Published: Sunday 9 December 2012
If the industry knew what they were doing, we wouldn’t have accidents like the one in Vancouver, or traffic jams caused by malfunctioning coal trains or deadly derailments.

People in Washington and Oregon have been turning out in force to protest the coal industry’s plans to send millions of tons of dirty fuel through their backyards, and an incident yesterday just added to the laundry list of reasons coal is a bad bet. From the Vancouver Sun:

A large ship docking at Westshore Terminals at Delta’s Roberts Bank crashed into a berth early Friday morning. In a statement, the company said a large cape size vessel was docking at Berth 2 at 1 a.m. when it collided with a trestle leading to Berth 1, removing a large portion of the trestle.

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Published: Sunday 28 October 2012
“The inland saltwater of the our region, now officially referred to as the Salish Sea (not a traditional name) and the rich and diverse inland passages to the north of Vancouver Island are truly the well spring of life in this region and beyond.”

The threatened transformation of the Pacific Northwest into an energy corridor for fossil fuels may be the region's defining issue of our time. The battles against the pipelines, coal mines and coal plants, coal trains and coal ports, tankers, fracking and LNG export terminals in the Pacific Northwest are heating up. The Defend Our Coast rally was a pivotal moment, a milestone in an unprecedented process of coming together to occupy a common vision, shared aspirations and our collective, cross-border power to shape the future. 

 

This past Monday, October 22, I attended the Defend Our Coast rally in Victoria, BC, Canada. It was an inspiring, truly inter-National gathering of historic significance. Our giant Salmon (lent to us by artist Bill Jarcho), processed into the rally behind First Nations Elders and drummers. It was then positioned at the top of the stairs of the BC Legislative building, serving as an iconic symbol of our region. [CBC coverage begins with our image]

 

I was proud that Backbone could provide that icon, reinforcing the clear moral leadership of the First Nations peoples and the values they consistently spoke of from the stage. Repeatedly, the advice of elders was echoed by younger leaders. They reminded us that this is fundamentally a moral conflict that must be fought with the courage of the warrior, but grounded in love, respect for the land, and a deep spiritual commitment that transcends ego or bitterness. 

 

The courage and resilience of the First Nations people in general, and specifically through their ongoing ...

Published: Tuesday 3 July 2012
Reduction in C02 is enough to give people some hope that perhaps humanity will not continue to send the environment into a doomsday scenario.

 

According to a recent report by the International Energy Agency, the U.S. has seen the greatest reduction in carbon dioxide pollution within the past six years in comparison to any other country, even as global carbon dioxide pollution has reached record highs.

“CO2 emissions in the United States in 2011 fell by 92 Mt (million tonnes), or 1.7%, primarily due to ongoing switching from coal to natural gas in power generation and an exceptionally mild winter, which reduced the demand for space heating,” the IEA writes on its website.

“US emissions have now fallen by 430 Mt (7.7%) since 2006, the largest reduction of all countries or regions. This development has arisen from lower oil use in the transport sector (linked to efficiency improvements, higher oil prices and the economic downturn which has cut vehicle miles travelled) and a substantial shift from coal to gas in the power sector,” the IEA states.

 

It is enough to ...

Published: Monday 20 February 2012
While helpful, scientific knowledge and experts are also part of the problem: by dominating the sustainability discourse, they narrow people’s visions of what’s possible.

Contrary to popular belief, humans have failed to address the earth's worsening emergencies of climate change, species' extinction and resource overconsumption not because of a lack of information, but because of a lack of imagination, social scientists and artists say.

At a conference for the American Academy for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) here in Vancouver, British Columbia, experts argued that the path to a truly sustainable future is through the muddy waters of emotions, values, ethics, and most importantly, imagination.

Humans' perceptions of reality are filtered by personal experiences and values, said David Maggs, a concert pianist and PhD student at the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability at the University of British Columbia (UBC).

As a result, the education and communication paradigm of "if we only knew better, we'd do better" is not working, Maggs told attendees at the world's largest general science meeting. "We don't live in the real world, but live only in the world we imagine."

"We live in our heads. We live in storyland," agreed John Robinson of UBC's Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability.

"When we talk about sustainability we are talking about the future, how things could be. This is the landscape of imagination," Robinson told IPS. "If we can't imagine a better world we won't get it."

This imagining will be complex and difficult. Sustainability encompasses far more than just scientific facts – it also incorporates the idea of how we relate to nature and to ourselves, he said.

"We haven't yet grasped the depth of changes that are coming."

Because human decisions and behavior are the result of ethics, values and emotion, and because sustainability directly involves our ...

Published: Friday 11 November 2011
“From Tunis to Tel Aviv, Madrid to Oakland, a new generation of youth activists is challenging the neoliberal state that has dominated the world ever since the Cold War ended.”

From Tunis to Tel Aviv, Madrid to Oakland, a new generation of youth activists is challenging the neoliberal state that has dominated the world ever since the Cold War ended.  The massive popular protests that shook the globe this year have much in common, though most of the reporting on them in the mainstream media has obscured the similarities.   

Whether in Egypt or the United States, young rebels are reacting to a single stunning worldwide development: the extreme concentration of wealth in a few hands thanks to neoliberal policies of deregulation and union busting.  They have taken to the streets, parks, plazas, and squares to protest against the resulting corruption, the way politicians can be bought and sold, and the impunity of the white-collar criminals who have run riot in societies everywhere.  They are objecting to high rates of unemployment, reduced social services, blighted futures, and above all the substitution of the market for all other values as the matrix of human ethics and life.

Pasha the Tiger

In the “glorious thirty years” after World War II, North America and Western Europe achieved remarkable rates of economic growth and relatively low levels of inequality for capitalist societies, while instituting a broad range of benefits for workers, students, and retirees.  From roughly 1980 on, however, the neoliberal movement, rooted in the laissez-faire ...

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