The Green Blues Show
In today’s edition of the Green Blues Show: Voices from the vault about energy and climate; an African friend talks about his new book; light rail transit in Hamilton, Ontario; sounds good – but for whom? And the voice of an unforgotten urban activist, urging urban dwellers to make a difference.
The fossil fuel industry – the global carbon economy – is like a huge building that needs to be brought down, in a monumental act of controlled demolition.
The colossal scale of the task at hand suggests it will take decades – perhaps even a half century – for the carbon edifice to be demolished, but demolish it humanity shall. There’s no other way out of the crisis relentless fossil carbon burning has generated: atmospheric CO2 rising by the tens of parts per million, earth warming in lockstep, Arctic and Antarctic melting, oceans rising.
Hard to imagine where the political will and leadership required for this transition will come from. It will eventually come. When it does, de-carbonization will surely stand among the most monumental transformative acts humans have embarked on: agriculture; the adoption of the great monotheistic faiths; the foundation of cities; humanism, science and capitalism. The fossil fuel-driven industrial revolution; the digitization of the human species.
The human world is such a sorry, scary place, it’s hard to imagine what it’ll be like when today’s kids are full grown. Still, just thinking about this great shift humans are embarking on, right now, may be reason to smile, as this great building gets torn down.
Here’s something from our archives: bits of conversation about planet Earth and its fate. The first voice you’ll hear is that of William Fyfe. At the time I recorded this, Fyfe was Professor Emeritus of Earth Sciences at the University of Western Ontario, and “among the world’s most eminent geochemists,” according to Wikipedia. The winner of numerous prestigious awards over the course of his career, named a Companion of the Order of Canada in 1989, Bill Fyfe was every inch as articulate and congenial as he was brilliant when we met in his office in 1992. He had an entertaining Kiwi way about him, and great pipes. Bill Fyfe shuffled off this mortal coil in 2013, at the age of 86.
Other voices in this segment: Carolyn Eyles, who continues to work in the School of Geography and Earth Sciences at McMaster University; Darwyn Coxson, recorded back in the early nineties at McMaster, now carrying on research at the University of Northern British Columbia, in Prince George, B.C.; and Karla Braidek, who was living in central Saskatchewan at the time of this recording, working with a group called Energy Alternatives.
Josephat Mwanzi is a Tanzanian journalist and writer. I had the good fortune of meeting Josephat back in 2005, at St. Augustin University of Technology, in Mwanza, on the southern shore of Lake Victoria, in Tanzania, where he was studying, and I was teaching. Josephat and I have stayed in touch. He has contributed a few stories to the Green Planet Monitor over the years. Now, he’s written a book. I spoke with Josephat by Skype.
And something from an old Ottawa friend — veteran Canadian writer and broadcaster Stephen Dale. An audio piece Stephen has produced together with Hamilton, Ontario educator and writer Lillian Blume. Stephen and Lil’s story examines the light rail transit proposal now gathering steam in Hamilton.
Light rail transit seems like a great idea. Characteristically, Stephen and Lil need to be convinced, and drill down to deeper societal layers.
Tooker Gomberg was one of Canada’s best known, articulate and dynamic urban environmental activists, up until his unfortunate death in 2004, at the absurd age of 48. In his home town of Montreal and adopted Edmonton, Gomberg struggled tirelessly to bicyclize urban streets, and generally reduce the size of consumptive footprints. I spoke with Tooker in the early nineties, when he was an Edmonton city councilor. Tooker killed himself in 2004, reportedly under the effect of antidepressant medication.
In this edition of the Green Blues Show, songs by Blind Willie Johnson, Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five, Clifton Chenier, and Dave Van Ronk.