Climate activism is now a global movement, but it’s still not enough

Polling shows more people will need to demand action on climate change, particularly Republicans, to ensure the passage of desperately needed policies.

Protesters at a Global Climate Strike protest on September 20, 2019 in Washington, United States
SAMUEL CORUM/GETTY IMAGES

More than a million students, workers, and others poured into the streets of major cities across the world on Friday, in what was likely the largest protest to date demanding action to halt climate change.

The kickoff of the Global Climate Strike, ahead of the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York this week, was the latest and loudest signal yet that climate activism is coalescing into a powerful global movement.

“It sure feels like the climate strikes were a turning point,” says Costa Samaras, director of the Center for Engineering and Resilience for Climate Adaptation at Carnegie Mellon. “Policy progress on climate change comes from politicians, and politicians count votes. There were a lot of potential voters in the streets.”

The real question, of course, is whether there’s enough pressure and enough votes, not just to prompt bold talk from progressive politicians but to pass rigorous policies and treaties in the face of intense government polarization.

The stated demands of the protests, organized by young people concerned about the changes they’ll see in their lifetimes, include an immediate end to the use of fossil fuels, a rapid shift to 100% renewable energy sources, and “equity, reparations and climate justice.”

Certainly some politicians have taken note of the growing global calls for action. A sweeping, multibillion-dollar climate plan is the basic cost of entry for any candidate seeking the Democratic nomination in the upcoming US presidential election.

But have attitudes toward climate change really shifted enough across the electorate? The polling presents a mixed picture. MORE

 

The national MMIW report’s use of the word genocide sparks an international debate

“I’ve made the decision to no longer write for @globeandmail based on this editorial – written by editors who clearly have not read even the supplementary report on the legal reasons the word “genocide” was used. They are shaping public opinion against Indigenous women like me.” — Alicia Elliott, journalist

Prime Minister Trudeau accepts it, Globe and Mail and Toronto Star editorials reject it, an Indigenous journalist resigns and human rights organizations look to investigate Canada


Chief commissioner Marion Buller, front left to right, and commissioners Brian Eyolfson, Qajaq Robinson and Michele Audette get ready to prepare the final report to give to the government at the closing ceremony for the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Gatineau, Quebec., on Monday, June 3, 2019. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press via AP)

On June 3, Canada’s National Inquiry on Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women released an extensive and long-awaited final report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.The report, which was released to the public and political officials — most notably Prime Minister Justin Trudeau — at an official closing ceremony at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Quebec on Monday, initiated a firestorm of international debate when Marion Buller, chief commissioner of the inquiry shared the commission’s findings in the report.

“The significant persistent and deliberate pattern of systemic racial and gendered human and Indigenous rights violations and abuses — perpetuated historically and maintained today by the Canadian state — designed to displace Indigenous peoples from their lands, social structures, and governance; and to eradicate their existence as nations, communities, families, and individuals, is the cause of the disappearances, murders and violence experienced by Indigenous women, girls, 2SLGBTQQIA (Two Spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex and asexual) people … and this is genocide.”

After Buller stated the word genocide, the audience erupted in applause.

“This is genocide”: Full statement on MMIWG report by CTV News

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was in the audience and later addressed the crowd consisting of families and victims of missing and murdered Indigenous women: “We have failed you, we will fail you no longer.” MORE

RCMP concerned Indigenous rights advocates will gain public support: new study

New research shows Canada’s police force assesses the risk Indigenous activists and protesters pose to the nation — not based on factors of criminality — but based on their ability to summon sympathy from the broader populace

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An RCMP officer records at a citizens’ protest rally against Kinder Morgan on Burnaby Mountain in November 2014. Several protesters were arrested. PHOTO: Mark Klotz, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License

As police enforce a court injunction against two Indigenous camps standing in the way of a proposed B.C. pipeline, the authors of a new report say their research indicates the RCMP’s action against Wet’suwet’en land defenders will be neither fair, nor objective.

Jeffrey Monaghan of Carleton University and Miles Howe of Queen’s University outline in a new report published in the Canadian Journal of Sociology how RCMP assess individual activists according to political beliefs, personality traits, and even their ability to use social media.

The report says government and RCMP documents uncovered through access to information requests indicate the police are not assessing Indigenous protests in Canada based on factors of criminality but are more concerned about the protestors’ ability to gain public support.

It also shows the government’s risk assessments of Indigenous protests, court injunctions initiated by private corporations against Indigenous people, and RCMP policing tactics all favour corporate interests and private property rights over Indigenous rights and title. MORE

RELATED:

Strategic Incapacitation of Indigenous Dissent: Crowd Theories, Risk Management, and Settler Colonial Policing

Yes, climate change is a crisis: surveys


Canadian military personnel assist with disaster relief on May 10, 2017 in Gatineau, Que, as part of Operation LENTUS, a deployment of 2,200 troops dispatched following severe flooding in Ontario and Quebec. File photo by Alex Tétreault

After many people were buzzing about a new Angus Reid poll that concluded most Canadians believe the country faces a crisis due to a lack of pipelines, we did a few informal surveys of our own to ask the public some questions that we felt had been left out.

The results are in:

Out of 223 votes, 86 per cent of the respondents said that the Alberta Energy Regulator’s internal estimate of $260 billion in financial liabilities for the oilpatch is a “crisis.”

Out of 182 responses, a whopping 96 per cent said that a recent scientific assessment by the United Nations IPCC ( Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) that said the world had only 12 years left to prevent some of the worst impacts of climate change is a “crisis.”

Out of 193 responses, 89 per cent said that the Ontario government’s recent decisions to cancel green energy policies is a “crisis.”

And finally, out of 181 votes, 96 per cent said that the fact that large portions of Canada’s forests are at risk of dying off as climate change aggravates wildfires, droughts and infestations is a “crisis.” MORE

 

The Story of 2018 Was Climate Change

Future generations may ask why we were distracted by lesser matters.

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We experience the weather. We see it and feel it.

If you argue that climate change is causing some weather trend, a climate denier may respond by making grand claims about a recent snowfall.

And yet the weather still has one big advantage over every other argument about the urgency of climate change: We experience the weather. We see it and feel it.

It is not a complex data series in an academic study or government report. It’s not a measurement of sea level or ice depth in a place you’ve never been. It’s right in front of you. And although weather patterns do have a lot of randomness, they are indeed changing. That’s the thing about climate change: It changes the climate. MORE