I wondered for a long time why climate change deniers existed. Maybe, I thought, because the truth is scary and requires us to change our ways — not a comfortable request for a society so deeply anchored in business as usual. While it’s true that climate change is indeed frightening and changing ourselves can be met with resistance, the actual reason is that there is a handful of very wealthy people who stand to lose a lot of money from the societal shift required to prevent catastrophic climate change. The rest of us, well, what we stand to lose by doing nothing can’t be measured in dollars.
“More than 60 percent of Canadians do not support Harper and his government’s contempt for democracy. Yet, he could win a majority with as little as 35 percent of the popular vote.” — Project Democracy
I think it’s telling of our citizens that we have three left-wing or centre-left national parties and only one right-wing since the merger of the PC and Reform parties back in 1990-something. (Quebecers of course have an extra choice.) It appears to make sense, then, that 62.4% of voters voted for these parties in the last election. Unfortunately, as we’re all aware, this doesn’t translate to 62% of the House of Commons, and a candidate can be elected with under 30% support in their riding. Our abysmal voter turnout (58.8% in 2008) should be a clear signal that our system needs to change.
Every summer I swim in the waters of Burrard Inlet and English Bay. My favourite spot is Cates Park (Whey-ah-Wichen, Faces the Wind), which is nearly opposite a Chevron oil refinery that is responsible for a slow leak discovered a year ago. This refinery is east of the Second Narrows bridge which, as the name suggests, spans a narrow crossing — and it’s a shallow one as well. The number, size and capacity of oil tankers passing through here is growing, with no decline in sight as our thirst for oil continues to increase. This worries me because it leaves us ever more vulnerable to a spill that would ruin a coastline inhabited by the Tsleil-Waututh Nation long before this place had a name, and enjoyed by Metro Vancouver residents and tourists alike. The beaches and waters are home to starfish, crabs, jellyfish, geoducks and many varieties of birds. If you’re lucky, you’ll spot some other fish, a seal or even a whale. Eagles are frequent visitors.
We can’t afford an oil spill in Burrard Inlet, nor can we afford one anywhere along our beautiful coast. The consequences of the Exxon Valdez spill off Alaska are still felt there. A spill of that magnitude hasn’t yet happened to us — neither in BC nor in the Saint Lawrence — and on Monday, May 2 we have the opportunity to uphold the decision the Liberals made in 1972 by voting for candidates who support this ban.
Friday, April 22nd isn’t just Good Friday. It’s also Earth Day, and in celebration, Vancouver’s youth have organized a parade and festival! I’ll be there with my bicycle and as many dorky treehugging pins as I can dig up. (Find me if you’d like a Vote Environment button with Suzuki’s retro face on it!)
Coincidentally, this is the 41st Earth Day and, on May 2nd, Canada has its 41st federal election. Before you head to the polls as early as this weekend — because you ARE voting (or if you’re a minor, telling your parents to vote), right? — think about how important it is to you to have clean air, clean water and healthy food to eat. Think about what kind of world today’s youth will be facing in the future if climate change isn’t mitigated today, if oil spills continue, and if our precious salmon fail to thrive. If you’re a youth yourself, what do you want the world to look like? We can take many actions ourselves, but Canadians understand the government wields the biggest power to make sweeping changes in the areas where consumers have little influence. And the Canadian government needs to know that we care about our environment.
DELTA – The Agricultural Land Commission’s decision to reluctantly hand over prime Delta farmland to Campbell government bulldozers reveals the extent to which the integrity of the farmland protection process has been destroyed, say New Democrat MLAs Charlie Wyse and Guy Gentner.
The commission has reluctantly agreed to remove 90 hectares from the Agricultural Land Reserve so the Campbell government can proceed with its preferred route for the South Fraser Perimeter Road, despite widespread public opposition. The commission said it “deeply regrets that suitable highway alignment alternatives to the use of prime agricultural land were found not to be acceptable from transportation and environment perspectives.”
The news follows last week’s discovery that construction along two sections of the proposed route started before any decision had been finalized.
Tonight the Vancouver Public Library is hosting a screening of the film, The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil, as part of its Necessary Visions series. It’s a free program and will be held at their Central branch, downtown at 350 West Georgia. Details below, and more events at the VPL website. Hope to see you there.
The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil is a project of The Community Solution, a non-profit organization that designs and teaches low-energy solutions to the current unsustainable, fossil fuel based, industrialized, and centralized way of living.”
— the Power of Community website
Friday June 6, 7:30 pm
Alice MacKay Room, Lower Level
When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1990, Cuba’s economy went into a tailspin. With imports of oil cut by more than half — and food by 80 percent — people were desperate. This film tells of the hardships and struggles as well as the community and creativity of the Cuban people. They share how they transitioned from highly mechanized agriculture to using organic farming and urban gardens.
The Necessary Visions series features screenings of locally made documentary films, followed by discussion afterwards with the filmmakers.
For more information please contact Vancouver Public Library at 604-331-3603. Sponsored by Necessary Voices and Cinema Politica.
POST-EVENT UPDATE: This film is excellent! The turnout was impressive — two hundred people maybe? — of all ages and I do believe everyone truly enjoyed it. Lots to think about, be inspired by, and make strides towards. I took 3 journal-sized pages of notes and that’s like 4.5 pages for a person with normal-sized handwriting. A small country with a truly remarkable recent history, Cuba is an example for the world on how to live. Shocking statistics revealed visually the massive differences between their way of life and that of Americans: they use one eighth of the energy and yet maintain the same (if not better) life expectancy. Given that diabetes and heart disease rates have dropped in Cuba, but the opposite is happening in the US where we forecast life expectancy to drop for the first time, I don’t doubt that a gap will start to appear. It is probably time that the US started looking to Cuba as a model for sustainable living, rather than shunning them. Not that Cuba appears to need them anymore! They’ve got it all figured out.