Solar Flares: Heating up at Home

It’s been one week since we marched, but I’m still as sore as I was right afterwards. I guess that’s because I haven’t really given myself the chance to rest. In fact, the day after our Sydney action, I carpooled two hours to Antigonish, to join an XR demonstration outside the provincial Liberal AGM.

The ‘Nish action was smaller than Sydney’s, and less raucous, befitting the venue (Saint FX campus on a Saturday afternoon is pretty dead). Plus we were dealing much more directly with policymakers; whereas the Mayor and Councillors in CBRM’s City Hall mostly hid indoors, the Liberal delegates had no choice but to walk right past us on their way to supper. We tried not to exploit this arrangement, lest they complain to the RCMP (or Secret Service — rumour has it Prime Minister Trudeau was on site, and the number of security guards certainly backed this up). So if the delegates felt like stopping to chat with us, they did. But those who did not, we mostly let them walk on by, which didn’t feel terribly productive.

Speaking of unproductive: I returned to Sydney to find a Cape Breton Post article about our march (front page, below the fold — not bad!) that ended with a shitty quote from Mayor Clarke: “… the demonstration outside of city hall today wasn’t done in a respectful way,” said the man who wasn’t even there.

“Disrespect” became the focus of subsequent arguments — mostly internal, emailed exchanges, which is better than a raging public debate, I suppose, since it’s hard to win that sort of debate when you’re not the ones in power. It’s dying down now, and I don’t expect there will be any consequences for us (including, thankfully, for the marshal who got detained). Still, it’s frustrating to find yourself in the middle of a throwdown about chalk when the reason you showed up was to talk about mass extinction.

It’s a recurring challenge. “The medium is the message,” sure, but when you’ve tried to get your message across through all other possible media, you’d rather not have to justify your choice. Citizens don’t march because it seems like a shortcut, but I expect a lot of policymakers see it in exactly those terms. I had a long chat about this with a journalist, who said that in Cape Breton at least, real change happens when you take the time to sit down and build consensus.

So… I’ll give that a try. This week, I co-facilitated a Green New Deal Town Hall, and while it was (like so many of these events) a mixed bag, it inspired me to organize something similar in Sydney. If I can mix in some material about the economic benefits of the clean energy transition, maybe some of the suits and ties will even show up!

But I also need to keep the fire lit under the community of 150 concerned citizens, and a Town Hall isn’t nearly as exciting as a march. So I’m hatching other actions, starting with a TrashMob on June 11.

That event will fall shortly before I hit the road with my family for 10 days of vacation — and honestly, I’d rather already be doing that. It’s fulfilling to have a cause, but this week, as the adrenaline from the march fades, I mostly just feel old. Perhaps I should change my will to read, “Grind my bones up into dust and paint messages on the steps of City Hall.”

Too morbid? Sorry. Here’s an extra long list of good news:

Solar Flares in a Warming World:

  • A German energy company and a Swedish start-up have released research towards the development of a battery powered by salt — a potentially beneficial complement to renewable energy sources.
  • Psychological studies confirm that students who learn about climate change in school stand an excellent chance of teaching their parents to adopt more environmentally sound practices.
  • Planting more trees means less carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which means slower global warming — so let’s applaud (and strive to imitate) Pakistan’s 10 Billion Tree Tsunami project.
  • The airline industry is among the worst polluters, so it’s exciting to see alternatives, like the BC company that has resolved to have the world’s first all-electric fleet.
  • The UK is expanding their “blue belt” of protected ocean waters to cover area nearly twice the size of England itself.
  • Speaking of Britain, they’ve just spent the past two weeks running on 0% coal power — for the first time since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution 137 years ago!
  • And finally, it’s encouraging personally to know that the Sydney march on May 24 was one of thousands taking place around the world as part of the second Global Student Strike for Climate. Traditional media has been negligent in reporting this incredible movement, so do what you can to help boost the signal — or plan to join up, as the youth movement expands to include strikers of all ages in a World Climate Strike on September 20.

That’s all for this week! Stay strong and shine bright!

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