UNDER GOD’S SKY, A HIDDEN ANSWER & MORE ~ FROM THOMAS MERTON

 

North Saskatchewan River, Banff National Park Oct 27-2014- Bruce Witzel photo

North Saskatchewan River heading up to the Artic

 

 

Keep your eyes clean and your ears quiet and your mind serene.

Breathe God’s air.   Work, if you can, under God’s sky.

 

Thomas Merton  ~ New Seeds of Contemplation

 

 

Eastern Sierra Nevada's, California March 24-2015 - bruce witzel photo

Eastern Sierra Nevada’s in fall glory

 

 

Many of the Zen stories, which are almost always incomprehensible in rational terms, are simply the ringing of an alarm clock, and the reaction of the sleeper.

Usually the misguided sleeper makes a response which in effect turns off the alarm clock, so he (or she) can go back to sleep. Sometimes he or she jumps out of bed with a shout of astonishment that it is so late.

Sometimes he or she just sleeps and does not hear the alarm at all.

 

from ~ Zen and the Birds of Appetite

 

 

Fall Colour at Ronning Garden 3 - bruce witel photo

 

Ronnings Garden and San Josef Bay on Northern Vancouver Island

 

San Josef Bay2 at Cape Scott Provincial Park - bruce witzel photo

 

Reading Chuang Tzu, I wonder seriously if the wisest answer (on the human level, apart from the answer of faith) is not beyond ethics and politics. It is a hidden answer, it defies analysis and cannot be embodied in a program.  Ethics and politics, of course, but only in passing, only as a night’s lodging.

There is a time for action, a time for commitment, but never total involvement in the intricacies of the movement. There is a moment of innocence and kairos, when action makes a great deal of sense. But who can recognize such moments? Not he (or she) who is debauched of a sense of programs.

And when all action has become absurd, shall one continue to act simply because once, a long time ago, it made a great deal of sense? As if one were always getting somewhere.

There is a time to listen, in the active life as everywhere else, and the better part of action is waiting, not knowing what next, and not having a glib answer.

 

from ~ Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander

 

 

Fall colours edited at Ronnings Garden  Oct 26, 2019 - bruce witzel photo

 

Ronnings fall colour and reaching to the clear light

 

Tall trees at Ronnings Garden Oct 26, 2019 - bruce witzel photo

 

But I do have a past to break with, an accumulation of inertia, waste, wrong, foolishness, rot, junk, a great need of clarification of mindfulness, or rather of no mind  – a return to genuine practice, right effort, need to push on to the great doubt. Need for the Spirit.

 

Hang on to the clear light!

 

~ from Woods, Shore, Desert

 

all quotes by Thomas Merton

 

clouds, trees, ocean - bruce witzel photo (3)

                                  Clouds, trees and ocean at Oak Bay on Southern Vancouver Island

 

photos by Bruce –  peace

 

~

Roderick Haig Brown – A Call to Canadians on October 21

 

If you are Canadian, please vote this Monday in our federal election. And as you do so, consider this thought given to us years ago from the well known British Columbian and Campbell River author and magistrate. For we live in a critical moment.

             

                  It seems clear beyond possibility of argument that any

                        generation of (people) can have only a lease, not ownership,

                        of the earth; and that one essential term of the lease is

                        that the earth be handed on to the next generation with

                        unimpaired potentialities. This is the conservationist’s concern.  

                                      

                                                Roderick Haig-Brown,

                                                                   Measure of the Year 1950

 

 

Also, consider and enjoy the beauty and care of our natural world as witnessed by local Northern Vancouver Island wilderness photographer, Darrell McIntosh.

 

2 for Telegraph

“View across Johnstone Strait to the BC Mainland from Telegraph Cove.”

 

 

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                                                                                                   “Tree top Regal Eagle”

 

 

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“North Island Sea Otters are masters of relaxation.”

 

 

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‘Whiskers’ the Humpback Whale and her calf ‘Poseidon’ return to Neuroutsos Inlet.

 

 

4 for Telegraph

“Gooding Cove Tidal Pool”

 

 

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“Rugged beauty of the North Island”

 

 

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“North Island Black Bear checking under the rocks for treats at the beach.”

 

 

 

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“North Island Summer Sunset – Neuroutsos Inlet at Port Alice.”

 

 

 

Bruce & Fran's place (1280x853) -Darrel McIntosh  photo

“Incredible beauty of Victoria Lake”

 

 

All photography is courtesy of Darrell McIntosh. Good cheers & remember to vote.

                                                                       ~

Bruce

~

NATURAL BEAUTY, a SOLAR HEATED DOLL HOUSE, the GLOBAL CLIMATE STRIKE and GREENS in CANADA’S FEDERAL ELECTION on OCT 21

 

INTRODUCTION:

 

A lot of variety in this post… all in four parts. To see a solar heated dollhouse (a model home) or the beauty of Alice Lake Provincial Park or Sheep River, read on. And if you are a Canadian citizen 18 years or older please consider voting Green in the upcoming Federal Election.

 

For you younger people, please keep raising consciousness of the Climate Crisis. Solutions are here and now. Further down are a few photos of your peers from the recent Climate Justice March. And then some links to the work and studies of Professor Mark Z.Jacobson of Stanford on how we can make the transition.

Lets all move forward together and BE the CHANGE…

 

Fawn lake in Alice Lake BC Provincial Park Sept 26-2019 - bruce witzel photo

 

 

Green River  2b near Squamish BC Sep 26-2019 - bruce witzel photo

 

PART ONE:

 

To begin with, the North Island- Powell River Greens have been very active in Canada’s current federal election.  Our canidate Mark de Bruijn is a retired biologist and teacher.

You can read his official bio here.

 

Mark is pictured on the right below, along with myself and his partner Carol when he travelled to the Northern Vancouver Island in June to meet the local people of our rural communities.

 

Bruce with our canidate Mark de Brujin and his partner Carol Thatcher, June 23-2019 - mark tapper photo

 

“What are the things or issues that concern you,” Mark asks people he speaks with. A great link and interview with Mark de Bruijn can be found at the Cortes Island Currents.  The article also lays out the basic 6 principles of the Green Party.

Mark’s supporters believe he would be the best representative for our constituency. He is a good listener and has a solid scientific background. Mark is also soft spoken with a firm resolve.

 

Below is a screen capture of the Cortes Currents article by Roy Hales published on September 27.  The quote at bottom is from Mark de Bruijn.

 

Cortes Current atricle screen capture 2

 

People from many walks of of life have stepped up to assist in our Campaign for a Greener World.

During the local fall fair on September 7 and 8 we had a well attended booth. Pictured below with myself is long time Peace and Climate Justice Activist Jack Anderson. Our Green Party booth won second prize in the non commercial category.

We’ve got hard work to do over the next 9 days. We know in Canada’s current “first past the post” electoral system that 2nd place won’t get a  Green representative to our nations capital, Ottawa. By the way – Canada has 338 MP’s – Members of Parliament.

 

The green party booth at Regional Fall Fair Port McNeill, Sept 7-8 - Mary Ann Lammersen

 

2nd prize is not enough… VOTE GREEN

 

Green Party of Canada  got 3rd prize for semi-commercial  booth at Regional Fall Fair  Port McNeill Sept.7-8 - francis guenette photo

 

 

 Green Party booth at Regional Fall Fair  Port McNeill Sept.7-8  with supporters and Mark de Bruijn- francis guenette photo

 

 

Constructing election signs . . .

 

Mark de Bruijn 2019 election sign frames built by Bruce Witze and Francis Guenette, Sept 1-2019

 

Up early installing them when the election was called on September 11th

Early morning start in Port Alice - bruce witzel photo

 

 

Port McNeill campbell way next too North Island Senior Secondary and Chilton Regional Arena Complex  - bruce witzel photo

 

Sign at Coal Harbour 15 minutes west of Port Hardy - bruce witzel photo

 

Telegraph Cove turnoff 2 Sept 11-2019 - bruce witzel photoN

 

PART TWO: 

 

I’ll move onto the next 10 photos with the beauty of Sheep River Falls and the Provincial Park.  Fran and I went on a short hike last week to be rejuvenated by nature’s wonder.

 

 

Sheep River Falls 2 Alberta Oct 6-2019 - bruce witzel photo

 

 

 

Sheep River b in Alberta Oct 6-2019 - bruce witzel photo

 

 

Francis high above Sheep River Falls in Alberta Oct 6-2019 - bruce witzel photo

 

 

 

Sheep River Falls Alberta Oct 6-2019 - francis guenette photo(1c)

 

 

 

Sheep River Provinical Parkand 4b Rocky Mountains in autumn Oct 7-2019 - bruce witzel photo

 

 

 

                             Mountain Sheep  2 at Sheep River Provinical Park, Oct 7-2019 - bruce witzel photo(1)

 

 

 

 Sheep River Provinical Park, Alberta in fall Oct 7-2019 - bruce witzel photo

 

 

 

Sheep River 2c in Alberta Oct 6-2019 - bruce witzel photo(1)(1)

 

 

 

Sheep River Provinical Park and a black bear Oct 7-2019 - francis guenette photo

 

 

 

Sheep River Provinical Park with autumn colour Oct 7-2019 - bruce witzel photo

 

 PART THREE:

 

We also have been visiting family for a bit. Onto a solar dollhouse…  a model design.

 

Bike riding on the High River Flood Dyke Oct 5-2019  - bruce witzel photo     Bike riding with my grandaughter Emma Oct 5-2019

    

We went bicycle riding and built a doll house for my lovely granddaughters. Of particular note below is the design of the natural passive solar heating through the south facing windows.

Seriously. . .  one of the many solutions to a creating a healthy wholesome world.

 

Finished doll house with Emma and Brit - bruce witzel photo

 

 

With Emma and Brit studying the plans - fran guenette photo

 

Sketch for the doll house - francis guenette photo

 

 

 

Emma nailing her doll house together - francis guenette photo

 

Fran with the kids at their dollhouse - bruce witzel photo

 

 Part Four:

 

Like many other adults, Francis and I bore witness to the young people during the Global Climate March of September 27. In Whistler, British Columbia close to a 1000 students participated.

It is truly inspiring to see so many people in so many cities throughout the world, speaking truth to power.

 

Climate strike at Whistler 3 , BC Sept 27-2019 - francis guenette photo

 

 

Climate strikers 2 at Whistler , BC Sept 27-2019 - francis guenette photo

 

 

Climate strikers 3a at Whistler , BC Sept 27-2019 - francis guenette photo

 

CONCLUSION:

 

Many people don’t believe our understand how it is possible for our civilization to transition from using fossil fuels, at the same time that this is absolutely essential  for our survival.

 

My life is dedicated to show this is possible and Francis and I, along with many others, live our lives by daily examples of how to do this…

 

Our off-grid cabin July 23-2019 - bruce witzel photo

 

I recommend that if you are in doubt, look at the work and leadership of people like Mark Z. Jacobson who is a professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford University. Read about his work at The Solutions Project. Or watch his 30 minute keynote presentation on Transitioning Towns, Cities, and Countries to 100% Renewable Energy is an excellent overview,

It’s filled with hope and cost effective solutions of what is happening now in this direction …. all with wind, sun and water power.

 

100-renewable-energy-139-countries-570x570

 

 

Please, when it comes to time to vote take care. Look at who is running for office, what and who they stand for, and who is funding them… Then consider voting for the green candidates.

              

                               Cheers & happy thanksgiving  

                                              

                                                   ~ Bruce ~

 

 

2019sloganForwardTogether

Bear in a tree

Recently I installed new shower doors for clients in their exquisitely renovated condo. I commented to them about their beautiful artwork.

As it goes one of the owners, Dean Vestal, is a painter.

With permission from Dean here are 3 images of a painting he created with a bear climbing a tree near our local hospital.

 

Painting by Dean Vestal  - photo by  B. Witzel, Sept 5-2019

 

 

Painting of Black Bear in Birch tree by Dean Vestal  - photo by  B. Witzel, Sept 5-2019

 

There is something about those eyes that caught my own…

 

               Cheers to you all with a heartfelt thanks to Dean,

                     from Bruce and the bear

 

Painting 2 of Black Bear by Dean Vestal  - photo by  B. Witzel, Sept 5-2019

CHANGE OF A WORLDVIEW

“A good teacher teaches people how to see, not what to see.” – Richard Rohr

 

I  really like Richard Rohr’s daily meditation – it’s out of the box thinking, apropos  for our modern times. Here below it is slightly shortened version of his past Sunday meditation.

 

If you are not familiar with Richard’s work he helped found the Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He has been a Franciscan friar for 49 years.

 

Cheers,  Bruce

 

 

Center for Action and Contemplation  Widnow to outside  New Mexico - francis guenette photo

This window looks out to the courtyard at the Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque, New Mexico

 

 

The Change of a Worldview –
Sunday, August 25, 2019

 

Today, every academic, professional discipline—psychology, anthropology, history, the various sciences, social studies, art, and business—recognizes change, development, and some kind of evolving phenomenon. But in its search for the Real Absolute, much of Christian theology made one fatal mistake: It imagined that any notion of God had to be unchanging, an “unmoved mover,” as Aristotelian philosophy called it.

 

There’s little evidence of a rigid God in the biblical tradition or the image of Trinity—where God is seen as an active verb more than a substantive noun. But many Christians seem to have preferred a stable notion of God as an old white man, sitting on a throne—much like the Greek god Zeus (whose name became the Latin word for God or “Deus”)—a critical and punitive spectator to a creation that was merely a mechanical clock of inevitable laws and punishments, ticking away until Doomsday.

 

 Center for Action and Contemplation 5, New Mexico - francis guenette photo

Center for Action and Contemplation – Francis Guenette photo

 

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Photo of Richard Rohr by Svobodat, via Wikimedia Commons

We need a new way of thinking about the universe and our place in it. To begin our two weeks on this theme, I offer a clear and concise description of our changing worldview from Australian theologian Denis Edwards:

 

Our theological tradition has been shaped within the worldview of a static universe. The great theological synthesis of St. Thomas Aquinas [1224–1274], for example, was formed within a culture which took for granted that the world was fixed and static, that the Sun and the Moon and the five known planet stars revolved around the Earth in seven celestial spheres, moved by angels, that beyond these seven spheres there were the three heavens, the firmament (the starry heaven), the crystalline heaven, and the empyrean, and that there was a place in the heavenly spheres for paradise. It was assumed that human beings were the center of the universe, that Europe was the center of the world, and that the Earth and its resources were immense and without any obvious limits.

 

Center for Action and Contemplation 56 New Mexico - francis guenette photo (2)

By contrast, we are told today that the universe began with a cosmic explosion called the Big Bang, that we live in an expanding universe, with galaxies rushing away from us at an enormous rate, that the Earth is a relatively small planet revolving around the Sun, that it is hurtling through space as part of a Solar system which is situated toward the edge of the Milky Way galaxy, that we human beings are the product of an evolutionary movement on the Earth, and that we are intimately linked with the health of the delicately balanced life systems on our planet.

 

Center for Action and Contemplation 2, New Mexico - francis guenette photo

Center for Action and Contemplation – photos by by Francis Guenette

The shift between these two mindsets is enormous. It needs to be stressed that most of our tradition has been shaped by the first of these, and even contemporary theology has seldom dealt explicitly with the change to a new mindset. . . . We have no choice but to face up to the ecological crisis which confronts us. Religious thinkers . . . are searching for a new synthesis of science and faith, a new cosmology, and a “new story.”

 

The Cosmic Christ by Sr. Nancy Earl , Center for Action and Contemplation archive

   Painting of the Cosmic Christ is compliments of the Center of Action and Contemplation

 

Center for Action and Contemplation 7 New Mexico - francis guenette photo

Center for Action and Contemplation – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Greta Thunberg is Speaking – WILL WE LISTEN?

   

“Avoiding climate breakdown will require cathedral thinking. We must lay the foundation while we may not know exactly how to build the ceiling.”

 

Greta Thunberg speaks on accelerating climate change

                                                                   

Before I share Greta’s passionate talk to the UK Parliament, I’ll review the past few months as related to Canada and the climate crises. We’ve had occasions of alarm along with a bit of hope and celebration.

First the bad news. You may have heard how quickly permafrost is beginning to thaw in the uppermost latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere due to global warning. We’ve known of this threat for some time. Now climate scientists are becoming quite concerned  about it’s accelerating development. It’s poised to release vast quantities of carbon into the atmosphere in the forms of CO2 and Methane. This gas that has been locked inside the ice for 1000’s of  years.

  

Nature Magazine Article Sources Ref. 2 & G. Hugelius et al. Biogeosciences 11, 6573–6593 (2014)

 

methane-crop

This 2009 photo shows Katey Walter Anthony igniting methane previously trapped under pond ice in Alaska. (Todd Paris/ University of Alaska, Fairbanks)

 

Furthermore, in parts of British Columbia and all of Vancouver Island we’ve had very little rain and a reduced snowpack. This past winter in the west coast rainforest region an unusual  fern and salal dieback occurred. Salal berries are an important food source for bears who along with salmon are keystone species. Salmon fry have been stranded in drying up river pools as far back as May. In more recent years this event happened later in the summer.

 

projected BC temperatures image

Historical and projected annual average temperatures in B.C. (1990-2080) 

by Pacific Climate Impact Consortium

 

World wide in October 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC) put out a special interim report with these key messages:

1. Anthropogenic Climate Change is worsening

2. Biodiversity is endangered.

3. Sea-level rise threatens livelihood of low lying areas, deltas, and islands.

4. Reduction of CO2 emissions to limit global warming to 1.5 degree C. is urgently needed.

  26_ipcc_2_538px

 

In Northern Alberta, the wildfire season is already well under way and Southern Albertan cities have already got a brief taste of the unhealthy and smoky skies, likely to worsen this summer. And most communities don’t have a comprehensive forest fire emergency plan as I explained in a previous post Be the Change: The Climate Emergency.

 

Alberta Wildfire status as of June 17, 2019

Alberta Wildfire status as of June 17, 2019

 

info-fire

 

Beyond the terror and destructiveness of the Alberta and BC wildfires is a broad cognitive dissonance.

Here is a case in point. A  few days ago on June 18 Canada’s Federal Government approved the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion which would be able to move almost 600,000 barrels of oil per day from Alberta to the Port of Burnaby in British Columbia. The previous day the Federal Government declared a national climate emergency joining 623 other jurisdictions previously to do so, including nations such as Scotland and Catalonia in Spain and cities like San Francisco and Vancouver. 

A contradiction indeed.

 

 ipcc-cartoon

 

 

Now for the good news . . .

 

Early green party symbol, near Pine Ridge, Dakato  - bruce witzel photo (3)

 

In April on the east coast of Canada the Green Party became the official opposition in the province of Prince Edward Island. They gained  8 out of 27 seats in the Legislative Assembly with 31% of the popular vote.  This, in a province where the leader of the Greens is a personal friend of the elected Premier. Some might say this is conflict of interest – I believe it bodes well for participative democracy.

Further along in May, a by-election in the west coast port city of Nanaimo brought Paul Manly of the Green Party to become their federal Member of Parliament (MP). He won 37% of the popular vote. His father is a well known United Church Minister and also past MP. 

 

paul manly and elizabeth may - Green party of Canada photo

Paul Manly campaigning with Green Party leader Elizabeth May – Green Party of Canada photo

 

For me these are signifiers of a broader social and ecological awareness rising the in the general populace.

 

The tide is changing.

 

Seymour Narrows in Johnstone Straight, Vancouver Island - bruce witzel photo

 

This year Canada has a Federal election on October 20 with a four way race between the ruling Liberals, the Conservatives, the Greens, and the New Democrats (the democratic socialist party). The Greens are campaigning with tenacity to elect many more Members of Parliament and potentially hold the balance of power in the new parliament. Currently the Greens in Canada have 2 MP’s out of the 338 seats.

The bottom line here is this:  the world needs to ACT NOW within a new paradigm, collectively and individually to drastically mitigate the chances of shocking runaway climate change in the not too distant future.

 

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photo from PV Magazine

 

James Hansen arrested

 

BC Carbon fee disbursements

 

Alert Bay Solar Conversion - comliments from BC Hydro Power Smart Program

 

Finished solar array expansion - June 21-2019 - bruce witzel photo

  CLOUD POWER – our new larger 3.3 kilowatt solar array completely powers our home – even on cloudy days!

 

Though maybe this is preaching to the choir, I beseech you – raise your voices, even if you don’t like to sing. Or, if you’ve been told by the “powers that be” that you can’t carry a tune – don’t believe them. Discordance is a fact of life and perfect harmony is over-rated. Speak up and speak out.

  Bruce reading at Doug and Maggie's wedding

 

 

Now onto Greta Thunberg’s  powerful speech to the UK Parliament from about two months ago. She  clearly and humbly presents herself. We’d all do well to take her to heart and follow her footsteps.

As she says, “I hope my microphone was on. I hope you can all hear me?”  Thanks Greta.

                                   

                         ~ Bruce ~

 

My name is Greta Thunberg. I am 16 years old. I am from Sweden. And I speak on behalf of future generations.

I know many of you don’t want to listen to us – you say we are just children. But we’re only repeating the message of the united climate science.

Many of you appear concerned that we are wasting valuable lesson time, but I assure you we will go back to school the moment you start listening to science and give us a future. Is that really too much to ask?

 

Greta Thunberg

 

Greta Thunberg with activists in the school strike for the climate outside Sweden’s Parliament, April 12-2019 – Wikimedia commons

 

In the year 2030 I will be 26 years old. My little sister Beata will be 23. Just like many of your own children or grandchildren. That is a great age, we have been told. When you have all of your life ahead of you. But I am not so sure it will be that great for us.

I was fortunate to be born in a time and place where everyone told us to dream big; I could become whatever I wanted to. I could live wherever I wanted to. People like me had everything we needed and more. Things our grandparents could not even dream of. We had everything we could ever wish for and yet now we may have nothing.

Now we probably don’t even have a future any more.

Because that future was sold so that a small number of people could make unimaginable amounts of money. It was stolen from us every time you said that the sky was the limit, and that you only live once.

  Health effects

 

You lied to us. You gave us false hope. You told us that the future was something to look forward to. And the saddest thing is that most children are not even aware of the fate that awaits us. We will not understand it until it’s too late. And yet we are the lucky ones. Those who will be affected the hardest are already suffering the consequences. But their voices are not heard.

Is my microphone on? Can you hear me?

Around the year 2030, 10 years 252 days and 10 hours away from now, we will be in a position where we set off an irreversible chain reaction beyond human control, that will most likely lead to the end of our civilisation as we know it. That is unless in that time, permanent and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society have taken place, including a reduction of CO2 emissions by at least 50%.

And please note that these calculations are depending on inventions that have not yet been invented at scale, inventions that are supposed to clear the atmosphere of astronomical amounts of carbon dioxide.

 

 x0fMePY

 

Furthermore, these calculations do not include unforeseen tipping points and feedback loops like the extremely powerful methane gas escaping from rapidly thawing arctic permafrost.

Nor do these scientific calculations include already locked-in warming hidden by toxic air pollution. Nor the aspect of equity – or climate justice – clearly stated throughout the Paris agreement, which is absolutely necessary to make it work on a global scale.

We must also bear in mind that these are just calculations. Estimations. That means that these “points of no return” may occur a bit sooner or later than 2030. No one can know for sure. We can, however, be certain that they will occur approximately in these timeframes, because these calculations are not opinions or wild guesses.

These projections are backed up by scientific facts, concluded by all nations through the IPCC. Nearly every single major national scientific body around the world unreservedly supports the work and findings of the IPCC.

 

Cartoon - unknown source

 

Did you hear what I just said? Is my English OK? Is the microphone on? Because I’m beginning to wonder.

During the last six months I have travelled around Europe for hundreds of hours in trains, electric cars and buses, repeating these life-changing words over and over again. But no one seems to be talking about it, and nothing has changed. In fact, the emissions are still rising.

When I have been travelling around to speak in different countries, I am always offered help to write about the specific climate policies in specific countries. But that is not really necessary. Because the basic problem is the same everywhere. And the basic problem is that basically nothing is being done to halt – or even slow – climate and ecological breakdown, despite all the beautiful words and promises.

 

us-2017-billion-dollar-disaster-map-noaa

 

The UK is, however, very special. Not only for its mind-blowing historical carbon debt, but also for its current, very creative, carbon accounting.

Since 1990 the UK has achieved a 37% reduction of its territorial CO2 emissions, according to the Global Carbon Project. And that does sound very impressive. But these numbers do not include emissions from aviation, shipping and those associated with imports and exports. If these numbers are included the reduction is around 10% since 1990 – or an an average of 0.4% a year, according to Tyndall Manchester.
And the main reason for this reduction is not a consequence of climate policies, but rather a 2001 EU directive on air quality that essentially forced the UK to close down its very old and extremely dirty coal power plants and replace them with less dirty gas power stations. And switching from one disastrous energy source to a slightly less disastrous one will of course result in a lowering of emissions.

But perhaps the most dangerous misconception about the climate crisis is that we have to “lower” our emissions. Because that is far from enough. Our emissions have to stop if we are to stay below 1.5-2C of warming. The “lowering of emissions” is of course necessary but it is only the beginning of a fast process that must lead to a stop within a couple of decades, or less. And by “stop” I mean net zero – and then quickly on to negative figures. That rules out most of today’s politics.

 

Global wartming projections

 

The fact that we are speaking of “lowering” instead of “stopping” emissions is perhaps the greatest force behind the continuing business as usual. The UK’s active current support of new exploitation of fossil fuels – for example, the UK shale gas fracking industry, the expansion of its North Sea oil and gas fields, the expansion of airports as well as the planning permission for a brand new coal mine – is beyond absurd.

This ongoing irresponsible behaviour will no doubt be remembered in history as one of the greatest failures of humankind.

People always tell me and the other millions of school strikers that we should be proud of ourselves for what we have accomplished. But the only thing that we need to look at is the emission curve. And I’m sorry, but it’s still rising. That curve is the only thing we should look at.

 

sea-level-rise-indonesia-home_ulet-ifansasti-getty

Sea level rises in Indonesia – Getty Images

 

Every time we make a decision we should ask ourselves; how will this decision affect that curve? We should no longer measure our wealth and success in the graph that shows economic growth, but in the curve that shows the emissions of greenhouse gases. We should no longer only ask: “Have we got enough money to go through with this?” but also: “Have we got enough of the carbon budget to spare to go through with this?” That should and must become the centre of our new currency.

Many people say that we don’t have any solutions to the climate crisis. And they are right. Because how could we? How do you “solve” the greatest crisis that humanity has ever faced? How do you “solve” a war? How do you “solve” going to the moon for the first time? How do you “solve” inventing new inventions?

 

wind to surpass hydro in the US

Wind Power surpasses Hydro Power – source, US Energy Information Administration

 

The climate crisis is both the easiest and the hardest issue we have ever faced. The easiest because we know what we must do. We must stop the emissions of greenhouse gases. The hardest because our current economics are still totally dependent on burning fossil fuels, and thereby destroying ecosystems in order to create everlasting economic growth.

 

“So, exactly how do we solve that?” you ask us – the schoolchildren striking for the climate.

And we say: “No one knows for sure. But we have to stop burning fossil fuels and restore nature and many other things that we may not have quite figured out yet.”

Then you say: “That’s not an answer!”

So we say: “We have to start treating the crisis like a crisis – and act even if we don’t have all the solutions.”

“That’s still not an answer,” you say.

Then we start talking about circular economy and rewilding nature and the need for a just transition. Then you don’t understand what we are talking about.

 

movement-of-ideas

 

We say that all those solutions needed are not known to anyone and therefore we must unite behind the science and find them together along the way. But you do not listen to that. Because those answers are for solving a crisis that most of you don’t even fully understand. Or don’t want to understand.

You don’t listen to the science because you are only interested in solutions that will enable you to carry on like before. Like now. And those answers don’t exist any more. Because you did not act in time.

Avoiding climate breakdown will require cathedral thinking. We must lay the foundation while we may not know exactly how to build the ceiling.

 

Bruce bracing the trusses for Grahamls shed

 

Sometimes we just simply have to find a way. The moment we decide to fulfil something, we can do anything. And I’m sure that the moment we start behaving as if we were in an emergency, we can avoid climate and ecological catastrophe. Humans are very adaptable: we can still fix this. But the opportunity to do so will not last for long. We must start today. We have no more excuses.

We children are not sacrificing our education and our childhood for you to tell us what you consider is politically possible in the society that you have created. We have not taken to the streets for you to take selfies with us, and tell us that you really admire what we do.

We children are doing this to wake the adults up. We children are doing this for you to put your differences aside and start acting as you would in a crisis. We children are doing this because we want our hopes and dreams back.

I hope my microphone was on. I hope you could all hear me.

 

Greta Thunberg – April 23, 2019, speaking to the UK Parliament

 

P.S. – Greta shouldn’t need to beg to us.

Extinction rebellion photo by jana_eriksson-6849_(45877429622)

photo by Jana Erikson of Extinction Rebellion

Broad vision and stillness – HEAR, AT THE LAKE

 

Columbine  06-08-2019  - bruce witzel photo

“It takes a broad vision to know that a piece of the sky and a chunk of the earth lie lodged in the heart of every human being…”

 

Bike riding in High River, Alberta- kristen keeley photo

Emma, Brit, Francis and Kristen – June 6 High River, Alberta (Kristen Keeley photo)

 

Panoramic view of the lake, so still from the deck, June 18, 2017 - bruce witzel photo

The Lake

 

“…If we are going to care for that heart we will have to know the sky and the earth as well as human behaviour.”    

                                               

Thomas Moore – page 20, Care of the Soul

 

Cheers ~ Bruce

Congratulations to California on Earth Day 2019

 

California just made more clean energy than it needed.

                                                      (from PV Magazine)

 

“The state grid operator has shown that for most of the period between 1:50 PM and 3:05 PM on Sunday, April 21, more carbon emission-free electricity than users demanded was generated in its region,” reports John Weaver for PV Magazine.

 

Getty images

Getty images

 

“We’re a long way from the land of milk and honey but on Easter Sunday – for about an hour – we got a taste of the promised land,” Weaver wrote today. (edited article continues below)

On Sunday, at 1.55pm Pacific time, grid operator the California Independent Systems Operator (CAISO) reported the greenhouse gas emissions necessary to serve its demand – around 80% of California’s electricity demand on an annual basis – was measured at minus-16 mega tons of CO² per hour . . .

Of importance to note is that to get to the net negative value, CAISO considered all electricity imports and exports. And as can be noted in the image below, The CO² intensity of imports during the day rapidly declined as the sun came up, first going negative around 9.05am, and mostly staying so until just before 6pm.

 

trend from PV magazine

At the peak negative moment of 2.15pm, -112 mTCO²/h . . .  the total amount of clean, instantaneous generation being used in the power grid region was 17 GW, with renewables giving 76% of the total, hydro 14%, nuclear 13% and imports of -12% countering the CO² from just over 1.4 GW of gas generation.”

John Weaver

 

 Untitled-design-81 shutterstock                                                                                                                                                               Shutter stock Image

This shows in real terms that we can create a better world with less dependence on fossil fuels.

 

Cheers to California

 

 Bruce

BE THE CHANGE: THE CLIMATE EMERGENCY

The real problems of our planet are not economic or technical, they are philosophical. The philosophy of unbridled materialism is being challenged by events… Wisdom demands a new orientation of science and technology toward the organic, the gentle, the elegant and beautiful.

– E.F Schumacher

 

Fran watering the early greens April 1, 2019 - bruce witzel photo

 

Here at our rural cabin the snow’s long gone now. The kale, chard and celery wintered over and is edible for salads here in zone 8 coastal British Columbia. Numerous seedlings are sprouting in trays on windowsills and in cold frames and the greenhouse.  Easter turkey dinner will indeed include greens.

 

Coldframe on April 1, 2019 - bruce witzel photo

 

This winter I passed sixty – the question arose, what direction to take in life? I’ve missed the mark so many times that I’m brought again to that Gandhian saying:

“Be the change you want to see in the world.”

 

Cabin after Feb16-2019 snowfall B&w - bruce witzel photo

 

PART ONE

 

The British economist E.F. Schumacher (1911-1977) once said,

“We must do what we conceive to be right and not bother our heads or burden our souls with whether we’ll be successful. Because if we don’t do the right thing, we’ll do the wrong thing and we’ll be part of the disease and not part of the cure…”

Fritz Schumacher was calling you and I to examine ourselves in the quest that leads to what Buddhists call “right action”.

Schumacher authored three seminal books in the 1970’s: 1) Small is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered 2) Good Work, and 3) A Guide for the Perplexed.

 

small-is-beautiful 

He helped form organizations like Practical Action and the Soil Association. They advocate for the development of human scaled and decentralized appropriate use of technology. Today Schumacher’s work is considered a cornerstone of sustainability.

 

Center for New Economics

 

Listen to how Schumacher illustrated within a Christian context the commonly held belief that many people have in ever increasing wealth and economic growth:

“In the beautiful hills of Surrey, where I live, you can go for walks, and even on a Sunday you never meet anybody, though you may hear the distant roar of traffic down to the coast. And the story goes that an economist went there for a Sunday-afternoon walk, and he met none else than God Almighty, which gave him a bit of a shock, and he didn’t know what to say.

He remembered that as a little boy he had been told that what a thousand years to us is but a minute to the Lord. And he asked God “Is this so?” and the Lord said, “Yes, this is quite so.”

By that time he had recovered his composure, and he said to God, “Then perhaps it may also be true that what is a million pounds (or dollars) to us is only a penny for you.” And the Lord said, “Yes, that is quite true.” And he said, “Well, Lord, give me one of those pennies.” The Lord said, “Certainly, my dear lad. I don’t happen to have it on me, but just wait a minute while I fetch it.”

… And so it is with the salvation expected from the growth of GDP  – just wait another minute and we shall be rich and happy. This notion is becoming increasingly questionable.” page 124 – Good Work

 

PART TWO:

Many of you know another person I look to for inspiration is Thomas Merton (1916-1968). His sage wisdom brings me a sober in depth reminder:

“My successes are not my own. The way to them was prepared by others. The fruit of my labours is not my own, for I am preparing the way for the achievements of another.  Nor are my failures my own. They may spring from the failure of another, but they are also compensated for by another’s achievement.

Therefore, the meaning of my life is not to be looked for merely in the sum total of my own achievements. It is seen only in the complete integration of my achievements and failures with the achievements and failures of my own generation, my own society and time.”

In short – we’re in this world together.

 

photo of the Himalayas 1968 – also by Thomas Merton

photo of the himalayas by thomas merton

 

Merton and Schumacher were kindred spirits – two gentle giants of their age.

 

Downtown San Francisco – May 23, 2010   b.witzel photo

Downtown San Francisco, May 23-2010 - bruce witzel photo

 

  There are poor societies which have too little; but where is the rich society that says: ‘Halt. We have enough’? –  E.F. Schumacher

 

PART THREE

 

This brings me to the essence of this reflection.

Recently you may have heard about 16 year old Greta Thunberg from Sweden. She has helped begin a climate strike movement of students that happens every Friday throughout many cities of the world. Yesterday, April 17,  Greta met Pope Francis briefly saying  to him “Thank you for standing up for the climate and speaking the truth. It means a lot.” The pope smiled back broadly and responded “God bless you, continue to work, continue. Go along, go ahead.”

 

Pope Franics with Greta Thunberg - Catholic press photo

I recommend you listen to Greta speaking here. It is both heart breaking and inspiring to listen to Greta with such desperation and incredible will as she calls for elders to “act your age” in regards to Climate Change.

 

The list of solutions to reduce climate change is large and Greta wants us to act in every way possible and to act now. As Fritz Schumacher reminded us:

“It’s amazing how much theory we can do without when the work actually begins.”

 

Sreen Capture from Solar Industry Association

 

Drawdown 2 Capture

 

The many positive actions we make are unique to our different situations and locale. Small things make a difference too. How about recycling with a local thrift store and Craigs List? Or ride a bicycle and eat less red meat which have much smaller carbon footprints.

Recently I heard that one of the most radical things a person can do in this day and age of climate change is to stay close to home. Simply, rediscover the beauty and wonders of our own back yards.

If we need to visit family who live a distance away or we really want to travel we can buy carbon credits or invest in NGO’s like KIVA. This is a direct action towards creating wellbeing and reducing global Greenhouse Gas Emissions.

 

world-map-co2-emissions-per-capita-by-country

 

 

My friend Jack Anderson is a community leader who helped form Climate Action Powell River. Jack says it’s a time for truth telling – like Greta is doing.

 

Jade (my niece), Bruce (myself) & Jack Anderson at his home in Lund BC Aug. 23, 2013- fran guenette photo

 My niece Jade, myself, and Jack on the right at his beautiful self-built home in Lund

 

Powell River is located on what is known as the Sunshine Coast in the province of British Columbia, Canada. The communities along this coastal band of temperate rainforest are connected by only one highway and a series of ferry boat rides. They have no comprehensive forest fire emergency evacuation plan yet the increasing frequency and intensity of wildfires make communities incredibly vulnerable.

 

Front entry of Jack and Mary-Ann's in Lund BC  August 23-2013 - bruce witzel photo

 

Recall the Fort McMurray wildfire and evacuation in Alberta  in 2016 or last years Camp Fire in Paradise, California. A recent article from the financial and media company Bloomberg has the headline that reads “Climate Changed – Now California Wildfires Burn All Year.”

 

Satellite image of 2018 BC wildfires – NASA

nasa-satellite-image-wildfire-smoke-over-b-c-july-31-2017

 

 

Powell River is now part of a growing movement of 440 municipalities in Australia, UK, Canada, USA and Switzerland who have declared a climate emergency. Some people say this is alarmist.

Isn’t climate change alarming?

 

CONCLUSION:

 

As early as 1955 Fritz Schumacher had this foresight:

A civilization built on renewable resources… is superior to one built on non-renewable resources, such as oil, coal, metal, etc. This is because the former can last, while the latter cannot last. The former co-operates with nature, while the latter robs nature. The former bears the sign of life, while the latter bears the sign of death. It is already certain beyond the possibility of doubt that the ’0il-coal-metal-economies’ cannot be anything else but a short abnormality in the history of (hu)mankind – because they are based on non-renewable resources and because, being purely materialistic, they recognise no limits.”

 

 

May peace be with us all

Bruce

 

100 Mega Watt solar installation in Rajasthan – photo compliments of  PV Magazine

Rajasthan_3_100_MW

Thomas Merton ~ ON THE LOVE OF WINTER

 

Love winter when the plant says nothing.

 

~ Thomas Merton ~

 

Snow on the mountains Feb16, 2019- bruce witzel photo

 

 

Snow and the lake and old mans beard lichen, feb 16-2019 - bruce witzel photo

 

 

snowtracks - photo by thomas merton

Snowtracks – by Thomas Merton

 

 

Snow at Victoria Lake, BC- Feb.16, 2019 - bruce witzel photo

 

 

Kicking Horse River 2, British Columbia Canada, Nov.26-2017 - bruce witzel photo

 

 

Good panorama of the lake and greenhouse, Feb15-2019 - bruce witzel photo

 

                                Peace ~

                                           Bruce

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