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.

 

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Idle No More = Hope Some More

I have been ignorant of so much about our native peoples for so long – like my whole life, for example. The author Wade Davis years ago made me appreciate the value of seeing Mother Earth from a worldwide indigenous perspective which recognizes the oneness of every single thing on this Planet, a point made superbly by Winona LaDuke in this wonderful talk.

The recent Idle No More movement highlights for me these points:

1. We continue to colonize our native peoples through, among other things, ruining their unceded lands and waters by making them hostile, barren and toxic via the unbridled extraction of minerals, oil and trees.

2. Our First Nations are experiencing huge rates of disease due to these activities. The pollution is also affecting us, though less obviously. Ninety-nine per cent of scientists and a large, growing number of lay people realize that continued economic growth that depends on pollution is unsustainable.

3. Many of us “white folk” are coming to realize that multinational corporations, many with foreign profit centres like Brazil, China and Holland, with absolutely no connection to the land, are being given the right to exploit it. While First Nations are the canary in the coal mine, we all are being quickly colonized, and, ultimately, impoverished and poisoned by the world economic system.

4. The Movement is a valuable, attention-grabbing focal point whose many contentious, non-unanimous issues, some of which are highlighted in Michael Enright’s CBC Sunday Edition interview with Cindy Blackstock, can be unified, I believe, by the unanimous chant that “Enough Is Enough.”

I see this phenomenon as a reason to hope again. For a glass-half-empty person, that is some accomplishment.