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

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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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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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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

 

Canadian ZEV update: fuel cells gain a foothold

 


Hydrogen fuel cells have begun scaling up like solar and wind. Handout photo of a Toyota Mirai by Toyota

Canada’s zero emission vehicle (ZEV) market is expected to have held steady in February, repeating January’s 1.8 per cent market share. For context, that is about one-quarter of Ford F-series truck sales.

“in the past several years, fuel cells have been scaling up exactly along the prior trajectories of solar and wind.” Analysis by @ElectronComm

With new car sales rising from 108,774 in January to 120,891 in February, ZEV sales are expected to rise from about 2,000 to 2,200. In Canada’s auto market, February is always busier than January and the car buying season begins in earnest in March.

Canadian EV sales as of Feb. 2019. Spreadsheet by Matthew Klippenstein

The Nissan Leaf led the pack with 247 sales in January, narrowly beating the Chevy Bolt, with the Hyundai Kona, Tesla Model 3 and Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV rounding out the top 5. Nissan recently announced the Leaf — the world’s best selling ZEV — had surpassed 400,000 worldwide sales, a laudable achievement. A bigger-battery variant of the Leaf (the Leaf Plus) will arrive in Canada this spring, offering faster recharging and a range of 363 km, up from 243 km for the standard version.

While the Leaf’s achievement is impressive, it’s too early for high-fives. Long-toothed industry observers will remember that nine years ago, Nissan expected to sell 500,000 electric vehicles per year — in 2013. Early interest was cruelly illusory: demand evaporated when it came time for buyers to buy the vehicle, a lesson Tesla has learned first-hand with the Model 3. (The consensus of auto analysts is that Tesla overestimated demand for the higher-priced versions of the Model 3, explaining the recent spate of price cuts and layoffs culminating in pay cuts for store personnel and a suddenly-announced, equally-suddenly-paused, plan to close the company’s retail stores.) MORE

David Suzuki: Government should heed Unist’ot’en message

Freda Huson (here speaking to an RCMP officer) is a Witset band councillor and a founder of and spokesperson for the Wet'suwet'en's Unist'ot'en camp in the Interior of B.C.
Freda Huson (here speaking to an RCMP officer) is a Witset band councillor and a founder of and spokesperson for the Wet’suwet’en’s Unist’ot’en camp in the Interior of B.C.

I visited the Unist’ot’en camp near Kitimat, B.C., a year ago. The people, led by Chief Freda Huson, are trying to reestablish a sustainable relationship with territory that has enabled them to flourish for millennia. Ever since colonization and settlement, much of that traditional way of life has been lost or seriously constrained. These are modern people with all the accoutrements of the globalized economy.

As is obvious from news photos of the RCMP intrusion, winter at Unist’ot’en camp is cold, which makes it all the more remarkable. It did not spring up in protest against a pipeline; it began in 2010, in a search for a way to return to living on the land year-round.

Canada’s government has accepted the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and committed to implementing the recommendations of our Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Indigenous rights, legitimacy of Indian Act–imposed band councils, sovereignty over land, and other issues will reverberate through the country for years.

When we elevate the economy above the atmosphere on our list of priorities, we raise a human construct over the air we breathe—air that brings us climate, weather, and seasons

In fighting to protect the land and water and exert traditional values and priorities, the Unist’ot’en pipeline opposition is at the forefront of a fight for all people in Canada. In November 2018, an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change special report warned that global average temperature has risen by 1° C since the Industrial Revolution. If it increases above another half-degree, we’ll experience climate chaos. MORE