habitat to fish will be at greater risk of destruction because of changes to the Fisheries Act contained within the budget implementation bill. Healthy fish habitat is important for fish and for the people and businesses that depend on them.

Thirty Minutes To Change Your World

The Spring of Sustainability is a three-month series of events that allows callers to interact directly with world-class visionaries by phone or webcast, for free.  Since the end of March, this amazing series has brought visionaries like Vandana Shiva, Hunter Lovins, John Robbins, and Van Jones to people all over the world, for free. If you  haven’t tuned in yet, don’t waste any time, as free access to each talk expires after 48 hours. Because I haven’t been able to listen to many of the talks within the 48 hour time frame, I invested the money to have unlimited access to all of the talks; but if you’re more organized than I am, you can access all this wisdom and insight for free. Click here to go to the Spring of Sustainability website.

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/42244621]


Spring of Sustainability.com


Water: A Wake Up Call

If you drink water, Last Call At the Oasis is a movie you should see, according to film critic Christopher Campbell. The movie

…presents a powerful argument for why the global water crisis will be the central issue facing our world this century. Illuminating the vital role water plays in our lives, exposing the defects in the current system and depicting communities already struggling with its ill-effects, the film features activist Erin Brockovich and such distinguished experts as Peter Gleick, Alex Prud’homme, Jay Famiglietti and Robert Glennon.



More links:

Last Call At the Oasis

NY Times movie review: When There Really Is Not A Drop To Drink

For My Grandchildren

From the March 2012 TED Conference in Long Beach California, NASA climate scientist Dr. James Hansen talks about why he must speak out climate change. A powerful and moving video – please watch, and share with your family and friends, and on social media.



For a summary of Dr Hansen’s talk, go to The Solution to All Our Problems on Martin’s Lack of Environment blog. I agree with both Dr. Hansen and Martin Lack about the importance of implementing a carbon fee & dividend as soon as possible; indeed it is one of the major policies of Citizens Climate Lobby, a group that inspires me in much of the climate work that I do. However,  I would go further and assert that implementing a price on carbon is the first step towards addressing the climate crisis, but the climate crisis (and ocean acidification, biodiversity loss, water and air pollution, etc) has been brought on by a world view that places humans above the natural world. We have somehow convinced ourselves that what happens to the water, air, and creatures around us won’t ultimately affect us, which of course is nonsense. Corporate well being is not more important that human and ecosystem well being.  It’s that mindset that needs to change if we are to live sustainably on this amazing planet that we are lucky enough to be alive on.

Do you want to become a climate hero, for your children and grandchildren? Join other parents and grandparents at Citizens Climate Lobby who are speaking out on this issue. Dr. Hansen had this to say about CCL:

“Most impressive is the work of the Citizens Climate Lobby, a relatively new, fastgrowing, nonpartisan, nonprofit group with 46 chapters across the United States and Canada. If you want to join the fight to save the planet, to save creation for your grandchildren, there is no more effective step you could take than becoming an active member of this group.”

Crude Awakening

Jane Fulton Alt is a fine art photographer who was moved by the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico to produce a YouTube video entitled “Crude Awakening”. Fulton Alt’s dramatic pictures of people covered in oil are set to  Johnny Cash’s version of  “Hurt“.

Fulton Alt says:

Living on the shores of Lake Michigan, I am acutely aware of the disastrous toll the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has taken on all forms of life, especially as our beaches opened to the 2010 swimming season. This environmental, social and economic catastrophe highlights a much larger problem that has inflicted untold suffering as we exploit the earth’s resources worldwide.

We are all responsible for leading lives that create demand for unsustainable energy.
We are also all responsible for the solution and we must work together to protect the balance of life.


More links:

Jane Fulton Alt’s website

From Fulton Alt’s website, a link to ThomasFrank.org. Thomas is an artist who lives under the shadow of the BP plant in East Chicago, Indiana. Fulton Alt writes: “When I contacted him earlier in the week he was “in Detroit at the U.S Social Forum working on a response to the TAR SANDS, another horrible no good disaster BP is deeply involved in.”

Want to know how we can kick this fossil fuel habit? Check out:




If you are on Facebook, join “1,000,000 Strong Against Offshore Drilling

Some Good News To Bring In The New Year

I’m always happy to read some positive news, especially at the close of 2009, after world leaders failed to reach a real and binding climate change treaty at the Copenhagen summit. If you, too, need some good news, click here to read about the Top Ten Good News Stories of 2009, from the U.S.-based Good News Network.

While there aren’t many good news climate-change stories out there right now, you can click here to read about the top 9 eco-stories of 2009 (that have nothing to do with climate change) from Mother Nature News.

On the good news/climate change front, here, from Climate Change News,  is an interpretation of the Copenhagen Conference that asserts that Copenhagen was a triumph for those of us concerned about climate change, not a disaster.  Click here to read the article.

And more on the potentially good news front from Bill McKibben’s blog on 350.org, from December 21st:

But–good news today. 100 groups have today endorsed the petition filed with the United States Environmental Protection Agency by 350.org and the Center for Biological Diversity (which did almost all the work). The petititon asks the EPA to set the official safe air quality standard for the US at 350 ppm co2. Since carbon dioxide is a globally mixed gas, it’s not quite like the other pollution the act usually regulates this way–but it turns out there are provisions in the law which make it possible for America’s environmental regulators to figure out what the country’s contribution to a safe atmosphere should be.

Click here to go the Center for Biological Diversity’s web page and read more about the campaign and see the list of groups who’ve signed on.

Hope you enjoy these good news stories – and if you know of more, please let me know!  Anyway, Happy New Year!  Here’s to saving ourselves from ourselves in 2010!