#Fearless Summer: Healing Journey In The Heart Of Darkness

I’m leaving for northern Alberta early Wednesday morning, to make the 24-hour drive to Fort McMurray, the heart of tar sands country. Mordor. The 4th Annual Tar Sands Healing Walk, organized by Keepers Of the Athabasca, is happening on Saturday and I’m lucky enough to have the time, resources, and a traveling companion, to make this trip. I can’t think of any place on earth more in need of healing than this place.

The Keepers Of The Athabasca describe the event this way:

The tar sands are growing out of control, destroying the climate for all Canadians and poisoning the water of everyone living downstream.

On July 5th and 6th, people will come together from coast to coast to join First Nations and Metis in the Healing Walk, a gathering focused on healing the environment and the people who are suffering from tar sands expansion.

Let’s call on the Alberta and Canadian governments to stop the reckless mismanagement of these resources. We need our governments to work with First Nations and bring people together to make wise choices about stewarding the land in ways that are sustainable and fair.



Can’t go? Click here for some ideas for what you can do from home, including inviting Federal Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver, and Alberta Premier Alison Redford, to the walk.

Healing Walk 2013

Bill McKibben and Naomi Klein To Join Tar Sands Healing Walk

Fearless Summer Movement Launches Months of Intense Climate Protest

Alberta Oil Sands Not Economically Viable, MIT Report States

I’m on my way to Washington DC with 20 other Canadian climate activists, to join forces with 330 Americans from across the United States who are concerned that future generations will inherit a harsh and unforgiving world because of the climate crisis. The Citizens Climate Lobby diaspora collecting in D.C. intends to lobby almost every office on Capitol Hill, focusing specifically on introducing a straightforward price on carbon, through carbon fee and dividend legislation.

While in Washington I will get the opportunity to hear climate hero Dr. James Hansen, recently retired from NASA, speak to the Citizens Climate Lobby volunteers.  Wish me luck on my quest for a photo with him!

Why am I, and these other Canadians, traveling all the way to Washington to lobby American politicians about the climate crisis? Our current Canadian federal government has made it clear that Canada’s energy and climate policy is tied to that of the United States; as the U.S. goes so will Canada, says Stephen Harper. It is in our interests to work to create the political will for a sustainable climate in DC as well as in Ottawa.

The oil-industry-friendly government of Stephen Harper has been overtly hostile to pricing carbon pollution. A new report out of MIT sheds some light on the possible reasons for this animosity:

canadian bitumen under carbon pricing


More links:

MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy Of Global Change: Report 183


Fearless Summer Heats Up

INM in New Brunswick.June 2013


  • There have been five arrests this week of people protesting the presence of SWN Resources Canada on traditional Mi’kmaq territory in New Brunswick. The protests are being led by First Nations leaders, and are a result of the fears that SWN’s seismic testing will result in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, on the land. Read more at “Anti-fracking Arrests Continue on Highway 126″.
  • A new report states there are “potentially catastrophic” changes underway in Canada’s northern McKenzie River Basin. Published on Monday, the report from an international panel of scientists warns that Canada’s Mackenzie River basin—among the world’s most important major ecosystems—is “poorly studied, inadequately monitored, and at serious risk due to climate change and resource exploitation” – and is particularly at risk because of the tar sands development:

In a report, nine Canadian, US and UK scientists convened by the US-based Rosenberg International Forum on , say effective governance of the massive Basin, comprising an area three times larger than France—holds enormous national and global importance due to the watershed’s biodiversity and its role in hemispheric , stabilizing climate and the health of the Arctic Ocean.

The panel agreed the largest single threat to the Basin is a potential breach in the tailings ponds at one of the large oil sands sites mining surface bitumen. A breach in winter sending tailings liquid under the ice of the tributary , “would be virtually impossible to remediate or clean-up,” says the report, available in full online. Read more at http://phys.org/

And there was flooding in the Fort McMurray area this week, putting those tailing ponds even more than usually at risk of breaching.

  • Brace yourself – a climate scientist from the University of Ottawa is predicting that the Arctic summer ice will disappear this summer. On his blog on Sierra Club Canada‘s website, Paul Beckwith discusses his predictions and reminds us that it’s way past time for an adult conversation about climate change.
For the record—I do not think that any sea ice will survive this summer. An event unprecedented in human history is today, this very moment, transpiring in the Arctic Ocean.The cracks in the sea ice that I reported in my Sierra blog and elsewhere have spread. Worse news is at this very moment the entire sea ice sheet (or about 99 percent of it) covering the Arctic Ocean is on the move (clockwise), and the thin, weakened icecap has literally begun to tear apart.

This is abrupt climate change in real-time.

Humans have benefited greatly from a stable climate for the last 11,000 years (roughly 400 human generations). Not anymore. We now face an angry climate — one that we have poked in the eye with our fossil fuel stick — and have to deal with the consequences.

We must set aside our differences and prepare for what we can no longer avoid: massive disruption to our civilization.”


fearless summer

Because of all of the above, I have decided to attend the 4th Annual Tar Sands Healing Walk, July 5 & 6 in Fort McMurray Alberta, and join people from across Canada and beyond who are traveling there to support our First Nations in their fight for climate justice. Along with the other participants, I will call on the Alberta and Canadian governments to stop the reckless mismanagement of these resources. Go to HealingWalk.org for more information.

Keystone XL: Nightmare In The Making

KXL and Red Deer River blowout.*

Think it can’t happen? Remember Mayflower Arkansas, where residents of a residential suburb woke up to a sea of dirty oil around their homes.

Mayflower, Arkansas. Photo: EPA

More links:

Alberta Oil Spill: Up To 3,000 Barrels Spill Near Red Deer River Reports Plains Midstream Canada

Alberta Oil Spill Will Take Months To Clean Up (Photos)

Internalizing the Externalities of Fossil Fuels

It’s time to internalize the externalities of the fossil fuel industry. For far too long, the extremely high price we all pay in the pollution of our “commons” – air, water, and climate, which also affects the health of far too many of us, has been ignored by governments and the fossil fuel industry. Putting a steadily increasing price on carbon would be an excellent place to start to change this, as well as ending the taxpayer subsidies to dirty energy. Imagine your first carbon-dividend cheque; citizens benefiting from addressing climate change, while the polluter pays.

graphic: Citizens Climate Lobby Canada
graphic: Citizens Climate Lobby Canada


The question isn’t if, but when, Canada puts a price on carbon. That we are getting close is clear by this news article in the Globe & Mail yesterday, about the Alberta government considering a significant carbon levy (it currently has a negligible $15 per tonne on industry carbon that exceeds certain levels). From an article in yesterday’s Globe & Mail, Alberta’s Bold Plan to Cut Emissions Stuns Ottawa and the Oil Industry:

The Alberta government has quietly presented a proposal to sharply increase levies on carbon production and force large oil-industry producers to slash greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 40 per cent on each barrel of production, a long-term plan that has surprised Ottawa and industry executives with its ambition.

It may not be time to get out the dance shoes yet, as Alberta’s Minister of the Environment, Diana McQueen, responded to the G & M article by saying Alberta is a “long way” from imposing higher carbon levies on the oil industry:

We are currently in the early stages of exploring a variety of options through a collaborative process with industry, the federal government and our department experts,” she said in a statement.

“These discussions are ongoing and revised targets have not yet been finalized.” (via Huff Post).

If you live in Alberta, please call or write Ms. McQueen or Premier Redford to show your support for pricing carbon (contact info listed below).

In the meantime, while I was typing this, a movement in our front yard caught my eye, and it turned out to be a beautiful red fox visiting. Before she disappeared into the bush, I snapped the picture below. I’m going to take it as a message to get off my computer and out into this beautiful sunny northern Ontario morning. Hope all of you  have a wonderful weekend, full of sunshine and connections with people and activities you love.

My Friday visitor
My Friday visitor


More links/info:

Premier Alison Redford’s contact info: 780-427-2251, Alberta Minister of the Environment Diana McQueen: 780-427-2391. Or click on this link to send your Alberta MLA an email.

IMF, Citing $1.9 Trillion in Government Subsidies, Calls For End To Energy “Mispricing”

The Wall Street Journal: Climate Change Is The Risk that Intensifies All Others

Need more inspiration to take action? Remember the Exxon-Mobil pipeline rupture in Mayflower, Arkansas this week, and the shocking scenes of Alberta bitumen flooding residential neighbourhoods:


dont worry arkansas
Graphic: Mike Rilestone

A Fresh Look At The War On Terra

I don’t know about you, but I’m having a crappy Friday. Not much to be done about it now but hang in there, I know it will get better. In the meantime, here’s The Juice Media’s satirical take on the War on Terror Terra: how have the “capitols of the civilized world” Australia and Canada helped to bring about the apocalypse lately?

Juice Rap News – Episode 17: The War on Terra. It’s 2013 and the world did not end by meteorite or by Mayan calendar. But fear not: we might just be able to get the job done ourselves. Join Robert Foster as he sets out to discover where Civilisation™ is making the fastest progress towards annihilation. In this edition of the Civilisation Report, Robert learns about Australia and Canada – two oft-neglected pioneers of peace, progress and prosperity – in conversation with our antipodean colonial correspondent Ken Oathcarn and his Canuck counterpart, Fagin Heighbard. Dear viewers, consider this a fair warning that in terms of language and affront to the dominant culture this could get f***g messy.



And speaking of using humour to address the dismal situation we find ourselves in as a species (not to mention my crappy day), head over to HolyShitters.com, created by “John Crapper”, with a byline that says: If we really want to straighten out all this crap we really need to think about shit.  Hear, hear!

More links:

The Juice Media.com

It’s Time To Get Real About The Risks Of Dirty Energy

Tomorrow  This Monday is the day that the largest tar sands protest in Canadian history is to take place, in Victoria, British Columbia, to defend our coast from the dangers of Enbridge’s Northern Gateway Pipeline. I wish I could be there but I can’t.  In honour of all those taking the time to stand up for the Great Bear Rainforest, and future generations, here’s a video that went viral after it was posted by film maker Dave Shortt a month ago. To see the original Enbridge animation, click here: youtube.com/watch?v=yiVfYb8lt5o

This is a response to oil giant Enbridge, and their animation of the proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline in which they deleted all the islands in the Douglas Channel in British Columbia Canada.

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/47788521]

More links:

Dogwood Initiative: No Tankers Petition

The Man Behind The Viral Video: This Is Not An Enbridge Animation

Largest Oilsands Protest In Canadian History: Fort McMurray Today

Saturday At The Movies

From The Post Carbon Institute comes this catchy video, We Quit You, Keystone XL (It’s Not Us, It’s You):



Until we show fossil fuel companies that we’re ready for something new, pipelines like Keystone XL are going to keep coming back like an ex-boyfriend who won’t get the hint.

Now is the time to end our unhealthy relationship with dirty energy, and the first step in this breakup is cutting them off.

Help us end subsidies to fossil fuel companies and keep Tar Sands oil in the ground. Find out more: http://postcarbon.org/breakup

Enbridge’s Slick New Ad Campaign Flounders

I spent last week taking an intensive  course in citizen advocacy at the Canadian School of Peacebuilding in Winnipeg. It was a great week – I learned a lot and met some wonderful people. I’m home now, but brought home a souvenir that I’d rather do without – a very nasty head cold. It’s so frustrating because it’s a beautiful sunny June day outside, and I’d love to be spending time outside, but instead am spending most of my time resting, drinking tea, and blowing my nose (and then there’s the visits to the bathroom because of all the tea that I’ve been drinking). Blech.

So, I’d love to be posting updated pictures of my hugel kultur raised beds, but that won’t be happening today. In the meantime, check out this video that was originally posted in The Province newspaper’s online edition. In the video, the newspaper’s editorial cartoonist Dan Murphy gives his take on oil giant Enbridge’s slick new ad campaign. However, The Province pulled the video from their newspaper and from YouTube. Luckily, it was reposted by another user. Let me know if it’s not there when you view it:



Third Oil Spill Fuels Calls For Alberta Pipeline Review

Insidious Oil Finds A Way Despite Best Efforts By Response Teams

Canadian Spills Fuel Worries