Solar Flares: The National

By now, if you aren’t aware that there is a looming climate catastrophe, then you’ve either been living in a cave (good job keeping your carbon footprint low!) or you are deep in denial. Other parts of the world may be receiving different signals, but here in Canada, the CBC has finally (sorta, kinda) stepped up its climate reporting game (although they continue to quibble about the severity of the crisis).

With the flood of reporting, of course, comes a corresponding tsunami of think-pieces and advice columns. From “Bring your own bags” to “Meatless Mondays,” the internet is now awash with lifehacks to help let people feel less helpless and depressed.

The only problem? We’re way past that now.

According to this article (and many others), the best way for individuals to help at this point is not to lower their own carbon footprints (although that’s never a bad thing), but to get political. Nowhere is this message more important than here in Canada, where our October election will determine our environmental policies at an absolutely crucial time.

It’s not exaggeration to say that this is the most important election in Canada’s history. Right now, the Liberals and Conservatives are neck-and-neck, and although Trudeau’s Liberals are far from climate champions, they are light years better than the nationalist, denialist, corporate cronies at the CPC. A Conservative majority government would send our climate policies back in time 10 years or more — and, with only 11 years left to bring emissions down below 50%, that is not time we have to spare.

There’s a third alternative, albeit a remote one: a green wave. I’m not talking about the Green Party of Canada, or at least not necessarily; I’m talking about making the climate crisis THE election issue of 2019, and electing candidates from all parties who have committed to treating it like the emergency it is. Since a non-partisan approach is non-intuitive to Canadian politics, it’s going to involve a lot of deprogramming.

Enter Leadnow.ca, a small but ambitious not-for-profit group who has reached out to volunteers across the country to get activists and candidates face to face. Leadnow spent the first half of 2019 polling Canadians about what issues matter most to them. Then they shrewdly turned the tables by saying, “Okay, if this matters to you, then step up and help.” And here we are — over 600 of us, from sea to sea to sea — setting up meetings and promising to promote “climate champion” candidates at a time when every politician needs votes.

I must admit, I’m really impressed with Leadnow’s strategy and preparedness. They have all the tools required to make concerned citizens feel like kingmakers. And their parameters for what constitutes a “climate champion” are impressively strict — not as strict as Extinction Rebellion, but way more progressive than anything the Liberals have on offer.

I’m intrigued to see how it sorts out. As far as I know, I am the only volunteer in my riding… but luckily perhaps, there aren’t many declared candidates yet. Only the Liberals have announced their candidate — and it’s someone I actually met last month at the Iona Green New Deal Town Hall. So that’s encouraging.

My Week in the Anthropocene:

  • More like two weeks, or maybe three? My summer job has taken up most of my time and energy, but I have managed to keep my iron in a number of fires.
  • Extinction Rebellion Canada is not nearly as well organized as Leadnow, but I’m doing my bit by helping to coordinate our National Strategy group. Right now, that means a lot of recruitment and consolidation of info, but we’re also hatching plans for some sort of nationwide action in September. Stay tuned!
  • XR and Leadnow aren’t even the only groups trying to steer the national dialogue towards climate. I’m getting emails from 350.org and GreenPAC, asking for my help in coordinating climate debates in my riding. I kinda wish that all these organizations would merge into one supergroup, but I’m not really in a position to make that happen.
  • Locally, I drove to Inverness (two hours away, on the far side of the island) to deliver the “Extinction Talk” and to help get a new affinity group going. The Inverness coordinator is hoping to run as a Green Party candidate — so there’s another potential MP I’ve already met!
  • And somehow, in the midst of all that, I’ve managed to grab a bit of downtime with my family. We’ve gone canoeing twice on the Mira River, stopping on a nearby island to explore nature. It’s important to remind myself of what I’m fighting for.

Solar Flares from a Warming World:

  • Recently, the Ontario Court of Appeal ruled that the federal government has the authority to respond to the climate crisis by implementing a carbon tax. Ontario follows Saskatchewan in this ruling, but it’s especially good news, considering Ontario’s larger population (and carbon footprint), plus who’s in charge these days.
  • World leaders at the G20 summit in Osaka re-committed to the 2015 Paris accord — except the US.
  • This TV ad from Dutch airline KLM is the first tentative gesture from the air industry acknowledging how terrible their industry is for the environment. Hopefully other airlines will follow suit in asking customers to “fly responsibly.”
  • And a new invention has a lot of potential, using solar power to purify water!

If You Do One Thing for the Climate This Week:

  • Three Canadian climate groups — XR, Leadnow.ca, and 350.org — are working together to pressure our national broadcasting corporation to host a federal climate debate in anticipation of the fall election. This would go a long way towards foregrounding the climate crisis in the minds of voters. Sign a petition here.

Till next time! Stay strong! Shine bright!

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