Thanks dear Carol, for writing this in 05!

once upon a time
a very long time ago

a tree
a very special tree

decided to walk
and walk and walk

it came upon
a sound so clear

crying, crying
in its ears

oh cousin
of mine

why do you cry
is the ground not

is the ground too dry?

are your roots parched
but you look so green

"ah...the earth
the earth so mean

is not taking care
of our young ones you know

I cry for them
I cry so

My roots will have water
My heart will not be sad

Oh said the traveller
Oh, Oh and with all

Her might
She hugged him so

Her leaves were gone
She understoood

She too had cried
She too had stood

In land so barren
Caused by humans

So she decided to travel
To spread the word

Take care of the world
Take care of the woods

She hugged each tree
As she spied them in tears

Told them to pray
And eased all their fears

There's a human you know
Who will work for us

A Darcy boy
One we can trust

The two trees talked
for hours on end

The traveller left
The tears were dried

They knew a young man
Who would try and try and try!!


Update @ Copenhagen

An email this morning from long-time sustainability activists Ryan Sisson..

Things are expected to move fast here today.

Consensus among most NGO's and attendees here at the People's Summit is that No deal will be better than a bad deal. Timelines will be key moving forward to ensure that the talks don't drag on for years.

Will they pin an agreement down now or drag it on until COP 16? There has been speculation that COP 16 in Mexico could be moved up by 6 months. At a briefing last night UN Climate Director to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, said that the UN would support the move but it would depend on the host country's ability to hold it earlier. US negotiators are hiding behind Congress and Senate timelines claiming they don't have a mandate and 6 mths would be too soon. The gap between developing and developed nations is very wide.

COP15 will likely be known as a disaster for poorer nations. Funding committments of 100B from developed nations as announced by Sec. Of State Clinton is viewed as a 'drop in the bucket'.

350ppm CO2 is the magic number here. The upper limit of CO2 scientists say is safe in our atmosphere. We're at about 386 now. 350.org for more info. The President of the Maldives gave a heartfelt plea to our forum Monday night calling for this cap to be in the final agreement though the reference had been dropped from UN drafts as of the weekend.

The good news is that the UN is advising negotiators to prepare to stay until sunday- similar to Bali talks.

Canada is expected to win the global fossil fool award today. An international movement is growing here to stop or limit further growth of the Tar Sands.

Obama is expected to speak soon so I'm going to find somewhere to hear him. NGO delegates from around the world have been shut out of the Conference Centre today and restricted over the last few days. 15,000 capacity and 45,000 accredited delegates are here.


Stop Everything's getting good reviews in the blogosphere

Find us at: This Magazine

"This Magazine has an excellent post up from their environmental series Stop Everything. Read it. Then send Mr. Harper a friendly reminder on who he is in office to serve (that’s you; the people!)"


"There’s a great blog tracking the lead up to the Copenhagen conference on climate change from a Canadian perspective. Written by sustainability activists Rebecca McNeil and Darcy Higgins, it addresses the political and social issues, as well as the urgency of climate change."


On Twitter:

1LeslieGarrett Yes, yes, yes!!! RT @anndouglas: RT .@thismagazine Stop Everything #5: Environmental e-cards for the prime minister http://bit.ly/1Ym9sh

jafoulds RT @thismagazine: Stop Everything #5 - send Envir't Canada global warming e-postcard to Harper. Very funny.
1 day ago from web

ChicoSousa kewl read. RT @thismagazine: BlogThis // Stop Everything #4: Religion could stop climate change http://bit.ly/1A5JCL


A mistake is a mistake

Sarnia, as seen in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, might just make a new hotspot list.

A Toronto friend told me today he didn't know I was from Sarnia.

"I've been there a couple time for toxic tours," he noted.

The opportunities suddenly became so clear. I had no idea Sarnia was such an eco-tourism destination!

Think about it: a couple people come from another part of the province to check out our heavy metals and endochrine disruptors. Maybe they make a weekend out of it. They go to dinner for some decent chinese-canadian fair. The restau owner hires another server, who takes a trip to Lambton Mall to buy some new earrings and so on - think of the multiplier effects! The Chamber would be ever so pleased.

Even better, if they choose to drive to Sarnia they'll be using gasoline, playing their part to increase demand, bring up oil prices and help local business.

Now some think that the best way forward for Sarnia-Lambton is to create a new vision for green jobs, one that transforms our dependence on fossil fuel processing plastics, rubbers and gasoline into something different - an economy based in sustainable (non-ethanol) energy, arts, local agriculture, product re-use, industrial ecology and green manufacturing. They think that Sarnia's many mentions in global media have been giving us a bad name, and the least we could do is reduce pollution levels, if not our branding.

Let me be the first to admit that I shared that view. I was, simply, incorrect. Our future does lie in tourism, perhaps not as I had predicted.

Folks are clearly coming from far and wide to learn from us. There's something to be said about playing to your strengths.


Between Rocks and Hard Places

Stop Everything
Rebecca McNeil and Darcy Higgins

October 27, 2009

After the flash mob that appeared in Parliament yesterday, disrupting question period to call immediate attention to climate change, we had very mixed feelings.

The flash mob evokes tactics of yester-year, though a little more clever. To those of us who are used to doing campaign and policy work in the environmental sector, making incremental change by going in the front door with a suit and a tie (well a suit, anyways), it’s hard to not feel like this approach loses credibility for our whole sector and the point we are trying to make – that our government must act now to reduce climate change.

On the other hand, this as a desperate act from people hoping desperately to wake our government up, and on that sentiment, we couldn’t agree more. We have issued press releases, sent letters and petitions, aired public service announcements, written columns (ahem), penned books, held community events and press conferences, schmoozed officials and any other “respectable” tactic you can imagine to try to evoke change, for twenty years! The issue of climate change is by no means new, and two decades of respectability has not bailed us out of this problem.

When Green Party leader Elizabeth May joined the protest on Parliament Hill on the weekend (pre-Parliament flash mob), Rebecca asked her about her days in the Sierra Club and whether she’d ever thought she would see this kind of youth-lead activism when she helped form the Sierra Youth Coalition. Her response surprised us: “I never thought I would have to. I never thought it would get this bad.”

The woman’s got a point. Even the biggest of “doomsdayers” (as we have been affectionately called) didn’t anticipate that this kind of action would be needed because we all hoped our government would wake up before this. While some see the tactics of the flash mob as disrespectful, inappropriate, entitled or juvenile (all taken from the lovely “comments” section at the Globe and Mail), frankly, what mass demonstration has ever been pretty? When people are backed against a wall they will use every tool they have to fight back. After all, we are talking about scientific evidence that points to heightened and increased natural disasters, food and water scarcity for an already over-populated world, and the potential for international conflict, climate refugees and displaced people. Not only is there a Nobel prize-winning international scientific panel who agrees on this, but we have already begun to see the evidence.

In a press conference after the demonstration, May said that these youth were Canada’s best and brightest. Particularly in comparison to the country’s MPs. The chants didn’t sound much different from the regular banter in the House she thought, a theme the Globe picked up on as they started their story on the issue: “The shouting and heckling in the House of Commons had nothing to do with MPs yesterday...”

We didn’t think that the style of activism that spread through campuses in our parents’ generation like carbon-induced wildfires would be included in the activism of today.

May’s commentary was politically risky, but maybe it’s time we all started taking risks.



Youth shout protest in Question Period, gain attention to climate crisis

Stop Everything

See youth protests on Bill C-311 and commentary by Elizabeth May at the CBC.

"Veteran parliamentarians said they could not recall a protest in the House of Commons that had ever involved so many people or which seemed as well-orchestrated." - National Post


the largest day of action in global history by far


Follow Stop Everything at http://darcyhiggins.blogspot.com


Mahatma Gandhi changed the world, so what are you doing?

Stop Everything
Darcy Higgins

October 23, 2009

"Someone who works in a morgue, who sees so many bodies so many times doesn't realize the impact that someone else would."

It's an analogous situation with us and climate change, we sometimes keep observing events, in the newspapers, and we miss the profoundness. This is what Suresh Prabhu, told us when Rebecca and I caught up with him at the global screening of The Age of Stupid. Prabhu is a member of the Parliament of India and former Minister of Industry and Minister of Environment and Forests, among other posts.

The environmentally-minded politician saw Stupid as an effective wake up - a film that brings out these events with the necessary context.
Certainly it does that. Watching it is an experience, with the context provided by a number of stories of people today, in India, Louisiana, England and Nigeria. Most of these people want to do the right thing, but it isn't in their best personal interest do do so. It became evident to me that a significant change in our economy and job could be one of the significant and necessary changes that would both help these people and the impacts they make on the planet.

So what can we do? We asked Prabhu his thoughts on youth as activists.

"One man can change the world, look at Mahatma Gandhi," said Prabhu. "Transformational change must come from government, but we also need to ensure lifestyle change, things will not change by law alone."

He told us that massive education and movements were key to success. Government is just a starting point.

"You call the fire engine to stop the fire," he said.

This is what we youth and adults are doing across Canada Saturday. We're calling 911. Though "911" is "350". And longer-ter, we must work to change minds, that so easily get accustomed. "A process of unlearning," Prabhu called it.

Over in India, where each person contributes roughly one tonne of carbon dioxide compared with the average Canadian's twenty, the youth movement is taking strong action.

Much of the emphasis of the Indian Youth Climate Network is their delegation team and work with the Indian government. The youth have in fact asserted themselves so that they are being listened to by Lok Sabha, the Indian lower house.

The current Minister of Environment and Forests, Sabhu's successor put out a media release on their consultations.

Indian youth are a significant proportion of the voting population, and are engaged in citizenship. What can we learn from them? How can we demand that our concerns on climate are put into action by the Harper machine? If we don't have many politicians like Prabhu, maybe we have to be this change ourselves.


Stupid is playing across Canada tomorrow. Remember to act as well.

See you in Ottawa?

Stop Everything
Darcy Higgins

October 17, 2009

By now, if you haven't heard about 350, Powershift or C-Day, you probably haven't been too engaged in the climate movement or not reading our column. Really, no hard feelings... but now you've got no excuses.

The buses are being readied, the organizers in place. Facebook's abuzz. If you're not heading to Ottawa, please act in your community.

I've been pondering what this will all mean. After most developing countries walked out of a meeting with Canada this week, what chance do we have to shift the position of Canada's New Government? What is the most effective way to make change?

How do we engage the public in a significant way to make this the issue?

Whatever the tactic, hopefully a conensus on the next move can come out at Powershift. This Saturday is the time to convene and to act. See you there!

I'll write soon with some ideas from India.

With less than two months left to define an international agreement in Copenhagan, young sustainability activists Rebecca McNeil and Darcy Higgins are writing Stop Everything, a column engaging in political strategies for change in tackling the climate crisis. They follow the youth climate movement in Canada and others as they work to cap greenhouse gas emissions and change society, and show you ways you can be involved at this most critical juncture.
Find, discuss and learn at: Sustainability is Step One

Image from: http://iycn.in Spectral Q / Shiv Ahuja


Back at ‘ya, Harper

Stop Everything
Rebecca McNeil

October 9, 2009

I have spent the past year trying to follow the antics of the big players on Parliament Hill, and this weekend just threw another wrench in the drama that is becoming Canadian politics. Over the past year we have watched the Liberals change leaders from a boy scout to an assertive “foreigner”, the NDP go from the biggest denouncers of Harper to backing them in a confidence motion, and watched Harper move the Conservatives slowly but surely from far right to right of centre – not a small step in the world of Conservative Party politics.

In an October 1st editorial Globe and Mail writer Michael Bliss announced that “In a historic shift, the Tories have seized the centre and are set to become the natural governing party.” I assume if you have time to read this blog you’ve likely already scoured the daily papers so this won’t require a full explanation, but it is becoming increasingly evident that Harper will be our leader through the rest of this year. This means he’s our guy for the international climate change decisions this year, and we are going to have to find a way to make sure that strong climate change policies and action makes it onto his agenda.

The good news is that with a government turning increasingly to the centre, they are backing a lot of issues on would not have normally have been supportive. Take Employment Insurance. Harper has taken an uncharacteristic stance to secure his Party’s position as leader of this country, and the NDP in turn propped up his government as a big ol’ thank you. Call it opportunistic, but it gives me some comfort to think that in the midst of achieving his own priorities our Prime Minister is able to adopt policies that will actually end up supporting Canadians.

In this hopeful vein, myself and several thousand other people will be heading to Parliament on October 24th, to “fill the hill” and let the Prime Minister know we are serious about taking action on climate change, and want him to be as well when he attends the international talks in Copenhagen this December. We don’t have many shots to get it right, and neither does Harper.

As the Prime Minister belted out this weekend that he gets by with a little help from his friends, I think we were all curious if there was some sort of symbolic message with the choice of song. I’ll be the first to admit I sort of loved watching his literal song and dance. But a quick piece of advice, Mr. Harper: if you want more friends, making decisions that won’t condemn our country to a life of natural disasters, drought, disease and possible extinction, will make you a very popular guy. And a rendition of Mean Mr. Mustard couldn’t hurt either.


Calling for a new generation of Moonies

Darcy Higgins

We all owe a big thank you to Ban Ki Moon.

The UN Secretary-General, it appears, has basically stopped everything to put climate on top of his agenda, having convened over 100 heads of state for meetings on the climate crisis. He did this with a little ambition and a lot of optimism, pulling these leaders together to get things moving on a political level, towards necessary aims at Copenhagen. His challenge to fellow leaders: “Your words have been heard around the world. Let your actions now be seen. There is little time left. The opportunity and responsibility to avoid catastrophic climate change is in your hands”.

The convention in New York was met with a world of actions from the public. On Monday, TckTckTck launched a global wakeup call with 1500 events in 112 countries, including several in Canada, at least three in Toronto. Showings of The Age of Stupid were also premiered in countries worldwide Monday and Tuesday. Rebecca and I attended one of those events.

Stupid was enough to give anyone the heebie-jeebies. Set in a 2055 dystopia based on real scientific projections for what will happen to our planet should we not reduce emissions, the central question was, why didn’t we act when we knew what was coming? Perhaps far-fetched, perhaps not, but virtual annihilation of the human species was portrayed. Do today’s global citizens actually realize, actually feel that this possibility is heading our way if we don’t act? I don’t think so. The movie therefore made it real. Even if you set your disaster expectations a little lower, science still leaves us with harsh realities to come.

To be honest, the film really was a shock to the system. What we’re doing here in disaster prevention is the most important work that we could be doing right now.
The film led us through in-depth stories of people who live among us… in England, Louisiana, India and Nigeria. These stories provide insight as to why we aren’t acting and analyze our collective and individual addictions to oil. A lot is about jobs, necessities and wants, and a failure of social-economic-political systems to lead us to a re-organized economy. Answers to the “why we didn’t act” question exist all around us, but the consistent posing of the question in the film made me continually reflect on the gravity of the situation.

Despite Moon’s efforts, all is not well coming out of New York. The U.S. and China have left without committing to new binding targets. And Stephen Harper skipped most of the meetings, instead attending a Tim Horton’s anniversary event in Oakville the day of Barack Obama’s speech to the UN.

Things move slowly in politics – even more so in global politics – but this climate change isn’t slowing at all. If we are to have any hope in making an impact we must:
• keep up the pressure
• be patient – but not too patient
• watch, host and discuss screenings of The Age of Stupid
• continue to act as we lead up to Climate Day, October 24
• brace ourselves: a final agreement may not come until next year
• say a private thanks to Ban Ki Moon and commit to moving Harper’s agenda to where it needs to be
• become a Moonie

The Age of Stupid is showing again in Toronto at the MUCK Film Festival on October 3rd. If you would like to organize a screening, contact Darcy.

Image from: www.facebook.com/Harper.Chooses.Donuts.Over.Planet


US to Canada: We don’t want yer kind here

Yer kind of shamelessly dirty oil, anyways.

Stop Everything
Rebecca McNeil

This is the first time in my life I can recall Americans looking like a shining example of leadership and responsibility compared to us. When I was growing up our grade school teachers would endlessly pontificate on our national reputation: honourable, polite and neighbourly. We were peacekeepers, stewards of our land, and distributors of universal healthcare. Ask anyone, they would say, and they can tell you of Canada’s stellar track record and may even get down to kiss your feet, although being Canadian, you are too modest to let them.

Perhaps the last eight years allowed our egos to inflate, as well. The Michael Moore school of thinking did a lot to salute our nation, and during the Bush administration you could hear many a liberally-minded citizen from Oregon or Connecticut (and even some out of West Virginia) dreaming about the sunny, socialist shores of Canada. But either the rose coloured glasses were trampled under Obama’s inauguration parade or our southern neighbours were never really wearing them. All I know is, now they’re worried about us getting in the way of their actions to reduce climate change, and I don’t blame them.

Today Prime Minister Stephen Harper is in Washington trying to ride Obama’s coattails before a potential election. He is also battering our already-bruised reputation by pushing the Alberta Tar Sands to be excluded from any effective climate change reduction plans they come up with (and yes, isn’t he already on his fourth plan anyway?) The tar sands industry is the fastest growing greenhouse gas polluter in Canada, spewing more than many European countries, and Harper is not only looking to sustain this industry, but grow it.

Plenty of Americans now think it is we who will hinder them during the global climate change discussions, prompting the American-based Rainforest Action Network to string a banner across a Niagara Falls bridge kindly asking Harper to get lost.

It’s a shift in perspective, really. A few years ago Harper was faired poorly on climate change action, but he was still no Bush. Well, fast forward and he’s that much farther from Obama. Seemingly overnight the American national standard has changed and their Bob the Builder attitude combined with the charm that literally oozes out of Obama means they are easily becoming the North American leaders on climate change. What remains to be seen is if we will end up looking uneducated and manipulated by industry, declaring climate change to be a myth along with UFO’s and unicorns, or if Harper can leave his personal views at home and do what his country, and the rest of the world, need him to.

Check out the parody of Harper’s ‘Just Visiting’ ads by Environmental Defence.

While you’re there, be sure to send Harper a letter that’s politely-worded, but stills tells him exactly what you think of how he should be acting in Washington. ‘Cause we’re paying attention eh?

With less than three months left to define an international agreement in Copenhagan, young sustainability activists Rebecca McNeil and Darcy Higgins launch Stop Everything, a new column engaging in political strategies for change in tackling the climate crisis. They'll follow the youth climate movement in Canada and others as they work to cap greenhouse gas emissions and change society, and show you ways you can be involved at this most critical juncture.
Find, discuss and learn at: Sustainability is Step One


Do the right thing, no matter what China does

Stop Everything
Rebecca McNeil

Timing is a funny thing. Just as I am having these apocalyptic realizations that we have very little time to make some mind-bogglingly major changes to industry and how we live our lives, so too is Preston Manning. Yes, that Preston Manning, former leader of the Reform Party of Canada (read: uber conservative).
It seems there is a point that many powerful, or formerly powerful men reach in their careers when they soften, open up to ideas one would never have imagined they could get behind, and look with shining, idealistic eyes to the “younger generation.” Correlating milestones often include becoming a grandfather, having a humbling health scare and/or retiring officially from their political/business careers so these concepts don’t become are a liability as they simply revel in their newly-found sage status.

This may or may not be the case with Mr. Manning. As he said himself to a Bay Street crowd at the Empire Club on Thursday, “Conservation and conservative are very closely linked,” and it seems that in his heart of hearts he truly believes we need to act against climate change. Really, he makes a good point. I know several people from my parents’ generation who have only ever voted for the Conservatives or the Green Party in their entire lives.

While I have had the opportunity to hear many leading thinkers and activists share their position on climate issues, including Ray Anderson, David Suzuki, Bill McKibben, Robert Kennedy Jr. and Hunter Lovins, it is not every day I get to hear a bible-toting, fiscal conservative discuss how the corporate sector needs to step up to the plate to meet our climate change problem head on. So when invited to the Royal York where Mr. Manning was to speak to members of the Empire Club I was delighted. As he began his remarks he braced his audience for what would be a ground-breaking discovery: the market can’t survive without resources, which we are using up at a startling rate.

It’s a good thing I was sitting down.

As much as I take this perspective for granted, Manning brought up some good points. It was not so long ago that Canada drank to the Queen (in this particular case it was only 30 minutes prior, since apparently the Empire Club still does that) and went to war for England, and now we think of ourselves purely as a sovereign nation. A shift in perspective is critical for change to be made, in both the corporate and political sectors, since as Manning pointed out, many still view the market in four boxes: extract, refine, create, consume. Apparently this whole frontier-land notion is hard to shake.

He also pontificated how being revolutionary thinkers runs deep through our ancestry, taking a trip through time to recall how a ragtag group of settlements in the most Northern parts of the Americas would band together as a joint nation between the French and English, creating the second largest country in the world and building the world’s longest rail system to connect this patchwork of a nation.

It is both rare and wonderful to hear unbridled Canadiana from someone who actually means it. This man comes from an era of politics that defined us as a nation, and he maintains a relentless faith in Canadians as a people. When asked about whether or not Canada should wait to act on Climate Change until the bigger producers, like China, commit, Manning unabashedly waxed poetic. “You know I was asked that question before and I said – but isn’t it important to do the right thing? No Matter what the Chinese do, isn’t it important that Canada does the right thing?”

Now someone type it up and send it to Harper. The man’s already received enough correspondence from me.

Email: harpeS@parl.gc.ca

With three months left to define an international agreement in Copenhagan, young sustainability activists Rebecca McNeil and Darcy Higgins launch Stop Everything, a new column engaging in political strategies for change in tackling the climate crisis. They'll follow the youth climate movement in Canada and others as they work to cap greenhouse gas emissions and change society, and show you ways you can be involved at this most critical juncture.
Find, discuss and learn at: Sustainability is Step One

Photo taken from Red Tory v.3.0


Stop Everything

Rebecca McNeil

It’s easy to forget in a world of swirling priorities and frequently changing news stories that the foundation on which we all base our work is reaching a dangerously fragile point. Last year, in the wake of a seemingly overnight recession, we were reminded that at any moment the rug can be pulled out from under us and our collective energies and focus must immediately shift to a pressing issue.

The same can be true when we think of our environment. True, these issues have been surprisingly resilient as they remained on a public agenda throughout a recession, countless political scandals and despite the many distractions of everyday life. But within this broad term “environment” lies a plethora of topics: sustainable food, air pollution, public transit, local wine, clean water, waste reduction, recycling, conservation... and beyond that social concerns like housing, rising debt, AIDS, community-building, queer rights, war and corruption. The energy of environmental and progressive movements along with the attention of the public are constantly being pushed and pulled in a tug of war for precious resources and media so they can stay afloat on the public and political agenda and hopefully some progress will be made.

But is there a large, scary elephant in the room that environmentalists and the public at large are tending to forget about in their day-to-day priorities? Upon finishing my undergraduate degree in Environmental Studies I began working in the land-use planning/agricultural sector and have moved on to work on projects that engage youth in environmental education and work to protect rights of citizens to participate in public action. Important stuff, at least I think.

Every once in a while though, I have my system shocked with the reality that we are reaching those scary numbers: the dates that climatologists predicted we have until we reach the point of no return; the number of chances we have to make a serious commitment to this undeniably and globally-permeating problem; and what scientists have defined as 350 parts per million of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere as the tipping point. We’re told we have until 2015-2017 to stop increasing and begin to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases we pump into the atmosphere. And we have only one international framework that provides the chance of getting us there. We have all learned by now that this is the issue to end all issues, and if we can’t get ourselves out of this mess, all our other hard work will have been in vain.

But who wants to talk about climate change? Let’s face it, it’s abstract, number-based and there are lots of concepts and jargon from cap and trade to COP15 that exclude most of us from the discussion, leaving it to some political PR rep to tell us which systems are good for us.

We have allowed ourselves to feel distant and unsure from this issue and be told by our economic experts that we cannot afford to put any serious investments into it. The same folks that couldn’t predict the massive, world-reaching recession last year don’t foresee a problem with climate change. Okay. Perhaps I would have greater confidence if our own Conservative Federal Government website didn’t have an entire website displaying potential impending emergencies brought on by climate change such as “floods, damage of fresh water resources, food scarcity, drought” and other such goodies. We young people have also been telling ourselves that it’s okay not to engage in politics as long as we’re doing good things in NGOs and international development. Meanwhile, our Government sits back and enjoys the free ride.

And while I’m very happy to see that people in Toronto are now being charged a nominal fee to reduce plastic bags, you can buy local produce at many of your community grocery stores, municipalities are banning bottled water from public buildings, and other such victories, I worry about this dark cloud looming over us. And I can’t help but wonder if perhaps we should all just stop what we’re doing and try to get this one, very important thing right.

Rebecca McNeil lives, works and plays in Toronto and can be reached at: mcneil.rebecca@gmail.com She wonders, if a global climate crisis does ensue, making our environment practically unlivable, if she will have wished that she had spent the past six years baking pies and playing the piano instead of working on various environmental and social issues.

With three months left to define an international agreement in Copenhagan, young sustainability activists Rebecca McNeil and Darcy Higgins launch Stop Everything, a new column engaging in political strategies for change in tackling the climate crisis. They'll follow the youth climate movement in Canada and others as they work to cap greenhouse gas emissions and change society, and show you ways you can be involved at this most critical juncture.
Find, discuss and learn at: Sustainability is Step One


Who's stopping the winds of change?

We have now discovered, thanks to work by Toronto Star reporter Tyler Hamilton, the cost two proposed nuclear reactors at Darlington: 26 billion dollars. This is the reported cost of Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd, the only of the three bids that met the Government's standards, though not accepted by the McGuinty-Smitherman Liberals. Back to the drawing board for the same Government that once announced, then delayed by years the closure of Ontario coal plants. Now it's obvious that not accepting this bid was the only thing the Government could do.
Putting it another way, by kilowatt (kw) of energy produced, this cost comes to $10,800 per kw. The Ontario Power Authority (Ontario's energy advisors and planners) assumed a cost of $2,900 per kilowatt, and commented that over $3,600 per kilowatt would be "uneconomical". The Federal Government is now being asked to cover excess costs by Deputy Premier George Smitherman. When advocating that renewable energy's pricetag could beat nuclear, a few working on this issue in environmental and political communities including myself took numbers from financial institutions predicting costs as high as $7,500 per kilowatt. So at 10,000, the price tag that's appeared for nuclear was even greater than any environmentalists' highest expectations.
In calling for a Nuclear Cost Responsibility Act on April 22nd, the Green Party of Ontario made it certain that the we needed to know the upfront costs before we made a purchase. Luckily McGuinty-Smitherman took this advice in calling for these full costs to be known.
The cost of course still does not include insurance, and the social and environmental impacts, now and over the next thousands of years including mining, production and the life of nuclear waste.
How could this massive mistake happen? I find one answer from the United Kingdom.
Similar to Smitherman's new excitement and policies for green energy, the young Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change in the UK, Ed Miliband has promoted a significant new plan for wind power to meet much of the country's energy needs. But the wind isn't all smooth sailing for Miliband either. The Confederation of British Industry has called for a scale back of Milband's plan and for a larger investment in new nukes. Nuclear buffs in this country have done the same. So the lobbying is one hint tot he problem.
Nuclear energy in the UK has also gone way over-budget and under-performance. But the bureaucracy there keeps pushing it. Journalist Geoffrey Lean speculates the reason: distributed energy, such as wind, or the opposite of nuclear, poses a threat of sorts. It takes away planning power and control from those who enjoy it and are used to creating massive projects. Distributed energy, we could say, is much more in the hands of the people: often smaller companies, co-operatives, municipalities, First Nations, farmers and so on. Those who follow the Ontario Power Authority have for years, quietly and not so quietly, been making the same observations about their leanings towards big generation. And Smitherman had to push the Authority hard to get a good plan for renewables and conservation. Could this have been a factor in the mis-calculation of the costs of building a new nuke plant? Hard to tell. What we do know is that armed with this information, we have 26 billion reasons to change course.
Mini-green Smitherman's blunder may be rooted in his Government's blind love of nuclear. Those in the Ontario Power Authority who endorse nukes have an ally in their political chiefs. After a recent press conference, reporters wrote headlines saying Premier Dalton McGuinty was still on track to keep his plans to build new nuclear. Could this be political suicide? The Federal Government shows no interest in subsidizing Ontario's proposed plants. And just this week, Ontario shut down a Bruce reactor for a few days simply because we just don't have the need to keep it running.
McGuinty doesn't get it. Greens do, and have been getting it right all along. Nuclear's not up to the task. Let's move on to create a truly green future for Ontario.

Darcy Higgins is the Policy Coordinator of the Green Party of Ontario.

Cross-published on the Green Party of Ontario newsletter.


Pride this year has much to celebrate again with community, activism, arts and culture. As we enjoy Toronto Pride and its theme of 'can't stop, won't stop', we also acknowledge the festivals and marches throughtout the province and the dedication of june as pride month in the United States, along with new rights for federal workers and states moving quickly on gay marriage.. California's mishap excepted..

The Green Party will have a strong prescence as usual in Toronto. You'll hear from us that the federal Party had the first (only?) openly gay party leader, and were first to support gay marriage, as policy in 1996. Our members were right on the ball and ahead of the game.

But this isn't time to rest. The Party must keep ahead of the curve on queer issues, and let the other parties move ahead with legislation that is Green policy - as happens on so many issues - though preferably with elected Greens soon at the table. We need to be expressing these issues by writing strong new policy because there is still much to do. A panel this week on international human rights for trans people asked if we had really Started the work in Ontario (not just can't stop, won't stop). With gender identity and expression still not in the Ontario human rights code, high suicide, depression and homelessness rates among queer and questioning youth, struggles for proper health care and identity, widespread intolerance through much of the province.. Where do we go from here? We Greens can't stop on what's collectively been achieved. We must work to create new party policies to support rights for queer and questioning youth to those facing difficulties in retirement homes, and people of marginalized communities. We won't stop until people are not treated unequally based on who they are or how they express themselves.

Get involved by contacting us to move rights and dignity forward in all of our values, as well as provincial policies and funding.
And be sure to join us and our leadeship in Sunday's parade!

Darcy Higgins
Policy Coordinator
Green Party of Ontario


This article shows some hope of US-China relations with regards to climate change. These two countries are key, on the fate of the future of people depends on the state of their relations in general, and how they affect climate negotiations, especially on the lead up to the Copenhagen climate conference in December.


Some thoughts on an Earth Day

Three years ago I wrote the first article in a sustainability column giving tribute to environmental heroes who have made an impact locally (Southern Ontario) and internationally. I was reminded last Friday in a talk by Jane Goodall that everything you do every day makes a difference - how you act towards people and treat animals and what you say, what you do to the environment. I think this is the basis of Earth Day and the ability of individual changes to make a combined difference.
It was also a political movement which brought Washington to a stand-still in 1970 and brought 20 million Americans out to participate. Yes, Earth Day is an American creation. It meant peace and ecology and that's still what we're working towards. Today in Ontario we celebrate the institution of a new pesticide act which bans the use and purchase of hundreds of chemicals which may be dangerous to the health of people and wildlife. This is a day for everyone involved in the environmental movement to be proud, all those who worked municipally and provincially on campaigns for legislation - and also to know that green jobs will come with new types of lawn care and naturalization, work that requires higher levels of labour and finance.
We now go beyond to the next challenges of our time including nuclear disarmament, widespread poverty and disease, agricultural transition and the climate crisis, and how we can solve these and others in a new economy and caring society. Luckily we already have the solutions being in things like micro-credit, renewable energy, public transportation, health and clean water solutions, local trade and sustainable agriculture. What we make of the world is up to us, and particularly the younger generations who need to stand up to force others to listen and to make political and personal changes themselves. What are you doing today? Tomorrow?

My colleague Rebecca McNeil and I are working on a new column which will discuss tools of change, providing practical ways that people have made change can how we can organize for a new progressive and sustainable agenda for Canada. Stay tuned.

from: http://darcyhiggins.blogspot.com


A new biggie has moved onto to propose banning the sale of bottled water. Vancouver is looking to step up to the task; sends a good message on sustainability leadership towards the Olympics I think.


A comment on a cbc.ca article:

A visionary comment perhaps. Though, I'd say it's maybe the ideas, not necessarily the individual people/boomers themselves that need replacing.

"I'm glad you wrote this [refers to comment that we need to limit our use of credit], and I think it leads into something bigger. While I appreciate all the things that the Boomers have done to improve the world (and there have been many), economics and the environment have been colossal failures. I think that in the history will look back at 2006-2010 as the time when our generations stepped up to the table, thanked the Boomers for their service, and took control over the kingdom.

There's little doubt that this is a major transition point, but, what are we going to do with it?"