The news that massive crowds are assembling around the world to demand action on our climate emergency is indeed heartening. “We’ve reached the tipping point!” an optimistic fellow islander informed me the other day.
My partner and I had just returned from the Fridays for Future climate strike and march in Vancouver where Greta Thunberg and other courageous young people spoke truth to power alongside First Nations elders. The spirit of that impassioned gathering was definitely uplifting, but sharing solidarity with others in the face of ongoing injustice is bittersweet. Personal testimonials were a reminder to the thousands bearing witness that indigenous land and water protectors continue to be treated like criminals by the colonial interests still holding court in this province (and far beyond). The experience of seeing Thunberg and Severn Suzuki together asking us to unite behind the science felt surreal. After all, it has been nearly 3 decades since Severn, daughter of renowned scientist Dr. David Suzuki, delivered a powerful speech of her own as a child to the United Nations that reverberated around the world – long before Greta was born. The tipping point towards greater care and protection of our planet had seemed nigh way back then. And yet, so little has changed for the better that 15 youths from across this country who also joined Greta and Severn on the steps of the Vancouver Art Gallery on Oct. 25th, have launched a lawsuit against the federal government of Canada claiming that its ongoing contributions to climate change are tantamount to negligence. Legal representatives will argue, in part, that the rights of these children to life, liberty and security of person under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms are being violated.
If we are to avoid the undesirable tipping point that would push us past a 1.5 C temperature rise within the decade, it is clearly not enough to gather in great numbers and march through the streets, as important as it is that we continue doing so. We must hold to account those who are ignoring the science, and demand the kind of climate emergency leadership that Canada’s dysfunctional First Past the Post (FPTP) electoral system has failed to deliver, by all non-violent means available to us.
One growing shift in public con-sciousness that was evident in the wide variety of message-bearing placards carried by climate strike marchers through the streets of Vancouver concerns the environmental impacts of animal agriculture. Young people like Greta Thunberg who have identified veganism as a significant way those of us with the privilege of choice can help reduce GHG emissions are inspiring others to follow suit. By coincidence, my partner and I found ourselves sitting next to a member of the Sustainabiliteens, one of the organizing bodies of the Fridays for Future Climate Strike, at a Vancouver vegan restaurant later the same day. Now a university student, Carissa confirmed that the environmental impacts of our dietary choices are definitely on the radar of climate activists in her circle. Saj Starcevich, one of the plaintiffs in the federal court case, introduced herself at the rally as a 13 year old indigenous vegan activist from Treaty Six territory in Manitoba. Recognizing that climate change doesn’t only affect humans but negatively impacts all species, Saj has told reporters that it was her animal activism that led to her getting involved in climate activism. “I just felt they were so interconnected,” she said, “so why not do both? One affects the other.”
Adults, it seems, have a harder time connecting the dots when it comes to accepting that climate change is real, and then following up with concrete actions. But according to a 2018 study published in the journal ‘Science’ on the power of committed minorities to help shift conventional thinking, the percentage of total population needed to reach the critical mass necessary to reverse a major viewpoint is just 25 – 30 percent. On the down side this does mean that populations can be easily co-opted by those with a selfish agenda. And if a minority group stays stuck at 24 percent, then their success in terms of affecting the larger population is the same as if they were at zero! According to a critique in Atlantic magazine, the implication of the study’s findings is that “activist groups will be unsuccessful until suddenly, they’re not.” In other words, we can be very, very close to a true tipping point and just not know it. As Greta and her fellow student strikers have shown, our individual commitments to a cause may hold far more power than we realize!
November is World Vegan Month – celebrated internationally as a time to recognize how far the vegan movement has come, and to highlight how accessible and beneficial a vegan lifestyle is. This traditional Middle Eastern side dish is easy to prepare, delicious and fibre-full! Serve with toasted pita wedges or raw veggies like carrot sticks and cucumber rounds. Enjoy!
2 lbs. Italian eggplants
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
2 T. lemon juice, more if necessary
1/4 C. tahini
1/3 C. extra-virgin olive oil
2 T. chopped parsley
2/3 tsp. salt, to taste
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
pinch of smoked paprika and/or sesame seeds, for garnish
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Split eggplants down the middle, rub with oil and place cut sides down. Roast until tender (approx. 35-40 minutes…longer for larger eggplants). Set aside to cool. Gently scoop flesh into a bowl, removing unwanted seeds and leaving skins behind. Add eggplant, lemon juice and garlic to a food processor or simply stir together vigorously. Add tahini and mix again. Slowly drizzle in olive oil, continuing to mix until your baba ganoush is pale and creamy. Stir in cumin and half the parsley. Season to taste with more salt and/or lemon juice. Top with smoked paprika, sesame seeds and additional parsley. Bon appetit!