Greta Thunberg is Speaking – Will we hear her?


“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


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




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




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.


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



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




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.





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




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




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 ~


Thinking Like a Mountain – Charles Brandt at 96


Coast Mountains (large), from Oyster Bay, Dec. 2, '14. charles brandt photo (2)

British Columbia Coast Mountain Range and the Salish Sea – Charles Brandt photo


“Somehow we must come to realize that the earth is not merely a resource for human exploitation, but that it is a gift, a holy gift, that has a vastly deeper worth than its value as purely an economic commodity. To do this we must discover our own spirit.”


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, Page Arizona - July 2007 by Charles A.E.Brandt

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.


Charles Brandt's book binding skills

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

Oyster River near the hermitage – Charles Brandt photo


“We find ourselves alienated not only from ourselves but from our sister and brother, and from the very root of reality. We find ourselves alienated from the earth and its natural resources. Instead of living in peace and harmony and unity with the earth, we find ourselves exploiting it and performing acts of violence that degrade and spoil it . . . Because of these grave threats to the continuation of life on earth we are drawn together in the cause of peace. We seek peace with all the peoples of the earth and with the earth itself . . . ”

~ 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 in 2018 - photo by grant callegari

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.


Screenshot_2019-02-19 Thinking Like a Mountain by Aldo Leopold - wolves and deforestation(1)


Cheers to you Charles,


in fellowship with all

Windows to the world


Lakeview panorama  b&w March 10-2017 - bruce witzel photo

b.witzel photo 


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

suffer pain.

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 ~


Migrant Mother (Florence Owens Thompson) dorothea lange photo taken March 13, 1936 Public domain US library of congress


 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


800px-Braziliaanse_bisschop_Don_Helder_Camara_bij_eucharistieviering_in_Den_Bosch_tu,_Bestanddeelnr_927-5424 (2)

Photo by Hans Peters/Anefo, via Wikimedia commons

Thomas Merton On Being ‘TAINTED WITH POISON’


~ photo and poem by Thomas Merton ~


Paint Cans - photo 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 and the Dalai Lama

Thomas Merton with the Dalai Lama – photo credit unknown

Searching for the Perfect Writing Spot

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) 🙂


Emma at the desk

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.

Doug at my desk

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…

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Crude Awakening, Civil Disobedience & Canada’s Trans Mountain Pipeline

  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? 


Kinder Morgan Pipeline protest (2) Burnaby BC, March 15, 2018 - brian voth photo

                       Trans Mountain Pipeline Protest near Vancouver, March 24-2018                 Brian Voth photo


                                                                                   Source unknown


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.


Winter Harbour estuary, north-west coast Vancouver Island May 5-2016 - bruce witzel photo

                                       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. 


W.D. Moore Logging moorage Winter Harbour BC, Nov. 15-2013 - bruce witzel photo

                                         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.


Alberta Rockies and oil - bruce witzel photo

                                       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.


Cape Scott Windfarm Jan. 17-2014 - bruce witzel photo

                                             99 Mega-watt wind farm near Cape Scott, Vancouver Island                    b.witzel photo


Green Acres Solar Farm, Alberta                                                                                               Attribution Non-Commercial-Share-Alike

                                       Alberta Solar Farm



Windfarm near Pincher Creek, Alberta - bruce witzel photo

                           Wind Turbines near Pincher Creek, Alberta                              b.witzel photos


Near Pincher Creek Alberta Oct. 28-2014 - Cowley Ridge Wind Site - Bruce Witzel photo


The scientific evidence is overwhelming – humans have been causing, and continue to cause, very harmful climate change. 


Nasa graph of 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. 


1 Carbon Bubble carbon budget carbon tracker


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. 


Orca in the Salish Sea 1 - photo by brian voth                                                                                                                                                              Brian Voth photo

                                            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.


Pipeline Capture

Photo from University of Alberta


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.


FLW Statues at Taliesen East, Wisconsin - bruce witzel photo (2)

                                                                                                                                       b.witzel photo


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”:

photo-by-bruce-witzel-leonard-cohen-singing-hallelujah-in-vancouver-concert                                                   Leonard Cohen in Vancouver BC                                          b.witzel photo

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.


Bruce Witzel photo - original location and artist, unknown                               original artist unknown (b.witzel photo)


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.

Victoria Lake, July 5, 2016 - bruce witzel photo                                                                                                                       Vancouver Island forest – b. witzel photo

The time has come,
a fact’s a fact,
the heat is on,
No turning back.

Under red smoky skies - fran guenette photo (2)

                                                     British Columbia coast during 2017 wildfires                    francis guenette photo

How can we dance,

when our earth is turning?


Nasa image of earth at night

How do we sleep,

while our beds are burning?”

Under smokie skies - fran guenette (2)

                                                    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.”



Thank you.

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.

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