Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Summer Reading

by BEE

I’ve read many good books this last little while, most of them are books written for children. (That’s one of the best things about being a parent. You get to read all this incredible stuff to your kids).

But I want to tell you about two really good ones- the first is a novel called Wild Geese. It’s a Canadian classic by Martha Ostenso written in 1925. I actually read it on my visit to my sister in Arizona; and so I was physically in one landscape- the majestic and solemn reaches of this mysterious land- while at the same time, immersed in the Northern bleak and uncompromising prairies of another.

The story centers on a farming family who are under the thumb of a tyrannical patriarch father-Caleb. Caleb has extraordinary power over both his wife and four children who are now more young adults then they are children. They all react differently to his slave driving and bitter reign. The heroine though, Judith or Jude as they call her, a beautiful strong magnificent woman is particularly rebellious, passionate and determined to break free of her hopeless life of toil and sweat .

With the coming of ‘the teacher’ Lynd, a refined and fresh young woman who is boarding with the family and who is responsible for introducing a glimpse of a milder more kinder world, Jude becomes evermore determined to escape her father’s cruelty.

But there is a very deep dark family secret; even though the children do not know what it is they sense that there father has one over on their mother. And this is how he is able to control them all.

The second book, and this is on a subject that we will be visiting often in the coming months as the temperature rises-is called appropriately Heat. By George Monbiot, radical thinker and writer. This book warns of the already intensifying climate chaos- the floods the droughts, disease, famine, pestilence that is already happening. But the good thing is that he does focus on despair. The book proposes constructive, creative ways to deal with the predicament as a friend of mine calls it- not a problem. There are solutions to problem not to predicaments.

He clearly outlines how we as a nation and individuals can help halt run away climate change. It’s already too late to stop climate change but it’s to too late to do something now before things get to the point that conditions are so bad there is no chance for a life sustaining environment.

Monbiot takes a tough nosed approach insisting that we can reduce our green house gases emissions by 90% by 2030 without loosing al that western civilization has created, if we choose to.

He offers ideas such as carbon rationing; as in war time when food is rationed out, so today how much emissions a person is permitted should be measured out in fairness. If you want to emit more then you’ll have to pay for it. If you use less then your allotted portion then you can sell or trade the left overs. Thus a currency that he calls ice caps as a reminder of why we would be using it in the first place.

On the home efficiency front, if governments mandate efficient building methods, we could prevent billions of tonnes of co2 getting into the atmosphere as well as lots of energy and money in the long run.

Of transportation, Monbiot has ample examples of what an efficient coach system could look like- faster more enjoyable and better than driving in your car going no place fast.

Monbiot urges people to get off their “spreading backsides” and do something. Internet activism is not going to safe our lives. We have to be willing to act- and that means “using our legs.”

There are many things people can do from the very small like not using pesticides, or making less waste to giving up driving or flying to foreign countries for your vacation.

In his introduction he tells Canadians that we’ve been left of the hook and in truth Canadians are in disgrace. We emit 19 tonnes of co2 per person every year. The French emit 6.8 tonnes. The Germans 10.2 tonnes. The British emit 9.5 tonnes and we are just a little better than the Americans and the Australians. We have a moral obligation to the inhabitants of this planet to make amends.

It starts with you – is Monbiot’s message.

Heat; how to stop the planet from burning (2006) Doubleday Canada

His website is www.monbiot.com

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