Environmental Leader Spotlight: Naomi Klein

Naomi Klein is an author and activist and has dedicated her life to climate change and unpacking the choices we make that has large consequences on our environment. She is the author of “The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism” (2007) and “No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies” (2001). She is currently working on a new book and film on how the climate crisis can spur economic and political transformation. You can follow her on Twitter at @NaomiAKlein.

In this TED talk she speaks broadly about climate change and specifically about the complexity of human choice and risk that enables oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico, the lunacy of oil extraction in Alberta’s Oil Sands, and our willingness to push mother nature to its extreme limit and thus our existence on this planet.
Throughout the talk, she often refers to the ‘jump shot’. The ‘jump shot’ involves following solutions that are pushing the boundaries of science, that are untested and require a stretch of the imagination–seemingly magical solutions to our most pressing problems. One highly publicized solution to the Gulf Oil leak was to shoot golf balls into the leak. This ‘jump shot’ solution came after 4.9 million barrels of crude oil spilled into the sea. It highlights the lunacy and zeal that we pursue to meet our energy wants–not ‘needs’.

She also highlights Alberta’s Oil Sands as another example of our lunacy and zeal. In a previous post, David Suzuki, a prominent Canadian environmentalist, speaks specifically about the massive effects of oil sand extraction and how it represents some of our last efforts to exhaust our fossil fuels. The process of oil sand extraction involves 3 times more pollution than conventional oil extraction. Furthermore, it produces large amounts of toxic by-products that sit in a tailing pond and have been reported to be leaking into major water ways that supply thousands of people.

The main point that she makes throughout the talk is about the risks that we are willing to take to continue living our lavish lifestyles. We continually ask ourselves, “how much hotter can we let the planet get before we HAVE to change our lifestyles?” This question is absurd on its own, but is also irrelevant. We have to change our lifestyles because we have pushed our limits already. Check out some science at the 350.org, a popular climate change movement, on which Naomi Klein sits on the Board of Directors.

The Tipping Point: The Age of the Oil Sands

I was honoured and privileged to have attended a special event at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto for an advanced screening of a new documentary by filmmaker Niobe Thompson and environmentalist and broadcaster David Suzuki. The film is called The Tipping Point: The Age of the Oil Sands which will be featured in a special 2-hour episode of The Nature of Things on CBC on January 27 at 8pm on CBC-TV.

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Force of Nature: The David Suzuki Movie

Simply, an amazing movie about a very famous Canadian that deserves all the recognition and respect. David has done so much to advance the environmental movement and continues to do so. It is sad that there is an undertone of David’s mortality in the movie, but he seems to be at peace with that eventuality. It is a deeply personal and moving film about his life–that is, a life dedicated to the preservation of the environment, as well as, the native Aboriginal cultures of Canada. Even though he clearly spells out that our situation on this planet is dire and needs special attention, he seems optimistic about our ability to rise above our current consumerist and exploitative culture to that of sustainability and peaceful cohabitation with nature.

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About the film

At 73 years of age, David Suzuki, the iconic Canadian scientist, educator, broadcaster and activist, delivers what he describes as “a last lecture – a distillation of my life and thoughts, my legacy, what I want to say before I die.”

Force of Nature: The David Suzuki Movie interweaves this lecture with scenes from Suzuki’s life and lifetime – the major social, scientific, cultural and political events of the past 70 years.

In this biography of ideas, Suzuki articulates a core, urgent message: We have exhausted the limits of the biosphere and it is imperative that we rethink our relationship with the natural world. He looks unflinchingly at the strains on the interconnected web of life and offers up a blueprint for sustainability and survival.

Force of Nature: The David Suzuki Movie is directed by Sturla Gunnarsson and produced by Entertainment One in co-production with the National Film Board and in association with the CBC.

Check out The Test Tube with David Suzuki, an interactive parable about the fallacy of growth.

Chevron’s Oil Exploits in Ecuador

I recently watched the documentary, Crude, by filmmaker Joe Berlinger. It has received wide praise and awards including an official selection at Sundance, best documentary of the year from the National Board of Review, and an International Green Film Award from Cinema for Peace.

“A fascinating and important story. CRUDE does an extraordinary job of merging journalism and art.”Christiane Amanpour, CNN Chief International Correspondent

In short, Crude is about Chevron’s oil exploits in Ecuador, the consequent environmental damage caused by the oil extraction operations, and the adverse health effects on the local, indigenous culture. It has been cited as a ‘David versus Goliath’ landmark court case that involves profit over human rights, profit over environmental protection, and profit over freedom of speech. The plaintiffs are suing for 27 billion which is the estimate costs of the damage to the environment, the indigenous culture, and the health of thousands of Ecuadorians. This is set to be the most lucrative case involving the environment.

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