I don’t know about anyone else, but November 2016 really threw me for a loop. I remember driving to work the morning of November 8 with a double rainbow hanging over the city and just thinking how awesome life was. With the creation of the world’s largest marine protected area early in the month and the release of the empowering documentary Before the Flood from Leonardo DiCaprio, it seemed like there were reasons to be hopeful about the future of the planet. By morning on November 9 it was very clear that I had been living in a bubble of optimism. As November came to a close, the escalating controversy over pipeline approval and construction is inspiring people into more active participants in the fight against global climate change.
Bubble of Optimism
598,000 square miles. That’s bigger than British Columbia and the Yukon combined. And that’s how big the world’s largest marine protected area is, located in the Ross Sea off the shores of Antarctica. 24 countries came together to agree on setting aside an area that is home to 16,000 species in “the largest ocean wilderness left on our planet”. While it will have little impact on the largely untouched ecosystem in the short term, it’s a sign that global leaders can work together towards conservation efforts.
A remote and largely pristine stretch of ocean off Antarctica received international protection on Friday, becoming the world’s largest marine reserve as a broad coalition of countries came together to protect 598,000 square miles of water.
Before The Flood
I’m still surprised that more people don’t realize that the new Leonardo DiCaprio move could be seen for free. Yes. Free. For nearly two weeks you could view the documentary on various platforms including youtube and on National Geographic. Follow Leo as he travels the world in order to document the effects of climate change and look for ways to help solve what is likely to be one of mankind’s biggest catastrophes. From melting polar ice, to oil patches, to India’s waterlogged fields and Florida’s flooded city streets, in the end he finds hope. But only if we act Now. The following is a trailer, but you can subscribe to National Geographic to watch the full episode and I highly recommend that you do.
From Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Fisher Stevens and Academy Award-winning actor, and environmental activist Leonardo DiCaprio, BEFORE THE FLOOD presents a riveting account of the dramatic changes now occurring around the world due to climate change.
Smoke and Mirrors
While most of the world watched in shock and awe on November 8 while America elected an egotistical sociopath who believes that climate change is a hoax as their new president, the biggest blow to the environment was a report delivered by the Meteorological Organization at a conference on climate change in Morocco. The report is a detailed analysis of the global climate between 2011 and 2015, the hottest five year period on record. It concludes that the rise in temperatures, loss of sea ice, and severe weather conditions are part of a human induced trend that is likely to continue.
Extreme weather increasingly linked to global warming The World Meteorological Organization has published a detailed analysis of the global climate 2011-2015 – the hottest five-year period on record – and the increasingly visible human footprint on extreme weather and climate events with dangerous and costly impacts.
Fuel for the Fire
Although we should all know by now that the fastest and arguably easiest way for us to fight climate change would be to stop eating meat, at months end our focus was on oil consumption. Pipelines slated to carry crude oil, the most vilified product in the world were at center stage. In the United States, the stand off at Standing Rock was being covered world wide. It reached a boiling point late in the month when protesters were sprayed with freezing water and one young woman sustained severe injuries to one of her arms. In Canada, the Prime Minister and his cabinet approved two out of three pipelines under review. The Liberals kept their promise to keep oil tankers out of the waters of northern BC, but gave the green light the highly unpopular Kinder Morgan Pipeline that will see an increase of up to five times the amount of crude oil being shipped out of Vancouver’s harbour. Supporters touted it as an economic win for Alberta while those opposed to the pipeline voiced their concern over the environmental impact of a potential spill and the governments promise to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The Trans Mountain pipeline approval by cabinet is not to be underestimated – it’s an economic win for a province that has been taking it in the teeth for two years. Market access is one of the two key issues that preoccupy Alberta, with oil prices being the other.
Power to the People
In the United States, it would seem that the protesters have won out. The US Army Corps of Engineers announced on Deceber 4th that they would not issue a permit to allow the pipeline to pass under the water source of the Sioux Nation. In Vancouver and even Montreal, protesters are taking to the streets and knocking on doors. It’s great to see people ready to take action. The real issue behind pipeline expansion, in my humble opinion, is supply and demand. And where you spend your money makes the biggest impact on what happens environmentally. People started pulling money out of financial institutions that were financing the DAPL and less than a week later we see change. Here is a short list of easy things you can do if you also would like to see change.
- Know where your investments go: most of us, when we invest in RRSP’s and the like from our banks, are mostly interested in the numbers game. But it’s equally as important to know what it is you are investing in. Most people have no idea that they are supporting pipeline expansion through their own investments.
- Be Responsible: I know, sometimes it can be overwhelming and difficult to make responsible choices, but every little bit helps. Don’t worry about the choices that weren’t helpful, but focus on the ones that are and don’t forget to talk about it with your friends. I’ve found that this is the best way to keep yourself accountable and to show others they can make a difference too.
- Engage with your elected officials: If there’s anything we can learn from the Brexit vote and the American election, it’s that every vote counts. And your elected official wants your vote. Their job is to keep you informed, so ask them questions and make them accountable. Just remember to be polite, and respectful… at the end of the day they want to get re-elected and if you are being rude and disrespectful and they don’t think you will vote for them, they will put their energy elsewhere.
- Support non-profits: There are some amazing organizations out there doing really great things for people and the environment. Here two of my faves.
- Lea Legacy: Co-founded by two of my favorite photographers and conservationists, Paul Nicklen and Cristina Mittermeir, this organization is dedicated to the preservation of the world’s oceans. Click here for a list of ways you can help out.
- Pacific Wild: This non profit organization focuses their advocacy work on Canada’s Pacific Coast, focusing on conserving lands, oceans and communities there. Their initiatives include campaigns for no tankers, banning trophy hunting, and the recovery of wild salmon and herring.
Read the story that started it all for me.. One Fine Day
Read about why I’m inspired to speak up for environmental issues… Me and My Shadow