Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Stand up and Vote for the Environment!

There is just one week to go before Canadians head to the polls in what could be the most important Federal election ever. Yes, ever.

In this election Canadians must decide whether they want to go forward and make the changes necessary to keep our planet hospitable to life, or whether they want to stay the course and let corporate greed and consumerism continue suck the lifeblood from our humanity and our planet.

Think I'm overstating things a bit? I don't. Simply put, without a human-friendly planet to live on, all manner of economic activity will utterly cease. There is no separating the environment from the economy. We can no longer labor under the delusion that the two are separate entities. We either stop killing the planet now, or eventually (and eventually is sooner all the time) the conditions on the planet will kill us, period. Gaia will have her revenge; Nature will bat last. Of these things I am absolutely certain.

So, when it comes time to vote, we must ensure that Conservative leader Stephen Harper does NOT win a majority government. If he wins, the environment loses. If the environment loses, we lose and will have firmly set ourselves, our children, and our children's children on a path to destruction. Do I sound paranoid and apocalyptic? Sure I do. I'm afraid, very afraid. I try and conceal these fears and moderate my statements when I talk to people, but fundamentally, this is what I believe: We are killing ourselves with our greed and it has to stop.

Today, Canada's top climate scientists have banded togther and sent an open letter to Canadians urging them to vote for the environment. The scientists agree that people just don't seem to understand how urgent the issue of climate change is. These are scientists who depend on federal funding for their work but are taking a stand and speaking out anyway. We must all speak out in kind. We must all find our voice, go to our local polling station and vote for the candidate with the best chance of defeating the Conservative candidate. The folks at voteforenvironment.ca have made it easy to find out which candidate to vote for - people in Edmonton-Strathcona and Edmonton-Centre please take note! Your ridings are the only two in Alberta with a chance to defeat the Conservative incumbents. These ridings are hotly contested and in the past as few as three votes has made a difference!

Don't let this opportunity of a lifetime (yours and your children's lifetime) slip away. Vote for the Environment on October 14th.


Gord H. said...

very passionate and informative post, theresa.

paddling uphill must be in your blood to hold such views in Alberta.

i hope more people will see the truth as you do e.g our greed is killing us.



gord h. at It Strikes Me Funny

Theresa said...

I guess I'm finding out just what it is that's in my blood, Gord. Thanks for the encouragement :)

SoapBoxTech said...

Oh I am so with you on part of this. I so admire your passion and I agree that we have to correct what we have done to the planet. There is so much to do and so little time. It really is a pivotal time in Canada and the world in general.

My concern however, is that the Anything But Conservative push is simplifying the election down to a mirror image of our southern neighbors. Canada has been increasingly hustling to the American lead for some time now, and this, to me, is just one more leap in that direction. Why do I say this? Well what would strategically voting against the CP mean? It seems to me that in the vast majority of cases, this means votes would shift to the Liberal party (and in a case or two, to the Green). It is hard to imagine that people will turn out in droves simply to vote for Jack Layton, as he seems to be the only ND campaigning. So basically, given the crashing global economy that has erupted since the election was called, what Canadians now seem to face is a Liberal vote for the environment or a Conservative vote for the economy.

I see this as rather ironic. It seems to me that a Conservative vote is a vote for an increasingly fascist corporate/banking controlled Canada as opposed to long-term stability and true freedom. It also seems to me that a Liberal vote is a Carbon Tax vote, as opposed to an environmental vote. Al Gore can disagree all he likes but PERSONAL CHOICE and corporate/banking limitations are all that will save either the environment or the economy. Sure, a properly applied Carbon Tax might well solve the environmental concerns after some time, but can anyone really feel confidant that the Liberal party would be sure that the costs of this tax were not born by the general public rather than the elite? Sure, not taxing or legally controlling corporations and banks MIGHT lead to more money trickling down to the masses as is the Conservative way, but has this ever been the case before? All we'll get that way is more debt-based imaginary money and more inflation. Neither ecological nor economic collapse are problems we can get out of simply by picking the right rulers.

They are only going to be solved by individual and community based, intentional change. Wasn't it Ghandi who said "we need to be the change we want to see in the world?"

Bless you for your intentions and your passion Theresa, but the most important work for us has little to do with the election, Im afraid.

I do not mean at all that voting is a waste. There is still a possibility that I am wrong, and that by next week enough Canadians will have woken up and realized that we could do a hell of a lot worse than giving the Green Party a chance to run this country. As a matter of fact, I doubt it is very strategic here in the Peace River region, but the local Green Candidate is getting my vote. Whether I get my electoral way or not, the amount of work to be done to actually solve the problems remains the same. I'm gonna keep focusing on that as I know will you.

Peace to all.

SoapBoxTech said...

I'm paddling with you, Theresa!

I wanted to make sure to add some positivity after my first comment.

Theresa said...

Thanks SoapboxTech for your considered comments. I wish we had a proportional representation system so that none of this strategic voting would be necessary. Electoral reform is going to be very important to get the citizenry voting again and there is much work to be done on that front, most definitely. Elizabeth May said it would be the Green Party's first order of business when asked about it at last week's debate - another reason I already voted Green at the advance poll here.

I don't know that the ABC folks are pushing us towards a US-style duality - I think they are saying, like the voteforenvironment people, that we should vote for whichever candidate has the best chance at defeating the Conservative candidate, regardless of what party they're from. Here in Edmonton, that's a liberal candidate in one case and an NDP candidate in the other.

I agree with you totally that the most important work we have to do goes way beyond this election, but how we vote in this election is part of the work we need to do next week :)

I get quite perturbed with how the Conservatives and even the NDPs characterize the carbon tax. They always forget to include the fact that income tax will be reduced. I would much rather have a carbon tax, because I can impact my own level taxation by changing my carbon consumption. Under the present system I have no control at all over my income taxes, unless you count quitting or working only part time as real choice, which for most people it is not.

I wish for, and have written with much angst about, a time when people just use/consume less because they realize that using more than our fair share is just wrong and hurtful to all sentient beings, including ourselves, and the planet. I wish that every single human being could feel the deep connection with nature that I have been blessed to rediscover over the past 2-3 years. But, I know this will not happen for everyone, and so we must as a society also encourage right action through a system of rewards/incentives - in comes the carbon tax.

In the meantime, I will do my best to help foster this connection with the Oneness of all things in myself, in the hopes that others can see how satisfying it is - maybe they will get a flash of this connection for themselves, and then suddenly everything is different.

Gord H. said...


i'll be back later to read soapboxtech's full comment and your response.

i'll downloading ipcc 4th report pdf file you are linked to; ch. 3 re long term factors might be right up my alley.

thanks, theresa.


gord h.

SoapBoxTech said...

Whether one is strategically voting against the Conservatives in general, or whether one is voting against them because one believes it is a vote for the environment, the end effect is to make it an election against the Conservatives. I'm not trying to sway anyone into voting for the Conservatives here, I'm just trying to point out that:

1) Its not just the electoral system that is broken, it is that the entire system is rigged against us.
2) If we cannot come up with an equitable income tax scenario, how the hell can we trust that the Liberals are going to usher in a comprehensive Carbon Tax? Are you truly comfortable with having your entire spending history on account with the Carbon Taxman so your taxes can be assessed? I'm not. Are you willing to give up your personal human rights to save the planet? I say that anyone who says I have to do so, is part of the problem, not part of the solution.

I am truly concerned about the fact that we seem to be creating a new Green religion. Throughout modern human history, religion has been used to control the masses. I am careful to be specific that I mean religion, not spirituality. Obviously this is a much deeper subject than a comment can really get into, but hopefully we can all agree that there are some immense differences between the two.

Theresa, I do not beleaguer this point to criticize or attack your efforts, at all. I simply feel that you are so very close to really seeing the problems we are facing, and I feel you are scared. I certainly understand that, I get pretty scared sometimes too. But when we are scared, we can get to panicking a little bit, sometimes a lot. This can make us act rashly, and often rush from a bad situation to a worse.

Remember, in using rewards and incentives to change societal mindsets, all we do is alter expectations on the government. These alterations of expectation HAVE to come from the self or there really is no net benefit. Government is supposed to exist to handle the "administration" of society, not to direct society. When we call for direction from government, what we are calling for is always still just a hierarchical society.

Boy, I think I spend more time conversing here than at my own blog!! Care to see if we have such an interesting conversation over a tea the next time I am down, Theresa?

Theresa said...

"These alterations of expectation HAVE to come from the self or there really is no net benefit."

Ah, I couldn't agree with you more. I also feel that there will be no fundamental change in society until more people come to know, somehow, that there is no separation between self and other, between self and environment, between self and universe. We are all made of the same 'stuff' and we are all interconnected, interdependent. Because of this inter-being, what I do to anything, I do to myself. And because of this, I try to use only my fair share, do no harm and treat the myriad things with respect and compassion. I fail at this daily, but I keep trying, because my interconnectedness with all things is inescapable, and happily so.

In past blog conversations with Kiashu at Green with a Gun, I have put forward this point more than once, saying that an understanding of deep connection with all things is what provides the necessary humility, awe and inspiration needed to WANT to steward the earth instead of exploit it. He has kindly and patiently explained to me that the planet doesn't have time for this, and that not everyone would 'get' it even if we did. And so, so we must also work towards societal/governmental incentives to foster sustainable practices before it's too late. It is in this vein that I encourage everyone to vote for a party other than the one that would be the most damaging to the environment.

Do you have any ideas as to how to foster a different type of internal expectation or relationship to the planet? For me the change came when I came eye to eye with a caged chicken on the way to the slaughter house on a BC Ferry. It's one of the first entries on this blog if you are interested in reading about it.

I imagine conversation over tea would be very interesting indeed!