(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.
“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.
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.”
This shows in real terms that we can create a better world with less dependence on fossil fuels.
Cheers to California
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
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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
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
Merton and Schumacher were kindred spirits – two gentle giants of their age.
Downtown San Francisco – May 23, 2010 b.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
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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
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?
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
100 Mega Watt solar installation in Rajasthan – photo compliments of PV Magazine
British Columbia Coast Mountain Range and the Salish Sea – Charles Brandt photo
February 19th, 2019 is frater Charles Brandt’s 96th birthday. He made this plea many years ago in the late 1980’s. He continues with this belief onwards today. His long life has been one of quiet contemplation and action. He has shared this generously and encouraged others.
Charles lives with a faith that is durable and deeply rooted.
Antelope Canyon, Arizona – Charles Brandt photo
He calls people to have greater awareness through living by example. Charles is an advocate of meditation, both sitting and walking. He is a renown expert in art, book and paper conservation. This has provided Charles’ material and creative sustenance.
An example of Charles Brandt’s work in the art of book binding
As a humble Catholic hermit, monk and priest, Charles is true to the universal principle ‘it is better to give than recieve’. Recently he donated his hermitage land rights, ensuring the 27-acres of natural forest on the banks of the Oyster River are protected in perpetuity.
Here are details from a news release:
The Comox Valley Land Trust (CVLT) is pleased to announce the establishment of a conservation covenant over 27-acres of wild land on the banks of the Oyster River. The land is currently home to spiritual leader and conservationist Father Charles Brandt, 95, who asked the CVLT to protect the mature forest and riparian areas for future generations.
Father Charles Brandt, or “Father Charles,” has lived in his hermitage on the 27-acres bordering the Oyster River since 1970. As the first ordained Catholic priest-hermit in two centuries, he asked the CVLT to hold conservation covenant over the property to safeguard the values of conservation and ecological stewardship. “The covenant will ensure that these mature forests and riparian areas, as well as the plants and wildlife that call them home, are protected for future generations in perpetuity,” says Tim Ennis, executive director of CVLT.
Father Charles plans to eventually donate the land to the CVRD as parkland (allowing pedestrian-only public access). A registered society will lease back the hermitage building for use by a contemplative individual to carry on in the priest-hermit’s tradition. “We must fall in love with the Earth, and we only save what we love,” says Father Charles. “It is my deep love of contemplation and communion with the natural world that has led me to act in its defense.”
Funding required to complete the project was generously provided by Judy Hager (in memory of Bob Hager), the Oyster River Enhancement Society, members of the Tsolum River Restoration Society, and other local community members. The CVLT would like to thank everyone who helped to bring about this conservation success story.
January 31, 2019 Comox Valley Land Trust
Oyster River near the hermitage – Charles Brandt photo
~ frater Charles Brandt ~ (frater – Latin for brother)
from the grassroots People’s Synod of 1986-1991 in the Diocese of Victoria (Vancouver Island)
An article of Charles’ from the synod, a New Consciousness, is previously posted here.
Charles Brandt at his hermitage, the ‘Merton House’ (photo by Grant Callegari of Hakai Magazine)
Charles studied for a brief time with Aldo Leopold’s son and was influenced by Aldo’s own experience of paradigm shift, as described in this essay below of witnessing a wolf die.
Charles often paraphrases Leopold, saying we must learn to Think Like a Mountain. Hence the title for this post, celebrating Charles life of 96 years and creation of Brandt Hermitage Land Trust.
Cheers to you Charles,
in fellowship with all
Arm in arms
Rich world /poor world
Divided or not?
No. Know no dichotomy.
We are one
with the earth, the heavens
The stars of night
and the smiling faces of children.
The hungry ones’ eyes
are sad, empty stomachs
And we rich world
of smiling faces,
arm in arms. Are we won?
With the hungry ones’ – are we one
duty and bound,
for this “dirty rotten system”
The earth, the heavens
meet. Dichotomy or not?
No. Know this not . . . the duality
rich world /poor world.
~ B. Thomas Witzel ~
Florence Owens Thompson (1903 –1983) “Migrant Mother”
(US Library of Congress – Dorothea Lange photo & thanks to Public Images Online Blog)
“When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint.
When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist.”
― Dom Helder Camara
Photo by Hans Peters/Anefo, via Wikimedia commons
~ photo and poem by Thomas Merton ~
We must be wary of ourselves when the worst that is in people becomes objectified in society,
approved, acclaimed and deified,
when hatred becomes patriotism and murder a holy duty,
when spying and delation are called love of truth and the stool pigeon is a public benefactor,
when the gnawing and prurient resentments of frustrated bureaucrats
become the conscience of the people and the gangster is enthroned in power,
then we must fear the voice of our own heart, even when it denounces them.
For are we not all tainted with the same poison?
~ from Emblems of a Season of Fury ~
Delation (meaning) – to inform, to accuse, to bring down
Thomas Merton with the Dalai Lama – photo credit unknown
Francis speaks of her elusive and ever changing writing spots in the cabin. And we re-purpose a small stack of leftover flooring from friends, to build – guess what? Look and see, amidst the nooks and crannies (clue – light coloured wood & just above my composting duties) 🙂
There is no such thing as the perfect writing spot. We all know that. Though, I must say, granddaughter Emma looks almost perfect right where she sits at my desk. And my son, Doug, looks pretty productive, too.
There are simply writers who sit down and write. Wait around for the perfect spot and you won’t be writing much. And yet … periodically, I disrupt our whole house as I attempt to fulfill this most illusory need.
Our cabin is somewhat unconventional. Right angles and doors are rare. Open concept is taken to the limit. Finding my perfect writing space has been a challenge that is as much about my personality as it is about the house. I like a change now and then. Over the years, I have had my desks in at least eight areas of this small cabin. I’m sorry to tell you that the first few…
View original post 1,298 more words
A Crude Awakening:
Our grandchildren will ask someday: ‘All those lovely organic molecules, and you just burned it?’
Sorry, we burned it…
Crude oil is much too valuable to be burned as a fuel.
Dr. Kenneth Deffeyes
Oil geologist 1931 –2017
The twinning of the Trans Mountain pipeline has been a contentious issue for the past four years in Canada. If completed it would triple diluted bitumen shipments from Alberta to the BC coast to 890,000 barrels a day. The increase in oil would lead to an increase in tanker traffic along the BC coast from 5 tankers per month to 34.
Last year more than 200 people were arrested while protesting continued construction of the pipeline, including 2 Canadian Members of Parliament.
Another person arrested was my friend Brian Voth. He gave the following testimony at his trial.
Statement to the BC Supreme Court
by Brian Voth, August 2, 2018
Charts, photos & blue notes added by B. Witzel
M’lord, this statement will take me 5 minutes to read.
I have a deep respect for the rule of law. So why did I publicly disobey the BC Supreme Court’s March 15th, 2018 order and injunction to not disrupt construction of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project?
Trans Mountain Pipeline Protest near Vancouver, March 24-2018 Brian Voth photo
Simply put, desperate times call for desperate measures. I’m desperate because I fear for the environmental future of coastal BC, and because I have grave concerns about climate change.
An estuary on the north west coast of Vancouver Island b.witzel photo
First, I want to make it clear that I respect the folks who work in our resource industries. I spent my career as a professional forester, working up and down the BC coast, for a large forest products company. I was impressed by the culture of the logging community.
Logging Camp on Northern Vancouver Island b.witzel photo
This culture valued innovation, hard work (often under difficult conditions), and a good sense of humour. And yes, my respect for natural resource workers includes those in the oil patch.
Oil well and prairie farmland near Longview, Alberta b.witzel photo
If we do the right thing and stop this pipeline and invest in clean energy, there will still be plenty of good resource jobs in BC and Alberta.
99 Mega-watt wind farm near Cape Scott, Vancouver Island b.witzel photo
Alberta Solar Farm
Wind Turbines near Pincher Creek, Alberta b.witzel photos
The scientific evidence is overwhelming – humans have been causing, and continue to cause, very harmful climate change.
This NASA graph, based on the comparison of atmospheric samples contained in ice cores and more recent direct measurements, provides evidence that atmospheric CO2 has increased since the Industrial Revolution. (Credit: Vostok ice core data/J.R. Petit et al.; NOAA Mauna Loa CO2 record.)
And scientists are warning that we are now at a tipping point and if we don’t quickly, and greatly reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, catastrophic climate change is imminent.
In addition to the massive threat of climate change, this pipeline is also wrong for our beloved BC coast. The massive increase in tanker traffic would surely be detrimental to our already gravely threatened southern resident Orca population.
An Orca whale on the Salish Sea near Lund, BC
A large oil spill would be devastating for huge swaths of this coast. And local indigenous rights are not being respected.
Painting by Roy Henry Vickers
So why is it that most countries will probably not meet their greenhouse gas emission reduction targets? And why are BC and Canada not doing enough to protect our fragile coast?
There are many reasons, and smarter people than myself have written about this extensively, and logically. But science also tells us that humans very often act illogically. That’s why I’d like to look at why this pipeline is such a bad idea on a more emotional level.
Photo from University of Alberta https://www.folio.ca/is-the-environmental-price-of-pipelines-too-high/
I love music, and I’m deeply moved by some of what I listen to. For me, the power of music reaches its peak when good music meets good lyrics. I’m going to quote some song lyrics that really speak to me. The music part will be missing, but I’m hoping the poetry of these lyrics will still resonate.
For many years, I’ve been advocating for serious environmental change, but it’s crystal clear that we’re changing much too slowly. Sometimes this inaction can be very depressing to witness. Nobody captured this feeling better than Leonard Cohen, in these lyrics from his song “Everybody Knows”:
Everybody knows that the boat is leaking.
Everybody knows that the captain lied.
Everybody got this broken feeling,
like their father, or their dog just died.
But I don’t let those occasional helpless feelings stop me. I still get inspired by these words written by Midnight Oil in 1987, from their song “Beds Are Burning”:
The time has come
to take a stand,
It’s for the Earth,
it’s for our land.
The time has come,
a fact’s a fact,
the heat is on,
No turning back.
British Columbia coast during 2017 wildfires francis guenette photo
How can we dance,
when our earth is turning?
How do we sleep,
while our beds are burning?”
Smoke on the Water francis guenette photo
Serious problems call for serious action. BC, Canada, and the rest of the world need to come together to find solutions. I’m going to close with this plea from John Lennon’s 1971 song “Imagine”:
“You may say I’m a dreamer,
But I’m not the only one.
I hope some day you’ll join us,
and the world will be as one.”
Brian Voth, RPF (ret) – Registered Professional Forester (retired)
Brian was given a five hundred dollar fine. Some of the others arrested served 14 days in jail.
Meanwhile, on August 30, 2018 Canada’s Federal Court of Appeal overturned the Canadian Government’s NEB (National Energy Board) approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. In a unanimous decision by a panel of three judges, the court said that the NEB’s review of the proposal was so flawed that the federal government could not rely on it as a basis for its decision to approve the expansion. The court also concluded that the federal government failed in its duty to engage in meaningful consultations with First Nations before giving the project the green light.
On that same day the shareholders of the Canadian subsidiary of Kinder Morgan approved the sale of the pipeline and the Canadian Government purchased it for 4.5 Billion dollars.
The Federal Court of Appeal gave the Canadian government until Feb. 22, 2019 to file an amended report detailing extra protections for an endangered group of West Coast killer whales in this region. Indigenous consultations the government itself must redo, though the court set no timeline.
The saga continues…
Cheers to all – Bruce
“An individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law.”
― Martin Luther King Jr.
One of the most important tasks today is to clear the atmosphere so that people can understand their plight without hatred, without fury, without desperation, and with the minimum of goodwill.
The illuminated crowd, Montreal
Against the wall, University of Tucson
~ photos by bruce witzel ~
a card from Charles Brandt – hermit priest
. . . and an article by Brian Payton
Photo by Grant Callegari
An estuary meets the Salish Sea – photo by Charles Brandt
~ Cheers to all for a promising New Year ~
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1) REMEMBER OUR VOWS
2) PRACTICE PATIENCE
3) REFRAIN FROM OUTRAGEOUS BEHAVIOUR
1) SUSTAINABILITY - For at least seven generations
2) GRASSROOTS DEMOCRACY
3) SOCIAL JUSTICE & RESPONSIBILITY - personal & global
4) NON VIOLENCE - a call to arms is the last choice
5) DIVERSITY - biological, cultural & spiritual
6) POST PATRIARCHAL CONSCIOUSNESS
7) SEXUAL & RACIAL EQUALITY
8) DECENTRALIZATION - of energy, politics & wealth.
9) ECOLOGICAL WISDOM