Jay O’Hara, “Go Out and Get Yourself in Some Holy Trouble”

“Our first job is to stop talking and start acting. I think one of the things that has held the movement back is the big green NGOs saying that the world is ending, and not acting like it. People can smell the bullshit, and they think, “Well, they’re not acting freaked out, they must be trying just to fundraise off of it. So why should we pay attention to that? A bunch of hypocrites!”

“I don’t think our problem with denial in the United States is a problem with Republicans and right-wing climate deniers. The problem with denial is White liberals and middle-of-the road Democrats who have not internalized the severity and magnitude of the problem. And that’s our biggest block. It’s eerily reminiscent of what Dr. King talks about in “Letter from Birmingham Jail” when he says that the biggest hindrance to civil rights might not be the Ku Klux Klan or the White councilman, but the White moderate who says they agree with the goals, but says “slow down, calm down, you’re not being reasonable.”

“The denier population is only 25 percent of the population. We don’t need to convince 100 percent, we only need 50 percent to agree with us. Research says that a nonviolent revolution only requires 4 percent or so of the population, because once you move those people to the furthest level of commitment, people on the next layer move a little further out. Who cares about the deniers? They’re not the problem — we’re the problem.”



Adam Curtis: Bitter Lake

“Bitter Lake is a new, adventurous and epic film by Adam Curtis that explains why the big stories that politicians tell us have become so simplified that we can’t really see the world any longer. The narrative goes all over the world, America, Britain, Russia and Saudi Arabia – but the country at the heart of it is Afghanistan. Because Afghanistan is the place that has confronted our politicians with the terrible truth – that they cannot understand what is going on any longer. The film reveals the forces that over the past thirty years rose up and undermined the confidence of politics to understand the world. And it shows the strange, dark role that Saudi Arabia has played in this. But Bitter Lake is also experimental. Curtis has taken the unedited rushes of everything that the BBC has ever shot in Afghanistan – and used them in new and radical ways. He has tried to build a different and more emotional way of depicting what really happened in Afghanistan. A counterpoint to the thin, narrow and increasingly destructive stories told by those in power today.”


Global Calculator

The Global Calculator is a model of the world’s energy, land and food systems to 2050. It allows you to explore the world’s options for tackling climate change and see how they all add up. With the Calculator, you can find out whether everyone can have a good lifestyle while also tackling climate change.



The Thermodynamics of Civilization

“From what I’ve learned over the last number of months, I’ve concluded that very few people are actually digging down to what I consider to be true root causes of the planetary predicament. The only such researcher I’ve been able to identify for sure is Tim Garrett at the University of Utah, in his recent series of papers treating civilization as a thermodynamic heat engine. But as an academic, even Garrett can’t (or at least doesn’t) take the speculative leap from the way civilization works to why it works that way. Fortunately, I’m not quite so constrained.

“My developing view is that a little-known and unacknowledged implication of the Second Law of Thermodynamics (let’s call it “2LoT” for short) makes the existing structure of civilization essentially a foregone conclusion – not in detail of course, but when considered as a probabilistic whole, as befits a thermodynamic interpretation. This aspect of 2LoT implies that life arises spontaneously and inevitably in response to energy gradients in open systems – given that all the other necessary physical conditions are present, of course. In pursuit of their own survival, living organisms then develop ever-greater complexity in order to become more efficient at dissipating those energy gradients (or to put it another way, in order to access the energy they need to prosper).

“In this view, life on Earth is not simply a lucky fluke, but instead was absolutely inevitable. Where the right conditions exist, the Second Law seems to guarantee that life will appear. The probability is not vanishingly small, but instead is 100%.”



Why the ‘We’re All Responsible’ Line is a Climate Change Cop-Out

We live in a society in which responsibility for everything is being offloaded onto the individual.”

But it wasn’t “average” North Americans who knowingly spread climate misinformation, funded climate denying organizations, leased record amounts of land to oil and gas companies, invested in highways over public transit, created and maintained subsidies to fossil fuel companies and promoted the construction of pipelines and export facilities that will neutralize any emissions reductions made in other sectors.

But the “we” rhetoric  conveniently ignores the incredible access that oil and gas companies have to government via ongoing lobbying efforts.

For instance, since the Liberals were elected in October, Suncor has met with federal officials 54 times, including three times with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Imperial Oil and Shell Canada have contributed an additional 37 and 38 meetings, respectively.

To meet the 2020 target of 25 per cent carbon emissions below 1990 levels, the richest quintile of Canadians would need to cut 51 per cent of emissions, while the lowest only 12 per cent.

In other words, while we’re all indeed consumers of fossil fuels, “owning up to our responsibility” will look very different depending on where we fall on the income spectrum.