Climate Cover-up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming

Courage, Apathy...& Evil

*** Quotes on courage here! <March 18/10>

I’m reading a book called Country of My Skull – Guilt, Sorrow, and the Limits of Forgiveness in the New South Africa,(1) by Antjie Krog. Bit of a tough read, at times – but very well-written, provocative & rife with interesting thoughts, insights & quotations. Rough because one learns in detail some of the horrific acts of violence & cruelty visited upon so many citizens of South Africa in the apartheid era. Its recounting of the operations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission makes for fascinating reading (parenthetical thought: I ought to let the author know of my deep appreciation for her book!).

We human beings are certainly a curious lot. We can be so marvellous, generous, compassionate, creative, loving & wise – & by the same token, so thoughtless, self-absorbed (2), cruel, violent, homicidal, and … dare I say, evil?

I will leave it to the philosophers to debate whether or not evil really exists. (though I personally feel we are a bit short of time here on Planet Earth for long-winded philosophical debate & time-consuming study; seems to me more like a time for concerted ACTION.)

I will add that I have encountered my fair share of nasty (even homicidal & sociopathic & kind of scary) characters in my time – in a professional capacity, shall we say – so I am not unfamiliar altogether with the sheer nastiness capacity of some human beings…

Anyway, whether or not evil exists, I will say that I think the apathy of so many people I know & meet – in the face of the most serious & horrendous crisis our species has ever known – borders, to my way of thinking, on evil. (Edmund Burke said “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” I rest my case…)

It frightens me.

It astonishes me that most people I know would be more upset to hear me describe myself as an anarchist (3) than they would to hear that our robot-man prime minister is quite knowingly destroying a huge swath of Canada (read up on the tar sands ) in the name of profits for his corporate buddies (George Monbiot has described Canada as a ‘corrupt petrostate’).

It surprises me that the thing most people seem most curious about when they ask me about my sit-in/arrest experience last Nov. 30th, just before the Copenhagen meetings, is what it was like to have to wear a diaper all day. They are dying to ask me whether or not I peed in it. (The answer, for the record, is no. I skipped my morning coffee that day, which for caffeine addict me was frankly the most challenging aspect of the whole experience!) But the experience wasn’t so much about using a diaper as about getting outside my comfort zone – something I think a lot more of us need to start doing.

I know there are a lot of reasons for our apathy.

But it scares me.

I heard a report on the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) radio yesterday, on ‘The Current Review.’ It was about a TV show in which participants were asked to cause fellow participants to be given electric shocks. Apparently, most did order the shocks.

What kind of people are we?

It worries me.

Author Antjie Krog asks in Country of My Skull (in reference to the goings-on in South Africa during the apartheid years, & afterward, during the time of the Truth & Reconciliation Commission, which began operating in December 1995), “What the hell does one do?”(4)

& I wrestle with this question myself, pretty much daily. What the hell does one do?

I am not a philosopher, dear Reader, nor any kind of “expert” nor (supposedly) brilliant scientist.

I’m a woman, mother, environmental activist & writer (a person who is unpaid for the work I do; that’s not a complaint, just a statement of fact) – & I am no longer confident about the ability of our species to survive.

We have made/are making such a frightful botch of things.

Still & all, what is one to do??

Throw up our hands?

I say, Take action.

Let’s raise our voices.

Let’s quit stepping over the elephants in the room, & start calling them.

Let’s grow some courage. Grow some balls...as it were. Shake things up a little.

In Country of My Skull, Chilean philosopher & activist, José Zalaquett (who served on the Chilean Truth Commission) is quoted as saying, “The most important lesson the struggle taught me and my friends is that no one is endowed with remarkable courage. But courage is another name for learning to live with your fears. Now, after eighteen years and the Chilean Truth Commission, courage has again evolved a new definition: the guts not to give in to easy justice. To live within the confinements of reality, but to search day after day for the progressing of one’s most cherished values. Merciless. Accountable.”(5)

Wow.

I wonder, might we all try growing a little more courage in the face of the grave dangers now facing us? I surely do hope so….

Janet

p.s. A buddy of mine said to me in an e-mail message recently, in reference to the sorts of people who defended tobacco use until they were finally wrestled to the ground, & the people who were responsible for trashing the ozone layer (fully aware, btw, that they were doing so), & the ones who are now defending the oil business with their criminal conspiracy (do read Climate Cover-up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming, by James Hoggan, with Richard Littlemore), “These big business issues, like the pro-smoking debacle, are beyond my capacity to understand – it’s like there is a parallel universe of animal things that look like humans but behave like something else.” Rather nicely put, Richard!!

I’d say it’s time we turfed out politicians who look & act like robots (& criminals), & bring in some real human beings for a change!!

p.p.s. Shortly after I scrawled this essay, riding the GO bus to Oshawa, I resumed reading Country of my Skull. Author Antjie Krog relates on page 159 that just before midnight on May 10th, 1997 (the deadline for amnesty applications), “six black youths walk into the Truth Commission’s offices in Cape Town.” She goes on to explain that they had decided at the last minute to apply for amnesty because they had realized it had been wrong of them to be apathetic, & do nothing. “So, here we stand as a small group representative of millions of apathetic people who didn’t do the right thing.”

Wow...

Quote of the Day’ with this post: “Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet it is the one essential, vital quality of those who seek to change a world which yields most painfully to change.” ~ Robert F. Kennedy, in a speech in Capetown, South Africa, June 6, 1966.


(1) Times Books/Random House, 1998.

(2) I have a very rude name for a condition I feel all too many of us suffer from. “Terminal heads-up-our-own arses” disease. (Sorry; I did try to warn you!)

(3) The Collins dictionary defines anarchist as 1. A person who advocates the abolition of government and a social system based on voluntary cooperation. 2. A person who causes disorder or upheaval. Kurt Vonnegut has a character in his novel Jailbird say “Anarchists are people who believe with all their hearts that governments are enemies of their own people.” I think a lot of us are anarchists, by this latter definition…

(4) Page 118.

(5) Country of My Skull – Guilt, Sorrow & the Limits of Forgiveness in the New South Africa, by Antjie Krog, Times Books/Random House 1998. Page 32.

Denial: Not just a river in Egypt...

Yes, I'm aiming for a laugh here. We environmental activists are as up for a laugh as anyone! But climate change denial is not funny - nor is the way climate scientists are being treated lately.

You can read more about that here An article entitled 'Violent backlash on against climate scientists.' (I happen to know the writer of that item, btw - Steve is an old friend of mine. He has just pointed out to me that his article has been "monkeyed" with. He wrote it up to where it states “We’re in a bizarre time, powered by greed and fear. The general public is more confused than ever,” said Weaver. “And good scientists are saying to themselves, ‘Why would I want to participate in the IPCC?’” After that, it isn't Steve's words any more. Sheesh...)

Very disturbing.

I will once again remind readers of the book Climate Cover-up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming, by James Hoggan (with Richard Littlemore).

& a few recent posts of mine that speak to this denial issue.

Environmentalists: Change Tacticians - contains a letter to the editor I wrote back in December in response to the Ottawa Citizen's denial columnist.

& Climate Change: "Elevate the Climate Conversation" - about the Climate Response Web site that offers "facts & stats" you can make good use of.

& be sure to check out Guy Dauncey, whose recent book contains 101 climate solutions!! (It's called The Climate Challenge: 101 Solutions to Global Warming.)

Janet

'Quote for the day' w. this post: "You can be absurd and reject the science; you can be reckless and say we can adapt to whatever happens; or you can be unethical and disregard the future." ~ Former World Bank chief economist Sir Nicholas Stern,' speaking of Canadian Premier Stephen Harper’s refusal to legislate to slow climate change.

Climate Change: “Elevate the Climate Conversation”

I don’t always keep up with what’s in "the news.”

I gather, however, that there is a storm of climate change denial happening out there.

This post is just to let readers know about a response to this nonsense.

There is a list serve that has tons of intelligent conversation about the environmental crisis in general & the climate crisis in particular. It comes from the Environmental Educators of Ontario (EEON).

So. I heard about this “Elevate the Climate Conversation: Climate Response” Web site there.

http://www.trunity.net/climateresponse/

The person who started the site says:

“This activity is impacting public opinion over climate change. According to a recent article in the Globe & Mail, public skepticism of climate change is growing. The doubters do disservice to climate facts.

We need to fight back. I’ve just launched Climate Response (www.climateresponse.ca), which calls on all of us to help elevate the public conversation on climate change and climate change solutions. Climate Response offers handy at-your-fingertips facts and stats to help support your arguments when writing to the press. It also provides members with timely notices on articles dealing with these issues.

We need to unite, get active and get vocal. Please join, tell your students, colleagues and friends. Join us on Facebook here and Twitter here too.

The only way we will beat this is strength in numbers.

Sincerely,

Cheryl McNamara

Climate Response”

Please check it out!!

Deniers are such…Flat Earthers. To put it very, very politely. (Too politely! Criminal is more like it…)

By all means, make use of the site, please!!

Janet

P.S. Must-read book: Climate Cover-up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming, by James Hoggan (with Richard Littlemore).

Quote of the Day w. this post: “So-called global warming is just a secret ploy by wacko tree-huggers to make America energy-independent, clean our air and water, improve fuel-efficiency of our vehicles, kickstart 21st century industries, and make our cities safer and more livable. Don’t let them get away with it!” – Chip Giller, founder of Grist.org

Environmentalists: Change Tacticians

There are plenty of climate change deniers. As you might imagine, I have very little patience with them. (In general, I think, it often pays to ask ourselves, “Who stands to gain?” & then ask ourselves also, if something benefits corporate hotshots & big oil executives, is there much chance most of the rest of us stand to gain??)(1)

Right at the top of my must-read list is the book Climate Cover-up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming, by James Hoggan (with Richard Littlemore). I think it’s a good idea for all of us to be fully aware of the depth of the organized, criminal conspiracy to deny climate change.

Meanwhile, this blog post is my way of sharing with readers a letter to the editor that I wrote in December in response to (Canadian) Ottawa Citizen columnist David Warren’s Dec. 16th piece entitled ‘The Scare Tacticians.’ (I've tried to locate this one on the Citizen Web site, but have not been able to find it.) My letter was not published.

December 20, 2009.

Dear Editor:

Citizen columnist David Warren’s piece last Wednesday entitled ‘The Scare Tacticians’ kind of blew me out of the water. I am not a regular Citizen reader by the way; just a fluke, basically, that I saw the paper and his column at all.

He seems to be suggesting that environmental activists just made up acid rain, ozone depletion, species loss, deforestation, water pollution, climate change and too many other serious environmental problems to attempt to list here.

Actually, his rantings were so extreme I wondered briefly if he was spoofing somebody. But I guess he’s for real.

For sure, my 20 years of environmental activism have not been about “accumulating wealth and power.” I’m just more concerned than I can really even articulate about the state of the world my generation (especially the “old boys” who really run the show here) are leaving for my children and grandchildren (should my kids be fortunate enough to have children; fertility is one of the casualties of all this environmental degradation, one assumes…).

Weaver thinks environmental activists are scare tacticians. I see us as change tacticians. Things need to change, and we see that this is possible. We can change, we are changing, and people of great energy and conviction are making all kinds of awesome innovations all over our still-lovely planet.

I wonder what it is about trying to make the world a saner, healthier, cleaner place that scares Mr. Weaver so much?

The folks who scare me are the ones like your columnist, who seem to think there’s something wrong with change, adaptability and evolution. I think the point of human evolution (and our own individual lives) is to grow, adapt and change. I think it’s time to shed this particular human-as-consumer skin – and I see great examples of inspiration from far and wide that this is indeed eminently do-able.

I think Mr. Warren is just plain afraid of new ideas. John Cage said, “I can’t understand why people are afraid of new ideas, I’m afraid of the old ones.” Me too.

Sincerely,

Janet McNeill

(1) Readers: if you have investments, have you made sure that you are not personally helping to support "big oil"? We want to be sure we are part of the solution, not part of the problem...right?

‘Quote of the day’ w. this post: “When there’s a bend in the road, the only ones who crash are those who refuse to change direction.” ~ Source unknown