The Green Blues Show
In today’s edition of the Green Blues Show: An update on the detention of young Palestinian Ahed Tamimi; doing the math on Canadian climate action (It doesn’t add up). And, confronting oil pipelines as activists know how – through non-violent direction action.
Everyone wants to be happy. Everyone seeks happiness. Yet, the world is clearly not always a happy place. Is it possible for some countries to be happier than others?
Apparently, yes — at least since April 2012, when the first World Happiness Report came out. Every year since then, the UN Sustainability Development Solutions Network has scored 156 countries based on income, life expectancy, social support, freedom, trust, and generosity – and the happiness accruing. For the first time this year, the happiness of immigrants in 117 of these countries was measured.
Not surprisingly, immigrants in countries where the general population is happy also report high levels of happiness. Predictably, Scandinavian countries appear to be the happiest. Norway came first last year. This year, the honor goes to Finland. Canada is in the Top 10, at 7. War-torn countries like Burundi and Central African Republic, are the least happy.
Ironically, the only country to make the pursuit of happiness a constitutional right, the US, has never been in the Top 10, and this year barely makes the Top 20 – down five places from 2016, one spot lower than it was in 2017. According to luminary economist Jeffrey Sachs, three specific health crises turn smiles to frowns in America: obesity, substance abuse and … depression.
The dearth of social supports doesn’t ease American unhappiness.
One thing is clear from the Happiness Index: national happiness can be boosted. The tiny West African nation of Togo managed to leap up 18 places from rock bottom last year. Now there’s something to smile about.
Fighting climate change is a numbers game, in units of degrees Celsius and millions and billions of tonnes. As the atmospheric concentration of earth-warming CO2 rises above 400 ppm – almost twice what it was 200 years ago – the nations of the world struggle to roll back their emissions by the gigatonne. Canada has vowed to cut emissions by 30 percent, relative to its emissions in 2005.
A paltry target, really. Still, Canada’s emissions rise relentlessly, notably in oil-rich Alberta, where bitumen-rich tar sands generate billions and billions of dollars for huge corporations, and for the province.
To placate Alberta, the Canadian government has declared that expanding fossil fuel production is perfectly consistent with Canada’s larger goal of reducing emissions from burning that fuel. (It will be burned.) Others say the numbers don’t add up. Keith Stewart is one of these. Stewart is senior energy strategist with Greenpeace Canada.
The Green Blues Show has reported on the case of 17-year-old Palestinian girl named Ahed Tamimi. Ahed was arrested by Israeli soldiers on the night of December 19, following a videoed incident that went viral, in which she kicks and slaps one of two Israeli soldiers who’d entered her family’s property and refused to leave.
Ahed and her family – the village of Nabi Saleh, in the northern, Israeli-occupied West Bank — are renowned for their weekly popular protests. Israeli soldiers and police routinely greet these protests with gas grenades, high velocity teargas canisters, noxious, sewage-smelling fluid called “skunk,” rubber bullets and live rounds. Two members of Ahed’s family have been killed in the course of protests. Days before the slapping incident, Ahed’s 15-year-old cousin had received a rubber bullet in his face.
Ahed faced a host of charges following the slapping incident, including assaulting a soldier and interfering with military operations, and was tried in military court. (Israel is the only country in the world to try minors in military courts, where conviction rates are near a hundred percent.) I spoke about Ahed’s case with Fadi Quran, a Palestinian youth activist in Ramallah.
Following our conversation, at the end of March, Ahed accepted a plea deal, in exchange for an eight-month sentence. With four months already served, she is scheduled to be released in July.
In the wake of the Canadian government’s decision to incorporate expanded tar sand and pipeline construction into its greenhouse gas emission reduction strategy – most specifically, to approve the Kinder-Morgan/Trans-Mountain pipeline, for delivery of dirty bitumen to Pacific markets, Canadian activists are getting up in arms. Protests of varying militancy have been and are taking place.
Listen to First Nations activist Clayton Thomas-Muller, recorded back in 2016 at the World Social Forum, in Montreal, and a conversation with Vancouver activist David Mivasair, who was slapped with an injunction to cease and desist, following his involvement in a blockading action at Kinder-Morgan’s operation in Burnaby.
In today’s edition of the Green Blues Show, songs from Willie P. Bennett, Leroy Carr and Scrapper Blackwell, J.B. Lenoir.