Response to Norway Horror: Faced With Inhumanity, We Must Be More Human

The contrast between Norway’s response to the brutal terror attacks last Friday and that of the United States after 9/11 couldn’t be starker.  Imagine if President Bush had instead said, like Norway’s Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg,  “Our answer is more democracy, more openness to show that we will not be stopped by this kind of violence.”  How many brutal and unnecessary deaths of innocents could have been avoided in Afghanistan and Iraq? Canadians like Maher Ahar (361 days in Syrian detention), Abdullah Almalki (more than 22 months in Syria), Ahmad El Maati (two years, two months and two days in Syria and Egypt) and Muayyed Nureddin (34 days in Syria) wouldn’t have had their lives disrupted forever by illegal deportation to, and torture in, Syria by the U.S.  And the list could go on and on.

Several commentators have pointed out that the “politics of hate” that the killer, Anders Behring Breivik, subscribes to, has moved from the fringe to the mainstream in recent years in both Europe and North America. Political scapegoating and demonizing of opponents is increasingly common place in Canada and is certainly endemic in the United States right now, as demonstrated by the rise of the tea party movement and the current impasse on raising the debt ceiling led by a Republican party intent on opposing President Obama no matter what the cost to their nation.

It is in this kind of atmosphere that a mentality that threatens climate scientists’ lives  could thrive. It’s the kind of atmosphere that Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, News International, has fostered over the last three decades, Fox “News” being one of the most obvious and influential examples of this in North America. In the “politics of hate” world, it’s okay to spend trillions of dollars on wars that kill and maim and not on okay to spend billions on healthcare and clean energy.

Norway is showing us that there is another way to respond to haters. Norwegian Erik Abild wrote in Al Jazeera yesterday:

In Norway, many politicians and people state that “today we are all AUF” (the name of the youth party). And we are. Just as we all were Japanese when the earthquake struck, or as we all are Somalis when we read about famine. This feeling of community is a part of being human. And this communality, the shared experience of humanity, is essential to hold onto. In the face of inhumanity, we have to be more human. Because there is only this one world, brutal and beautiful, and we only have one fragile life to make our difference in the world we all share as home.

More links:

Faced With Inhumanity, We Must Be More Human

Norway’s Attacks Reveal A World Of Hatred

Norway Attacks: We Can No Longer Ignore The Far-Right Threat

Killings in Norway Spotlight Anti-Muslim Thought In U.S.

Nobel Laureate: It is the People Who Must Stand Up For the Environment, Make Their Leaders Change

Fridays are the days I usually focus on good news. I think the best news around these days is that Rupert Murdoch and his right-wing, democracy-corrupting News International is finally being subjected to the harsh light of public and criminal investigation. Apparently last week, Murdoch’s media empire lost seven billion dollars worth of value in one day. Now that’s good news!

In another good news story, it turns out that forests play an even larger role in the Earth’s climate system than previously suspected.  According to a new study published in Science last week, this raises more concern about the risks from deforestation but also holds out hope for the potential gains from regrowth.

Werner Kurz, a scientist with Natural Resources Canada’s Canadian Forest Service who co-authored the paper, said the amount of carbon dioxide being absorbed by forests is “good news” and reinforces what scientists had previously estimated — that forests are the biggest carbon sinks among land ecosystems.

“Right now, forests are helping,” he said, “but whether or not they will continue to help in the future will depend on the effect of human activities and climate change on the forest.” Read the full article on CBC.ca.

So if we buckle down and seriously address the issues of deforestation and reforestation across the globe – in the Amazon as well as in my backyard, the boreal forest – this could be a huge step towards stabilizing the world’s climate system. And who better to get inspiration from when talking about planting trees to heal the earth, than Wangari Maathai? Ms. Maathai is the Kenyan woman who started the Green Belt Movement which taught the women in her country how to plant trees, and who was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for her work. Since 1977, GBM communities have planted over 45 million trees in Kenya to increase national forest cover and restore essential ecosystems. Here are some clips from Taking Root, a documentary by Lisa Merton and Alan Dater which tells Maathai’s story, “whose simple act of planting trees grew into a nationwide movement to safeguard the environment, protect human rights, and defend democracy—a movement for which this charismatic woman became an iconic inspiration.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p5GX6JktJZg]

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zzikL5MJWCg&feature=related]

Here’s a quote from Wangari Maathai to take into the weekend with you:

“It is the people who must save the environment. It is the people who must make their leaders change. And we cannot be intimidated. So we must stand up for what we believe in.” 

More links:

Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai

The Green Belt Movement

Climate Change 2: Forests Soak Up Third of Fossil Fuel Emissions: “Science” Study

CBC.ca: Forests Absorb A Third of World’s CO2 Emissions

 

 

 

Murdoch-gate meets “Climate-gate”

What we know so far about the Rupert Murdoch/News Corp scandal may just be the tip of the iceberg. Keith Olbermann wrote yesterday on his blog about the connection between Murdoch’s News Corp and the stolen “climate-gate” emails:

The Murdoch Phone-Hacking Scandal may have just metastasized. The so-called “Climate-Gate” controversy — in which e-mails about global warming were stolen from researchers at Britain’s University of East Anglia in November, 2009 — now turns out to bear the stamp of Neil Wallis, one of the key figures in Murdoch’s hacking of the phones, voicemails, and other electronic communications of thousands of people.

Wallis is unique in this scandal. He had been the Executive Editor of Murdoch’s News Of The World when hacking was at its peak. Yet in 2009 he wound up being hired by the police as a public relations consultant while the police investigated the hacking scandal. And he wound up spying for Murdoch’s people on what Scotland Yard was investigating.

Wallis was, as the New York Times put it, “reporting back to News International while he was working for the police on the hacking case.”

In the interview below, Joe Romm from Climate Progress and Olbermann discuss  News Corp’s penchant for hacking, and what this means for the private emails that were stolen from the climate scientists at Britain’s University of East Anglia in November, 2009.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1p0yCsRet0A]

Romm described it this way on Climate Progress:

There is a cancer on the U.S. media.  That cancer is the disinformation machine aimed at spreading and endlessly repeating the most absurd falsehoods on a host of vital issues to the health and well being of Americans.

The cancer’s most dangerous symptom — the one that will ultimately prove fatal to human civilization and the American way of life as we know it today — is the relentless lies on climate science (see “Foxgate: Leaked email reveals Fox News boss ordered staff to cast doubt on climate science” and “93% of WSJ‘s Climate Op-Eds Misrepresent Science“).

Will the cancer of News Corp be caught in time to change the prognosis for the planet?  Nothing is for sure, except that we have the blessing – and curse – of living in interesting times!

More links:

When Murdoch-Gate met Climate-gate

Connecting the Dots From News Corp Scandal to Dangerous Lies of Fox News and the Wall Street Journal