The Bright Star In A Year of Dire Climate Warnings

The Bright Star In A Year of Dire Climate Warnings. Below2C

The strongest message on Climate in 2019 did not come from the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change). Nor did it come from climate scientists, or world leaders, or the Pope, or the United Nations. It came from 17-year old Greta Thunberg, Time Magazine’s person of the year for getting the world’s attention on the climate threat.
In the 17 months since Greta Thunberg began her climate strikes (August 2018), she has easily become the most influential climate leader on the planet. She has met with heads of state, addressed world leaders at the United Nations, the World Economic Forum, governments of several countries — the United Kingdom, Ireland, The EU Parliament, the U.S Congress — and inspired millions to join the largest climate demonstration ever on September 20, 2019. Thunberg is synonymous with “climate strike” which was declared word of the year by Collins Dictionary. Her impact on the climate movement is immeasurable.David Roberts (writing in Vox) zeroes in on the primary reason for Greta’s success and appeal. “Thunberg has sidestepped attacks on her motives by almost entirely refraining from endorsing specific political reforms or policies,” writes Roberts. Greta simply says “I can’t really speak up about things like [politics]…no one would take me seriously.”

I want you to listen to the science

Greta wants world leaders to follow the science. Her insistence on this point was illustrated when she submitted the IPCC’s report on limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius in lieu of testifying to the US Congress. Attached was a short letter that said: “I am submitting this report as my testimony because I don’t want you to listen to me. I want you to listen to the scientists. And I want you to unite behind the science. And then I want you to take action.” Greta does not allow her actions to take center stage. She insists that science, not politics, must lead climate policy.

In Intelligencer, David Wallace-Wells writes about Greta’s “extraordinary rise…and her Hail Mary climate movement.” He points out that she’s “the Joan of Arc of climate change, commanding a global army of teenage activists numbering in the millions and waging a rhetorical war against her elders through the unapologetic use of generational shame.”

Greta’s language is impassioned, hot, direct and raw

The following Greta quotes have come to dominate the post-hope climate era we are now living in.

You only speak of green eternal economic growth because you are too scared of being unpopular. You only talk about moving forward with the same bad ideas that got us into this mess, even when the only sensible thing to do is pull the emergency brake. You are not mature enough to tell it like it is. Even that burden you leave to us children…Our civilization is being sacrificed for the opportunity of a very small number of people to continue making enormous amounts of money. — COP 24 climate conference in Poland

The year 2078, I will celebrate my 75th birthday. If I have children, maybe they will spend that day with me. Maybe they will ask me about you. Maybe they will ask why you didn’t do anything while there still was time to act. You say you love your children above all else, and yet you are stealing their future in front of their very eyes. — COP 24 climate conference in Poland

Adults keep saying we owe it to the young people to give them hope. But I don’t want your hope. I don’t want you to be hopeful; I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act, I want you to act as you would in a crisis. I want you to act as if the house was on fire, because it is. — World Economic Forum in Davos

I don’t want you to listen to me. I want you to listen to the scientists. And I want you to unite behind the science. And then I want you to take action. — U.S. Congress

Living is a post-hope era

Greta Thunberg has emerged as the new climate guru in a post-hope world. The Paris Agreement promised to keep the warming of the planet well below 2 degrees Celsius and aim for 1.5 degrees. But recent reports show that landmasses have now passed 1.5 degrees and large sections of oceans have as well. As Wallace-Wells writes, “that ship had already sailed” by the time Greta reached New York after her carbon-free crossing of the Atlantic ocean.

Alberta Can Transition from Oil and Gas and Have a Strong Economy. Here’s How

‘Tens of thousands’ of people would be put to work immediately in high-skill jobs, say advocates.

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Lliam Hildebrand: Alberta’s workers need to escape the oil boom-and-bust cycle. Renewable energy can help. Photo from Iron & Earth.

What will a transition away from oil and gas mean for workers in Alberta?

Perhaps greater job security than in the boom and bust heydays of the oilsands, comparable wages and less time apart from family.

This is not a utopian pipe dream. Over the past month The Tyee spoke with experts across the province and the country who said Albertans have the skills and desire to build the sustainable energy system necessary to address our climate emergency.

“A lot of the people that support the pipeline are also very pro-renewable energy,” said Lliam Hildebrand, who spent years working in the oilsands and now runs a group called Iron & Earth that advocates for policies connecting oil workers to the millions of jobs required to build a low-carbon economy in Canada.

Decades of employment for laid-off Albertans could be unlocked by our political leaders in a matter of days.

Elizabeth May: Solving the climate crisis is ‘Mission Possible’

Clearly we need an Ecocide Law to hold corrupt politicians accountable for criminal acts endangering the planet.


File photograph of Elizabeth May by Alex Tétreault

On Monday night, June 17th, the Parliament of Canada held a last few hours of debate on the Liberal motion that Canada accepts that we are in a climate emergency. The original motion had been tabled on May 16th. As Minister Catherine McKenna spoke in the chamber that day, I launched the Green response to the national clamour for a Green New Deal. Paul Manly (Green MP from Nanaimo-Ladysmith) and I launched Mission: Possible, calling for the complete elimination of fossil fuel use by 2050, slashing dependency by 60 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.

We can see no other way for Canada to pull our fair share of the weight to meet the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change imperative that we must adhere to our Paris Agreement goal of holding global average temperature increase to no more than 1.5 degrees C.

Failing to meet that target, even allowing the global average temperature increase to reach 2 degrees C, will create unacceptably high risks that we will pass a point of no return. Human civilization and the extinction of millions of species requires that we take the climate emergency seriously.

It will not be easy, but we know it is possible.

The May 16th climate emergency debate was adjourned. It did not surface on our agenda again until the night of June 17th, with a time limited opportunity to consider the matter.

I addressed a nearly empty chamber.

All the other leaders were in Toronto for the Raptors Rally. That is not something I would criticize. The national Raptors reverie has been good for our spirits. We want to celebrate.

But why did the government pick that night for debate?

And, much, much worse, after passing a motion that we are in a climate emergency, why did they – the very next day – commit billions of federal public dollars to build a pipeline?

That pipeline will violate indigenous rights, threaten every waterway it crosses, the Salish Sea through which tankers will navigate and, at the same, time increase our climate warming emissions. It is reckless.

Worse, given the scale of the threat of climate breakdown, it borders on the criminal. MORE