NOTES from the PAST by Victor Frankl


In the Garden - photo and effect by bruce witzel



When we are no longer able to change a situation,

we are challenged to change ourselves.


Victor Frankl


  LastofHumanFreedoms -quote by viktor frankl


from Victor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning



Our inmost soul exposed -photo and effects by bruce witzel


~ Bruce ~



Didn’t sleep well last night… deep contemplation on how to proceed? Awakened…. If I am a silent witness to violence I too am a perpetrator… read this from Jane Urguhart’s, Sanctuary Line. 


How frail each life is. We mow a meadow and kill a thousand butterflies. The racket of the mower, the sound of a fist hitting flesh, an American bomb striking a Middle Eastern city – perhaps in the way of these things the only difference among them is that of scale. We keep on walking toward clamour and then cannot accept what that clamour show us. What did I do, after all, what did any of us do to interrupt the chain of events that led to catastrophe? … It is this lack of life’s energy at one pivotal moment that can in the end provoke tragedy… (not bringing ourselves to say the word stop.)


Not feeling much cheer today ~ Bruce


     slides0010 - bruce witzel photo (2)

~  ~  ~

Peace on Earth – Goodwill to all



Our Christmas tree 2019 - francis guenette photo



Britney as an angel - Christmas play 2015 - bruce witzel photo




Cabin on Christmas morning 2017 (darker version) - bruce witzel photo



Christmas angel -  bruce witzel photo



Cabin sunset 2019-02-16 - bruce witzel photo



Glass Christmas Ornament with backlit, Dec. 23-2017 - bruce witzel photo




Victoria Lake 2013-03-13 bruce witzel photo




Christmas Greeting from Victoria Lake - bruce witzel photo



Merry Christmas – Bruce



bruce witzel photo 3 (2)[7]


Premiers in 3 of Canada’s provinces recently announced their support for nuclear energy. More details about this another time. Suffice to say I’m very concerned about the possible growth of nuclear power as a supposed means to combat climate change.

My practical experience as a long time innovator with renewables and energy efficiency illustrate these are much safer and more cost effective methods towards the carbon shift the world requires. Solar and wind power are growing at exponential rates while nuclear power is shrinking.

It’s a new dawn. Let’s keep it that way.



                                                                            photo compliments of PV Magazine – location and photographer unknown


The climate emergency is of concern to people everywhere and we must never forget how world problems are interconnected. Nuclear energy has a serious link to the proliferation of nuclear weapons themselves. I’ll focus here and now on the hope and work of disarmament.


 Southern Utah2 - bruce witzel photo

                                                                               Plane over southern Utah near Monument Valley Oct. 29,2010


Peace activist Rev. John Dear recently pointed out that United States nuclear weapons spending has increased over the past few years. Congress has approved (or is in process of approving) numerous so-called  ‘upgrades”that could cost upwards of  1 Trillion dollars. 

My biggest wonder is how nuclear weapons can get any better at vaporizing people?




Two years ago at a symposium for integral disarmament Pope Francis said this:

“Indeed, the escalation of the arms race continues unabated; and the price of modernizing and developing weaponry, not only nuclear weapons, represents a considerable expense for nations. As a result, the real priorities facing our human family, such as the fight against poverty; the promotion of peace; the undertaking of educational, ecological, and health care projects; and the development of human rights, are relegated to second place.”


This echoes Dwight D. Eisenhower only months after he was elected president of the U.S. in 1953:

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.”


Rodin sculpture at Stanford University 2010-05-27 bruce witzel photo (2)

                                                                          Rodin Sculpture at Stanford University  May 27, 2010


Or, as Albert Einstein said in 1945 only months after the annihilation of hundreds of thousands of people in Nagasaki and Hiroshima:


“The splitting of the atom has changed everything, save our mode of thinking, and thus we drift toward unparalleled catastrophe.”


Bismark, North Dakato State Legislature Museum - bruce witzel photo

                                                                                                        State Capital Building, Bismarck North Dakota

 Los Alamos National Museum of Nuclear Science and History 2010-10-23 bruce witzel photo

                                                                             Los Alamos National Museum of Nuclear Science and History  Oct.23, 2010 


For our generation of history to believe any war is just, let alone a nuclear war, is sort of like believing in slavery – it’s absurd.


Golda Meir quote, Glenbow Museum, Calgary Alberta - bruce witzel photo

                                                                                                                  Glenbow Museum Exhibit, Calgary Alberta


What is happening to our common sense of humanity?


Garden art May 21,2012 - bruce witzel photo


Time is almost past the due date. We need to re-assess, or rather, re-access our basic core human values – together and as individuals. What’s at stake is our common survival and metamorphosis.


Butterfly with Sweet William 2016-06-20 bruce witzel photo

                                                                                                                              Butterfly in our garden June 20, 2016



This begins in my heart, my mind, my own flesh and blood. John Dear says a key to change is nonviolence and this requires three simultaneous attributes:


 Franciscan monastery in 1978 - bruce witzel photo

                                                                   Franciscan Monastery 1978


First, you have to be nonviolent to yourself. We have to stop cooperating with our own inner processes of violence, beating ourselves up, fueling our anger, our rage, hatred and resentment.


Second, we have to practice meticulous, interpersonal nonviolence towards everybody in our lives, everybody in the world, and all the creatures and Mother Earth.


Third, you have to be involved in the struggle for justice, disarmament and creation.


Bruce Witzel photo (2)

                                                                                                             Disarmed – statue in Montreal museum



During the First Gulf War after a few months of the fighting by late 1990 I entered into a heated argument about it with my sister.


58,000 Pines at the Living Memorial Sculptual Garden near Mt. Shasta - sculpted by Denis Smith, photo by Bruce Witzel  (through the luminary lens)

58,000 Pines Living Memorial Sculptural Garden near Mount Shasta, California


Afterwards I was in despair. Especially because of my own poor example of anger and  violence.

I wrote this poem.  The George I refer to in it is George W.  It was a good decade before 9-11  





Earth is inflamed

And children are maimed

Slave soldiers are burned

Our mother’s concerned ?


War futility is sad

Mutually Assured Destruction

It’s MAD

Two man ego-senility gone bad.


George may awake

To reality one day

Will it take nukes

Over Chesapeake Bay?

As for Saddam to deny

Destruction of oil-blob black sky;

Maybe he thinks he’s president of Exxon?


Those that live by the weapon

Die by that sword

Of arms merchant lords

Who afford no accord.

Third man Mahatma does well to our minds

Eye for an eye

Only leave two men blind!


B. Thomas Witzel 





 I’ll close with a couple paragraphs written by Tom Boswell from the National Catholic Reporter: 


In John Dears new book They Will Inherit the Earth he describes the struggle of the indigenous community of the Santa Clara Pueblo in New Mexico, whose home just below the mountain of Los Alamos and the nuclear weapons national laboratories has become a lethal radioactive waste dump.


Young girl 1910, Northern Mexico - photo of a photo(edited) by C. Waite

                                              Young girl in Northern Mexico 1910, photo of a photo by C. Waite


The labs upon the mountain make up “the second richest county in the U.S., with one of the highest per capita rates of Ph.D.’s and millionaires anywhere on earth,” Dear points out.

But down below is the second poorest county in the U.S.


Annotation 2019-12-10 012109

Annotation 2019-12-10 012000


In his book Dear outlines a list of “rules for living in solidarity with Mother Earth.” The first speaks of our need to grieve and to be joyous. 


   Living Memorial Sculpture Garden - created by Vietnam veteran and sculptural artist Denis Smith - photo by Bruce Witzel 2012-10-18

                     Living Memorial Sculpture Garden, Weed California created by Vietnam veteran Denis Smith


“We need to take quiet time and sit in the beauty of creation in the presence of the Creator and grieve,” he writes in his book. “We grieve for our sisters and brothers, for the death and extinction of billions of creatures, and for Mother Earth herself. The more we take formal time to quietly grieve for suffering humanity and suffering creation, the more nonviolent and compassionate we become.”


Solemn tribute, Manzanar internment camp California  - photo by Bruce Witzel

                                                        Solemn Tribute at Manzanar Internment Camp, California


Other “rules” include practicing meditation, prayer, mindfulness and nonviolent communication, cultivating fearlessness, taking public action for climate justice, and teaching nonviolence, particularly to priests and ministers.     (end of excerpt)


~ may peace be with us all ~




Statue entitled American Bull, Custer City South Dakota Aug. 8, 2005

Statue entitled American Bull 2005-08-08 Custer City South Dakota




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.”



IMG_5367 (7)
























                                                                                                   “Tree top Regal Eagle”



IMG_2965 (2)

“North Island Sea Otters are masters of relaxation.”



IMG_9349 (5) 8x10

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



4 for Telegraph

“Gooding Cove Tidal Pool”



Port Alice 066 (1280x854)

“Rugged beauty of the North Island”




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




Port Alice 009 XXXXX (1280x853)

“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.








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




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




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




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




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.





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 ~




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


“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



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)



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.



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




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.





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.



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.




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.




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 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.




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

%d bloggers like this: