Solar Flares: Allies

It has been an active week for this activist! The biggest news for me, of course, was my participation in Extinction Rebellion Halifax’s climate protest on April 15. I wrote about my experience (at great length) in a special mid-week edition of Solar Flares here — or, if you’d like to read (theoretically) more objective coverage, here are some articles.

Throughout the rest of the International Week of Rebellion, XR has continued to rock the boat in Nova Scotia and beyond. Yesterday, the local XR chapter protested in front of bank branches in Wolfville to persuade them to divest from fossil fuel projects. For bank users whose institutions refuse to divest, the hashtag #FossilBanksNoThanks signals their intentions to change to a credit union or a less polluting bank.

There have been other actions in Canada, but nothing compares to the uprising that’s still unfolding in the UK. All week, thousands of protesters have occupied bridges and streets throughout London, reclaiming spaces dominated by cars and transforming them back into commons. More than 500 people have been arrested, but there seems to be an endless flow of activists of all ages and backgrounds. It’s pretty awesome.

Naturally, much of the media coverage emphasizes the inconvenience of these sorts of demonstrations, or the impact upon local business. But we all know by now that climate collapse is exponentially more inconvenient for millions, if not billions, of people. And it’s already insanely expensive. Hopefully, more people are acquiring that perspective as these sorts of actions continue to grow in frequency and size.

Monday’s action left me stoked for more, and I was able to start hatching plans even as I was driving home from Halifax. Below is a list of what I’ve got in the pipes. If you are in the neighbourhood and want to help out (or if you have some other great ideas), let me know!

My Summer in the Anthropocene

One of Suzi Oram-Aylward’s trash sculptures, commissioned by ACAP Cape Breton.
  • Local sculptor Suzi Oram-Aylward and I are hatching a plan for an environmentally themed project for Sydney’s Lumière Festival. If you were walking along the waterfront, and you met a polar bear made from plastic trash who asked you which way she should go… what would you do?
  • The Island Food Network and I are hatching a plan involving a series of local-food-focused picnics in Wentworth Park: music, crafts, maybe documentary films, and general awareness-raising for Cape Bretoners.
  • The CBU Sustainability Project and I are returning to local high schools, to present Blue Sky Heroes to more youth. Better yet, word has spread beyond CBRM, which means I may be presenting soon in Baddeck and/or Antigonish.
  • My daughter and I are hatching a plan to paint a chalk line along the harbour, signifying where Sydney’s shoreline is expected to reach by 2100.

That last action might get me in some water of my own with the authorities; in Halifax, two protesters were arrested for using chalk paint on a building. But yesterday, I was speaking with my lawyer about other matters, and I floated the question: “To whom should I speak if get arrested for trying to save the planet?” My lawyer is a crusty old man, and I fully expected him to laugh in my face, or shut me down with a sneer. But, as is increasingly the case, I was pleasantly surprised to hear his adamant support. He promised to get me in touch with a specialist in environmental law, and by the end of the day, he’d done exactly that. “This is important stuff,” He growled, “Maybe the most important thing of all.”

Critically endangered kākāpō parrots might be making a comeback.

Solar Flares in a Warming World

  • Bad, bad news in Alberta this week, as a party of climate deniers ran away with the election. Because of this setback, I searched extra hard for morsels of good news, including:
  • UCLA scientists have developed an inexpensive method of generating electricity from falling snow.
  • A study from Dalhousie finds that more than 6 million Canadians have diets that include reduced meat consumption.
  • New York City is adapting its policies to make skyscrapers more carbon efficient. Nine recently introduced bills aim to reduce the Big Apple’s carbon emissions from buildings 40% by 2030 and 80% by 2050.
  • A critically endangered parrot species from New Zealand had an unexpectedly successful breeding season. Last year there were only 147 kākāpō parrots alive — such a small population, they all have their own names — but this spring 76 chicks hatched, with at least 60 expected to make it to maturity.

If You Read One Thing This Week About the Environment

  • Read about Dr. Joanne Chory’s revolutionary Ideal Plant project, which uses gene editing to develop super-plants capable of drawing down massive amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

And If You Want to Do Something?

  • CBC news has a call out for firsthand stories of how the climate crisis affects Canadians. If you (or somebody close to you) has been caught in a flood, a wildfire or extreme heat — or if your community has felt the effects of sea-level rise — get in touch at whatonearth@cbc.ca. I strongly believe that first-person accounts are the most effective way to convince doubters that climate collapse is Real News, Real Bad, and happening in Real Time!

Happy Long Weekend. Stay strong! Shine bright!

Contact the author at scott.sharplin@gmail.com. Sign up for the Solar Flares e-bulletin here.

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