Summer is here–sometimes sunny, sometimes rainy, likely to be the hottest summer humans have ever known. Should we do something about that?
I haven’t posted for awhile. First, I was on vacation, and then I took some time to adjust to my summer job, which I won’t be talking much about here. In between, however, I helped run a town hall/panel discussion called Green Futures: The Circular Economy and the Green New Deal.
The event hatched from two chickens: first, an earlier GND Town Hall which I last-minute volunteered to co-host; and second, from a conversation with a radio journalist who can’t help the cause directly (journalistic bias and all that), but who knows how Capers tick. She believes that local policymakers (ie. Mayors and city councilors) respond more positively to “town hall” cooperative-style conversations… which, I guess, makes sense when compared to my first tactics (ie. getting a mob to write chalk messages all over their plaza).
Mostly, I wanted to make those policymakers my captive audience for a few minutes. I’ve been honing my “climate crisis” spiel down to a scalpel-sharp apocalyptic elevator pitch, but I’ve also come to realize that it’s best directed and audiences who can do something with it. Otherwise, a five-minute summary of the Death of the Earth seems… needlessly cruel.
I did the early project management stuff before leaving for vacation, trusting CBU Sustainability colleague Tracey Harris to bring it home. She succeeded, in spades: we had four profs, two from Chemistry, one from Business–and the fourth was Silver Donald Cameron, the Farley Mowat Chair in Environment! They all presented some of their green or green-adjacent research, after which they took questions from an audience of 20 or so.
As for policymakers… we managed to lure in one. Councillor Eldon MacDonald came and stayed afterward for a lengthy chat with the panelists. Overall, the event felt like it scored a couple of points, but it was not a slam dunk. It didn’t help that I became weirdly anti-social right after the panel ended, and missed most of the after-chat.
I have been surprising myself with strong emotional reactions recently, and not in a good way. In December, I began taking antidepressants, and since they kicked in (around March, I think), I’ve been able to forge ahead with climate activism (and the rest of my byzantine life) with relative aplomb. This is not to say I recommend SSRIs for all climate activists, but let’s face it: if changing my brain chemistry is what it takes to help save the world, it’s worth it.
But like I said, I’ve been more easily rattled of late. I’m choosing to blame it on some unrelated transition angst (we’re temporarily moving out of our house while renovations occur). Yet it may also have something to do with Bear Witness, another climate project which is switching into a higher gear for me this month.
Bear Witness is my show for Lumiere and Nocturne, two art-at-night festivals in Sydney and Halifax, respectively. Those aren’t till the fall, though, so I’ll have plenty of time to describe it as it develops. For now, I’d rather take advantage of the not-yet-heatwave summer weather, and work on calming my spirits by reminding myself of what I’m fighting for.
My Week in the Anthropocene:
- It’s internet activism week! Yesterday, I signed on to a webinar hosted by Leadnow.ca, an NGO that’s trying to re-frame the Canadian election debate to focus on the climate. They have an ambitious plan to boost the campaigns of “climate champion” candidates, and to target swing ridings where environmental candidates stand a chance of getting elected. If that sounds like your jam (or if you’re even just looking for someone to donate some money to), check them out.
- Tonight it’s a more private online palaver: a Zoom (Zoom!) with the Extinction Rebellion National Strategy group. To be honest, I’m a bit chuffed that they’ve invited me to the table. Not sure what I’ll have to offer, but I’ll learn a lot.
- Next week, I’m back in meatspace with an XR “Heading for Extinction and What to Do About It” presentation in Inverness.
Solar Flares from a Warming World:
- While Canada was approving a new pipeline and thrusting us further away from carbon drawdown, a UNESCO world heritage site in Kenya has been saved from a destructive new coal project.
- In Germany, thousands of students and activists stormed a coal mine to protest the country’s dependence on fossil fuels.
- A community in Atlanta, GA, has resolved to turn a 2.8-hectare area of undeveloped land into a free, communal fruit and vegetable garden.
- And, in cool news close to home, how about that Nova Scotia company who built a whole house out of recycled plastic bottles?
If You Only Read One Thing This Week About the Environment:
- I’ve long been morbidly fascinated by the massive psychological arsenal we humans have to reject (or merely avoid) the coming climate catastrophe. The article, “You, Too, Are In Denial of Climate Change” by David Wallace-Wells is a dizzying summary of those self-destructive tactics, and even includes a suggestion for how to reframe our activism — away from trying to convert deniers, and towards making believers feel their convictions more fiercely.
That’s all for this week. Stay strong and shine bright!