I am grateful to everyone who came out and shared their ideas last month and to everyone for their prayers and support.  Before the year turns to 2019, I would like to share with you a few thoughts and resources to help guide you in your efforts to keep our biosphere hospitable and green.

1. International Climate Change Performance Ratings
2. Powering Past Coal
3. Provincial-Federal Developments
4. Culture Shift
5. Easy Tool to Calculate Your Environmental Footprint
6. Action Plan

1. International Climate Ratings

Some dedicated people in a number of countries around the world are doing an amazing service to us all by ranking countries and their governments for their impacts on the growing climate crisis.  With easy-to-read colour-coded graphs and charts, each year these good people rate who's who and what they are doing to help or hinder our recovery.  There is a lot of information in this PDF, so I don't suggest you open the newly published 2019 report unless you have a few minutes to take it in. 

In brief, I can tell you that the top-rated countries are Sweden, Morocco and Lithuania.  Near the bottom is Canada, followed by Australia, Chinese Taipei, the Republic of Korea, the Islamic Republic of Iran, the United States, and Saudi Arabia.  Canada ranks highly for the contributions of its visionary diplomats at climate-change conferences, but our country still uses and sells an awful lot of fossil fuels.  America's saving grace is the climate initiatives being taken by some individual states and cities, apart from its federal government.

2.  Powering Past Coal

When the previous Ontario government shut down the last coal-powered electrical plants, it was a huge accomplishment, as burning coal is so polluting.  Building on that momentum, the federal government has teamed up with the government of the United Kingdom (ranked at #5) to enable and assist countries to give up their dependence on coal.  Canada is providing $2.65 billion in climate finance to developing countries by 2020–21, with a particular focus on the poorest and most vulnerable.  Here is an article with details on the initiative.

3.  Federal-Provincial Developments

At the meeting of Canadian federal, provincial and territorial chief ministers last week, the federal government proposed a new climate change agenda.  Ontario Premier Rob Ford complained that Ottawa had "moved the goal posts," when it had set new objectives that would allow the country to move forward, meaning Alberta with its massive oil industry would be allowed to lag behind while the rest of the country adheres to more stringent regulations.  Had Premier Ford kept the carbon cap and trade system implemented by the previous Ontario government in place, rather than replacing it with a weaker regulatory system, there would have been little difficulty keeping up with the new, progressive standards set by the Trudeau government.  Instead, the Ford government chose to step backwards while Ottawa chose to step forwards.  Meanwhile, the British Columbia government proposed a climate plan on December 5 that is widely lauded as ambitious and realistic.

4.  Culture Shift

Since most people are not close to grasping the gravity of the crisis of climate change, my feeling is that we need a deep-rooted change in culture, to go from a culture of accumulating status-related stuff to a culture of life - appreciating and sustaining the wonder of our bodies and by extension the biosphere.  How do we do that? 

Video Games: One of our community, ten-year-old Nirvaan suggested creating a video game with challenges and rewards around the world of climate change.  A brilliant idea!  If anyone would like to help Nirvaan to realize his vision, you may contact him through his parents, Priya and Vivek, here

Music: I have mentioned in a previous email taking the lyrics of Pete Seeger's classic anti-war song "Where Have All The Flowers Gone?" and making it into a song for keeping our biosphere alive.  Jagraj Shival has agreed to accompany me and record the song in his studio when he finishes his current project. 

Imagery (Imagine this):  A polar bear sitting on a lawn chair, with sunglasses, sipping lemonade.  Surrounding the polar bear are all kinds of other animals with a recognizable international flavor - a panda, a beaver, a reindeer, a panda, an eagle, a lion, a koala bear, a gorilla - all happily engaged making large and small ice cubes and fanning the polar bear to keep him cool.  This image would encourage friendly discussion and perhaps inspire cooperation in the fight against global warming, without evoking fear or apocalyptic scenarios.  It could be a mural.  Perhaps it could reach a larger audience online.  If you consider yourself an artist or you know someone who is, this culture-shifting image is yours for the taking.

5.  Easy Tool to Calculate Your Environmental Footprint

Well, it is no good preaching to others what we don't do at home, is it?  Here is a sobering little tool that will tell you how far you have to go to take up your fair share of our planet's resources.  In 2 minutes, it will take up info on what kind of house you live in, how you travel, what you eat, and your recycling habits, and come up with a number that represents how many Earths we would need for everybody to live like you. 

I live pretty modestly, so I am close to a 1, until I start to jet around, which adds a lot of greenhouse gases.  Until we have planes that do not spew pollution from the air, we will be wise to think whether our flying is really necessary. If we decide that flying is necessary, then before you book your travel check out this handy guide to reducing your carbon footprint while traveling.

6.  Action Plan

a) My suggestion is that over the holidays you make climate change a topic of discussion with friends and family.  The condition of the biosphere in the coming years and decades is going to determine the quality of life for anyone growing up today like never before.  This is not small talk, but be mindful that with all the other stressors going around - precarious employment, stagnant income, lack of social supports, etc - some people may not be ready to engage in a meaningful conversation just yet.  

b) Stay in touch with your elected representatives.  The ones who are doing good things for the environment would like to hear from you.  The ones who are being lazy or self-centered, need to hear from you so they know they could be in trouble next election if they do not embrace more progressive policies.  Thanks for reading.

Love to all!  Peace to all!  Life to all!

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