Past-Blasting: The Climate, 2007

This piece from February of 2007 was called “Citizenship, Climate Change…and Hockey?” It’s an orphan piece that never found a publication to call home, so now I offer it here. My nearly six-foot tall teen was then only seven, and merely bilingual. The NHL was struggling to recapture fan interest outside of Canada after losing an entire season to labour squabbles. Canada was still part of the Kyoto Accord. (We bow our head in shame, and remember when Canada deserved its reputation for internationalism.) I was not long removed from writing for Canada’s Governor General, Adrienne Clarkson, who had been succeeded in that office by Michaelle Jean.

We hadn’t imagined coming to China at all, and now we’re wrapping up five years on the edge of the Middle Kingdom. Look back. Waaayy back…

Last week saw a series of events that, after a whirl in the cerebral blender, yields a thoughtful stew on citizenship. It’s a bit like the musical “mash-up”, but without that unpleasant ringing in your ears. Here are some not-quite-random reflections on the meaning of the modern Canuck.

Two years ago last Friday, the National Hockey League finally suspended the 2004-2005 season. Canadian men (and a few women) grew more gloomy and resentful. No major sporting league had ever ditched an entire schedule, and the North American cultural divide widened. Canadian lovers of other sports hoped for a silver lining to the lockout, but were dismayed to find that hockey still dominated jock talk and writing. Meanwhile, American sports media – and the great majority of fans – barely noticed its absence.

And the citizenship connection? Well, you might have missed this surprising bit of civic mindfulness, but several NHL players declared the February 16 anniversary as “Save Hockey Day” – not so much to recall the lockout as to pay attention to the Kyoto Accord on climate change. ‘Bout time!

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Spirit, Ethics and Climate Change Action: IEF 3

Here’s a third quick instalment on the International Environment Forum’s conference earlier in October. As with the earlier three synopses, I give you a link to somewhat more expansive notes that I posted on the IEF site. The following link takes you to a news story, with photos, from the Canadian Baha’i community. (It focusses especially on the Friday sessions that I didn’t attend.)

Here’s a peek at what Saturday afternoon’s IEF session had to offer.

Living Lightly, With a Smile

David Chernushenko is an environmental consultant, activist, and author, and a former deputy leader of the Canadian Green Party. He took the conversation from the abstract and the global to tangible, immediate and home-based actions. His personal motto is “live lightly”: reduce our ecological footprints and do it with joy.

He emphasizes the following characteristics. Resilience. (Are we ready to ride out the rough spots?) Integrity. (Walk the talk.) Empowerment. (Are we encouraging our children?) Equity & Fairness. (Am I taking more than my share of the planet’s resources?) Redefining growth. (It’s not all economic indicators.) Humility. (Who do we think we ARE?) With that in mind, he suggested a range of simple, practical steps that any family can take. Make one step. Then make another. It’s simple, and it’s light. (Upon light!)

“Learning to Make Responsible Choices: The Consumer Citizen Network”

Victoria Thoresen, Ms. Thoresen, an Education professor from Norway and the manager of the CCN, challenged the conference. Many of her frankly imploring messages – I beg of you, please consider… — urged the perspective of parents and teachers, and the needs of their children/youth, about these concepts:

SufficiencyHow much is enough? How do we withstand the barrage of materialism? Courage. Sustainable consumption has powerful enemies. Encouragement is golden. Diversity of response. Not everybody should be doing the same thing, even if it was possible!
Empathy. Thoresen, with her wide travel and international experience, called upon us to remember how the majority of humans live. “We are only a small corner of the world, even if we DO own most of it!”

Dr. Thoresen also implored us to remain mindful of the UN Decade for Sustainable Development, 2005-2014, as well as the earnest United Nations’ Millennium Goals which many have already forgotten. She spoke briefly of the Consumer Citizenship Network (“’consumer’ is such a bad word in Canada!”) and its work to create debate and enlightenment about “the pressing need for consumers to understand the ethical choices that they make”. She concluded:

For humanity’s nobility to emerge, its qualities of trustworthiness, compassion, selflessness, dedication, loyalty, sacrifice and service need to be nurtured and gain ascendancy over its selfish, baser impulses.”