From Genocide to Eco Genocide: Whose life Matters?

written by: Tresanne Fernandes   Why do I fight against climate change?   Turtle Island (a.k.a. North America) is a place of continued Genocide. When I look at ‘history’ I see Genocide. When I look at the ‘present day’ I find environmental or Eco Genocide: killing off a group of people by destroying the lands, water, air, and food sources they rely on. I wonder if my children will learn an extremely watered down version of the history of Eco Genocide from the school system and then once they graduate post secondary education start to relearn it more graphically - as I did with the Genocide of Indigenous people on Turtle Island.   The Kairos Blanket Exercise is something I’ve done a few times and the last time I did was when I asked for the exercise to be done with Toronto350. What struck me the most was watching the family, with three kids, who came to participate in the exercise. During the exercise the narrators spoke of children being taken from their families and placed in residential schools where they were forced to speak English (or beaten), and if they did manage to find their families again, were not always able to integrate back (loss of language, culture etc). I wondered how this family of five was feeling. I read scroll 14, about mice running over their lunches, about children knowing that other kids had better schools with science labs and libraries - and knowing their school didn’t left them them believing that they don’t matter.  Continue reading

Mulcair's Mistake Last Night

  Last night, Thomas Mulcair told Canadian voters that the Energy East pipeline could be a “win, win, win” scenario. A win for the economy, a win for the environment, and a win for the climate. Today, Toronto350 activists attended an NDP rally to make sure that the Honourable Leader of the Opposition understands that we do not agree. Ex-Quebec Minister of the Environment, Mr. Mulcair said that the way forward was to fix the environmental assessment process and the National Energy Board. Our volunteers went to his rally in Toronto to ask a simple question – how? How would he undo the damage done to the integrity of the Energy Board? How would these improvements change the fact that building and running pipelines is inherently dangerous to the environment, increases our dependence on oil, and pumps even more carbon into our fragile atmosphere?How could the 35% increase in tar sands extraction Energy East would facilitate be compatible with climate action? Unfortunately, rather than engage our activists, the NDP had them removed from the rally. The NDP's position baffles more people than us. They oppose Northern Gateway, they oppose Keystone XL. Energy East faces all the same problems but is a far bigger pipeline. It would stop the NDP from fulfilling the Climate Change Accountability Act if elected.The Liberals are just as bad. Trudeau promised a "fixed" Energy Board would move resources to market. Trudeau promised to secure the oil industry Energy East. We join millions of other Canadians in again urging all political parties to reconsider their positions on pipelines, which are a lose, lose, lose scenario. Throwing out dissenters is not the Canadian way and not how we will solve the most pressing issue of our generation.

How many must resist to change the system?

In his 2015 book Wages of Rebellion: The Moral Imperative of Revolt, journalist Chris Hedges describes the research of two academics who have investigated the determinants of success for rebellious movements. He writes: "Maria J. Stephan and Erica Chenoweth examine 100 years of violent and nonviolent resistance movements in their 2008 article "Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict." They conclude that nonviolent movements succeed twice as often as violent uprisings. Nonviolent movements appeal to those employed within the power structure, especially the police and civil servants, who are cognizant of the corruption and decadence of the power elite and are willing to abandon them. And, the authors point out, with as little as 3.5 percent of the population who are organized and disciplined, it is possible to bring down even the most ruthless totalitarian structures." (p. 84) As far as I can tell, the claim about 3.5 percent of the population doesn't come from that paper, but from Erica Chenoweth's 2013 TEDxBoulder talk: "The success of nonviolent civil resistance" (See also: "Peaceful protest is much more effective than violence for toppling dictators"). Regardless of the precise source, there's an appealing symmetry to that 3.5% figure, when placed alongside the conviction that the atmospheric concentration of CO2 must be kept below 350 parts per million (ppm) if we are to avoid the worst effects of climate change. Three and a half percent means three and a half per hundred. Three and a half per hundred is the same as thirty five thousand per million, since one million is ten thousand times one hundred. If Stephan and Chenoweth are right, achieving 350 parts per million in the atmosphere may require 35,000 active people per million. Continue reading

Presentations to U of T committee

All four presentations made by Toronto350.org organizers to the fossil fuel divestment committee at U of T are now online. This version includes links to the relevant sections in the brief, to corroborate the claims in the presentations. The presentations provide a good overall argument for why divestment from fossil fuel companies is ethical and financially prudent.

The financial case for fossil fuel divestment

There is a widespread assumption that divestment is a matter of sacrificing financial security in order to uphold an ethical position. In the case of fossil fuel corporations, this characterization is inaccurate. These have been underperforming investments, and the companies face major risks to their performance going forward. The source of the social injury described in chapter 2 of the brief – the massive reserves of coal, oil, and gas which these companies possess – are also the source of this financial risk. That risk arises, firstly, from the reality that governments are increasingly restricting the right to use the atmosphere as a dump for carbon pollution and, secondly, from the increasingly extreme character of fossil fuel energy development. As Shell's mishaps with arctic drilling and BP's destruction in the Gulf of Mexico demonstrate, fossil fuel corporations are seeking out ever-more-expensive and ever-more-dangerous ways of sustaining and enlarging their reserves. In 2012, the top 200 oil and gas companies spent $674 billion on exploration and development of new reserves – reserves which are at risk of becoming stranded assets in a carbon-constrained future. Continue reading

An Open Letter to Glen Murray on Ontario's Climate Strategy

This letter was sent to the Honourable Glen Murray, Ontario's Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, on March 28, 2015. It is signed by Stuart Basden, President of Toronto350.org, on behalf of Toronto350.org's membership. The letter is in response to Ontario's Climate Change Discussion Paper, which invited feedback from all sectors and all Ontarians.  Continue reading

Toronto350 at the Green Living Show Mar 27-29!

Toronto350 is very excited to announce that we’ll be at the Green Living Show from March 27-29 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre! If you want to kick off Earth Month in style, then the Green Living Show is definitely the place to be this weekend. In fact, with over 400 exhibitors it’s North America’s largest show dedicated to healthy and sustainable living. Very cool! Continue reading

Act On Climate: Join the Movement!

One month from now, thousands of Canadians from across the country will come together in Quebec City for the Act on Climate March. Dressed in red, we’ll march through Quebec and form a giant thermometer to signal how close we are to reaching catastrophic temperatures. And we need you to join us now more than ever. Continue reading

Some thoughts on the divestment movement

My involvement in the campaign to convince the University of Toronto (U of T) to divest from stock holdings in fossil fuel companies has taken two main forms: working on the brief and engaging with the administration.They have both raised my awareness about two things: that we have a growing band of influential supporters, calling for the transition to a climate-safe global economy, and that our professionalism, seriousness of purpose, strong scientific backing, and clear moral case add up to make influential people take us seriously. I have had a surprising number of meetings with people who immediately express their concern about climate change, and their determination to see U of T demonstrate leadership on it. Continue reading

Stopping Canada's Keystone

TransCanada is trying to chain us to a dirty energy future. We aren’t letting them. Continue reading