When Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated in June 1914, no one thought, "Uh-oh, World War I is starting..." We only recognize the significance of events in the context of history. I recently had a day like any other except it made me wonder if we're on the verge of historical change.
Moose Cree has spent years using their laws to keep the river safe from resource development. But Ontario has yet to reciprocate and still keeps the watershed open for industrial activities such as mining under provincial laws. This is a recipe for conflict. Moose Cree's efforts to safeguard this river date back to 2002 when the community informed then MNR Minister Jerry Ouellette of the need for permanent protection. The minister rejected that request. The community persevered. Over the next 14 years they would face down mining and forestry companies.
At their finest labour unions are class conscious organizations that check the corporate elite's influence over public policy. But, even the best Canadian unions have largely failed to provide an alternative vision to the existing system and challenge the power of big business over important areas of our lives.
Our world doesn't look much like the ones envisioned in sci-fi flicks like Star Trek or Back to the Future, let alone the latest installment of Star Wars. Kids aren't buzzing around on flying skateboards, and we aren't dueling with light sabers. But who needs movies when real-world innovations are way cooler -- especially the ones poised to radically transform humanity's eco footprint.
With oil prices currently in free fall, the need for a national strategy to end our dependency on fossil fuels is as pressing as ever. But with average global temperatures already having risen almost 1°C above preindustrial levels, there is also a pressing need for Canada's leaders to make climate change adaptation a priority domestically and in its support for developing countries.
Energy East wants to force the Canadian economy in this 19th century straight-jacket for the next 40 years. As a member of the G8, we need an economy based on know-how, renewable energies, manufacturing as well as refining our natural resources. Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre is right in rejecting TransCanada's antiquated project.
The world's top one per cent own more than 50 per cent of the world's wealth. The ability to make policy and to enforce it at the national level is essential to combat the slide towards plutocracy, under which society is controlled by the wealthiest citizens. Mr. Obama and Ms. Freeland, please listen to your own rhetoric. Pull the plug on the TPP and CETA.
After years of steady, but slow, steps in nature conservation, our collective stride seems to have lengthened in 2015. We still need to act on commitments to create more terrestrial and marine protected areas. We still have Canadian species that are at risk of disappearing. We still have parks and protected areas that need to be buffered and better connected.
Is a forest a sacred grove or merely lumber and pulp? Are rivers the veins of the land or sources of power and irrigation? Is soil a community of organisms or simply dirt? Is another species our biological relative or a resource? Is our house a home or just real estate? Is this how we treat our source of survival? Until all of society understands this and then acts on that understanding, we will not be able to act fully to protect a future for ourselves.
When Craig visited Dadaab, Kenya, four years ago and met Ali, he witnessed hundreds of families lined along the road to the world's largest refugee camp. Most weren't fleeing violence, they were fleeing the weather. As climate change advances, disasters like the drought that ravaged East Africa in 2011 are becoming more frequent and severe.
Canada fell woefully short of 2012 emissions targets and in December 2011 became the only country to pull out of Kyoto, the world's only binding climate treaty. That was in the dark decade of Stephen Harper. Prime Minister Trudeau led a younger, far more optimistic and enlightened entourage to Paris.
When our children's children look back to what we did to keep our planet livable, they may see this year's United Nations climate conference in Paris as a turning point. The 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) may have been our last chance for a meaningful agreement to shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy before ongoing damage to the world's climate becomes irreversible and devastating. Government ministers, negotiators and world leaders spent the first two weeks of December creating a guide for the next stage of humanity's action on climate change.