Thursday letters, Dec. 6

Transformation needs civil disobedience

Re: “Exercise in futility,” editorial, Dec. 5.

It is wrong to dismiss Monday’s climate protest in Victoria as “self-indulgent” and “counter-pr oductive.”

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The protest was not a “random act.” It is linked to a global movement of protest and civil disobedience called “Extinction Rebellion.” Since mid-November, tens of thousands of people have poured into the streets of cities around the world — many risking arrest — to pressure governments to tackle the climate crisis with the urgency it deserves.

Many successful social and political transformations — from the abolition of slavery to women’s right to vote to the recognition of black civil rights — have involved the creative use of civil disobedience and a willingness of citizens to face jail time (or worse).

Today, a transformation of similar scope is needed to prevent catastrophic climate breakdown. Specifically, we need to rapidly phase out fossil fuels and build an equitable, renewable, zero-emission economy.

As someone who, for more than 20 years, has regularly written to and met with politicians to (largely unsuccessfully) urge strong action on climate change, I salute the brave souls in Victoria and around the world who are willingly putting their own interests aside to resist government actions that perpetuate our reliance on fossil fuels and threaten our survival on earth. I look forward to joining them.

Michael Polanyi

North Saanich

Bridge protesters have another option

Re: “Sorry for the delays, Victoria,” comment, Dec. 5.

Here’s a thought: Put your money where your mouth is, buy a Tesla and stop blocking the freaking road.

Trevor Amon

Victoria

Diverse group raised hearts and voices

Re: “Johnson Street Bridge blocked in rally for climate-change action,” Dec. 4.

The friendly reporter did a fine job of relaying what I said after the climate-action sit-in on the Johnson Street Bridge Monday evening.

With quicker wits, I would have included how good it felt to be part of the beautifully diverse group of people compelled that night to raise their hearts and banners and voices peacefully en masse, for meaningful climate restoration on this Earth we call home. I would have clarified that those gathered stood firmly against our continued reliance on fossil fuels, while sustainable energy sources, practices and 21st-century jobs continue to wait for the political green light to proceed.

Despite my inclination to be unobtrusive, I would have explained how the disruption of traffic flow was symbolic and minor, compared with the much more consequential climate disruptions we are beginning to experience now and are forcing onto future generations. I would have mentioned the recent and dire Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, and Canada’s conscious lack of commitment to achieve our promised meagre greenhouse-gas-emissions targets.

I might have added that in our privileged Western culture, we fail to notice the significance our activities and habits have on our natural environment, our atmosphere and our well-being. So much more could be said, but there was not much time in that chilly wind, or even space in these 250 written words, to adequately convince. So we sat quietly together, on a closed bridge, in solidarity with climate-justice seekers around the world, to be noticed.

Gail Meston

Victoria

PM is fast-tracking demise of economy

Re: “Sorry for the delays, Victoria,” comment, Dec. 5.

The iconic Blue Bridge is a good choice for an eco-protest, considering its monumental reputation for inefficiency and eco-hypocrisy.

It was made in China, where we ship our dirty low-grade coal and exploit the near-slave wages of its captive citizens.

The great irony is that the accelerating success of eco-warriors led by their champions who lead Canada’s future will probably not have to wait 12 years to attain their goals. Our prime minister and company are fast-tracking the demise of our energy industry.

The resultant demise of the incomes that support our carbon-guzzling lifestyles will contribute to an economic collapse like no other.

We live on a bubble of debt that is a guarantee that the “big one” need only be a small market shake and the unsustainable will occur.

Our subsequent rusty bridge will have all day to protest the non-existent traffic in a jobless wasteland.

Russell Thompson

Victoria

Extinction Rebellion is about leadership

Re: “Exercise in futility,” editorial, Dec. 5.

Wednesday’s editorial characterized the Johnson Street Bridge protest by Rise n Resist and Extinction Rebellion as “worse than useless.” I beg to differ.

Extinction Rebellion is a global movement that began in the U.K. in October, when 94 academics signed a call to action due to the dire nature of the climate crisis. Among the thousands participating in the British protests is Guardian journalist George Monbiot, who believes that governments are not listening to the people and that nonviolent protest is the only way to get the public’s concerns heard. He is right.

Extinction Rebellion has become headline gold, and not just in the U.K. The movement is spreading like wildfire.

Monday’s protest on the Johnson Street Bridge was very modest compared with 6,000 protesters blocking five bridges in London on Nov. 17, but the call to action was the same.

I think that the evidence that Monday’s protest was successful is that there was coverage of the event in the Times Colonist, as well as the publishing of the protesters’ very well articulated arguments in Wednesday’s paper.

The movement is not about obstructing traffic. The movement is about getting the attention of governments and the public about the dire climate emergency we are in and that business as usual might well spell extinction for most species, including ourselves. It’s called leadership.

Glenyss Turner

Saanich

Newspaper should guide us on climate

Re: “Exercise in futility,” editorial, Dec. 5.

If “climate change is the most important issue of our age,” as the Times Colonist’s editorial states, one wouldn’t be able to notice its importance by reading the newspaper.

Selected news on the subject is normally relegated to interior pages, and is always short on detail, and as for solutions to the problem, the newspaper has never put any forward. If governments are being too slow in addressing this problem, what is the newspaper proposing to speed them up? It is just waiting for the “serious actions” to be carried out by the “serious people.” A totally useless approach.

The newspaper should be guiding and educating on important non-partisan issues affecting us all, as other newspapers have been doing.

The scientific community first raised this issue publicly in the mid-1960s, and now they are getting blue in the face telling us of the dangers, but the decision-makers are not listening.

This particular demonstration might have been “worse than useless,” as the editorial reads, but the vast majority of grassroots movements start that way. Until they take full shape and force changes.

 

Julio Miranda

Victoria

Humans' intelligence changes nature

Re: “Sorry for the delays, Victoria,” comment, Dec. 5.

For sheer hyperbole and misdirection, this commentary is the most energetic one I have seen in all my years of reading the Times Colonist’s editorial pages. The proletariat can throw off the yoke of the bourgeois establishment and march in solidarity toward Utopia. Good Marxist dialectic materialism, that. But, nonetheless, a dreamy fantasy.

After studying the whole issue of environmental change for more than 50 years, I have concluded that man has essentially subverted nature with his intelligence. That is to say, it is the nature of man to change his environment to suit his current state of living. It is this innate ability to strive to make life easier that is the font of man’s exacerbation of the natural cycle of environmental change that everyone is so concerned about.

To remove man’s part in the cycle of climate and environmental change, man would have to be willing to return to 12th-century European levels of existence, and encourage two-thirds of the population of the world to die, and die quickly.

This will never happen. Nor should it, really. Man, along with many other species, will exit this planet the way he came into it: Not with a bang, but a whimper. T.S. Eliot was right about that.

As for today, one good thing about the manifesto published on Wednesday is that it has shown us who these people really are, and what they really want.

M.D. Hansen

Victoria

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