Best of 2012

We’ve made it past the Mayan Apocalypse and are poised enter 2013, a brand spankin’ new year. ‘Tis the season for reviewing 2012. Here’s my personal, and entirely random, “best of 2012” list:

Best NonFiction:


Goodness knows we need inspiration and encouragement in these times, and Andrew Harvey gives the reader just that. Thanks to my good friend and sister on the journey, Donna C, for giving me a copy.


Best Fiction:


I think I was supposed to read The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck in my high school English class, but I don’t remember actually doing so.  It was finally time to make up for my the sins of my youth, and read this classic. Of course, Steinbeck’s writing is superb, but what surprised me was how relevant the book’s critique of both our economic and agricultural systems still is in 2012. Although Steinbeck doesn’t use the terms “1%”, “99%”, or “occupy”, if he was around today he would understand them.



Best Hike-Or-Die Experience:

September, 2012 on the Long Range Traverse, Gros Morne Park, Newfoundland, two days after Hurricane Leslie blew threw:

My friend Vi is NOT impressed!
My friend Vi is NOT impressed!


Best Canoe Trip:

Woodland Caribou Park, Northwestern Ontario:


Best Climate Change Event Attended:

The Seattle launch of Bill McKibbon &’s Do The Math tour:

Bill McKibbon, Do The Math Seattle
Bill McKibbon, Do The Math Seattle


Best GOP Moment of 2012 U.S. Election:

Karl Rove’s Meltdown on Fox News on Election Night.



Best U.S. Election 2012 Moment:

Barack Obama winning.

Seattle.Nov 7.2012
Seattle.Nov 7.2012


Most fun at a writing festival:

Turtle Island Writing Festival, September 2012

Organizers and presenters at Turtle Island Writing Festival
Organizers and presenters at Turtle Island Writing Festival


Most hopeful movement of 2012, which could bring about the Great Shift from disconnection to connection:

Idle No More!



See you in 2013!

The Week That Was

It’s a beautiful sunny Friday here in northern Ontario, and I’m in the middle of processing some juicy and delicious organic Okanagan fruit that was delivered by fellow local foodies who just returned from a BC trip. The peaches are now either frozen or eaten, there’s still scrumptious cherries that I expect will disappear this weekend while we enjoy the music and the atmosphere at the Trout Forest Music Festival without leaving any for the freezer.

All that to say, I’m going to disconnect from the computer and spend time outside enjoying this delightful August day. In case you are interested in hanging around online, here’s some recent postings from some of my favourite blogs, along with some headlines worth noting.  Have a great weekend!

Of course, we now know that July was the hottest month ever recorded in the United States, as drought reached two thirds of the country. Joe Romm over at Climate Progress put it this way:

July’s average temperature was the hottest on record for the contiguous United States, according to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration. The last 12 months have been the hottest ever for the U.S., with over 27,000 high temperature records broken or tied so far this year. The hot weather has only worsened dry conditions, as nearly two-thirds of the U.S. faces a drought. NASA scientist James Hansen recently connected the extreme heat to climate change, writing “there is virtually no explanation other than climate change.”

It remains to be seen whether the mainstream media will begin to cover this issue as its urgency demands. Their record is certainly terrible, as Bill Nye pointed out recently:


  • JP Greenwood over at The Green Word recently discussed the Harper government’s quiet (sly?) opening up of the Gulf of St Lawrence to increased oil and gas drilling in the June budget:

Buried within the more than 400 pages of this spring’s federal omnibus budget bill is an invitation for resource companies to open a new frontier in Canadian oil: the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

The gulf, which touches the coastlines of Canada’s five easternmost provinces, is the world’s largest estuary. It’s home to more than 2,000 species of marine wildlife — an ecosystem integral to the health of our Atlantic and Great Lakes fisheries.

Now, due to measures deep in the federal budget, that ecosystem may be under threat. The bill explicitly highlights the region’s potential for petroleum extraction and includes amendments to the Coasting Trade Act that give oil companies greater access to exploration vessels. Click here to read the full posting.

  • Paul over at Learning From Dogs reminds us that coming soon to our night sky is the annual meteor show:

Raise your eyes in wonder at the most wonderful annual show from space.

  • In Yes – In Close To The Edge (are we?) Martin reflects on the classic British rock band YES, and the artwork that graced their album covers, including Close To The Edge, which seems more appropriately named than ever today. Check out the incredible video on this post.
  • And back to Canadian politics for a bit, Beth over at is taking a summer break, but you might want to check out her blog while she’s away. Beth blends a perceptive and progressive look at Canadian politics with the articles on the lifestyle of a “radical homemaker”, and best of all she’s from my neck of the woods!  Beth posted this great graphic in June, and unfortunately nothing has changed in the last two months to make it any less appropriate or true:

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.

Canadian PM Harper On Elections: “Dangerous and Unnecessary”

Here in Canada, we are heading into a federal election on May 2. Our current Prime Minister proclaimed this election to be a “dangerous and unnecessary exercise”.  Rick Mercer responds to this curious, and revealing, statement of our Prime Minister, who apparently believes democracy is a waste of time and money:


And a response to Rick’s rant from students at the University of Guelph, who throw down the gauntlet to other Canadian university students:


Considering the abysmal record of this government on environmental issues, particularly climate change, the importance of getting young people out to vote can’t be underestimated. They are “Generation Hot” and are the voters that will be most affected by unchecked climate change.  For more on the Harper government’s record on climate change, go to Climate Action Network Canada’s info page.

More links:



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