Fridays For Future – Toronto

 

For humans to have a future on Earth we must urgently make some complicated  choices to stop our fouling of the delicate biosphere, which we carelessly “nest” in and share with other living things from the tiniest to the huge.

Speakers we listened to yesterday were mostly young people. They came from across Canada and the Lakota were with us from the U.S.A. Many speakers were indigenous. A lot of chi miigwetches (“big thank yous” in Ojibwa) were heard.

Some speakers at Friday’s “Strike” were a little naïve in statements that listed a whole bunch of things that apparently can and must all be done. Many hard trade offs will have to be made. There will be winners and losers. But we adults had given up trying to stop abusing the planet and have been asleep for decades while the rug was gradually pulled out from under the democratic system. It has happened on our distracted, gadget-smothered watch. We’ve spent way too much time managing our complicated, mostly electronic, “toys.”

While we’ve fiddled like a famous Roman Emperor, our planet has caught fire.

And household recycling, for instance, has become a farcical, shallow, population-fooling exercise. Our cities are afraid to admit how much has been spent on those opaque plastic bins and huge, blind, job-cutting trucks that carry so many “recyclables” that are, by design or circumstance, non-recyclable eventually to dumps. Instead of dealing with the problem, we have used fossil fuels to transport our garbage across oceans to poor countries destitute and/or corrupt enough to accept it.

Single-use plastics, happily not used by those at the Climate Strike for drinks, must be eliminated, not taxed. Our tap water is drinkable, yet Nestlés is raping underground and pristine lake water in both wealthy and poor, thirsty settlements worldwide to put environmentally under-priced water, plain or profitably flavoured and coloured by that corporation, into single-use bottles! Council of Canadians is trying very hard to fight this here. This is a great, doable start.

Anyone who has been in a hospital has seen the mountains of efficient, but polluting, throw-away plastic packages that keep throw-away, plastic-plus-metal medical syringes and other tools sterile. Eliminating these will not help to make or keep free health care for all easy to maintain. Finding our way through complex environmental and economic issues will not be as easy as expressing our goals in attractive slogans. But somehow we must change fast.

One thing Greta Thunberg is right about is that we need awareness, political protest and real sacrifice for these hoped-for changes to become reality. The handful of families that control the world by dominating our Cabinets, Prime Ministers and Presidents can no longer be resisted simply by voting. Humans are becoming glamorous turkeys – just one more exploitable farmyard resource.

So we quickly need to learn to use our backbones and our legs.

Be

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In Hindi, the words Vasudhaiva Kutumbam mean “Earth Family,” the democracy of all life.

(Quoted from Vandana Shiva’s Restoring the Earth in David Suzuki’s 1997 book, The Sacred Balance.) I thought of using Earth Family as a title for the poem, but reduced it to “Be.” For more on Vandana Shiva see the end of this post.

How to live? How to be?

I wrote lines one and three of the above haiku on a plane, after making notes on Suzuki’s book. The sky just before sunset on October 18th was spectacular looking West in the late afternoon from the Caribbean Airlines plane bringing us back from a family funeral.

By flying return to Trinidad, about 4055 km (2535 miles) one way, the two of us together “caused” about  5 tonnes of carbon dioxide to be released into the atmosphere. 2.5 tonnes each. That’s enough CO2 to grow about 23, 500 tonnes of potatoes – if that helps you understand the impact that modern travel has on global warming and highlight the difficult ethical choices which, if not faced right now, will produce  much global suffering in the not too distant future. It will take some fortunate gardener working for a long while to turn that amount of gas into potatoes. These CO2 numbers are based on information from www.deliveringdata.com.

Something about turning 70 today makes me reflect more intensely on big issues.Thinking about the world I’m leaving for my grandchildren – not that I’m planning to resign anytime soon…

As promised, I have done more thinking about Décroissance. It is definitely going to be a while as I grow in awareness and commitment. But here goes:

Continue reading “Be”

Unbridled Capitalism – Incompatible With Human Survival

A couple of species that just might outlast us...
A couple of species that just might outlast us…

This has been a week of cautious hope for me:

First: Naomi Klein has laboured for 5 years and come out with a new book called This Changes Everything. I have pre-ordered it from our big Canadian book chain as it comes out soon. Klein was just interviewed about this book by Michael Enright on his great Sunday morning program, The Sunday Edition. You can listen to the podcast here. Klein argues in her book that nothing short of a revolution is needed to remove the current impasse between where we need to be (i.e. in a sustainable biosphere) and where our capitalism-dominated model will inevitably keep us until we run out of oxygen. We could have taken a gradual route to sustainability had we taken action in the late eighties when the problem became obvious to anyone with a brain connected to a heart, but now no gradual options are left. Years ago I used the analogy of putting on the brakes before our runaway species careens into Mother Earth’s equivalent of a brick wall. A gentle slowdown vs flying through the windshield.

Bill Clinton’s America held out for a market-driven solution – LULUCF-based carbon sinks – as the basis for the doomed 1997 Kyoto Protocol. Ironically, after insisting on this complicated approach, they never signed the treaty.

I was saddened to hear that The Sunday Edition has been shortened from three hours to two. I had hoped that the best of CBC radio would somehow escape the partisan, anti-CBC financial butchering performed by Harper’s regime. Michael’s interviews are long enough to intelligently explore an issue. As a result, the 2-hour format limits the program to two in-depth conversations.

Second: I just received this really superb, easy-to-watch, four minute YouTube video produced by the Council of Canadians that efficiently (and charmingly) destroys the idea of building a pipeline to carry DILBIT (diluted bitumen from the Alberta tar sands) across Canada to our East Coast for export. Among other damning bits of info, the lively artboard presentation points out that the “cleanup” of  Enbridge’s 2010 Kalamazoo oil spill is entering its fifth year and has already cost a billion dollars.

So where’s the hope in all that?

Well, I do still believe there is a chance (rapidly diminishing, of course) for humans to avoid being perhaps the first species on the planet to engineer its own extinction. The intelligent presentations about these two, related, huge and urgent issues I witnessed this week have combined to nudge me ever so slightly above my normal bed of depression and despair.

We are not faced by a dilemma – to shit or get off the pot. We are left with this single choice: to get off the pot, and fast.

 

Toronto’s G20 – The Thoughtful Issues – Not The Stuff Everybody Saw on TV

A major columnist got my dander up this week, precipitating a reblog of a post I published on my old site on June 29th, 2010.

Here goes…

First they pass a secret law that suspends civil rights. Then they disregard the law’s boundary (5 m from the fence) and detain, question and search people anywhere they like in downtown Toronto. (I saw this happen on the protest Saturday at Queens Park Subway Station at 11:30 AM, before any trouble started). Then they refuse to give their badge numbers, taunt innocent people, rough them up, and put them in cages like the terrorists, and the collateral innocent,  in Guantanamo. The protests should continue until Harper, McGuinty and Blair/Fantino resign. Next step, torture? Good grief!

G20 Protest – June 26, 2010

On the Friday night before the Saturday G-20 protest a major rally was held at Massey Hall in Toronto that included the following speakers: Dr. Vandana Shiva, Maude Barlow, Naomi Klein, Amy Goodman, Pablo Solon, Clayton Thomas-Muller, John Hilary and Leo Gerard. It was called Shout Out For Justice and was live-streamed by rabble.ca. I am unaware of any podcast or transcript available, but the ideas were insightful and plentiful. I list about 33 of them below.

On The Protest Itself: We revere Ghandi for standing up to oppression and opposing unjust laws. Modern activists are mocked and despised, Continue reading “Toronto’s G20 – The Thoughtful Issues – Not The Stuff Everybody Saw on TV”