COP 25: Thoughts and Prayers 2020

“This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang but a whimper.”

When T.S. Eliot wrote “The Wasteland” a century ago, he probably didn’t have the current climate crisis in mind. Nevertheless, the most recent global environmental conference, COP 25 could have concluded with the same lines. The Council of Parties 25 was held in Madrid, Spain in December of 2019 with a prologue of dire warnings that we were “on the point of no return” in our ability to avert a climate catastrophe.

But much like the thoughts and prayers that go out to the victims of violence following every horrific school shooting and mass killing, the best we could give to all of those youthful climate strikers was, “See you next year.” The nations most severely affected by accelerating climate change pushed for stronger targets for carbon pricing and emissions reduction.

They were blocked every step of the way by China, India, the United States of America and Saudi Arabia. Also blocked were decisions committing to strategies covering “loss and damage” — how countries already counting the cost of the climate emergency can be compensated.

The Japan Times reported about the conference proceedings on December 14/19 that: “The United States, which is leaving the Paris agreement, has aggressively blocked any provisions that might leave them and other developed countries on the hook for damages that could total more than $150 billion per year by 2025, observers and diplomats have said.”

And counter to our youthful teen protesters, there is no “generational divide” about these issues. The divide is between the consumer and conserver ethic. I am 73, I took my class n the first Earth Day march in 1970 and I have been teaching about and lecturing on and practicing environmental literacy ever since. When I began The Periwinkle Project (education towards environmental literacy) in 1989, one of my inspirations was a young teen activist from B.C. named Severn Suzuki. Thirty years later, a young teen from Sweden carries the torch. From one generation to another, a letter to you both.

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Dear Severn and Greta,

Our thoughts and prayers are with you, and the generation about to inherit Earth. Like Gilgamesh and The Flood (retold later as Noah and the Ark in biblical mythology) the warnings were given, but few heeded them. In the beginning it was simply “accelerating climate change” and global warming that led the headlines.

In 1988, the World Meteorological Organization warned us that “Humankind is conducting an unintended, uncontrolled, all-pervasive experiment upon the atmosphere of Earth, the consequences of which will be second only to global nuclear war.” This frightened you so much Severn, a young teenager, that you took your message to the United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. On behalf of children everywhere, you reminded us adults that, “We are what we do, not what we say.”

Ten years later you walked out of the second Earth Summit in Johannesburg as corporations and “environmental tourists” hijacked the agenda. Thoughts and prayers. Four years after that, Conservative Minister of the Environment, Rona Ambrose, Chair of the 2006 UN Environment Assembly in Nairobi, informed the world that Canada would not meet its carbon reduction commitments as Stephen Harper’s government backed out of the Kyoto Protocol. We sent you more thoughts and prayers.

Three decades later Greta, you have taken a young teenager’s concerns for environmental security to the world. Another young person fearing for her future in an age where “accelerating climate change” has now been acknowledged as a “climate crisis”, even a “climate emergency” by most meteorologists, insurance companies, military analysts, and governments not held hostage by fossil fuel economics. You crisscrossed the globe and used the networks of social media to tell adults that we have stolen your childhood and your dreams.

Armed with the best scientific knowledge that any generation on Earth has possessed, adults flocked to the International Climate Conference in Madrid this past week to address what UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called ‘the point of no return.” Greta told the conference, on behalf of young climate activists everywhere, that, “We are desperate for hope.”

The results of COP25 in Madrid were, according to the UN, “disappointing” as nations bickered over carbon pricing and ocean protection. Next year, we promise to look at it again. Next year.  We promise.

In the meantime, Severn and Greta, our thoughts and prayers are with you.

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Climate Catastrophe Will Cost Us More

The Ford Regime of Regressive Conservatives is trying to dumb down Ontarians with their campaign of propaganda and misinformation about the “job-killing carbon tax” by mandating that all gas stations in Ontario carry a sticker on their gas pumps that claim to show the increased costs in fossil fuel for the average family. They fail to show the rebates that come back from the federal government to the average family. They also fail to show the costs of climate catastrophe for the average family.

Enter the Green Party of Ontario with their own gas pump stickers that tell the truth: CLIMATE CHANGE will cost us more! Thank you Mike Schreiner. These magnets, as illustrated in the lead image, can be ordered from the Party’s website. I wish they also had flags we could fly from our cars, and lawn signs we could place in front of every gas station, and billboards that would clear the smog of Boss Ford regime’s polluting propaganda.

Our taxpayer dollars are being used against us by this government. Every TV ad we see, every broadcast we hear, every Ontario News Not sham reality TV fake breaking news special is another pile of El-Toro-Pooh Pooh from Dougie’s dumbing us down team. It is time to say a loud and passionate NO to big and powerful and environmentally illiterate politicians! Get your BS off our gas pumps!

Let our MPPs know that this is a violation of our intelligence, of our energy that should be going into mitigation efforts, of the health of our children, and of the biodiversity of our ecosystems. Doug Ford is driving the Ontario bus into the future at high speed looking in the pre-paleolithic rear view mirror. And any supporter of the Regressive Conservative Party who is supporting him is complicit.

So, all of you good, hopefully thoughtful and intelligent people who are Ontario Conservative Party members, as scientist Bill Nye said on John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight Show recently:

“Grow the f–k up. You’re not children anymore. I didn’t mind explaining photosynthesis to you when you were 12. But you’re adults now.”

Ah, and of course, adults who are right wing conservative politicians always act in the best interests of their local and global communities, right? No. They only do the right thing if their communities demand that they do so, and if they don’t it is time for a ride out of town on a rail and covered in tar sand oil and feathers.

If you are an Ontario Conservative supporter at this point in 2019, you are for deregulation and cutting red tape solely for the economic benefit of wealthy developers and corporations AND you are against social justice, environmental security, public education, and sustainable development. In my riding of Dufferin-Caledon, Sylvia Jones is the Conservative MPP. She does not speak for me and I regard her as an enemy of the people as long as she sycophantically claps for every Doug Ford pronouncement.

We fixed Ford’s gas pump sticker. Now it’s time to fix Ontario. It’s time to open up our windows and collectively scream,

“We’re mad as hell, and we’re not going to take it anymore!”

The way I see it.

***

Skid Crease, Caledon

*image from the Green Party of Ontario

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