We're now in the Decade of Decision. We have the 20s to slash our greenhouse gas emissions by half if we're to have a reasonable chance of averting irreversible climate breakdown. No guarantees, a reasonable chance.
If, by the time the next decade rolls around, we're pretty much in the same place we're at today, we have thrown in the towel.
While the right in Canada, Conservative and a good segment of the Liberals, gnash their teeth over the loss of Teck's Frontier bitumen mine project, we're all being affected by the 'early-onset' impacts of climate change. The Tyee's Nikiforuk captured our moment this way:
Climate change has now appeared at everyone’s doorstop in different guises; rising seas, longer king tides, melting ice caps, brutal fires, dying trees, failed crops, migrating peoples, rising food prices, monstrous storms, drying aquifers and absent politicians.As I said, this is early-onset stuff. What we may see over the next ten years could eclipse what is happening today. As these events unfold I'll bet Teck won't be foremost in anyone's mind.
The Carbon Bubble is going to burst. I have that on the authority of Mark Carney, among others. He's not pulling any punches, telling the corporate poobahs that tying their fortunes to fossil fuel investments will be a quick path to bankruptcy.
And so, as conditions harden and turn more dangerous, we will scramble to find alternatives to fossil fuels. That can be hard or it can be bloody hard. It will be especially difficult for petro-states such as Canada.
The fossil fuel industry isn't going anywhere, not without a fight, and they have their political handmaidens mobilized to bring the power of government to their side. That's why yesterday, Christiana Figueres, the former head of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, warned that our politicians will fail us on climate breakdown without grassroots civil disobedience.
electoral politics have failed to meet the challenge, largely because of systemic roadblocks including corporate lobbying and partisan oppositionIn other words, don't count on the grandiose promises of those we elect to high office when it comes to climate change. Saving your grandkids is not their priority. That's not the path they have us on. Figueres knows it. She wants you to finally realize it.
Figueres challenges you to decide. What's it going to be? Do you defend a dying economy or fight for the future? Don't rely on electoral promises. They're meaningless or worse.
And, if we choose the future over this sclerotic economy, that's going to mean a degree of chaos. It's going to mean disruption, non-violent civil disobedience that targets the economy our survival requires we get out from underneath.
Andrew Nikiforuk has taken a break from his focus on fossil energy to travel to Ontario where he interviewed botanist, Diana Beresford-Kroger.
“The big thing that has become very apparent to me is that climate change is not just a question of science,” says Beresford-Kroeger. Her face turns pensive.
"It is question of society, too. Maybe the society question is a bigger one than the science. Maybe if you change the society’s thinking and the culture in its thinking, then maybe we will solve it.”
...You know, she tells me, when people have too much, they will abuse what they own. “It is the striving and saving for something that is important. Then you get your goal and you have it. If your choices are too great, you can’t make up your mind what you are going to do. You get overwhelmed by the choices.
“I’ve seen too much money, and it creates a disrespect for other people. It is a divider. It also creates a disdain for manual work. You think if you are doing manual work you are a savage somehow, but actually you are not. Manual work is just as important as intellectual work, because our humanity and community require a biodiversity of work.
Beresford-Kroeger doesn’t think we can fight climate change without making greed and endless consumption as unfashionable as an obviously pregnant woman with a cigarette in her mouth.
“Everyone says, ‘My God, what are you doing to the child inside you?’ People should think the same of wealth: ‘My God, what is your greed doing to the community around you?’”The 75-year old echoes centenarian James Lovelock's injunction that the way forward must be a path to "sustainable retreat." We are like a neglected garden. We are overgrown with weeds and they're choking out everything else.
Lastly, we need to change our behaviours and learn to live much more poorly than we do. We must waste less and rediscover the joys of serving others.
“For instance, don’t buy crap. Buy things that last. Maybe the chair and table in your kitchen should last hundreds of years and maybe your children and great grandchildren should value it.”
She pauses for a moment. The tea is finished. She sips some whiskey.
“There is a whole world outside of the Church of the Holy Dollar. A time of change is a time of great excitement.”
But it takes saoirse. What is that, I ask. Saoirse, she explains, is a Celtic word that means freedom of a special kind. Freedom to embrace that world.