David Suzuki: Why we’re almost out of time on climate change

“Climate disruption is not going to hit us next generation, or next century. It’s here now ... When voters head to the polls in October, we must put climate at the top of the political priority list,” writes environmentalist David Suzuki.

In 1989, I hosted a CBC radio series, It’s a Matter of Survival, featuring interviews with almost 150 scientists and environmental experts from around the world. Their warning was consistent and stark: Human beings were causing unprecedented changes to Earth’s systems, the detrimental effects were already taking shape, and people would need to reinvent how we live, consume, use energy and move around in order to avoid a looming global crisis.

The public response was impressive. In this pre-internet era, the CBC received 16,000 handwritten letters from listeners eager to act on climate change and other environmental issues. (This would eventually lead to the David Suzuki Foundation’s creation.)

That was 30 years ago.

Today, I’m experiencing a strong — and discouraging — sense of déjà vu…

Last October, hundreds of the world’s top climate scientists, representing almost every nation, gave us another, even more dire warning: We only have about 12 years to reduce our global emissions by half in order to avoid the catastrophic, irreversible effects of locking too many emissions into the atmosphere for years to come — everything from widespread drought, crop failure and water shortages to intensified wildfires and mass human displacement. The world’s best-known medical journal, The Lancet, also tells us the health consequences for humanity — from heat stroke to the spread of diseases and parasites — will be enormous.

This UN report — by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the world’s leading body on climate — focuses on what we need to do as a global community to meet our Paris Agreement targets and limit average global warming to 1.5 C above pre-industrial levels. This is the target we must all focus on, and governments, industries and citizens must have the courage to change the way we think and act if we are to meet it.

The IPCC is just one of many organizations with a similar message. In November 2017, the Union of Concerned Scientists, representing some 15,000 scientists, issued a second “Warning to Humanity” (their first was in 1992). It was “the most scientists to ever co-sign and formally support a published journal article.” The BioScience article stated, “By failing to adequately limit population growth, reassess the role of an economy rooted in growth, reduce greenhouse gases, incentivize renewable energy, protect habitat, restore ecosystems, curb pollution, halt defaunation, and constrain invasive alien species, humanity is not taking the urgent steps needed to safeguard our imperilled biosphere.”

Luckily, signs of hope are emerging. In many cases, this hope is embodied in young people who have everything at stake.

Just last week, Greta Thunberg — the 16-year-old founder of #FridaysForFuture climate strikes and the unofficial figurehead of the international youth climate movement — landed in New York after journeying from Europe in a zero-emissions yacht to address the United Nations, before she travels to Montreal for the Sept. 27 global youth climate strike.

Earlier this spring, inspired by Greta, millions of young people took to the streets to strike for climate, sending a clear message to governments worldwide: We need climate action now. As Greta says, “I want you to act as if your house is on fire. Because it is.”

Canadians will soon face another important moment: the Oct. 21 federal election. With just over a decade left to take massive strides toward decarbonization, politicians representing any party must agree that the threat of climate chaos is real and must be met with the same type of response we give to war. When voters head to the polls in October, we must put climate at the top of the political priority list.

This is why co-conspirator and fellow “silverback gorilla” (as we amicably refer to ourselves) Stephen Lewis and I are touring Canada in September and October. We need to spread the message: Everyone in Canada and all political parties must rally together to take action on climate disruption. This isn’t a partisan issue.

We’ll speak in at least six cities, with a special focus on connecting with Canadian youth who have the most at stake from the repercussions of global heating. Other notable Canadians — Indigenous leaders, musicians and public figures — have signed up to help.

Climate disruption is not going to hit us next generation, or next century. It’s here now. And the way we live is still exacerbating it.

Stephen and I have a life’s worth of knowledge and nothing left to prove. Our responsibility now is sharing our wisdom with a new generation, and giving young people the tools they’ll need to navigate the challenges of the world they will inherit.

I’ve been sounding the alarm for more than 30 years, but we don’t have another 30. Please join us and help put the #ClimateFirst this federal election. SOURCE

Summer isn’t over, but election season is already here

Every election offers an opportunity to help set us in the right direction. With barely three months to go until the October federal election, energy is building throughout the country.

All over the world, we are seeing that elections — and the priorities of those we elect — matter. Let’s work together to elect a federal government that supports clean jobs, upholds Indigenous rights, lifts up underserved communities and reduces climate risks.

Send your message to all federal candidates now

Because of our charitable status, David Suzuki Foundation is not allowed to suggest which parties or candidates you should or shouldn’t vote for. Instead, think of us as your election cheerleaders and assistants. We want to channel all the momentum and excitement of the election to ensure this election is a win for climate solutions, biodiversity and environmental rights.

We look forward to working with our amazing community (that’s you!) to make sure everyone’s voices are heard this election, whether or not you are eligible to vote. What are your priorities? What motivates you to vote?

Start by signing this voter’s pledge and we’ll keep in touch over the next 11 weeks to make sure this is a fun and meaningful election.

Election 2019… Here we go!

It’s our choice: turn down the heat or cook the planet

Photo: Sivanesan/Flickr

No amount of evidence is ever enough to convince climate science deniers — including the politicians among them. But new studies and observations should at least persuade those who profess to understand global heating but appear not to grasp its severity that it’s time to start deploying the many available solutions.

We’ve already pumped such huge volumes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and destroyed so many natural systems that sequester excess carbon that we’re missing the window to shift gradually to renewable energy and lighten our impact on Earth’s natural systems.

This year, Europe has reeled under the highest temperatures ever recorded, the Arctic is burning, cities in Africa and India are running out of water and more than half the U.S. has been under excessive heat warnings. Scientists say global average temperatures for June and July are the hottest on record. NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration report that nine of the 10 warmest years on record have occurred since 2005, and the past five years were the hottest — mainly because of human activity.

Do these records simply reflect natural cycles, as the “skeptics” would have us believe? No. Three recent studies published in Nature and Nature Geoscience show temperatures have not risen this quickly and extensively for at least 2,000 years. By examining evidence from proxy records such as tree rings, pollen trapped in lake mud, cave formations, ice cores and sediment from all continents, researchers concluded that periods like the Little Ice Age and the Medieval Warm Period were not global phenomena but localized shifts that affected less than half the world and varied over time and geography.

Many previous climatic shifts were caused by volcanic eruptions, which triggered different changes — mostly cooling — over different regions, but those don’t match the scale and speed of heating over the past few decades.

The research also confirms, along with many other studies, the 1998 “hockey stick” graph devised by scientists including Michael Mann at Penn State University, which showed a sharp spike in global temperatures starting in the 20th century.

“The familiar maxim that the climate is always changing is certainly true,” University of Minnesota, Minneapolis paleoclimatologist Scott St. George wrote in a Nature article. “But even when we push our perspective back to the earliest days of the Roman Empire, we cannot discern any event that is remotely equivalent — either in degree or extent — to the warming over the past few decades.” (St. George was not involved with the research.)

Despite the overwhelming evidence, many people we elect to represent our interests aren’t acting quickly enough — and some not at all. Even those who speak to the necessity of reining in global heating continue to promote further fossil fuel development, ignoring alarming statistics about temperature rise and atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations.

Youth climate activist Greta Thunberg recently told French politicians she never hears journalists, politicians, or businessmen mention the dire numbers. “It’s almost like you don’t even know these numbers exist. As if you haven’t even read the latest IPCC report, on which much of the future of our civilization is depending. Or perhaps you are simply not mature enough to tell it like it is. Because even that burden, you leave to us children,” she said.

Rather than advocating for economic diversification and growing clean tech opportunities in the face of climate chaos and declining prospects for coal, oil and gas, many Canadian politicians continue to exaggerate the economic importance of dirty bitumen and fracked gas and downplay the negative consequences of processing, transporting and burning them. Even proven methods for slowing global heating, such as carbon pricing, have become contentious.

We no longer have time to piss around. There’s room for discussion about the most effective ways to address the climate crisis, but ultimately we have to deploy every solution available and keep developing new ones — including energy conservation and efficiency, carbon pricing, public transit, vehicle and industrial electrification, clean energy technologies, education and family planning to empower women and slow population growth, reducing consumerism and more.

If we want Earth to remain habitable for humans and other life that makes ours possible, we must make tough choices, promote solutions and become more politically engaged. SOURCE

Green New Deal for All Tour Update

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What a whirlwind couple of weeks it’s been! From Vancouver to Halifax, The Leap traveled coast to coast for 6 SOLD OUT STOPS of our Green New Deal for All Tour.

To those of you who could join us in person, thank you for showing that thousands of people are ready to fight for a Green New Deal rooted in justice and Indigenous sovereignty.

And to everyone we heard from, who wants to be part of this growing movement but couldn’t make it out to an event in person, we have something for you!

Watch a recording of the Vancouver event here, including speeches from Kanahus Manuel, Harsha Walia, David Suzuki, and Avi Lewis, and an exhilarating performance by Kimmortal.

This is the movement we’ve been waiting for, and working towards, for years. Like the Leap Manifesto, the Green New Deal is a jobs and justice program that offers solutions to the climate crisis that are actually as big and bold as we need. But this time around, the Green New Deal is being pushed by a massive, multi-generational movement.

As Naomi Klein said when she kicked off our tour in Toronto, “When the future of life is at stake, there is nothing we cannot achieve. We will win a Green New Deal. We will win it because we have to.”

Watch Naomi’s full speech from our very first tour stop in Toronto: five reasons why the Green New Deal is workable, winnable, and an idea whose time has come.

The tour may have ended, but our work is far from over. Thank you again for making our last two weeks so powerful — we’re excited and determined to keep fighting for a Green New Deal for All with you.


 

Green New Deal for All Tour Getting Big Response

Image result for Vancouver green new deal tour

It’s been a whirlwind couple of weeks! Our Green New Deal for All tour has been sold out at nearly every stop, including over 800 people in Toronto and 500 in Halifax.

Thousands of people are signing up with our tour partners, 350.org and the national youth-led campaign Our Time, to organize for a Green New Deal. And while we wish we could stop in every community from coast to coast, we have just two more to go: Vancouver and Winnipeg.

WATCH LIVESTREAM

Our Vancouver tour stop is going to be an incredible night, with this line-up of powerhouse speakers: Kanahus Manuel, David Suzuki, Harsha Walia, Avi Lewis, and Anjali Appadurai.

The event will begin at 7pm PT / 10pm ET. And don’t worry — if you miss the livestream as it’s happening, it will be kept as a recording on The Leap’s YouTube channel.

Click here to watch the Vancouver tour stop tonight, starting at 7pm PT / 10 pm ET.


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Green New Deal tour seeks hope and reconciliation in Canada


David Suzuki and Naomi Klein discussed a Green New Deal for Canada at the Bloor Street United Church in Toronto on June 11, 2019. Photo by Chris Katsarov

The Canadian version [of the Green New Deal] is adding more emphasis on the inclusion of Indigenous practices.

The Green New Deal “must be based on Indigenous knowledge and science and cut Canada’s emissions in half in 11 years,” according to the Council of Canadians, one of many partnering groups.

Pam Palmater, Maria Menezes, and supporters of the Our Time organization listen during the Green New Deal town hall at Bloor Street United Church in Toronto on June 11, 2019. Pam Palmater, Maria Menezes, and supporters of the Our Time organization listen during the Green New Deal town hall at Bloor Street United Church in Toronto on June 11, 2019. Photo by Chris Katsarov

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report last October saying global warming requires “rapid and far-reaching” infrastructure transitions. The UN report, completed by leading climate scientists, warns that without serious action to lower CO2 emissions within 11 years, there will be more catastrophes to come, including floods, droughts, extreme heat and poverty.

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) has not been implemented in Canada, which defines Indigenous rights and grants free prior informed consent to the policies that affect them, such as climate change and natural resource development.

On June 11, the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples passed Bill C-262 to implement UNDRIP in Canada. It is not yet federal law. Conservative senators objected over fears about its potential impact on resource development and have been accused of stalling. If the bill is not made federal law by the end of the month, new legislation will have to be tabled.

The Green New Deal attempts to align the principles of UNDRIP and traditional Indigenous knowledge with scientific inquiry.

Wanda Whitebird, an elder of the Mi’kmaq Nation from Afton, N.S., welcomed the crowd of a few hundred to the inaugural town hall in Toronto.

Large banners calling for 100 per cent renewable energy and the recognition of Indigenous rights were draped from the second floor of the church. From the front pews to the back, attendees chanted for “climate justice.” MORE

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Senate committee passes UNDRIP bill, but not without push-back

 

David Suzuki, prominent environmentalists launch cross-country tour warnings of global crisis

David Suzuki
David Suzuki makes an appearance at United Church on Bloor Street on June 10, 2019.

Some of Canada’s leading environmentalists are trekking across the country to illustrate what they are calling global climate crisis.

Toronto marked the first stop on a seven-city tour for The Leap, a collective of prominent activists who are backing a Green New Deal, an ambitious U.S. plan to curb climate change and transform the economy by investing in clean energy jobs.

The movement is gaining traction among members of the Democratic Party in the United States.

Among those who were touting its virtues in front of a sold out crowd at United Church, located near Tuesday night were author and activist Naomi Klein and environmentalist-turned-broadcaster David Suzuki, who blamed the media for not properly highlighting the perils of planet-wide climate change.

“In May, the United Nations released a study saying we are causing a catastrophic rate of extinction threatening a million species of plants and animals,” Suzuki said. “The next day, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle had a baby and pushed everything out of the news.”

“Fundamental changes are urgent,” he warned, saying consequences to ecosystems, food supplies and economies will be dire by the year 2100 if global temperature increases aren’t capped to within 1.5 degree Celsius above pre-industrial era averages.

His sentiments were echoed by Pam Palmater, who works as a professor, lawyer and aboriginal rights activist.

“What will it take for people to wake up and realize we don’t need to just change things around the edges? Stop using plastic straws, yes! But that won’t save the world. This isn’t about who you vote for. The most irresponsible a citizen can do is vote and then call it a day.”

The next stop on The Leap’s cross country tour is Thursday in Montreal, with appearances scheduled to follow in Ottawa, Halifax, Edmonton, Vancouver and Winnipeg.  MORE

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Climate change and biodiversity should be top headline news

We are ill served by traditional media. A list of reliable sources is found here

Image: Philip Bump/Flickr

When the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a special report in October warning of how quickly we’re advancing toward irreversible climate chaos, it led the news — for a day. A massive study in May by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services about rapid wildlife extinction met a similar fate.

In Canada, issues like legalization of recreational cannabis pushed aside the climate report, and news about the birth of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s baby buried the biodiversity report everywhere.

In early April, I read front-page stories in the Vancouver Sun about Brexit and the SNC-Lavalin scandal. The third page had a single column headlined, “Grim climate report released,” about an Environment and Climate Change Canada review by 43 scientists showing Canada is warming at twice the global average rate, even faster in the North.

Why aren’t these reports dominating front pages, financial sections and newscasts, highlighting the enormous societal and economic implications? British Columbians know well that climate change is real. We’ve seen glaciers that supply much of our water retreatingmountain pine beetle outbreaks destroying billions of dollars’ worth of trees, smoke from massive wildfires darkening skies for weeks, acidified oceans killing shellfish, and rising seas threatening coastlines.

In an April speech to the Columbia Journalism Review and The Nation‘s Covering Climate Now conference in New York, respected U.S. broadcaster Bill Moyers pointed to research showing, “The combined coverage of climate change by the three major networks and Fox fell from just 260 minutes in 2017 to a mere 142 minutes in 2018,” and “about 1,300 communities across the United States have totally lost news coverage, many from newspaper mergers and closures.”  MORE

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Canada’s Green New Deal calls for a plan to reduce carbon emissions by 50 percent in 11 years

You can sign the Pact for a New Green Deal in Canada HERE

Prominent Canadian environmentalist David Suzuki (right) was among those in attendance at a press conference in Vancouver convened for the unveiling of Canada's

Prominent Canadian environmentalist David Suzuki (right) was among those in attendance at a press conference in Vancouver convened for the unveiling of Canada’s “Green New Deal”.350 CANADA

Today (May 6), a long list of Canadian organizations and individuals together unveiled a proposal to reduce emissions in the country by 50 percent by 2030.

“The climate crisis is here,” begins a statement at GreenNewDealCanada.ca. “Arctic permafrost is melting, forests, towns, and Indigenous territories are burning. States of emergency—declared for once-in-a-century floods—are becoming commonplace, and millions around the world already face dislocation and starvation.

“But that’s not the only thing keeping us up at night,” it continues. “Many of us are struggling to find an affordable place to live, or a decent job to support our families. Hate crimes and racism are on the rise. And promise to Indigenous peoples have yet to be implemented.

At today’s press conference, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip emphasized that something needs to be done, because the time that remains to avoid the worst consequences of climate change is quickly running out.

“As Indigenous people, our market place is the land and it’s disappearing rapidly,” he said. “The window is closing at an alarming rate and we need true, genuine leadership.” MORE

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‘Intense sense of emergency’ drives Canadian version of Green New Deal

David Suzuki fires off from the ‘death zone’ at Trudeau, Weaver and a broken system

 

When David Suzuki,  Canada’s foremost environmentalist and one of the most respected people  in Canada, calls for political and economic revolution, shouldn’t you be writing to the media and political leaders and demanding , “1.5 to stay alive!“?


Environmentalist David Suzuki thinks the federal government isn’t doing enough to fulfill its climate promises. Photo by Jocelyn Michel

David Suzuki is calling for political and economic revolution.

The acclaimed scientist, broadcaster, and Great Canadian has seen it all. But he’s disillusioned with politics like never before. He says for B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver, “politics comes before principle.” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “would be a wonderful Governor-General,” in his view. The democratic system is “completely broke.”

David Suzuki is pissed: B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver, “politics comes before principle,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “would be a wonderful Governor-General,” and that our entire political system is “completely broke.” #cdnpoli

At age 81, in his self-described “death zone,” Suzuki is forcefully advocating for a paradigm shift that is nothing short of revolutionary: political leaders drawn by lot, an empowered Senate of Canada, and a sustainable “doughnut economy.”

“You hear about the triple bottom line. The triple bottom line is the environment, society, and the economy. Usually, it is depicted by three circles of equal size. Usually they’re overlapping, so the areas where they’re overlapping is the sweet spot. That’s where you gotta work and benefit all three.

“The reality is you’ve got one big circle, the biosphere: the zone of air, water, and land, where all life exists. Within that there are 10 million little circles of different size. That’s each species. Within the human circle, the economy should be a tiny ring within that. But what we’ve got is one big circle, and one of the rings inside is 40 per cent of the circle. Humans have taken over 40 per cent of the net primary productivity of the planet. And of course when we take that over we drive all the other species to extinction. We’re trying to keep the economy growing so that it will be bigger than society and the environment. This is crazy.”

On the sidelines of the David Suzuki Foundation’s Charged Up program launch in Vancouver, National Observer caught up with the man himself for a wide-ranging, unfiltered conversation. Below is the uncensored transcript, edited for brevity and clarity. MORE