Category Archives: Climate

The Tears of Cassandra

Cassandra 2

by Guy Dauncey

June 2019. The summer days bring exquisite shades of green. The bees are out, the ants rush around, and the wind rustles quietly in the tops of the trees. A fresh-baked rhubarb sponge cake sits on the kitchen counter. Life is sensuous, beautiful, and quite frankly, exquisite. Tiny mauve butterflies flit in and out of the flowers.

And then Cassandra arrives, she of the noble Greek ancestry, admired by the god Apollo, she with the golden locks and the long white flowing dress, reading from her list of warnings:

“One million species facing extinction, UN Report finds.”

“Plummeting insect numbers threaten collapse of nature.”

“By 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in the world’s the oceans.”

“Do you need more?” she asks, then continues. Her eyes carry sorrow.

“Canada warming at twice the global rate, climate report finds.”

“We have twelve years to limit climate change catastrophe, UN warns.”

“I want you to panic, 16-year-old issues climate warning at Davos.”

A long time ago, in Belgium, there was a similarly beautiful afternoon. The sun warmed the land, the wheat rippled in the fields, and the farmers rested. All was well with the world. When Cassandra arrived they admired her beauty but paid no heed to her warnings. That was the last time they would see her, for the next day an army of German tanks crashed across the horizon, turning peaceful lives into years of catastrophic pain.

In Cassandra’s day there was no social media. She had only her one small voice to warn her fellow Greeks of what was to come. When they ignored her, there was nothing else she could do. Troy would fall. People would die.

Today, however, she turns to me with a glimpse of hope. “I’m on Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Linked-in, Instagram and YouTube. Do you think it will help? I’ve got more hopeful headlines, too. Do you think something is shifting?”

“Unprecedented climate strikes by students around the world to save the planet.”

“Extinction Rebellion arrests pass 1,000 on eighth day of protests.”

“Ireland becomes the second country to declare a climate and biodiversity emergency.”

“Norway’s electric cars zip to new record: almost a third of all sales.”

“The Green Wave gathers momentum as Paul Manly sweeps to victory in Ladysmith-Nanaimo.”

“You’ve been around a long time,” she said. “What do you think? The Occupy Movement was big too, but it all came to nothing.”

“The Occupy Movement had no solutions,” I replied. “All they had was complaints. The student climate protests, the Extinction Rebellion and the climate emergency movement have armfuls of solutions. The people in government don’t know what to make of them. They are used to setting lazy goals far out in the future. ‘We’ll do this by 2050,’ they say. They’ll be long forgotten in retirement homes by the time 2050 rolls around.”

“So this time it will be different?” She looked up at me hopefully with her dark wounded eyes.

“It has to. We’ve all got that awful sinking feeling in the pits of our bellies. We read the reports. We know how dire things are going to be if we don’t make radical changes. We’re going to be so seriously screwed – and Nature, too.”

“Oh my,” she responded. “All my life, people have ignored my warnings. The Fall of Troy. The Mongol invasions. The Thirty Years War. Columbus coming to America. The Russian Revolution. I have seen such grief, such awful things. Please tell me this time, it’s going to be different.”

“I can’t,” I said. “What was it Churchill offered the British when the Nazis had occupied almost all of Europe? Blood, toil, tears and sweat. But he also offered cast-iron commitment, and practical engagement to the task at hand. That’s what we’ve got to do. We’ve got to articulate the critical actions that can have an impact on the climate and ecological emergencies, the debt and housing crises, and the First Nations crisis. We’ve got to persuade the doubters and deniers, the delayers and blamers that what we’re proposing makes sense. We’ve got to train people to be effective advocates for what’s needed. We’ve got to paint a picture of a new ecological civilization that is so enticing, people will yearn to be part of it.  We’ve got to elect mayors and councillors, MLAs and MPs who will craft the legislation and initiatives that will set us on the path to social justice, economic cooperation, ecological restoration and climate stability. It’s the task of a lifetime, for all of us.”

Cassandra looked at me, her eyes filled with tears, and then she threw her arms around my neck and sobbed her heart out. I held her, gently absorbing her grief.

Guy Dauncey worked in the climate solutions trenches for twenty years. He is now deep at work on his new book, The Economics of Kindness: The Birth of a New Cooperative Economy. His website is www.thepracticalutopian.ca

First published in The Green Gazette, June 2019

Climate Action in BC: The November Offensive

Climate Action

Will you join me? I need lots of people to join the November Offensive, so that together, we can make a difference.

This summer’s forest fires and smoke-filled skies have left many of us asking, “What will it take to end the climate dithering and start DOING something to tackle the growing emergency?”

The IPCC has just reminded us of the urgency of the crisis, and the need to reduce emissions globally by 45% by 2030 if we are to limit the warming to 1.5C.

The BC NDP government is getting ready to launch its climate plan at the end of November, somehow combining climate action sufficient to meet its stated goal of a 40% reduction in emissions by 2030 with its recent climate-disastrous decision to approve the big LNG Canada project.

The timing is critical to impress our New Democrat and Green MLAs of the need for urgent action to speed the transition to 100% renewable energy and protect the forests.

When the government floated its ‘Intention Papers’ in August, my response was that they were really timid, far from what was needed. Our government must, must do better. Continue reading Climate Action in BC: The November Offensive

The Seven Phases of Climate Awareness

Climate Awareness

by Guy Dauncey

Which Phase Are You In?

Phase 1: Complete Unawareness. 

It’s simply not on your radar. You know more about Taylor Swift or Beyoncé than you do about climate change, or whatever it’s called.

Phase 2: What is This – is it Real?

I keep hearing about it, but it’s all so confusing. One person says one thing, someone else says another. So I’m reading blogs, articles, and even some books. trying to fathom it all out.

Phase 3: OMG, this is Awful. It looks like a Real Catastrophe.

Massive sea level rise? Huge droughts, storms and downpours? Freshwater running out? This is terrible. I read that the word most scientists use to describe the future if we don’t tackle the climate crisis is ‘catastrophic‘. Continue reading The Seven Phases of Climate Awareness

Trump and Trudeau: Spot the Difference

Trump & Trudeau

Trudeau: ‘No country would find 173 billion barrels of oil in the ground and leave them there’

Trump: “We’ve got underneath us more oil than anybody … and I want to use it.”

I have very little to add to this. Emotionally, culturally, empathetically, educationally and behaviourally, Trump and Trudeau are as different as different can be. Trump is a bully, a braggard and a boor. Trudeau is a refined classical decoration on the carpet of civilization. Trump is a dirty stain.

Yet when it comes to energy and oil, their brains and their political instincts think alike. Trump is a proud climate denier. His “Grab them by the oil-wells” thoughts are at least consistent with his larger outlook, which is nationalist and mercantilist, as if the eighteenth century had never ended.

Continue reading Trump and Trudeau: Spot the Difference

BC’s Climate Intentions Papers: A Timid Response – and the Twelve Solutions We Really Need

Timid Response

August 20, 2018

I wish I didn’t have to write this. I count myself a friend of the NDP/Green Alliance, and I had high hopes for the government’s new climate action plans. [1]  

BC’s Ministry of Environment has published a series of Clean Growth Intentions Papers, with a deadline for public feedback of August 24th, in the heart of this fire and smoke-filled summer. In my head, I can see that they have been framed in a very positive way, emphasizing the multiple economic benefits of engaging in climate action, reframed as clean growth.

But the policies floated contain little that is new. They are really timid. And by downplaying the climate crisis almost to a state of mental non-existence, they have written the urgency out of the picture. In my heart, I feel as if they have been written by a holiday season policy-drone operating on auto-pilot. Hard words, but that’s what I feel.

Continue reading BC’s Climate Intentions Papers: A Timid Response – and the Twelve Solutions We Really Need

Canada’s Choice

CanaDAS CHOICE 2

by Guy Dauncey

$4.5 Billion Dollars to Subsidize Fossil Fuels? Here’s a Much Better Idea

$4.5 billion of Canada’s money, to buy a bitumen pipeline? Some suggest that it could rise as high as $12 billion, including future construction and legal costs.

So what if the money was invested in solutions to the climate crisis, instead making things worse by being invested in the primary cause, which is our use of fossil fuels? When Canada signed the Paris Climate Agreement most people presumed that it was being signed honestly, not as an act of laugh-behind-your-hand hypocrisy.

Thirty to Fifty Times More Jobs

That much money could leverage enough electricity to replace most of Alberta’s coal and gas-fired electricity, and generate between 30 and 50 times as many jobs. It could also power 18 million electric vehicles for 25 years. Continue reading Canada’s Choice

Book Review: The Clean Money Revolution – Reinventing Power, Purpose and Capitalism

by Joel Solomon with Tyee Bridge

New Society Publishers, April 2017.  Review by Guy Dauncey.

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This is a great book. It’s personal, committed, passionate, informative, and full of great stories. For an addicted change-the-worlder, what more can you ask?

And the stories, from Joel’s personal life and those of his colleagues, are about one of the most important challenges we need to embrace on our planet – changing the way we invest our money.

Continue reading Book Review: The Clean Money Revolution – Reinventing Power, Purpose and Capitalism

The World’s Central Banks to the Rescue

by Guy Dauncey, inspired by Matthias Kroll

PDF download available here: The Boldest Climate Solution

A globally agreed carbon cap? Carbon rationing? Holland’s proposed ban on the sale of non-electric cars by 2025? Oslo’s goal to reduce the city’s total greenhouse gas emissions by 95% by 2030?

No, none of the above.

So what is it? In a nutshell, it’s the proposal that the world’s central banks create $300 billion a year, and use it to leverage investments of up to $2 trillion a year in the urgently needed transition to renewable energy, and other climate solutions.

Continue reading The World’s Central Banks to the Rescue

Delightful Recipes for an Ecologically Vibrant Future

Taste, and enjoy!

Seedling in the Wind MicroFarm

The most difficult challenge facing humanity is not devising solutions to the energy crisis or climate crisis or population crisis; rather, it is bringing stories or narratives of the human journey into our collective awareness that empower us to look beyond a future of great adversity and to see a future of great opportunity. What visions of humanity’s journey are sufficiently compelling to transcend age-old differences and bring us together in a common venture of inhabiting the Earth in ways that are sustainable?  ~ Duane Elgin, NewStories, Great Transition Stories

Do concerns about the future we are leaving to our children and grandchildren leave you with a worried taste in your mouth, after even the most delicious meal? Let me come to your aid with these tasty offerings. You can choose one, two, or better still the whole lot, since they will hopefully lighten the weight of your worries.

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Let’s Get Going – Climate Action Together

 

Lets-Get-Going

F is for Future, a world without fossil fuels,

new solar symphony changing the gyre,

clean up our garbage, restore Nature’s harmony,

offer our children the hopes they desire.

To download the PDF version of this paper, click Climate Action Together

So how do we do it?[1]

How do we tackle the climate crisis with the speed and resolution that the climate scientists say is so urgently needed?

How do we make a rapid transition to a 100% renewable energy economy in a positive, nation-building manner, without causing economic mayhem, unemployment and chaos?

It’s complicated. There’s no doubt about it. Our economy is completely enmeshed in fossil fuels. We use fossil fuels to travel, to heat our homes and buildings, to generate electricity, to power our industry, to make plastics and to pave the roads. If fossil fuels were to magically stop working due to a zombie-ray from outer space or an unexpected change in the laws of physics, our economy would grind to an immediate halt. Continue reading Let’s Get Going – Climate Action Together