While dirty energy continues to rake in record profits, the rest of us are going to be paying a higher and higher price for our governments’ inaction on climate change. Up here in Canada recently we’ve had the worst flooding on record in both Calgary and Toronto. And in Colorado the Black Forest wildfire has cost insurers $292.8 million and ruined a record 486 structures, making it the second-most costly fire in the state’s history. So what did you hear about addressing climate change being too expensive? Only fossil fools believe that.
It’s day 11 of the summer olympics in London. While I have the utmost respect – indeed, awe – for the women and men who are willing to sacrifice countless hours to hone their bodies and their skills to compete internationally, I do have concerns about the whole olympic process. In the end, the olympics caters to the 1% much more than the 99%. It is immoral to spend $15 billion of taxpayer’s money for extravagant displays and performances during the olympic ceremonies and on all the new infrastructure required, for very little proven economic returns, especially at a time when people around the world are suffering terribly from government-imposed austerity measures after the mismanagement of the global economic system by Wall Street 1% (See “Do Olympics Cost Too Much For Host Cities?”)
Blogger Andy James weighed in on the irony of the media coverage of the Olympics at the same time of an ominous – and unprecedented – glacier melt in Greenland:
...We can muster global goodwill, monetary resources and media coverage for 2 weeks of sport (I like sport!), yet relatively nothing for the Reality of climate change\global warming, which is far more important than our present concerns about the recession and more remotely, terrorism. Remember how hyper we were about Terrorism under George W…but illogically not so now! The continued effects of global warming and climate change will inevitably lead to even more economic hard times and terrorism, as large numbers of people are displaced and food production devastated by floods, drought, storms, water shortage and rising sea levels…all of which are already happening. When people are displaced, they will head for “greener pastures”, as is already happening in Europe, the USA, Australia, Canada etc. Remember how many people fled to Italy when Libya fell! George W, Bush and his neo-Cons successfully torpedoed the Environmental and Global warming movement by the crude but effective strategy of replacing US regulatory agency heads with corporate lobbyists (against regulation) and in the media, equating the anti-global warming opinion with the pro-global warming group as a 50\50 situation. In fact, the scientific community was 80-90% in favour of the reality of global warming and subsequent events, the latest of which is the July 2012 Greenland glacier melt … together with the USA’s present drought and probably corn harvest burn out, last year’s unprecedented extreme climate damage, the fact in the last 17 years of global temperatures, 16 were the highest on record…Read the full post on AndyJames.ca
It’s a warm July 4th morning here in northern Ontario, but looking at the news these days makes me think that this is one of the best places in North America to be right now. Our electricity works, there’s no flooding or wildfires near by, and when the humidex index gets to be unbearable, there’s always the lake to cool off in. We don’t have air conditioning, because the really hot days (for us, that’s around 30 degrees Celsius) are never so extended that the house becomes unlivable; we get by with ceiling and floor fans, and by jumping in the lake. The worst thing we are contending with these days is a nasty cutworm infestation in many gardens in the community, including ours. We’ve seen cutworms that “chop” down seedlings, but these awful ones climb up into the plants and destroy them by devouring them. Here’s a photo a friend shared recently, grieving the destruction of her usually incredibly productive garden:
Our garden looks a little better. Mark is using Safer’s BTK Biological Insecticide to control them. But it’s discouraging for gardeners like Chrissy and Mark who have taken the time and effort to grow much of their garden from seed, starting indoors in February and March. And it’s a timely reminder that although we 21st Century humans like to think we’re not as dependent on our natural environment as we used to be (otherwise why would we be trashing it the way we are?), in fact it doesn’t take much to upset things as important to life as our food supply.
Speaking of food, I’ve spent my morning processing some of our plentiful rhubarb harvest. I made rhubarb ginger jam yesterday, and cooling on the counter right now are the jars of rhubarb orange marmalade, “blubarb” raspberry jam, and rhubarb sauce that I cooked up this morning.
Inspired by all the jam-making, I also made bannock for my family this morning.
Here’s the recipe for Bannock, which is a type of non-yeast bread that is part of the First Nations culture here in northern Ontario. Often it’s fried and/or made with lard. I’ve adjusted a recipe from my well-used Blueberries and Polar Bears cookbook to make it lower-fat but still, according to feedback so far, just as tasty. I like the recipe because you don’t need to cut in the butter or margerine (anything that makes a recipe easier is good, in my books). The trick is to bake it on a preheated stoneware pan or pizza stone:
4 cups flour (I used half wholewheat and half white. I’ve also used spelt before)
2 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter or margarine (I use a combination of butter and grapeseed oil)
2 1/2 cups milk.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees, with pizza stone in the oven. Mix flour, baking powder, and salt in mixing bowl (I use my kitchen aid mixer). Melt the butter in a medium sized bowl, add the milk, and stir. When well mixed, pour it into the flour mixture and stir until just blended. Spread the batter onto preheated pizza stone with your hands (you can use extra flour or dip your fingers in oil to prevent the dough from sticking to you). Bake at 425 degrees F for ~20 minutes. Yum.
I noticed that Anne Jisca over at Anne Jisca’s Healthy Pursuits just posted a Whole Wheat Bannock recipe today, too, if you want to compare.
So, Happy July 4th to all the American friends of 350orbust. Perhaps this Independence Day will mark the beginning of the kind of independence America (and the world) needs right now, freedom from our fossil fuel addiction. But first it’s going to have to hurt – a lot; I don’t think America is there yet, but it may be close, after this summer of extreme weather events. The tipping point could be impacts on food production in the “bread basket” of America, the Midwest (it, like much of the U.S., is experiencing a severe drought). As I recently read somewhere, change happens when the effort to resist change becomes more painful that the effort to change.
If this scenario isn’t acceptable to you, DO SOMETHING! Not sure where to start? Check out Citizens Climate Lobby,The Transition Network,or the Post Carbon Institute, to give just a few examples. Unplug the TV, which dumbs us all down, and find out everything you can about building resilience in your community and your family. Reach out to your friends and family, discuss what’s going on with the weather and what scientists (not Fox News!) are saying about it. Call your MP/Congressman or woman, or whoever represents you locally, regionally, and/or nationally, and tell them this is NOT okay with you. The window of opportunity to respond to this crisis is still open, just.This might be humanity’s finest hour, or our worst. It’s in our hands.
In North America, we are starting to experience the global climate disruption that results from dumping more and more heat-trapping carbon dioxide molecules into the earth’s atmosphere; and it ain’t fun. The folks in the Eastern U.S. are reeling from the effects of a”derecho” storm, that has left millions without power from Ohio east through the mid-Atlantic states, and killed at least 13 people. Four states have declared states of emergency. Meanwhile further west Colorado, Utah, and New Mexico are battling a monster wildfires. In an interview on CBC Radio this morning, Andrew Friedman from Climate Central revealed that 2,000 new record high temperature were set in the U.S. last week; that’s also where the quote in today’s title came from, from Ginger Johnson from Charlottesville, Virginia. She’s just one of nearly three million people still stranded without power in the storm-struck Eastern U.S this morning.
This “weather on steroids” is what the climate scientists have been predicting will happen if we don’t change our fossil-fuel dependent economy and lifestyles. Are we ready yet to make the sea-change that is required, for our economy, our children, and the planet to flourish in the long-term? There’s not much point in growing the economy if we don’t have a planet worth living on. We have a limited window of opportunity before the tipping point is reached and we careen down the other side of global climate catastrophe.
The Post-Carbon Reader puts our current crisis in perspective:
There is no historical precedent, however, for what we must do if we are to endure. Our biology, and specifically the way we perceive threats, was honed over the ages to respond to direct physical threats posted by predators animal or human. It did not equip us very well to perceive and respond to threats measured in parts per billion that play out over decades, centuries, and millenia. We respond, as noted above, with alacrity to threats that are big, fast, and hairy, and not so quickly or ingeniously to those that are slow, small, subtle, and self-generated. Our understanding of economies was developed in the industrial age and imperfectly accounts for the damage caused to ecosystems and the biosphere, and not at all for the destabilization of climate. Had it been otherwise, we would have known that we were not nearly as rich as we presumed ourselves to be and not nearly as invulnerable as we thought. Our politics are a product of the European Enlightenment and rest on the belief in progress and human improvement, which we now know are not as simply or as unambiguous as we once thought. The political forms of democracy reflect a bedrock commitment to individual rights but exclude the rights of other species and generations unborn. And it is in the political realm that we must find the necessary leverage to begin the considerable task of escaping the trap we’ve set for ourselves. (Chapter 6, “The Ecological Deficit”, David Orr, The Post-Carbon Reader)
It is our generation’s “Great Work” (to quote cultural historian and ecotheologian Father Thomas Berry) to address the havoc and destruction that humanity’s short-term thinking has wreaked upon the planet, other species, and future human generations. The time for waiting around for the fish to bite, or wind to fly a kite, or Friday night, or a pot to boil (to paraphrase that great philosopher Dr Seuss) is over. Take up the Great Work, with whatever skills or talents or time you have. Future generations will call you blessed.
Meanwhile, it was Canada Day yesterday, although with Prime Minister Stephen Harper at the helm of the country, fewer and fewer people are feeling like celebrating it these days. The #DenounceHarper hashtag was trending neck and neck with #HappyCanadaDay yesterday, which is something to celebrate. Even conservatives are wondering about Harper’s corporatist agenda and his clear disdain for conserving anything but power (see Conservative Conscience In Turmoil). This sums up my feelings on Canada Day 2012 pretty accurately: