Why we vote: For the love of kids — Joanna, Cliff, Sarah, Brieanna and David

People from communities throughout Canada tell us why they’re voting for climate action

Image result for ballot box

As the October 21 federal election approaches, climate change is on people’s minds and in their hearts. We’ve heard from thousands of citizens throughout the country who are concerned about the climate and inspired by the idea of a future powered by renewable energy. We found their statements so moving that we wanted to share some excerpts with you. This edition is all about the love we have for kids.

Want to express your own feelings about climate change and the upcoming federal election?

Joanna and child“As a new mother of an 18 month-old, there is not a single day that doesn’t go by that I don’t hold her close to me with so much concern for what her future will look like due to climate change.”

In the next election, progressive, aggressive, clear environmental goals and objectives are what I am looking for when casting my ballot.

I have undergone a personal audit of my own carbon footprint and have made many positive changes for myself and in my household. But without adequate government legislation in place, those who are not prioritizing their own consumption (and in particular, large corporations whose bottom line is making a profit) will continue to pollute the environment to everyone’s detriment.

Federal candidates: Please help protect my daughter’s future and the life I love so much since she has arrived in it.

Joanna
New mom
Windsor, Ontario

Cliff sitting in a field

“There are many challenges facing the planet that must be addressed if my granddaughter is going to have a bright future.”

We need visionaries and long-term thinkers, not just people only concerned about the next election.

It is time for decision-makers to stop with the incremental gains and have discussions about the fundamental way we view the economy and its focus on the quantity, not quality, of growth.

I believe that there are many jobs to be had in growing the quality side (clean water, clean air, reducing climate warming, biodiversity conservation, education, health, equity, poverty alleviation). Ultimately Earth is a finite planet that cannot stand the current consumption of resources at current population levels.

Cliff
Grandfather
Calgary, Alberta

Sarah at home

“I work with children who are three or four years old. I am very concerned about their future. The climate crisis demands immediate attention.”

We are in a terrifying tipping point moment for our world because of the climate crisis. This is a very crucial and important moment to act.

We need Indigenous people involved in solving the climate crisis. We need divestment from fracking, clear-cut forestry, mining and offshore oil extraction. We need endangered species to be protected. We need to go above and beyond the required effort to ensure a future for humanity.

My vision of a renewable energy future includes affordable healthy food and farming practices, and safety and respect for Indigenous Peoples who are the true owners of this land we call Canada.

Sarah
Artist and early childhood educator
Montreal, Quebec

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Fact-checking isn’t enough to change beliefs about climate change mitigation: report

The fossil fuel industries propaganda against science and their control of neoliberal media has had a surprising success in raising doubt for some Canadians about the inconvenient but overwhelming scientific consensus that human activity is changing our climate.


Protesters take over the intersection of Yonge and Dundas streets in Downtown Toronto as part of a demonstration declaring a climate crisis, June 10, 2019. Photo by Nick Iwanyshyn

More than a quarter of Canadians don’t believe climate change is real and human-caused, and fact-checking is unlikely to change their minds about what needs to be done to combat it.

The findings come from a new report released Thursday by the Digital Democracy Project, a joint initiative led by the Ottawa-based Public Policy Forum and the Max Bell School of Public Policy at McGill University. The report also found a sharp partisan divide in support for climate science — nearly half (45 per cent) of Conservative supporters were classified as climate skeptics, compared to 22 per cent of Liberal supporters and 16 per cent of NDP supporters.

“People bring to any kind of information that is being presented to them by supposedly objective experts — whether it’s journalists or professors doing a survey — any number, any amount, of doubts and an ability to rehearse arguments against their side or in favour of their side,” said Peter Loewen, a political science professor at the University of Toronto who led the study’s survey analysis team.

“So it’s possible what we are seeing here is people are not accepting an update on the first case, which gives us a sense as researchers of how much work needs to be done and may give journalists a sense of how much work needs to be done on facts.”

The report, released Wednesday, is the second in a series examining the media ecosystem and its relationship with factors such as partisanship, political knowledge and concern over policy issues.

The findings are based on three data sources: an online survey of 1,554 Canadian citizens 18 and older conducted between Aug. 17 and Aug. 23, more than 2 million tweets collected from June 1 to Aug. 23 and nearly 39,000 news stories pertaining to Canadian politics and policy-related issues.

Overall, most Canadians believe the climate is changing, but a significant proportion don’t agree with the scientific consensus on what’s causing it.

The report notes that Twitter isn’t a good source for gauging public opinion, as only about 23 per cent of Canadians use it. However, the social network is a popular tool for journalists and political leaders, so comparing it with public opinion polls allows the researchers to see how the conversation among Twitter users is different from the general public.

The Digital Democracy Project’s first report from earlier this month found that the environment is a top issue for voters ahead of this fall’s federal election. Thursday’s report found the environment remains high priority — despite the fact that more than one in four Canadians were classified as “climate skeptics,” meaning they either donʼt believe thereʼs evidence that the Earth is getting warmer at all, or they believe itʼs just part of the planet’s natural course.

The environment was the most important political issue for 17 per cent of survey respondents in Wednesday’s report. It was tied with health care and came second only to the economy, ranked a top issue by 20 per cent of respondents.

The “unprecedented” attention on environmental issues and climate change has been sustained for at least three months, said Aengus Bridgman, lead political analyst from the Digital Democracy Project’s online data team and a PhD candidate in political science at McGill University.

The authors found most Canadians believe the climate is changing, but a significant proportion don’t agree with the scientific consensus on what’s causing it.

When asked to choose a statement about Earthʼs temperature “that comes closest to your view,” 73 per cent of respondents agreed with the statement that aligns with the scientific consensus on climate change: “The Earth is getting warmer mostly because of human activity such as burning fossil fuels.” MORE

Rosamond Adams: WHAT’S WRONG WITH THESE NUMBERS???

IF YOU “GREEN” CANADIANS ARE GOING TO BE ASSHOLES IN THE CLIMATE CRISIS, AT LEAST TELL THE TRUTH.

Image result for rosalind adams prince edward county

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Chamge Special Report: Global Warming of 1.5 degrees C., to prevent climate catastrophe, global CO2 emissions must fall to about 17.6 billion tonnes annually by 2030. This implies a global per capita average of 2.1 tonnes.

Canada’s Green New Deal says a Canadian carbon footprint of 10 tonnes per person meets the demands of this science.

The Green Party of Canada says a Canadian carbon footprint of 7.1 tonnes per person exceeds the demands of this science.

Both organizations contend that these reductions from our current 22 tonne per person carbon emission level contribute to achieving the scientifically necessary global average.

These are lies.

If they were taught the truth about climate disruption, a Canadian child in grade five or six could easily spot the deception. As things stand, most Canadian adults, including most self-identified climate activists, including David Suzuki and Naomi Klein, are too deceived, too lazy, too stupid, too uncaring, too deep in denial, or too invested in their own class interests to understand the basic math.

Here it is, for anyone who gives a crap.

Canadians having a carbon footprint of 10 tonnes or 7 tonnes per person by 2030 does not contribute to achieving a global average of 2.1 tonnes per person by 2030.

Instead it contributes to a situation where many, many more people than us must have carbon footprints of less than 2.1 tonnes by 2030 to make up for our failure. This is the rule of averages.

(For example, for every one person with a carbon footprint of 7.1 tonnes annually, more than 2 people have to have a carbon footprint of zero to bring the average down to 2.1 tonnes, or 5 people have to have a carbon footprint of one tonne, and so on.)

It also contributes to a situation where it would have to go without saying that in addition to being denied access to their fair share of the world’s remaining burnable fossil fuel, these low-emitting people would also have to be denied the right to use their carbon emissions quota to keep CO2 out of the atmosphere.

So much for any semblance of global justice with the Green New Deal or the Green Party plan.

In this situation it is the people with carbon footprints lower than 2.1 tonnes who are contributing to saving a livable climate; it is certainly not us.

Q: If the world’s biggest polluters, Canada among them, are only going to cut their emissions in half by 2030, how many of the world’s lowest-emitting countries, how many of the world’s poorest and most energy-starved countries, how many of the world’s countries least able to cut their emissions without inflicting great suffering and risk on their people, must also cut their negligible emissions in half to bring global average per capita emissions down to a safe level (for the people of the global north—a 1.5 degree rise is actually life-threatening for hundreds of millions if not billions in the global south)?

A: ALL OF THEM.

Fuck the Green Party, fuck the Green New Deal. Fuck the NDP, the Liberals, and the Conservatives; they’re even worse.

If we want government that isn’t going to kill our children, destroy civilization, decimate or extinguish all other species of life on earth to protect the privilege and power of the rich, we are going to have to govern ourselves.


Labour Day 2019: Working towards a brighter future for workers

Photo: PSAC

Labour Day is a time to recognize and appreciate what workers contribute to making Canada a better country.

This year, Labour Day falls just as the federal election period officially begins. From now until election day workers and PSAC members can make sure that the next federal government takes real action to recognize our contribution. The election is our chance to elect candidates who support workers and our communities, and keep those who don’t at bay.

Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives cannot be trusted to support Canada’s workers. The recent Conservative record on the public service under Stephen Harper is well-known: job cuts; service cuts; and constant attacks on working conditions.

Scheer is going to pick up where Harper left off. He’ll come after pensions, benefits, and many other hard-fought gains. He’ll also raise the retirement age, attack workers’ rights, trample on civil liberties, and turn good jobs into more precarious work.

And let’s not forget that while the Liberals are responsible for carelessly rolling Phoenix out, it’s the Conservatives’ slash and burn approach to the public service that created the Phoenix disaster that PSAC members continue to endure.

PSAC members deserve better. They deserve a government that will commit to:

Moreover, all workers in Canada deserve a government that wants to make life more affordable and financially secure for them by committing to:

    • Universal pharmacare. Canadians pay some of the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs. The current health care system must be expanded to include a universal pharmacare plan. No one should have to decide between buying groceries and getting the medicine they need.
    • Affordable child care. Parents in Canada continue to face exorbitant bills and long waitlists for child care. Making affordable, high-quality, inclusive and culturally appropriate child care available to all—including parents who work non-standard hours and those who live in rural communities—will grow the economy, promote gender equality, increase women’s labour force participation and enhance children’s well-being.
    • Retirement security. The public pension system is due for a massive expansion to ensure all workers can retire with financial security. Moreover, new laws are needed to ensure that employee pensions are safe in situations where companies declare bankruptcy.

As we take some time to relax and celebrate workers this year, let’s also commit ourselves to building a brighter future for Canada—a future with strong public services for all.


 

The Fight against Climate Change Must Become the New Abolitionism


Activist Greta Thunberg made headlines last week after she traveled to a UN climate summit in a zero-emissions sailboat

The planet continues to fry. Yet, America is pumping more fossil fuel than it has in decades. And the U.S. government does nothing to slow the damage. Just the opposite — Washington is now promoting oil, gas and coal while attacking clean energy.

We’ve fought against climate change for at least thirty years. Yet, it seems that activists have failed to reverse or even slow the flow of the greenhouse pollution that’s destroying the world’s climate.

Why has it taken so long for the climate movement to accomplish so little? And, since the clock is ticking to curb runaway global heating, how can we do better in the future?

To answer these questions, leaders in the fight against climate change from Al Gore to Bill McKibben to Naomi Klein have gone back to history.

They’ve compared today’s campaign to cut greenhouse gas pollution to the trans-Atlantic movement in the nineteenth century to abolish slavery.

It’s about politics, not science.

The idea is that fighting climate change today is going to be as hard politically as it was to free millions of enslaved people in the nineteenth century. So, we should accept just how big a political and social movement we’ll need to save our climate. And then we should learn how the abolition movement attacked the equally big problem of slavery in the past–and how they won against great odds.

For example, in This Changes Everything, Klein writes that abolition was a social movement that “succeeded in challenging entrenched wealth in ways that are comparable to what today’s movements must provoke if we are to avert climate catastrophe”:

The movement for the abolition of slavery in particular shows us that a transition as large as the one confronting us today has happened before — and indeed it is remembered as one of the greatest moments in human history. The economic impacts of slavery abolition in the mid-nineteenth century have some striking parallels with the impacts of radical emission reduction.

Klein recommends a 2014 essay by MSNBC on-air personality Chris Hayes, “The New Abolitionism: Averting planetary disaster will mean forcing fossil fuel companies to give up at least $10 trillion in wealth,

I agree that Hayes’ essay is brilliant and that it should be required reading for anyone who cares about the climate crisis. So let me summarize his argument in some detail below on the assumption that it’s well worth hearing what Hayes has to say.

So Much Goddamn Money

Unlike famous social movements in American history such as women’s suffrage or LGBTQ rights, abolition was about much more than religious values or personal prejudices about people who seemed different from the dominant norm.

For Hayes, what makes climate change much harder to deal with than other social issues is the amount of money that powerful people would stand to lose by abolishing fossil fuels. This makes them fight harder against outlawing their product, just as southern slaveholders fought hard against abolition in the nineteenth century.

When it comes to political economy, abolition was about very big money. That’s the problem.

“So much goddamn money,” as Hayes puts it. Since abolishing fossil fuels is also about very big money, Hayes contends that it’s “impossible to point to any precedent other than abolition”:

The leaders of slave power were fighting a movement of dispossession. The abolitionists told them that the property they owned must be forfeited, that all the wealth stored in the limbs and wombs of their property would be taken from them. Zeroed out. Imagine a modern-day political movement that contended that mutual funds and 401(k)s, stocks and college savings accounts were evil institutions that must be eliminated completely, more or less overnight. This was the fear that approximately 400,000 Southern slaveholders faced on the eve of the Civil War.

“Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” — abolitionist Frederick Douglass

Hayes estimates the value of slave “property” (it’s obscene to refer to human beings as property today, but that was indeed the issue to slaveowners in the nineteenth century) at $10 trillion in today’s money. Just before the Civil War, that represented 16% of the total value of the U.S. economy and fully 50% of the economy in the southern states.

“In 1860, slaves as property were worth more than all the banks, factories and railroads in the country put together,” Civil War historian Eric Foner told Hayes. “Think what would happen if you liquidated the banks, factories and railroads with no compensation.”

Keep It in the Ground

To have any hope of a livable world in the future, according to Bill McKibben’s calculations in “Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math,” the world’s governments must limit average worldwide temperature increases to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). McKibben published those numbers in 2012, and things have gotten worse since then.

Even more so today, to hope to keep the climate under any safe limit of temperature rise, most of the remaining known fossil fuel reserves around the world will have to remain in the ground, unburned. In 2012, McKibben estimated 80%. Today, the number will surely be higher. Whatever your figure, asking oil, gas and coal companies to take most of their product off the market is going to be a very hard sell, as Hayes explains:

Proceeding from this fact, McKibben leads us inexorably to the staggering conclusion that the work of the climate movement is to find a way to force the powers that be, from the government of Saudi Arabia to the board and shareholders of ExxonMobil, to leave 80 percent of the carbon they have claims on in the ground. That stuff you own, that property you’re counting on and pricing into your stocks? You can’t have it. MORE

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The New Abolitionism

Averting planetary disaster will mean forcing fossil fuel companies to give up at least $10 trillion in wealth.