Friday, October 2, 2009

Nevermind the mascara, re-thinking my role with Carbon

What a ridiculous week. It would seem that my busy life+snotty clients has finally caught up with me and I was left to sneak in "sick" time at the end of the day when no clients were booked. I had this entire post planned about the complexities and myths of bioplastics and "compostable" products. (picture from zerocarboncanada)

Then, last night Andrew and I had the opportunity to attend a free lecture at Dalhousie University by Andrew Weaver, Climatologist at School of Earth and Ocean Sciences at U-Vic BC. Despite my raging migraine, dizziness, nausea and the fact that I had barely eaten, I WAS going to this talk. Andrew Weaver is a BIG WIG global warming scientist with a ginormous dossier of scientific journal publications on climate change and global warming. He's a lead author in the International Panel of Climate Change and a Canada Research Chair in Climate Modeling and Analysis. He's the author of 'Keeping our Cool' which I am most definitely going to buy (or take out at the library).

As we sat in the very back of an extremely packed auditorium, I saw a few people take out notepads and pens. Crap. Why didn't I think of that? Pair this with Dr. Weaver's extremely dysfluent manner of speaking with several repetitions (whole word AND phrases), tangents and disjointed sentence structure and I can only sadly give you a portion of how very awesome his lecture was. If you'd like a small taste- check out this Tar Sands info video by Greenpeace.

He began with discussing why the public still believes there is a debate on whether climate change-global warming is human caused or natural. With a fantastically self-deprecating attitude he spoke about the disconnect between scientists and the media, from both sides. He pointed out that journalists are strongly encouraged to provide a "balanced" view in all articles in order to assure both sides of the story are represented, whereas scientists report (hopefully) factual information. For this matter, when several researchers in a quest to discover why the public is so confused about climate change, searched media databases, only 6% of all articles stated global warming was human caused. 50% of these (I think something like 900 media reports were randomly selected) had both views; climate change exists and some say it doesn't.

When peer reviewed scientific journal articles were randomly selected (again, number in the high hundreds, darn not having a pen a paper!) every single one concluded that climate change was human caused. Every. single. journal article. It was great to hear him directly address the "grassroots" (or as he called them "astroturf groups") anti-climate change movement by giving examples of faulty science, wording and supposed 'expert' studies published in online mediums (and not peer reviewed journals).

It was validating and at the same time shocking to have this firm: YES climate change is happening and YES science resoundingly states that we need to change something now. For some reason, although I do believe global warming is a threat, I had allowed myself to have doubts from the many media articles implying some sort of scientific debate. All of a sudden I couldn't view global warming as something that "might" happen someday. It will and is happening.

That's when Dr. Weaver got into some truly interesting points on how much carbon could we burn without breaking the 2 degree temperature increase (which he pointed out was a number chosen to be the maximum allowable temperature increase without irreparable ecological and environmental impact). Graphs of probable outcomes should we continue to burn the same amount of carbon. What our planet would look like from a heat chart with three possible 'carbon emission' paths. How anything above two degrees (celcius) increase in temperature would actually have HUGE impacts on our planets ability to sustain life as we know it.

Suddenly, my thoughts on eco-mascara and eco-skin care products, my 'the rock' deoderant, our CFL light bulbs, our glass food containers... all looked pretty frivolous. Dr. Weaver's solution was that over our lifetimes we should become completely carbon neutral worldwide. Completely.

Oh my- he's right. This is the solution- not a decrease in dependency, not an adaptability (who can 'adapt' to live in an uninhabitable planet??), but a complete non-dependence on carbon. We have to change the way we live, change what we believe is our 'right' as North Americans- the convenience of carbon. Of course, it is completely feasible, economically and practically. New sources of energy could be highly profitable. Changing the way we live doesn't mean existing in caves, but using sustainable resources, public transit (or walking and biking), using alternative energy and eating sustainable and healthy food. I think the biggest changes are those of convenience- having plastic in our lives for one.

The most thought provoking aspect of his presentation, however, was his quote of the U.N.'s human rights declaration. He calmly pointed out that we as North Americans do not truly believe this paragraph. We don't really believe that all humans are equal. If we did, we'd stop assuming that developed nations have some strange 'right' to continue polluting and destroying the planet at the expense of non-carbon emitting nations. That we as Canadians have more of a 'right' to do as we please with this planet than humans living in Sénégal.

The atmosphere does not care if the carbon comes from Halifax or Bombay. Neither should we.

Article authored and copyright of EcoYogini at


  1. Whoa...that's pretty eye-opening...

    I've long been frustrated with the 'entitlement' attitude that many people's pure selfishness really -- and the idea that it's 'not my problem'.

    Some of it comes from being overwhelmed at the enormity of what needs to be changed....


    You wonder what it would really take to make people actually DO something....

  2. Get the book from the library. If you think it is great, and worth buying, send him the cost price directly, with a letter explaining what the money is for. Or give 50% to the library, and 50% to the author.

    The youtube you linked to was awesome. He explained the whole need to stop heating the planet better than I've ever heard anyone explain it before.

    We can't wait for other people,or our governments, to change. I'm sick of hearing "somebody must DO something!" Its us. We need to change. Which is why we are :-)

    Just keep making changes, and keep talking about those changes. Be unafraid to be green.

    I'm glad you made it to the talk. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Well said! Thanks for sharing this - it's amazing how much "the public" and the media still believe there's disagreement about the anthropogenic causes of climate change. I even had a student report this in class a couple weeks ago. We are in deep denial!

  4. Beautiful post, and it really gave me the chills. I have SO MUCH to say on this, but I'll be posting on this on my blog over the next month. When you move, you realize how big your footprint really is, and it is eye-opening and somewhat discouraging!

    May I print the last paragraph of your post to my blog this weekend, with credits and a link to your blog?

    Thanks, Lisa. This Great job.

  5. Going to a lecture on global warming while suffering from a raging migraine, dizziness, nausea and barely having really know how to have a good time, don'tcha?

    Seriously, what the media calls "balance" on this issue is pretty ludicrous: equal time given to 1) the near-unanimous scientific consensus that global warming is happening, and 2) lies pushed by industries that profit heavily from causing global warming (as well as the fundamentalist crowd, who think the Rapture's gonna happen any day now, anyway, so good Christians like them don't have to worry about their carbon footprints)....

    Hmmm...I seem to be going off on a rant again...sigh...breathe...

  6. Great post. It's easy for me to put my head in the sand and not think about Climate Change. It's so darn scary. I'll focus instead on gardening, on making things by hand, and so on. And that's all great, but we need to remember how scary this is and how much we need to act. Thanks for the back row seat.

  7. I've never heard of Dr. Weaver--not surprising, since U.S. media doesn't think the rest of the world exists. :( I'll have to check him out.

    Are you familiar with Colin Beavan's No Impact project? It's pretty interesting. I'm reading his book now.

  8. Hey everyone! I'm glad that you all found my post, written in cold haze, actually coherent! lol. It truly didn't do his talk justice- I wish he had it online somewhere to find... but I looked.

    Vegan Burnout: I have briefly checked out his No Impact Project Site- I think it's SO COOL that he's taken the blogging into activism. Truly beyond that 'one year stunt' article in the NYTimes. I've been wondering about his book... glad to hear it's good!

    Daharja: I LOVE your idea about sending money to Dr. Weaver or donating it to a climate change fund research- awesome :)

  9. Very nice post. Yup, Dr. Weaver is pretty cool - I hope to get to hear him speak one day. He is from my alma mater, UVic, but I was clueless about such things back then. We really do need to get on with the Riot for Austerity, that Sharon Astyk and friends have been practicing for years already. I've been slacking off on that lately, and need to get with it again. Thanks for the timely reminder.


I love hearing from you! So I don't miss a comment, I like "pre-approving" them :)
I ask only that we stay respectful.
Also, please note that this is a personal blog and not a space for advertising your company. I reserve the right to delete "advertising" comments.

**NB: The ANONYMOUS option is the BEST way to comment if you don't have a blogger or established google/gmail account.