Letters to the Editor

Climate change worries

Scientific literature on climate change has now gone full circle.

Scientists began by working quietly studying ice cores in The Arctic; mountain-top removal in the coal fields of Appalachia, U.S.; acidification of the oceans;  then announcing their results to the public.

When they saw their message was not getting through to the authorities, they began taking out full-page ads and joining protest movements like James Hanson, formerly of NASA, who has now been arrested six times.

Next, environmental literature began to reflect scientists’ disaffection with the authorities and were loosing hope that they might turn the situation around before certain feed-back-loops took the situation out of the our hands. One example of  a feed-back-loop (which has already begun) is the release of highly damaging methane gas from the melting permafrost in  the vast northern area of Canada and Siberia and the resulting heat causing further release of methane.

The latest change in environmental literature comes after scientists have become convinced that there no longer remains hope of attaining environmental sanity through the existing institutions. The American Geophysical Union was meeting with their 24,000 earth and space scientists — a serious scientific gathering that doesn’t usually feature calls for mass political resistance.

However, a young geophysicist studying the interactions in the complex systems of humanity commanded the attention of the majority of scientists with his study entitled “Dynamical Futility of Global Environmental Management versus the Possibilities for Sustainability via Direct Activism.” In other words, since our existing institutions have not acted on time to avoid environmental  catastrophe, our best chance lay in civil disobedience — “environmental direct action, resistance taken from outside the dominant culture, as in protests, blockades and sabotage by indigenous peoples, workers, anarchists and other activist groups.”

The fact is that the business-as-usual pursuit of profits and growth is destabilizing life on earth. The early signs are already unfolding before our eyes.  An increasing number of people are responding accordingly: blockading fracking activity in New Brunswick and serious concerns about natural gas fracking in B.C.; interfering with Arctic drilling preparations in Russian waters (protesters remain in a Russian jail); taking tar sands operators to court for violating indigenous sovereignty; and countless other acts of resistance. Meanwhile, regressive governments continue eviscerating environmental legislation and de-funding scientific research in areas such as the Fish and Game Act.

Stan Gauthier


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