Solar Flares: “Emergency!”

It’s a powerful word, isn’t it? We are trained to respond reflexively, instantly alert with all our senses, tensing for the worst.

That’s one of the things I want people to feel, but if I stand in the park by myself yelling “Emergency!” I’d be easy to ignore. It’s something quite different when a city council declares an official climate emergency — as hundreds of municipalities have done already. This week, the UK parliament also declared an emergency, largely in response to Extinction Rebellion actions in London.

There isn’t a lot of legal weight behind these declarations. I do believe they provide a foot in the door, for climate activists to propose further legislative changes. But mostly, they are a way to broadcast the severity of the climate crisis to citizenry who haven’t been paying attention.

This week, I resolved to get the Cape Breton Regional Municipality to pick up the microphone and shout “Emergency!”

It hasn’t happened yet, but my influence has already been felt in the corridors of power. Thanks to a fortuitous bit of timing, a pro-environment city councilor put a bug in the Mayor’s ear the day before my letter appeared in the Chronicle-Herald, sending him from zero-interest to “this might be a big deal.”

I also joined up with a small protest group outside City Hall, giving me the chance to chat with another city councilor for 30 minutes. In between all this political wheeling and dealing, I created an online petition and hatched plans for a climate march on May 24 (the next Global School Strike date). If Council hasn’t declared an emergency by then? We’ll make noise until they do.

My Week in the Anthropocene

It’s hard for even me to believe that the things I mentioned above are just a fraction of the activism work I’ve done this week! Other highlights include:

  • Visits to two schools (Sydney Academy and BEC) to promote climate action, including the aforementioned strike.
  • A meeting with CBRM’s Parks and Recreation manager, to schedule Local Food Picnics/Film Nights in the summertime.
  • A bit of work on a grant application for my polar bear project.
  • Borrowed a wheeled chalk applicator from CBU Athletics, in aid of further chalk-walking by the waterfront.
  • Coffee with another local activist, to swap ideas for boat-rocking actions.

Solar Flares in a Warming World

  • The UK declaration is good news for sure, but what Canadians really need is a Green New Deal. 350.org is encouraging us to hold town halls to discuss what this sort of transformative policy would look like. I just don’t have time to do this, but I’m glad it’s going on!
  • In Halifax, the XR group who organized the April 15 action have since followed up with two of our targets, the Chronicle-Herald and CBC, presenting “The Talk” and reiterating our demands for them to treat the climate crisis as the emergency it is.
  • Did you know that refrigerators and air conditioners use as much as 20% of the world’s energy? Finding ways to green up these technologies could constitute a major victory in the climate war. This article from nature.com provides one potential solution.
  • Also in the cool technologies department: What the heck is Bio-Solar Leaf? Whatever it is, it can purify 100x the air of a single tree in the same amount of space.
  • And a Swiss company called Innoleth is developing a battery that could power an electric car for 1,000 km on a single charge.

If You Read One Thing About the Environment This Week

Thanks for reading. It’s not easy trying to change the world, but it feels a bit easier knowing I’m not alone. Stay strong and shine bright!

Scott

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