Cathy Wilander and Eric Doherty: Climate crisis calls for direct action in Metro Vancouver

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      On Sunday (October 10), over 5,000 events are planned in 180 countries for the largest day of carbon-cutting action in the planet’s history. The 10/10/10 Global Work Party is a day for people across the planet to get to work on climate solutions and pressure their politicians to do the same. The global day of action was initiated by and is being organized in cooperation with hundreds of organizations around the world.

      The main action in Metro Vancouver will be a mass direct action. Like many people who have seen global warming rapidly evolve into climate crisis, the Council of Canadians and have decided that now is the time for mass direct action. And the chorus of calls for direct action is growing. About a month after we started organizing for 10/10/10, founder Bill McKibben, Phil Radford of Greenpeace, and Rebecca Tarbotton of the Rainforest Action Network issued a global call for mass direct action. They wrote: “Time is not on our side, so we’ve concluded that going forward mass direct action must play a bigger role in this movement, as it eventually did in the suffrage movement, the civil-rights movement, and the fight against corporate globalization.”

      The move to mass direct action against climate crime is already gaining momentum. In September, thousands took action against coal mining at Appalachia Rising, and supported the more than a hundred people from many walks of life who were arrested, including famed NASA scientist James Hansen.

      On 10/10/10, we will get to work stopping a serious climate crime—the South Fraser Perimeter “Road” freeway, which is part of the Gateway Program. The estimated $2-billion proposed freeway would pave over some of B.C.’s best farmland, scar the delicate banks of the Fraser River, and pollute elementary school playgrounds. But these local impacts pale in comparison to the looming disaster of runaway global warming, largely caused by soaring oil consumption driven by government “investments” in new and wider freeways and larger airports. Emissions from the tar sands are growing quickly, but the driver is oil consumption by cars, trucks, and airplanes.

      Last year, we marched and danced in the streets. We will do the same this year, but instead of ending the march at a park it will end where the South Fraser freeway route is marked by piles of “preload” sand. We will dig up this sand and use it to start raising the flood control dikes around a Surrey neighbourhood and protect it from flooding caused by global warming. If the police decide to stop us, some of us will be willing to be arrested.

      Now is the time for direct action. And now is also the time to admit that global warming will cause very severe disruptions, including rising sea levels. It is not too late to stop the worst effects of runaway global warming, but it is obvious that the world of the near future will hold many nasty surprises including rising seas and higher storm surges accompanying more powerful storms. Adaptation measures such are raising dikes are going to be absolutely necessary, and it won’t be cheap.

      Taking direct action to prevent the far greater harm of runaway global warming is the proper thing for people to do. Direct action against climate crime is lawful and proper in the same way as breaking into a house to put out a fire or save a life is. Recently a U.K. jury ruled that climate activists had a “lawful excuse” for painting the smokestack of a coal fired power plant even though it cost over $50,000 to remove.

      This mass direct action will emphasize the need to shift resources away from climate crimes to creating green jobs and climate justice. At a basic level, climate justice is about overcoming our fossil fuel dependency quickly while aiding the people and communities most threatened by climate change. Every cent of the billions now being spent on climate crimes such as urban freeways is needed for solutions like public transit and electric passenger trains, and to protect communities from flooding and other effects of global warming.

      Please join us on Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Scott Road SkyTrain station (east/taxi-stand side) for the 10/10/10 Dig in for Climate Justice.

      Cathy Wilander is the chair of the Delta-Richmond chapter of the Council of Canadians and lives on the flood plain in Delta.

      Eric Doherty is a member of and lives in East Vancouver.



      urban forest

      Oct 5, 2010 at 9:59pm

      there are still big forested sections of this proposed freeway route that have not even been staked yet. help us protect them.

      Chris Brown

      Oct 6, 2010 at 2:49am

      One wonders how much damage will be caused by people flapping their arms as the plane crashes.

      yes and TransLink is a big part of climate change

      Oct 6, 2010 at 1:10pm

      Eric, yes, I think that you are right, somebody go down to TransLink and give the CEO a kick in the ass for being an ass, operating diesel buses on our trolley bus routes. Is that what he and TransLink call sustainable? Are diesel fuel powered diesel buses displacing zero emission hydro-electric trolley buses reducing GHG emissions? Time for a big mop-up job at TransLink, and I can’t wait for the NDP to win the next election to do it!

      Ray I

      Oct 6, 2010 at 2:19pm

      What a bunch of propaganda! "Climate Crime"? "Mass Direct Action"? If you have to use such blatantly loaded language you must not have a very strong argument. If you want mainstream support put away the Communist Manifesto.


      Oct 6, 2010 at 7:01pm

      So how are you guys going to get to this little social function - probably take a vehicle. I'm sure the 100 or so people who show up will feel really good about themselves. I'm reminded of a quote I read a couple of weeks ago - "The urge to save the world is always a front for the urge to control the world".

      a lesson in transit and climate change

      Oct 6, 2010 at 10:25pm

      We all know that 13% of the 2.1 million population in the Lower Mainland takes transit, TransLink proudly tell us that in its 2009 Annual Report, so I know it to be true. That works to ~300,000 people taking transit in the entire Lower Mainland.

      If you look at the best case with all 300,000 people taking transit also using the 1,000 diesel buses in the Lower Mainland, how many people on average are on each bus every instant of the day?

      Here is the answer: 300,000 people divided by 1,000 buses divided by the operating time each day (let's be nice to TransLink and use a measly 6 hours which is wildly too low and inflates the number of people on each diesel bus at any given instant). This works out to be 300,000/1000/6/3600 = 0.013 people on each diesel bus every instant.

      So when you compare this diesel bus getting 2.7 mpg and carrying less than one person to a car getting 25 mpg and carrying 1.5 people on average, which is more polluting and climate changing, transit or the average vehicle? Obviously vehicles are less polluting than diesel bus transit. If it weren't for our zero emission trolley buses and Skytrains, TransLink would be more polluting than cars.

      As it stands now, transit is only 1/3 as polluting as vehicles. Think about it and give our petty scammer TransLink CEO the boot for taking trolley buses off our trolley bus routes to run cheap diesel buses. I’d rather our kids had their health than the CEO making his year end bonus saving money with cheap cancer causing diesel buses on trolley bus routes.


      Oct 6, 2010 at 10:47pm

      'yes and TransLink is' wrote "somebody go down to TransLink and give the CEO a kick in the ass"

      Your focus is misplaced, the big decisions about transit are being made by Gordon Campbell in Victoria. The 'CEO' does what Campbell's Translink board tells him to, and probably has an occasional direct phone call. Campbell is a notorious micro manager.

      If you want more trolley buses, come out on Sunday and focus on the billions being wasted on freeway expansion that could be buying hundreds more trolley buses and trolley wires for the whole region.

      read the event info

      Oct 6, 2010 at 11:24pm

      it's a march that starts at a skytrain station....i doubt many if any will be driving.

      the dictionary

      Oct 7, 2010 at 1:53am

      what is your problem with the term "climate crime"? it should be a crime to spend public money on something that exacerbates the world's largest social and ecological crisis.


      Oct 7, 2010 at 8:28am

      You're right, dinkaboutit. They will drive there.

      That's why your post has a negative score.

      Rod Smelser