Dealing with Fear

There has been a lot of bad news in the media in the last few weeks. Political turmoil, refugee crises, and some very dire climate warnings. It is not surprising then that people will have trouble dealing with fear.

Unfortunately fear and worry don’t move us well toward good solutions. As Baz Luhrmann says in his iconic piece Wear Sunscreen,

Don’t worry about the future
Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing Bubble gum

The poem Luhrmann quotes reflects on highly personal issues; jobs, aging parents, aging ourselves. The solutions he offers are mostly about living a full and happy life.

The problems we hear about in the news may feel bigger. And yet they are quite similar. We have very little control over what diseases might hit us, or how economic downturns will affect us, or how our parents or children will do. We also have very little personal control over what happens in politics or with respect to climate change (although we still have a party to play).

What matters is how we deal with the the fear. Approaching problems with an air of defeat will make them worse. Taking positive action with an optimistic attitude will make the problems feel less daunting. When we take positive steps in dealing with fear it feels better. And people like to follow the lead of optimistic people. Though it is sounds cliché, together we can make a difference. Which is part of what makes Green Party policy of sustainability so attractive.

The following article was originally written by Wade Wiebe for the South Eastman Transition Initiative. It has some great ideas on dealing with fear.

 

How I’m Dealing with My Fear

by Wade Wiebe

I’ve been having a difficult time coping with the information in the latest IPCC report released two weeks ago. In it, we learn that we must reduce our emissions by 50% within 12 years to keep average global temperatures from rising more than 1.5C. If we achieve that reduction, we’ll get a chance at the next deadline in 2050, when it must be brought to zero. If we fail, we won’t be able to stop the catastrophe at all. At 2.0C, 25% of all species will be extinct. At 3.0C, New York City will be submerged. It gets worse after that.

While the facts are difficult to process, most of my frustration comes from my perception that few people seem to be aware of the scope of the problem. The scale and certainty of this threat are greater than all of humanity’s fears combined. How is it possible not to talk about it?

Dr. Emily Green was probably experiencing something similar when she wrote “The Existential Dread of Climate Change” for Psychology Today in October 2017. After slowly learning more about the reality of climate change, she found herself in a state of despair and heightened anxiety. Looking closely at her own reaction, she probed further. She writes that thinking and learning about these harsh realities activates what’s called our “ultimate concerns”, including finitude, responsibility, suffering, meaninglessness and death. And while her intense emotional reaction is reasonable given the circumstances, Dr. Green asked herself this question: “What happened after the podcast, or radio, or television was turned off? Did the information push her towards something useful or productive?” “Unfortunately” she says, “as I reflected I realized that my horror at the state of things, rather than spur in myself action towards helping the cause, had bred minimal lifestyle changes…” Why was that? Green writes that several common reasons for inaction in response to awareness may be at play in all of us. Denial and repression, numbness and apathy, perceived risk of change and perceived ineffectiveness of change were known to be common reactions to knowledge about climate change. But the literature on the subject also provided some good news. While inaction was a common response, other individuals respond positively through collective engagement, activism, a sense of empowerment and personal responsibility, and a desire to influence others to act similarly. According to Green, there is evidence that being an active participant increases a sense of self-efficacy, social competence and a range of other positive emotions. She points out that “…while the existential dread of the potential destruction of our planet and species may seem like a burden too great to bear; like any other anxiety, it is one best approached rather than avoided.”

As we begin to appreciate seriousness of our situation, fear and despair will undoubtedly become more commonplace. The role for those of us who have begun to process the facts in earnest will be as a source of rationality and direction for others. And the only way we can offer that strength is to face up to it and find it ourselves.

Dr. Green’s article closes with a tip sheet from the Australian Psychological Society. “Although environmental threats are real and can be frightening, remaining in a state of heightened distress is not helpful for ourselves nor for others. We generally cope better, and are more effective at making changes, when we are calm and rational.”

Here are their tips on making changes in the face of climate-change distress:

  • Be optimistic about the future
  • Remind yourself that there is a lot you can personally do
  • Change your own behaviour
  • Become informed about problems and solutions
  • Do things in easy stages
  • Identify things that might get in the way of doing things differently
  • Look after yourself!
  • Invite others to change
  • Talk with others about environmental problems
  • Present clear but not overwhelming information, and offer solutions
  • Talk about changes that you are making in your own life
  • Share your difficulties and rewards
  • Be assertive, not aggressive
  • Congratulate people for being environmentally concerned
  • Model the behaviour that you want others to do
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Energy: Sources and Uses

By Gary Martens

Our economy, any economy involves work and work requires energy. The human body is a very efficient machine in terms of work. A fuel efficient car might be able to travel 100 kilometres on 5 litres of fuel, but the human body only needs 0.8 litres of fuel (energy equivalents) to travel the same distance. We extend our ability to do work by using machines run on crude oil, natural gas, electricity and other non-human sources of energy.

The energy used to run the Manitoba economy can roughly be divided into thirds. One third of our energy goes into transportation. Over 90% of transportation energy comes from crude oil. The other 10% comes from ethanol additives. One third of our energy is electricity and over 95% of that comes from renewable hydro power (4% from wind, 1% from solar and solid biomass). And one third of our energy goes to heating buildings and for manufacturing. Most of that comes from natural gas.

I will focus here on the one third that goes to transportation. This is almost completely derived from crude oil.

In terms of energy we can look at Canada in two distinct regions: western Canada and eastern Canada. According to the National Energy Board of Canada we produced 217 million cubic metres (mm3) of crude oil in western Canada in 2015. We consumed only 18% of that in western Canada, 39 mm3 . We exported 178 mm3: 17.4 mm3 to the west coast, 50.5 mm3 to the United States and 110 mm3 getting to eastern Canada or to eastern and US exports. The proposed Energy East pipeline could carry 36% of total western exports, that is, 64 mm3 to eastern Canada or to exports off the east coast at St John, New Brunswick.

While western Canada is a net exporter of crude oil, eastern Canada is a net importer. Eastern Canada consumed 64 mm3 in 2015, but produced only 10 mm3, almost all of that off-shore. It imported another 33 mm3 from the US and points east.

It is interesting that the Energy East pipeline proposal has a capacity of 64 mm3 which is exactly the total consumption of eastern Canada.

Manitoba produced 2.7 mm3 of crude oil and consumed 3.5 mm3 in 2015, but we have no refinery capacity so our refined products like gasoline and diesel fuel come from the Cooperative refinery in Regina (capacity 7.5 mm3) and sometimes from Edmonton by the Enbridge mainline which leaves Canada at Gretna. A smaller pipeline takes some of that oil to Winnipeg. Trucks distribute it from Winnipeg to retailers.

It will be very difficult switching the goods and freight transportation sector to an alternative fuel because diesel fuel has no substitutes that are as energy dense. Diesel fuel has 36 MJ/litre compared to the best lithium ion batteries which have 4.3 MJ/litre. This means that we will have to look at reworking the entire supply of goods sector if we want to reduce our dependence on crude oil. How to do that and the opportunities that can arise for southeastern Manitoba will be addressed in a future article.

This the second article in a series focusing on “A Path to a New Energy Economy” where we want to introduce the issues around the proposed Energy East pipeline. This pipeline will pass very close to Isle de Chenes, Landmark and Ste. Anne. The series will conclude with a free public lecture about the proposed pipeline on February 15, 2017 at the Jake Epp Public Library.

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Press Conference: Platform Release, Candidate’s Pledge, and Lecture Series

Last night we had a fantastic evening listening to Karen Ridd’s lecture on Nonviolence titled “Swimming Upstream: Being Nonviolent in a Violent World.” Unfortunately we were unable to record it (though we have plans to record future lectures), but given that it was the first lecture in the series, and that the Green Party had released our fully-costed platform just two days before, I thought it was a good opportunity to invite the press and kick the series off in a more formal fashion. I signed the Candidate’s Pledge, and said a few words.

The world is faced with an unprecedented challenge: we’re consuming beyond our means and beyond what the earth can sustain, and it’s having disastrous effects on the climate. While we don’t feel the effects here so much, the droughts in California and Syria, the wildfires in BC, and even the record-breaking temperatures here in Provencher, are all related. But the greatest challenges are also the greatest opportunities, and Canada faces an unprecedented opportunity in the shift away from a carbon economy and toward a clean energy economy.
There are already more Canadians working in the clean energy sector than there are working in the oil sector, even though the current government is subsidizing the oil industry by billions of dollars a year. Jobs in the clean energy sector are stable and long-term jobs in manufacturing, construction, and maintenance of clean energy infrastructure such as solar and wind farms, and those solar and wind farms provide stable and steady revenue – unlike oil, which rises and falls with the global market and creates a boom-and-bust cycle in the Canadian economy. And while the oil industry only brings dangerous pipelines to Provencher – like the one that exploded a few kilometres from my house last winter, or the one that exploded this week just south of Emerson, or the Energy East pipeline that would run diluted bitumen right through the Whiteshell Provincial Park – the clean energy industry can turn Provencher into a literal powerhouse: we have more sunlight than anywhere else in Canada, we have strong and regular winds, and we have wide open spaces that can be used for clean energy infrastructure. Another key aspect of the clean energy economy is efficiency, and the need for home energy retrofits is high: Steinbach’s number one industry is construction, and a national home energy retrofitting plan would maintain business in construction without fear of a housing bubble. So a carbon economy only offers us risks, but a clean energy economy offers us incredible economic opportunities. As MP for Provencher, I would press the government to invest in the clean energy economy and work with citizens and businesses in Provencher to ensure that the local economy benefits from this opportunity.

On Wednesday, the Green Party of Canada released our full election platform. We were  once again the first party to do so, and as usual our platform is fully costed and has been reviewed by economists to ensure the numbers are right. They are. The Green Party is prepared to eliminate tuition for post-secondary education by 2020, invest in rail infrastructure, phase in a Guaranteed Livable Income, implement a national housing strategy, a national Pharmacare plan, and a national Seniors’ strategy, lower small business taxes, and reverse cuts to Veterans’ affairs, CBC, and Canada Post – and deliver a surplus starting in 2015-16 and every year thereafter so that we can more effectively pay down government debt. These initiatives would be paid for by removing existing subsidies to the fossil fuel industry, legalizing and taxing cannabis, restoring the corporate tax rate to its 2009 level to ensure that it remains competitive with other OECD countries, eliminating tax havens, and implementing cost-effective programs that get better value for our dollar.

But while the climate and the economy are incredibly important issues, the thing that most made me take notice of the Green Party and decide to run as a Green candidate is our attention to the effectiveness and dignity of Canadian democracy. We aim to institute proportional representation, government transparency, and cross-partisan cooperation and respect. That’s why I’m proud to sign the Green Party Candidate’s pledge today: I pledge to conduct myself with integrity and treat others with respect, and if elected, to publish all of my expenses, conduct myself with civility in the House of Commons and never heckle, and to always put the best interests of my constituents, Canada, and the planet before partisan politics and personal interests. I’ve been pleased to have a positive relationship with the other candidates in Provencher even in the midst of this campaign, as we all attempt to better engage and serve the community.

It is in the service of our community that we’re here today at the Jake Epp Library, where in a few minutes we’re going to start the first of six public lectures. These lectures are sponsored by my campaign and the Green Party Provencher Riding Association, but they are non-partisan lectures about issues that are important to the community. The lecturers do not represent the Green Party, and approach their topics from a number of perspectives; they were chosen because of their expertise and experience in these issues, and because they are from the riding or from close by. The lectures will run every Friday evening from tonight until the election, and will cover the topics of nonviolence, embracing diversity, sustainability, social justice, ecological wisdom, and participatory democracy. Admission is free, and donations will go to offering the lecturers an honourarium and, if there is a large interest, toward renting a larger venue. We welcome anyone and everyone to engage with this conversation.

Conversations are incredibly important, but they need to lead to action. When it comes to the climate, the economy, our democratic institutions, and our global leadership, it’s time for action. A vote for me is a vote for fair and active representation in Ottawa; for a clean energy economy that will create and maintain jobs in Provencher while reducing greenhouse gases and dependence on oil; and for a cleaner, healthier Canada.

Thank you!

Candidate's pledge
BIG smile – I’m happy to pledge to be dignified and respectful!

 

After that we had a lovely Q&A session about the platform before turning it over to Karen, who challenged us all with her experiences of nonviolent action and her perspectives on how Canada might embrace nonviolence in our policies moving forward.

Watch for a story about this great event in the Carillon on Thursday, and be sure to come out for our next lecture on Friday – Wendy Peterson will speak on “Embracing Diversity: Living an Enriched Life Within Canada’s Borders.” See you there!

Your candidate,

Jeff Wheeldon

Jeff_Background1

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On Refugees

For the last few days, all I can think about is Alan Kurdi. The first picture I saw of him was an artist’s rendition of Alan laying facedown in a bed, and I liked it because it reminded me of my son Sam, who is just a year old. “Sam sleeps like that too,” I thought. Then I saw the image it was based on, realized that he wasn’t sleeping, and I broke down. I’m not normally prone to bursting out in tears at work, but it’s happened a few times in the past few days as I continue to process it.

It’s amazing how quickly one photo can change the world.

There have been refugees in Syria for years. Long before there was ISIS, Bashar al Assad was killing his own people en masse. Syrians cried out for help back then, in 2011 and 2012. Canada condemned Assad, and issued sanctions against Syria, but the number of refugees has been steadily growing since then, and while we heard about it from time to time it was rarely headline news. It was just numbers from a far away place, until it suddenly became humanized this week.

Children are more human than the rest of us. They embody the preciousness of life, both in the sense that their life is fragile and vulnerable, and in the sense that they enjoy even the smallest things in life. My little Sam can’t wait to be awake every morning, and gets more joy out of a window crank than I do out of…well, out of anything (except maybe Sam himself). In a world divided by sex and race and religion and politics, children remain undividedly human, blind to their differences and universally representative. It’s easy to dehumanize adults; it’s nearly impossible to dehumanize children – and who would? They embody our hope for the future, our best features and qualities, and our love itself.

When I think about Alan Kurdi’s picture, I also think about other iconic and disturbing images of children. The Vietnamese girl splashed with napalm and the starving Sudanese child being stalked by a vulture come to mind. I won’t post them here, in case like me you feel too overwhelmed to see them right now. But the point is that these images put the most human of faces on international crises – the faces of children.

Since then, we’ve begun to look at how to respond, and it’s degrading quickly. We politicians have jumped over each other to promise to bring in higher and higher numbers of refugees, and it’s turning into a pissing match. The Conservatives want to bring in another 10,000 refugees over 5 years; the NDP says they can do that by the end of this year; and the Liberals and Greens are saying 25,000. Meanwhile, there are nearly 60 MILLION displaced people around the world. We have to do better than 25,000; people are dying today. This should not be a partisan issue of which party can one-up the others; we should be coming together to save lives.

The difficulty of bringing in more people is that our refugee system is not built for this. But like I said, these refugees didn’t pop up overnight, so if our system isn’t built for this, what is it built for? Currently, refugees are designated as part of the immigration system, and it can take up to 4 or 5 years to get into Canada as a refugee. This is insane. By definition, a refugee is someone who is in danger; they don’t have 5 years to wait. But this is the system we have. Here’s a brief story that outlines the situation:

 

Here’s what we’ve done in the past:

Here’s what we’re doing now:

In short, we’re not doing enough, but we’re hampered by an inadequate system. The government brings in less and less people, unless Canadians stand up and demand more. That’s what we did in the 1970’s: the Boat People crisis in Vietnam led to tens of thousands of Canadians stepping up and volunteering to sponsor refugees, and we moved 65,000 people. When Canadians volunteered, our government stepped up and provided planes to ferry people to Canada. The same thing is happening in other nations, too: over ten thousand Icelanders, spurred on by their own government’s insufficient response to this crisis, have called for more Syrian refugees to be taken in there. On issues like these, it appears, when people lead the governments follow.

So let’s lead. I know that the people in Provencher are the most generous in the country (actually – this is documented). And I know that Canadians in general are already responding en masse, searching online for how to sponsor Syrian refugees. This link is really important – it includes links to a lot of information, including a list of organizations that can help you sponsor a refugee. One local organization that didn’t make CBC’s list is MCC, which has a number of ongoing projects to help.

Let’s set aside electoral politics and work together to help these refugees. This is not an election issue, it’s a human issue. If we can step up and demand to open our nation and our homes to people in need, the only question our candidates and party leaders should have to answer on this topic is whether they’re prepared to follow where we lead them – to a more compassionate Canada.

For Alan, and Sam, and all of the children this world is not worthy of,

Jeff

11951765_10153594666801100_3826603016158747607_n
“Sleep tight, little one.” Taken from facebook. If this is in copyright violation, please let me know and I will remove it.

 

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News Release: Direct Action to Stop the Dozers

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Local residents Ernie Bezditny and Janine Gibson of the Pansy area are taking direct action to stop marsh forest drainage and destruction along Rd 19 N in the RM of La Broquerie, by Pro Vista Farms. The concerned neighbours are blocking the bulldozers from clearing willow and poplar for more manure-spread acres. “I’ll stay chained to this dozer as long as I have to,” says Janine Gibson, who has run as the Provencher Green Party candidate in the last six federal elections and works as an organic crop inspector supporting composting technologies as a more resilient agricultural approach.

IMG_0152“The marsh needs its wildlife – deer, elk, and moose are lost when the forest is cut, the beaver dam was excavated, this animal habitat is nature’s water retention, which needs to be here to prevent floods downstream,” says Ernie Bezditny, who farms nearby on RD 21 N and grew up hiking through the area. “Thousands of acres of marsh forest are down around here. It’s too much and has to stop! This marsh is being destroyed causing flooding and water pollution, while other marshes are preserved and water retention areas are being built by the province – why not here as well?” he asks.

“The Rat-Marsh River Integrated Watershed Management Plan is excellent,” says Gibson, but she sees no implementation, no oversight, no accountability. She asks, “Is the Director of Compliance at Conservation & Water Stewardship doing his job?”

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This clear-cutting with no buffers along the drains does not meet the intention of the new Manure Management Regulations to reduce phosphorous. It is necessary for tress to remain in the buffer zones to help slow the run-off in spring. Joubert Creek has been moved into a ditch in this area, so now both the old creek bed and the ditches are feeding the nutrient runoff into the Rat River, then the Red River, and finally polluting Lake Winnipeg.

This press release was written by and posted on behalf of Janine Gibson. Contact Janine at 204-434-6018 or janine@nlis.ca

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