On September 24th, The Planet Is Moving. Are You Joining The Ride Beyond Fossil Fuels?

Across Ontario and around the world, September 24th is a a day for people to rally and demand from our elected leaders action on moving beyond fossil fuels. Initiated by 350.org, Moving Planet is a day to put our demands for climate action into motion—marching, biking, skating—calling for the world to go beyond fossil fuels.

Moving Planet will be a day to put our demands for climate action into motion—marching, biking, skating—calling for the world to go beyond fossil fuels.

To find a Moving Planet event in your community, click here.

Here in Red Lake, we’re kicking off our Harvest Festival with a bike rally/rodeo around town, ending with a bike maintenance workshop. Along with all the Harvest Festival activities during the day, Saturday evening we are screening “carbon nation”, which describes itself as  nn optimistic, solutions-based, non-partisan documentary that illustrates why it’s incredibly smart to be a part of the new, low-carbon economy: it’s good business, it emboldens national and energy security, and it improves health and the environment. The screening will be followed by a Q & Q session with Director Peter Byck.

In Winnipeg, Manitoba, some friends of mine have put together a fabulous event which has been kicked off by a chalk “footprint parade” around the city for the last two weeks, and culminates with a parade from the Manitoba Legislature to the Forks where music will be happening at the Main Stage. If you’re in the city, check it out – go to the Moving Manitoba event page for all the details.

So wherever you are, get out,get moving, connect with other people who are concerned about their children’s future, and have fun doing it! Remember, there is NO Planet B!

More links:

Climate Mama: The Planet is Moving: Are You Joining the Ride?

The Planet Isn’t The Only Thing Heating Up: Opposition to Keystone XL Pipeline Grows

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, His Holiness the Dalai Lama and seven other Nobel Peace Laureates have just written a letter to President Obama urging him to reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, and to begin building a clean energy future immediately. The letter, released yesterday by the Nobel Women’s Initiative, concludes with:

There is a better way. 

Your rejection of the pipeline provides a tremendous opportunity to begin transition away from our dependence on oil, coal and gas and instead increase investments in renewable energies and energy efficiency.

We urge you to say ‘no’ to the plan proposed by the Canadian-based company TransCanada to build the Keystone XL, and to turn your attention back to supporting renewable sources of energy and clean transportation solutions.  This will be your legacy to Americans and the global community:  energy that sustains the lives and livelihoods of future generations.

The Keystone XL Pipeline has become a focus point for citizens concerned about climate change, and who want to offer their children a green energy future. To get more information about why this pipeline is so dangerous, for the aquifers and ecosystem of the midwestern U.S. as well as the climate, click here. If you want to take action for the sake of your children’s future, and mine, go to Tar Sands Action.org. If you are in Canada and can come to Ottawa for the September 26th day of action on Parliament Hill, click here for more information. If you are unable to travel to Ottawa but would like to take a stand for a clean energy future, participate (or organize) a Moving Planet event in your community on September 24th. The message of Moving Planet is that, around the world, people are ready to move beyond fossil fuels. In case you need more inspiration, check out this video:


More links:

Read the full text of the letter from the Nobel Laureates.

Al Gore Praises Tar Sands Activists, Condemns Smog Decision

Tar Sands Pipeline Provokes Americans To Civil Disobedience

photo by Shadia Fayne Wood,via Tar Sands Action

Saturday August 20th marked the start of the largest act of civil disobedience for the climate in U.S. history. Over 2,000 people from across the U.S. and Canada are arriving in Washington, D.C. to send a message to President Obama that our children’s future is more important than oil profits. Obama will be deciding the fate of the massive new Keystone XL Pipeline that would bring Alberta tar sands oil across the U.S. to be refined in Texas. NASA scientist James Hansen has described the Canadian tar sands as a “carbon bomb” and warned that if they are fully developed it will be “game over” for the climate.

The police moved in within a few minutes of the 50 or so participants lining up at the White House fence. Several participants held two large banners that read “Climate Change is Not in Our National Interest: Stop the Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline” and “We Sit In Against the Keystone XL Pipeline. Obama Will You Stand Up to Big Oil?” while the rest of the group sat-in on the sidewalk  in front of the fence. More than 50 people were arrested on Saturday, and they remained in jail on Sunday as 45 more people were arrested as they stood peacefully in front of the White House. Today, 50 more people are planning to stand there to remind Obama of what is at stake in his upcoming decision (it is his, and his alone to make – Congress doesn’t have a vote in the pipeline decision).

Not all of us concerned about climate change can be in Washington this August. I considered it, but prior commitments to family and friends won out; I also will admit to being nervous about being arrested in a foreign country. As well, I don’t think this will be the last time that those of us deeply concerned about our children’s future will be asked to participate in civil disobedience, so I will have other opportunities to act.

There are some things that those of us watching those courageous souls in Washington can do to support them:

  • 350.org is asking for messages of support for the participants in the Washington action. Write a short message of support, hold it up and take a picture of it, and send it as an attachment to photos@350.org with Tar Sands Action Solidarity from (*Wherever you live*)” in the subject. These pictures will be projected on the walls of the training spaces for everyone who is preparing to for the sitting-in to see. For more info, go to 350.org.
  • The coalition organizing the protest, Tarsandsaction.org, is accepting donations and new sign-ups for the sit-in throughout the next two weeks.
  • Email or write President Obama asking him to defuse the tar sands carbon bomb by refusing permission for the Keystone XL pipeline.
    E-mail address: (5000 character limit) http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/
    Mailing Address: The White House
    1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
    Washington, DC 20500


More links:

NYTimes: Protest Makes Canada-To-U.S Pipeline Project Newest Front In Climate Clash

70 People Arrested In Opening Day of Tar Sands Action

Send Your Messages of Support to 2,000 Brave Souls Sitting In At White House

Business As Usual Is Over: Value Change Required For Survival

Today’s blog posting was initially posted on 350orbust on June 30, 2010:

Chief Oren Lyons said, when speaking about Climate Change at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues at the UN Headquarters in 2007:

We’re talking about change. People have to change. Directions have to change. Values have to change. There is no mercy in nature; nature has none. It has only law, only rule. You don’t abide the rule, you suffer the result…it’s what you do, and how you live. Business as usual is over…Value change for survival. You’re either going to change your values, or you’re not going to survive. You’re going to abide that law or suffer the consequences…Business as usual is over. Carbon is over. Oil is over. We better find something else. We better find some equity. We’re not going to have the luxury of spending $200 billion in a war. You’re not going to have the time or the money. because you’re going to be paying for the environment, for damages coming. You want to talk about the economy, you’re going to wreck the economies of the world…Change or else…Tell your leaders to get off their ass, let’s get on with life.”


Chief Lyons is an Associate Professor in the American Studies Program at the State University of New York at Buffalo. He is  Faithkeeper of the Turtle Clan, Onondaga Nation, Haudenosaunee (Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy). Chief Lyon has been active in international indigenous rights and sovereignty issues for over three decades at the United Nations and other forums. He is the publisher of “Daybreak”, a national Native American news magazine.

More links:

Earthkeeper Heroes

The Problem We’ve Created

The world needs to reduce carbon emissions. While oil and gas were cheap, there were few incentives to seek newer, cleaner and renewable resources. But time is now the biggest factor. We’re running out of cheap energy and continuing to contribute to the current climate change problem. What, if anything, have we learned in the interim?

All week on TVO, The Agenda with Steve Paikin is broadcasting live from the University of Waterloo where the Equinox Summit: Energy 2030 is taking place.  Yesterday’s panel discussion on “Energy: the problem we’ve created” was lively and informative.  Panel members included Marlo Raynolds from the University of Calgary and the Pembina Institute, Robin Batterham, the president of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering, and Zoe Caron, co-author of “Global Warming For Dummies”.  Also on the panel was Vaclav Smil from the University of Manitoba and author of “Energy Myths and Realities” who seemed extremely knowledgeable about the current state of our fossil fuel consumption but was completely without a vision that this could ever be different.  At one point Steve Paikin challenged him on his assertions that globally we are completely and totally addicted to oil and will never be able to change .  Paikin said something like  “Then we just carry with business as usual and kill ourselves and the planet?” and Smil responded with “well, everything has to die sometime, even the earth.” This honest, though depressing, response from Smil that reflects what many people secretly feel, though many won’t admit it. That is, we are up to our necks in the “Big Muddy” now, and there is no way out.  We (and our children and their children) are doomed.   This kind of despair breeds apathy and people who hold this view do little to work for change, so it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.  And this suits those with vested interests in fiercely resisting change just fine!

But throughout history there have been social movements that have arisen when a small group of people stood up and said “No. Enough is enough.” We have the examples of civil rights movement in the 20th century, as well as the anti-slavery movement the century before.  Most recently, just this year,  there was Egypt and the explosion of the “Arab spring”. All of these examples show what happens when a minority of people take a firm, public stand which inspires others who felt too dis-empowered and hopeless to do work for change on their own.  This is the point we are at with the climate crisis right now, embedded as it is with indigenous rights, women’s empowerment, and all that falls into the broad “environmental” category (clean air, clean water, protection from health-endangering toxins). It’s time for those of us who understand the danger to our children and grandchildren’s future to take a strong stand against the threat.

Shift happens. Are you ready to make history?

More links: 

The Agenda continues to broadcast from the Equinox Summit every night this week at 8 p.m. EST (live). It is rebroadcast at 11 p.m. and is also available for viewing online.  I know what I’ll be doing this evening, as tonight they are talking about our transportation system in “The Way We Move.”

To listen to last night’s program, click here:  Energy: The Problem We’ve Created

To go this week’s Agenda info, click here:  Equinox Summit: The Problem We’ve Created

To get a sense of the movement that is afoot, here is Paul Hawken speaking about it at the 2007 Bioneers conference:


“Stop Harper” Protest by Parliamentary Page During Conservative Throne Speech

A Senate page managed to stand just meters away from the prime minister with a sign saying “Stop Harper” during the government’s throne speech in Ottawa today.

Brigette Marcelle De Pape had this to say after being escorted out of the Senate Chamber and then fired:

Harper’s agenda is disastrous for this country and for my generation. We have to stop him from wasting billions on fighter jets, military bases, and corporate tax cuts while cutting social programs and destroying the climate. Most people in this country know what we need are green jobs, better medicare, and a healthy environment for future generations.

Contrary to Harper’s rhetoric, Conservative values are not in fact Canadian values. How could they be when 3 out of 4 eligible voters didn’t even give their support to the Conservatives? But we will only be able to stop Harper’s agenda if people of all ages and from all walks of life engage in creative actions and civil disobedience.

This country needs a Canadian version of an Arab Spring, a flowering of popular movements that demonstrate that real power to change things lies not with Harper but in the hands of the people, when we act together in our streets, neighbourhoods and workplaces.

Well, Brigette is one Canadian who stood up and took a strong, nonviolent stand for a safe and sustainable future for Canadians. She is an example to the rest of us who realize what is at stake over the next four years.


More links:

Senate Page Explains Her Brave Stop Harper Protest On Floor of Senate Today

An interview on Global TV: Page Fired For Protest During Throne Speech

Update: Interview with Brigette on Power and Politics today:


Climate Scientist Heidi Cullen On The “C-Word”

Climate Quote of the Day:

But even though we don’t have all the answers — and maybe never will — we do know enough to act. And that is really the bigger point, the one I try to bring home when the phone rings. The recent National Research Council’s “America’s Climate Choices” report advised Congress that we know enough to get started on preparing for climate change and preventing the most severe consequences, and we need to get started right away. Almost anything we do to protect ourselves in the future from this hotter world we’re creating, will also protect us right now from many of the extremes Mother Nature throws at us. We can’t afford to wait.

Heidi Cullen, Climate Scientist in an article in today’s Huffington Post, The C-Word

Joplin, Missouri tornado damage

More links:

Climate Central

Dare To Be Part Of The 11% Who Change History

From the suffragettes to the civil rights movement, history shows that all it takes is enough committed people – less than you might think – to truly make a difference. In this video, bestselling author Marianne Williamson dares us to become part of the 11% of people that can transform the world. Will you be one of them?


More links:

Institute of Noetic Sciences: Shift In Action

If Ordinary Canadians Can Find The Courage To Leap Into A Frozen Lake, Why Can’t Our Leaders Find the Courage To Tackle Climate Change?

Yesterday, on a cool and rainy Saturday, 22 crazy Canucks jumped into a frozen northern Ontario lake to send a message to our elected officials that it’s time to take action on climate change.  Well, first we cut a hole in the ice and then we took the plunge.  If we are courageous enough to do that, surely our leaders can find the courage to address this critical problem.  Green Party Candidate Mike Schwindt participated in the leap, and NDP candidate Tania Cameron was also present (although she declined the invitation to get wet for a good cause). And nearly $700 was raised for our community emergency shelter’s local food initiative.

Here are some pictures from the event. Congratulations to the brave “Leapers” who “chattered for change”, and to all the volunteers who helped make it happen (especially Perry, the “stage manager” who spent hours on Friday chopping out the ice so we’d have someplace to jump, and did much of the behind-the-scenes work Saturday) !


Leap In the Lake For Climate Action

I’ve been rather busy lately, and one of the reasons is that I’m helping to organize an event to focus some attention on the urgent need to address climate change, while there is still a window for action.  So, this Saturday at 11:00 a.m., a hardy group of souls, including me, will be jumping into our local lake and raising money  for a good cause – our local Emergency Shelter’s local food initiative – at the same time.

For those of you who don’t live in northern Ontario, this may not sound like a foolhardy thing to do at the end of April.  However, when we committed to doing this back in March the odds were not good that the ice would be gone on the lake, although the average ice break-up day has been trending earlier over recent decades.  Last year, the ice was gone on April 20th, but the average ice-free day is May 7th.  This year it’s been a cool spring, and the ice is still quite solid.  This is what the dock looked like on April 12:

Town docks, April 12.2011

If the weather had stayed spring-like, we would probably be jumping into open water.  However, that wasn’t the case.  This is what the lake looked like 8 days later:

Town docks. April 20th.2011

There’s actually less open water!

So today I have a dedicated crew (thanks Perry, Chris, and Jordan!) who are going to get out on the ice and cut us a hole to jump into.  Then on Saturday, a local scuba diver trained in ice diving is going to be on hand, along with the local gold mine’s ice rescue team, just in case there’s an unexpected problem (thanks Ed and Mo!).

We are also going to have some guest “Celebrity Leapers”.  Graham Saunders, a meteorologist and lecturer at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay as well as author of “Gardening in a Short Growing Season” is making the 7-hour drive up to Red Lake to participate in the Leap in Red Lake as well as the local Earth Festival that is happening on this weekend.  Graham, who is also the President of Environment North, has been a guest blogger on 350orbust in the past.  Also making the trip from Thunder Bay is Peter Rosenbluth, the Northern Connections Coordinator for Ontario Nature.

I extended the invitation to participate in this local event to each of the candidates running in the federal election – Greg Rickford is the incumbent CONServative MP, Roger Valley is the Liberal candidate, Tania Cameron is running for the NDP, and Mike Schwindt is the Green Party candidate.  I haven’t heard anything back from Rickford’s office, despite several emails.  Mr. Valley declined the invitation but is supposed to be sending a delegate from his campaign team.  Ms. Cameron’s campaign manager told me she had another commitment that day, although I see that on the Facebook event page she is now signed up as “attending”.  And Mike Schwindt, the courageous Green Party candidate, has been an enthusiastic supporter, and willing “leaper”, since he first heard about it.

So, wish us luck on Saturday!  And even more important, consider creative and fun ways to raise the issue of taking action on climate change in your community.  Together, we can do this!

Thanks to Dimitris, Marlene, Suzanne, Perry, Catherine, Kaaren, Eleanor, Kelly and Donna who have stepped up to the plate in an amazing way to help make this event happen.  As well, Miigweech to the Red Lake Indian Friendship Centre for offering their space, and hot chocolate, on Saturday morning.  And, of course, a big shout out to all the “Leapers” who are crazy enough – and committed enough – to take a leap for a really good cause!