…the war against the earth and its defenders goes on.
Photo: StarMetro Vancouver
Currently one of the most vital front lines is on Wet’suwet’en First Nation land in “British Columbia,” Canada. Wet’suwet’en defenders stand in the way of a zombie pipeline due to transport toxic liquid natural gas over their land to ocean tankers. The land defenders are under siege by Canada’s national government and its police. This whole abominable project is owned and paid for by the people of Canada, and promoted by the authorities – in our name.
The Wet’suwet’en defenders are putting their lives on the line, for the earth and for all of us. Most of us can’t be there with them. But whoever and wherever we are, we still have other capacities, including our voices. Let’s use them well.
On a grey, chilly day, 25,000 of us (give or take a few) took to the streets of the national capitol. Beautifully diverse in race, origin, faith, age, gender, orientation, and politics, we sent one message to those in power: Climate solutions and climate justice = 100% Possible. 100% renewables by 2050 = 100% possible. Act now or get out of the way.
If you ask me, 2050 is too far away. So easy for slippery politicians to say, “2050? Why not, whatever…” But that’s just me, quibbling.
I suspect there are few illusions among this crowd as to what we face: a towering, apparently seamless wall of greed, governments bought and sold, rampant corruption, fear and inertia. By hook or by crook, the arrogant few inside the castle control the levers of power and will do whatever it takes to hold onto them.
This tyranny was imposed, and will continue to be imposed, in the name of anti-terrorism. This is the “democracy” that the authorities claim to defend.
But: With the earth’s life support systems under sustained corporate assault and engineered wars, fully backed by virtually every government on the planet, as humanity and our neighbours sink into ever deepening harm and peril, it only takes open eyes to see who are the real terrorists.
Here in comfy Canada, our shiny, smiling new government is doing some good things, beginning to undo at least some of the wreckage perpetrated by the outgoing Northern Republicans (aka Conservatives). At the same time, the newly elected Liberal government openly supports the atmosphere-killing tar sands, the pipelines and trains needed to deliver their toxic brew to ports and ships on both east and west coasts, as well as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a catastrophic corporate-dictated trade agreement, negotiated in secret, that will make it virtually impossible for any signatory government to take effective action against climate collapse.
But despite all this, people everywhere will continue to find creative ways to express their love for the earth and for justice, and their refusal to comply with those who would trample both.
In Ottawa, November 29, 2015, the people’s march for climate justice culminated with the creation of a giant message to Parliament. (Look for me about halfway up the right side of the second zero…)
In our thousands, we spelled it out for them: 100% possible.
On a cool, bright autumn walk with Marla, I got to thinking about NIMBY. Not In My Backyard. It implies a perceived threat to the space that represents ‘my backyard.’ But what defines a backyard? Fences? Where I live we have none, except for ancient, collapsing cedar rails that now seem archeological.
We range freely through miles of forest, open meadow and wetland, far beyond the legal extent of the title deed that defines the 60 rural acres my partner and I ‘own.’ The land beyond is semi-wild, with no roads, no power lines, the occasional ATV incursion, and an abundance of animal tracks. I assume that someone ‘owns’ this other land; that’s how things have worked since the Europeans arrived. But for now, this is our extended backyard.
So then, what constitutes a backyard? If you’re an imperial power it means anything you want, up to and including the whole earth and as far out into space as you can grab. But what does it mean for the rest of us?
On my travels in writing Bold Scientists I visited with conservation biologist Curt Meine in the midwestern state of Wisconsin. Near Madison, the capital, we explored a devastated landscape, the former site of a vast military munitions complex, which citizens are working hard to restore to a healthy Sauk Prairie landscape. They hope to take care of it, as part of their extended backyard. But where are the boundaries?
As Curt sees it, “In nature the boundaries of larger reality are never set. In my little local place I can walk around, grow a garden, watch the birds, keep an eye on the sand cranes and the wild turkeys. I can only see about a mile, but I know the river out there is connected all the way to the Mississippi River, 80 miles that way (he points southwest, more or less), that feeds eventually into the Atlantic Ocean, which is part of the global ocean system. It’s the same with landscapes, they can be as small as a few square feet where you’re standing, and as large as the planet. Among all the levels are feedback loops, so they all affect each other.
“This means you can’t have a healthy farm or forest, park or city, in a landscape that’s unsustainable, or on a planet where the climate is going haywire, temperatures are rising, oceans are acidifying, and the poles are melting, largely due to our actions. So there’s always this tension between wanting to save the world at large and wanting to focus all your energies close to home. At least if you can work well on your part, and others are working well on their part, eventually you can build a community of engaged people to collaborate on the larger pieces of the whole.”
Imagine if in our backyard, our extended backyard, there were no tar sands. No oil and gas pipelines. No nuclear plants. No tops blown off mountains for coal. No fracking… Imagine.
Meantime, biologist Curt Meine carries on the long community struggle to restore one small sliver of this precious earth, ultimately the only backyard we’ve got. The story is here, in Bold Scientists.
Join me for a talk on gardening and the extended backyard, October 27, 2015, 6:30 – 8:30 pm, at the Toronto Reference Library.
Stephen Harper’s toxic legacy. (Photo: via PriceofOil.org)
The tar sands corporations and the Harper regime are hard to tell apart. Both believe that plunder is their right, even their duty. Both are obsessed with greed and power, their religion. Both do harm on an almost numbing scale, and call it “good management.” Both depend on each other in myriad ways for their survival. Both hate democracy.
In addition to the tar sands nightmare, the Harper regime has presided over a full spectrum of unnatural disasters, including: systematic assaults on environmental protections and honest science, starvation of the national health care system, massive surveillance, escalating military budgets and eager participation in criminal wars wherever US authorities choose to attack.
In a sane society, all of these would be considered major crimes. In Canada, the current regime hopes they will be grounds for their re-election.
I have no illusions about elections as a solution to the enormous problems we face. I know that once in power, none of the parties on offer will go nearly as far as I think they should to address these vital issues honestly, fairly, and adequately. But:
By now we know from bitter experience that if the Harper regime can fool enough Canadians into voting for it in October, the disasters will only deepen and multiply.