By Nasreen Pejvack
In my latest essay/article I suggested:
“We shouldn’t worry if our world will end with a pandemic, or as a
result of climate change, or with nuclear bombs …. No! The world
will end because of an ignorance that has allowed all of the above to
threaten us at all. It is our ignorance that won’t allow us to learn
from past mistakes, but instead keep repeating them.”
And if I talked or wrote about the issues, some were outraged or felt insulted, saying: “I am intelligent, my children are intelligent, and I am already aware of everything.” But if we know it all, then why we are in this distressing and dangerous situation right now. These are the people who slow down movements of change, as they do not like to be subjected to real truths.
Well, my kind and sweet readers, our carefree oblivious lives are the very reason for all our troubles at this time, and we are beginning to lose our grip on the “Climate Change” situation that is imperiling our planetary ecosystem.
From decades ago, our scientists in many fields have chronicled and explained that we are destroying our habitat and only home. But not many people have given enough serious attention to this phenomenon and we haven’t changed our ways of life, nor sufficiently challenged our governments to put a break on the polluting processes of creating, extracting, and utilizing the materials we exploit to live in the way we do, and to work towards greater sustainability.
Many argue: “I am consciously recycling, composting and much more, so why is that not enough?” Well, for one thing, most human-made items do not get recycled or reused, but are simply tossed thoughtlessly into the environment. Another issue is that behind the scenes, the methods of extracting raw materials and manufacturing our goods causes harm by releasing hazardous discharges into our land, air and water. And most of these polluters of our planet are oil companies and big corporations.
Then there are wars and conflicts to consider, especially in areas with rich resources, fueled by the economic ambitions and arms-trade profiteering of wealthy nations. Just because at this time in our history there are no major conflicts in Europe or North America does not mean that the world is at peace. Though we always talk about such things as greenhouse gases and factory pollution, we don’t pay enough attention to how much the activities of war cause environmental destruction. It’s important to know how dangerous many weapons are, how they are prepared and produced, how they kill many innocents, and how deadly they are to ecosystems. The link below will give you an idea of how they are polluting our air, land and water.
And don’t think that these issues are therefore just happening in Africa or the Middle East and so won’t affect us. This is one planet, with seas, oceans, and air interconnecting us all.
For a long time now, our scientists, activists, and environmentalists have been analyzing our climate and trying to make scientific sense of drastic changes in our weather patterns, more severe droughts, bigger forest fires, and increased famine.
Let’s begin with Rachel Carson, who was an American biologist specializing in the fields of environmental pollution and the natural history of the sea. She sensed that disasters were coming our way more than 60 years ago, with her observations and the results of her work, “Silent Spring,” published in 1962.
Her research well documented the harmful and damaging effects of pesticides such as DDT on our environment, and hence on our own lives. She explained how arbitrary use of pesticides and other modern chemicals contaminated our water and land, thus harming birds and animals living there. Further consequences were severe medical problems for humans. Ms. Carson’s book was one of the most influential of her time for describing the effects of chemicals on our environment and human health, and was instrumental in the birth of environmental movements rising up in the 1960s.
Then we have David Suzuki’s tireless effort to educate people in regard to our ways of life and the choices we make which have such a huge impact on our habitat. I remember his Nature of Things program, which began in 1960 and which Suzuki began hosting in 1979. Its important and informative episodes enlightened many, and as a young woman I remember attentively watching as many as I could.
He has been a longtime and outspoken advocate for the environment, and is still keenly and diligently working hard at finding ways to help us balance our lifestyles with the natural world. He also has been an active and persuasive advocate and spokesperson for climate change, from the 1970s to today. Suzuki says that reading Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring changed his life.
Alongside Suzuki, other authentic activists have begun to talk and push back about concerns regarding our home planet and the effects created by greenhouse gases, which at the time was termed “Global Warming” by geoscientist Wallace Broecker in 1975. After that it took years before the issue eventually reached mainstream understanding, with the rise of Earth-Day
activities in the 1970s and 1980s being a big part of that effort.
By 1990 Earth Day had gone global, and summits and gatherings began to focus on concerns about the worsening afflictions to our environment through human activities. By 2000 Earth Day was recognized by 181 countries, but the question is: What has changed? Do we see or feel any indications of improvements?
NO! We have only seen things worsen. Since the 1980s, the world has become increasingly aware of extreme heat and drought events, with many people on the planet feeling their effects. As of 1988, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has worked to provide data to governments so they can implement policies to stop us going down the road to disaster. Yet even with this tool in place, here we are in 2021, still heading quickly towards catastrophe, with the consequences of our inaction becoming in danger of being irreversible.
In 1992 the UN held a conference on sustainable development at The Rio Earth Summit, with recommendations internationally embraced and approved by 178 countries agreeing to establish principles for reducing carbon dioxide emissions and increasing protections for ecosystems. It was a hopeful sign that environmental issues were being considered for the first time alongside the
economy and international development.
Then in 1997 world leaders gathered in Kyoto, Japan where they crafted an agreement to encourage the reduction of greenhouse gases. Developed countries made promises to lower emissions by only 5%, but even that small request could not be accepted by the US senate, which instantly announced that they would neither approve nor endorse the treaty.
Though these climate summits generated hope that the world might take action on the issue, people could see that countries around the world weren’t really taking things seriously, with many simply ignoring agreements or implementing weak window-dressing policies. With the turn of the century,
people increasingly demonstrated to demand action on climate change, with the people of planet Earth giving up on their political leaders as agents of real change. From the early 2000s to today we have had the hottest years ever recorded in our history, especially in this year of 2021. Yet fossil fuel consumption and other environmental ruins are soaring higher than ever.
People fed up with broken promises, neglect and inactions of governments are now joining together internationally and establishing such grassroots and non-profit organizations as 350.org and Fossil Free, to provide a forum for people of the Earth to get involved globally and challenge the inactions of the world’s greedy and power-hungry elites. As a result, over the last couple of
decades the pressures, protests, and uprisings have increased people’s awareness and helped shrink investments in fossil fuels by $11 trillion. With movements like that, we have the potential for a healthy Earth to continue thriving.
Unfortunately though, catastrophes and calamities continue to devastate many parts of our planet, harming the livelihoods of any inhabitants of those areas. For instance, the steady rise of sea levels endangers coastal communities and ecosystems all around the globe. These kinds of effects are the consequences of our misusing the planet and taking it for granted. On the positive side, people really are learning, understanding and feeling the upheavals facing them, and are therefore organizing and demanding changes.
In May 2018, Extinction Rebellion was launched in London, England. They began organizing actions to bring complacent daily life in London to a halt. The beauty of it is that their style protests has caught on, and Extinction Rebellion has chapters in about 70 other countries around the world now.
In the same year of 2018, we witnessed a young Swedish girl named Greta Thunberg going on strike to protest the inaction of governments on the climate crisis file. This young lady bravely and briskly ordered leaders around the world to grow up and see the threat coming our way. Her courage and understanding of Earth’s situation, along with her strong and sophisticated speeches, have shaken the world and encouraged a new movement among our youngest generations attempting to keep their future home in one piece.
Is there hope for us with these movements? Who knows – with many strong activist groups supporting one another, we may get somewhere. We must consciously work together and try harder, from the small stuff such as recycling and composting, to the big stuff such as large-scale protesting and challenging government policies. It may feel like only little progress is being made, but the great destructive beasts such as fossil-fuel-generated greenhouse gases or the toxic wastes of plastics, industrial chemicals and weapons of war are still out there infecting our home, and must be fought.
I, for one, am looking forward to learning more, and seeing more recognition and understanding of the serious and dangerous situation we are in at this point in our history, and forging links with each other all across the world to work at righting all these wrongs.
Howling For Life
The moon facing me, gazing at me, dazzling me,
the moon and I were part of a mass,
within a huge ring of multitudes.
Birthing from the mass
began to shape and engage us in reactions,
movements of dust and rock weaved about the gloom,
I was born in my cradle, in a horde of entities,
the life I had was darkness, cold,
surrounded by matters I didn’t know,
that was all out there,
Collisions here and there,
we expanded, shifted and moved about,
that was all out there
I desired to be what I am today
different from that mayhem,
longing to produce life, grow and transform,
darkness and cold was out there,
Eventually, clusters of us alienated from Mother Bedlam,
fell into this magnificent order,
we initiated our own loop of events,
force of our Sun shaped us,
began a new harmonization.
Magnum opus, the Sun, pulled and pushed us into order,
we lined up to form, and danced riotously ever since
we commenced a new order.
Tossed into the warmth of magnificent Sun,
gave me the heat I needed
hot and boiling to the core
I spat out blood for years, and years
torrential downpour for thousands more
only to cool it down for new life to begin
time, a drip of eternity,
yet, I was so full of hope
I desired entities that would help it grow,
they would make it more beautiful.
It took me millions of years to cultivate water,
forest, and air to breathe,
vast blue ocean nurtured the first life,
hosted all kinds of beings in its heart,
forests gave more breathing room,
became home to even more lives.
With shaking, trembling and quaking on my surface,
I developed splendid mountains.
My rivers flowed from them, joined oceans,
life thrived all over my skin
and all manner of creatures helped it grow.
The birds flew about and spread seeds,
vast diverse animals grew
learning and evolving.
In due course,
along came my evolved humanoid.
It took me a long time to enliven this ball of lava,
my resplendent chest became an absolute loveliness,
in such a brief time, my human ruined it all,
my sapiens grew to be the smartest of my children,
to have the most destructive natures.
Some of my children became the thinkers,
learned our past mistake, thrived for change
others developed cities, monuments,
science fought viruses, traveled outer space
though most of my broods grew to be:
selfish, arrogant, and clueless,
catering to wars and conflicts.
It took me billions of years to change and re-arrange,
give them a taste of beauty,
breezes through singing forests,
depth of blue sea and its vast life,
peaks of mountains, and the running rivers,
so they have stories to tell, and poems to write.
ever since my children grew smarter,
they created all kinds of killing kits,
my face, my chest, my belly…
became a battle ground
dominance fell into the hands of greed,
billions of feet stamping on me,
thousands of drills piercing me,
craters in my chest,
as bombs are tossed about
destroying everything I built,
kills so many of my children,
destroys my vegetation,
they began a chain of destruction of all,
greeneries, life in my oceans
extracting any treasures in my belly
anything to feed their egos
and I thought they are the smartest of all my beings,
my little humanoid, the sapiens.
Question yourself my children,
do you think you are blameless?
Some of you err by deliberate choices,
some are weak or ignorant or cynical,
some only value their own ideas,
some are the idols of greed in the temples,
some thrive with adventurous souls, for change.
Though are not united,
they have segmented me with many borders
borders created wars and hatreds
fighting for a bigger piece of me
killing for land to increase wealth
As treasures found in my heart,
my surface, my other creations
plunged into the abyss of suffering,
more greed, thereafter, more wars
even wars about who is better.
If I am the mother of all, I remember well,
amongst my creatures, those who roam my forests,
climb my mountains and pass through my oceans,
fly across and around me,
I only sprouted one human race.
some think they are different and superior,
aren’t they oblivious to their own ignorance?
Though, I believe in some of my humans,
the ones that know the mistakes made,
the ones who want change, and know how to change,
Yet, the struggle is too hard.
Remember my children:
I have given life,
I rained-down on my bare hot surface,
flourished life, made it possible to grow,
I gave you all you needed,
all is evaporating in madness, darkness,
hunger and wars you have created,
pain and suffering you brought upon each other,
none see their own fault,
none see they are the cause of such problems.
Well my children:
the moon still faces me, gazing at me, dazzling me
I am still part of the same mass
I was a lava rock, I will survive
I will surely grow life again and flourish my bare chest once more,
But the question is
Will you be there?
Nasreen Pejvack was born in Tehran, Iran, and came to Canada in the 1980s, where she earned a computer programming diploma and began working in the IT field. Soon she moved to San Francisco and, while working there, obtained a certificate in software engineering. After 12 years in IT, she left the field to study psychology, and then worked as counselor and educator until 2013. Since then she has been writing novels, articles, short stories, and poems. Her debut novel, AMITY (Inanna Publications 2015), was a finalist for British Columbia’s 2016 Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize. Nasreen has also published PARADISE OF THE DOWNCASTS, a collection of short stories and essays inspired by her experiences in Canada, and WAITING, a collection of poems, both with McNally Robinson in 2018. LUYTEN’S STAR is her latest publication.
To learn more, visit Nasreen’s website at: https://www.examine-consider-act.ca/
Carson, Suzuki and Thunberg – they are great people. What else?
Yes, humans are very tragic, and poetic. I think the end of the poem says it best; humans might not be around to witness the enduring magic of existence.
Which isn’t all that tragic, if I’m honest, except from our subjective point of view. And from the point of view of the endless misery and pain we will go through to become extinct (which we see signs of already).
We are (seem to be) unique in the world in having consciousness of existence, but don’t make much of it as a group, and just live our animal emotional life in interacting with each other. We have to find new values for the future, beyond the religious ones that created stability over the last millennia. Humanist ones.
You liked my poem, and I’m happy about it.
Yes, we need more humanists to work together on the many issues we are facing before the real chaos sets of extreme weather, lack of water and food, etc. – there could be an anarchy soon…
Our poor Gaia. Great poem and rapid-fire timeline of the issues, Nasreen. Ignorance has not been an excuse for some time… perpetuation by capitalist forces? Ohhh yeahhh (in Kool-aid man voice)
Great interpretation, thanks. And the important thing is for each one of us to find a way to combat this awfully difficult situation…
Visions of our Children’s Children’s Future – Part 2 – International Political Revolution
Electoral Politics, the Global Climate Initiative, and Green Parties
Climate activist Greta Thunberg famously chides world leaders for their inaction on effective climate change measures, accusing them, “how dare you!” Well, Greta, they dare because they can and they want to. Establishment corporate politicians can’t be shamed into doing the right thing. They will not do the right thing because it is the right thing to do when Big Money is telling them to do otherwise.
They dare because they have political power and you don’t. Greta’s organization’s website has a list of demands on politicians. Make all the demands you want; have all the strikes you can, all the protests and demonstrations you can muster. Unless you can pose a credible threat to their re-election, politicians can and will disregard you, as they have done, decade after decade after decade. As much as I admire Ms Thunberg, it is a strategic error to remain apolitical.
It is essential that we take over our governments from the establishment legacy political parties and their politicians. Only then will we be able to make the broad and deep systemic and institutional changes we need.
Organize or Die
One of the leaders of the Egyptian Arab Spring said that their biggest failure was the failure to organize politically. They ousted president Mubarek. But when elections were held, the only people who were organized was the Muslim Brotherhood, even though they had been banned for many years. Their candidate won the presidency. This was unacceptable to the Egyptian military, so they staged a coup and put a general in power. They had new elections and, of course, the general won. So Egypt ended up with a “democratically elected” military dictator.
One of the leaders of the Occupy Wall Street movement said their biggest failure was to not organize politically. They succeeded in changing the political narrative to “we are the 99%”. But after police cleared the parks and the demonstrators dispersed, the movement died. And the rallying cry, we are the 99%, died with it.
And what of Greta Thunberg’s climate movement? Having been pre-empted in the media by the covid pandemic, can it be revived? The novelty of a 15 year old girl skipping school to strike for the climate has worn off. Unless it becomes an effective political force, it may fade into the sidelines.
In the 1980s in the US, and possibly other countries, the progressive left abandoned electoral politics and splintered into myriad “non-profit” single-issue, special interest advocacy groups. When I was running for the California assembly in 2000, I was on a panel at a town hall forum along with representatives from about a dozen of these groups. After we had made our presentations, a member of the audience, decrying the dismal state of affairs we had described, asked how we could change things. The reply we didn’t have time for me to give is this: If all of these groups worked together, pooling their resources into a single political party, we might be able to get our people elected.
There are many, many groups and organizations, national and international, working on the same basic issues of the environment, climate change, racism, economic and social justice, and more. There is much overlap, redundancy and waste of resources in so many groups working on the same issues. If they all agreed to work together with one political party, pooling their resources, we would have a solid base for an effective political party. More on this later.
Another group of people that could greatly energize our political party is the people who will be the most effected by environmental malfeasance by the political class and who have the most at stake – generation Y – millenials and, especially, generation Z – the young people who are just now coming of political age, voting age – the generation that climate activist Greta Thunberg represents. For them, this is a matter of urgency and necessity. Their response to Greta’s activism shows they can be inspired and mobilized. They must be the vanguard of this political revolution. I hereby invite Greta Thunberg and Fridays for Future to join this effort.
A Two-Pronged Strategy:
1) The Global Climate Initiative To Save The Planet – First, develop a list of actions that governments can do now to reduce the effects of climate change. Give it brand name like, The Global Climate Initiative To Save The Planet (GCI) . (Details of the initiative will be discussed in part 3.) Use this document to rally and recruit people to the cause.
(A) When the movement is big enough, present the GCI to the UN. Ask the UN to declare a global climate emergency and to adopt the GCI and establish a permanent Agency on Climate and the Environment to help countries to carry it out and monitor their progress.
(B) National chapters of the movement will present the GCI to their individual national governments, asking them to declare a climate emergency and adopt the GCI and establish a department of climate change mitigation.
(C) Lobby individual national lawmakers to endorse and carry out the provisions of the initiative. But, tell them that if they don’t endorse it or work to implement it in a timely manner, then we will not vote for their reelection and will work to replace them with someone who will.
(D) Repeat step C at the state/provincial and county/local levels of government.
2) Electoral Politics
As I said earlier, for our threats of replacing politicians to be taken seriously, we need a serious, strong and effective political party. As much as we might hope that sitting politicians will adopt the GCI and even pass some of the items in some form, our ultimate political goal is to take over control of the government. Lobbying individual politicians with the GCI provides a way to put them on public record on the issues and identify those most in need of replacement. Their stand can then be used against them at election time.
The GCI organization in each country will have to determine what political party is best to work with in their country, or to develop a new party. I do not know of any party besides Green Parties that would enthusiastically endorse and work for the implementation of the GCI and issues of racism, social and economic justice, etc. Go to their websites to see what they stand for. Green parties exist in nearly 90 countries around the world; many are members of Global Greens. Compare the Global Greens issues and principles with those of Greta Thunberg’s organization, Fridays For Future, and other such organizations. We’re all working for the same things. We should be working together.
Green Parties have had significant recent electoral successes in the UK and elsewhere. Unfortunately, in the US, they have been rather unorganized and have had little electoral success. However the party still has an organization and structure that an organized group of millenials and GEN Zers could infuse with their energy, organizing skills and leadership. The organizing for the GCI and the Green (or whatever) Party should work in tandem. The GCI will attract and mobilize people and the Green Parties will give those people a vehicle through which to implement the elements of the GCI.
(Organizing, a good place to start is public colleges and universities are prime targets for organizing GCI and Green chapters or clubs.)
To do any of this, we need people organized internationally and by nation. I envision an international organization to present this to the UN. Individual countries should have their own national organizations. These should not be attached to any political party.
The initiative will need an international team of people to develop and finalize the text before presenting it to the world. At that point it will need a team to manage and promote the initiative.
I ran for the US House of Representatives in 1992 and for the state assembly in 2000. Now, I’m just a grumpy old man. We need energetic young people, who have more life at stake in this than do I, to take up this initiative. I invite Greta Thunberg and everyone to get involved with it. If you’re interested in helping, message me on Facebook with your email or other contact info. Jan L Bergeron: https://www.facebook.com/jan.bergeron.7
We all know that the hard work of Greta, and our dedicated scientist are being ignored… the result is so obvious to us all…. the consequence of ignoring scientists … drastic changes in our weather patterns as we all are experiencing.
So many groups working on the overlapping issues. If they all agreed to work together, the pace of change would be faster and more reliable.
That was the main reason Iran’s revolution 1979 failed. We were many activists supported by many people, but they could not work together; leftist could never work with Muslims, and in each there were many sub-groups with different names and ideas, all wanted to implement their own agendas and no others …. Bureaucracy to the core
I enjoyed reading your response to my essay.
I couldn’t agree more – people have to unify and organize.
What I cannot agree with is that you said, “we have to achieve our goal through a political party.”
That would never work as the bigger they get the more corrupted and normalized they become through back-channel influences of corporations.
There are no honest major political parties anymore…
Nasreen, thank you for your reply. I specifically said we need to replace the legacy parties with new, or at least, other parties – I might not have clearly said that they would not take corporate money, but that was my intent. I will edit the doc to be clear. I still believe that we have to achieve our goals through electoral politics. I do not see any other effective option. If there are no honest political parties, then we need to create them. I know of no other effective option. If you do, please tell me about it.
Best wishes, Jan Bergeron
I truly understand and feel your passion.
I do not believe there is hope with any Politician, or working through an absolutely corrupted system, as I strongly believe they all are controlled with corporations and they do not let it go easy.
Now, you have to find another way.