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The Week That Was: Extreme Weather & Extreme Politics

2013/01/11

It’s been a fascinating week in Canadian politics, and an alarming one weather-wise across the planet. While Indigenous Peoples in Canada and elsewhere join together to say enough is enough, the Earth is sending us messages loud and clear that we’ve crossed the line into dangerous climate effects with our exploiter mentality, and our ensuing disregard of the ecosystem that gives us life.

Here’s my “Top Ten” of the week, if you want to get caught up on what’s gone down in the last 7 days. And of course, stay tuned because all Canadian eyes will be looking to Ottawa today, to see if the meeting between Stephen Harper and First Nations does materialize, and if it does what is or isn’t accomplished.  Will IdleNoMore be Harper’s “Waterloo”?  Stay tuned!

  • Today there’s been a call out for an IdleNoMore Global Day of Action, Solidarity, and Resurgence. Click on the photo below for an overview of all the events in Canada and elsewhere:

idle no more global.jan.2012*

  • Michael Harris is one of Canada’s premiere journalists, and one of only a handful who haven’t been intimidated into obeisance by this current federal government.  In this article posted on IPolitics last night, Harris excoriates both Harper and the mainstream media with exquisite prose. Here are some excerpts from The Media Misses The Point – Again :

The current prime minister is like a surly waiter who also owns the joint — you eat what he slaps down in front of you, or you don’t eat at all.

…It is interesting to note that not a single Conservative MP has bothered to do what two former prime ministers and a gaggle of Opposition members have — pay a visit to Chief Theresa Spence. Not one. She won’t bite them — she’s not eating. She won’t torture them over a slow fire until they sign a treaty. They are neither the prime minister nor the Governor-General, so they wouldn’t be submitting to the chief’s demands by dropping by.

The reason they won’t visit is obvious but still worth noting, since many of these Conservative MPs have aboriginal constituents in their ridings. As robotic troopers in Harper’s wall-eyed platoons, they gave up their free will when they enlisted. They are now obedient nobodies with no ideas of their own — not even the most gossamer notion of civility. Rin Tin Tin had more freedom of expression at Fort Apache. Remember when he and Rusty watched the cavalry columns move out? At least Rinty got to bark. Click here to read the full article.

I don’t claim to know exactly what’s going on with #IdleNoMore, the surging movement of indigenous activists that started late last year in Canada and is now spreading across the continent — much of the action, from hunger strikes to road and rail blockades, is in scattered and remote places, and even as people around the world plan for solidarity actions on Friday, the press has done a poor job of bringing it into focus.

But I sense that it’s every bit as important as the Occupy movement that transfixed the world a year ago; it feels like it wells up from the same kind of long-postponed and deeply-felt passion that powered the Arab spring. And I know firsthand that many of its organizers are among the most committed and skilled activists I’ve ever come across. In fact, if Occupy’s weakness was that it lacked roots (it had to take over public places, after all, which proved hard to hold on to), this new movement’s great strength is that its roots go back farther than history. More than any other people on this continent, they know what exploitation and colonization are all about, and so it’s natural that at a moment of great need they’re leading the resistance to the most profound corporatization we’ve ever seen. I mean, we’ve just come off the hottest year ever in America, the year when we broke the Arctic ice cap; the ocean is 30 percent more acidic than it was when I was born.

Thanks to the same fossil fuel industry that’s ripping apart Aboriginal lands, we’re at the very end of our rope as a species; it’s time, finally, to listen to the people we’ve spent the last five centuries shunting to one side.

The people are sick and tired of being stonewalled by indifferent governments, vis a vis all of our court victories, and no movement towards implementing them. That frustration that has built up is, in many ways, what Idle No More is, and I don¹t think they are going to stand down any time soon until such time as they are convinced that there is a commitment on the part of government and a credible strategy to move the agenda forward,” Phillip said.
Sayers noted that despite the potentially huge economic implications of Canada/China FIPA, the Harper Government was almost successful in finessing it into Canadian law without public discussion.
“We were not given any forewarning. I actually heard about it from a friend who e-mailed me a link to [Green Party leader and MP] Elizabeth May’s Web site. It was tabled in the House on Sept. 26, quietly, mind you, and if it wasn¹t for Elizabeth May speaking out to Canadians, we probably would have woken up to a new Canada on Nov. 1 without even knowing what happened,” Sayers said.
“That is where the Constitutional piece comes in: we should have been able to participate in that whole process and have a say in what our country is going to look like.”
The agreement now requires a cabinet order in council to take effect.
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And now for the weather:
graphic: I Heart Climate Scientists

graphic: I Heart Climate Scientists

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Temperatures Off The Charts As Australia Turns Deep Purple:

The {Australian] Bureau of Meteorology’s interactive weather forecasting chart has added new colours – deep purple and pink – to extend its previous temperature range that had been capped at 50 degrees.

  Dust storm: storm passes out to sea carrying dust it had ingested while passing Onslow. Picture: Brett Martin

Dust storm: storm passes out to sea carrying dust it had ingested while passing Onslow. Picture: Brett Martin

The category-three cyclone is forecast to bring 100km/h gales to coastal areas between Whim Creek and Onslow in Western Australia, including the Karratha area, later on Friday.

All right, now can we talk about climate change? After a year when the lower 48 states suffered the warmest temperatures, and the second-craziest weather, since record-keeping began?Apparently not. The climate-change denialists — especially those who manipulate the data in transparently bogus ways to claim that warming has halted or even reversed course — have been silent, as one might expect. Sensible people accept the fact of warming, but many doubt that our dysfunctional political system can respond in any meaningful way.

The thing is, though, that climate change has already put itself on the agenda — not the cause, but the effects. We’re dealing with human-induced warming of the atmosphere. It’s just that we’re doing so in a manner that is reactive, expensive and ultimately ineffectual.  Click here to read the rest of the article

graphic: I Heart Climate Scientists

graphic: I Heart Climate Scientists

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Graphic: I Heart Climate Scientists

Graphic: I Heart Climate Scientists

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2012 Was Hottest Year On Record In Contigous U.S., NOAA Says:

Temperatures in the contiguous United States last year were the hottest in more than a century of record-keeping, shattering the mark set in 1998 by a wide margin, the federal government announced Tuesday.

The average temperature in 2012 was 55.3 degrees, one degree above the previous record and 3.2 degrees higher than the 20th-century average, scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said. They described the data as part of a longer-term trend of hotter, drier and potentially more extreme weather.

Scared? Inspired? Make yourself Idle No More!

7 Comments leave one →
  1. 2013/01/12 6:52 am

    This is a highly informative article, but it contains elements of a problem in thinking I’ve seen elsewhere.

    Bill McKibbon is quoted as saying of “Idle No More”:

    this new movement’s great strength is that its roots go back farther than history

    Err… excuse me? How far?

    … and NOAA says:

    2012 Was Hottest Year On Record In Contigous U.S.

    We are all going to have to pull together to have any chance of making it out of the other side of this. But that’s all of us, not just all of U.S.

    ‘Indigenous Peoples’ are not a race apart. We are all indigenous to the Eaarth.

    • 2013/01/12 7:28 am

      Hi P – I hear what you’re saying, we are all “indigenous to the Earth/Eaarth”. However that statement ignores the reality that most of us have lost touch with our indigenous roots many many generations ago, when our nations and cultures were first colonized. First Nations here on Turtle Island are unique; in my community in northern Ontario, for example, living on the land without any interference from European culture is within living memory. A friend’s mother remembers traveling the waters and land before any white people settled here. That is a gift to the rest of us, if we are humble enough to ask them to guide us back to ourselves and the land.

      • 2013/01/12 7:39 am

        Oh, agreed.

        I’m trying to think of ways to fend off the objections that are no doubt raised in the minds of those who consider “Indigenous Peoples” to be lacking in consequence because they’re different, or ‘living in the past’, or some such.

        If one can identify with the message-bearer, one is more likely to take the message to heart.

  2. 2013/01/12 7:31 am

    Also, re: “farther than history” is a way to express that the First Peoples of North America have been here since “time before memory” (as a First Nation friend of mine says).

    • 2013/01/12 7:45 am

      While poetic, I think that’s a poor rationale for parochial thinking. History extends far farther than the couple of few hundred years in which the white man’s forked tongue has ravaged the ‘New (sic) World’.

      But my intent is to provoke thought, not argument.

    • 2013/01/12 7:45 am

      Those people who are willing to dismiss indigenous peoples because they are different and/or “living in the past” are still exhibiting the colonial mindset that allowed Europeans to come over to this continent and dismiss/ignore the presence of those peoples who were already here. I doubt that they are willing to learn from them until this mindset is discarded, no matter how the message is conveyed.

      • 2013/01/12 1:57 pm

        I have a feeling we’re talking past each other here. Our entire culture is stuck in that colonial mindset; if someone’s sitting on something you want, dismiss/ ignore them. What I’m trying to say is that it’s much harder to turf people off their land if you identify with them.

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