Artists and Poets and Climate Change

 – a note from Dr. Faisal Moola, Director General of the David Suzuki Foundation, Ontario and Northern Canada.

Hello friends,

Recently the world’s  authority on the science of climate change, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), released a major report that summarized our current state of knowledge on the impacts of global warming on the planet. The scientists reported that changes to our climate from the buildup of heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions will mean higher food prices, will threaten our communities with more frequent and intense storms, and are already harming our forests, oceans and other wildlife habitat. The impacts of climate change overseas, especially in developing nations, are far more horrific.

We’ve heard these sorts of dire warnings from the science community before, and sadly, it is unlikely that the publication of these new findings by the IPCC will have much impact on the public, let alone our policy-makers.

Enter Zadie Smith.

The English novelist and essayist published an article in the New York Review of Books timed with the IPCC report. It  also addressed the impacts of climate change, but in a very different way. In her piece, titled “Elegy for a Country’s Seasons”, Smith writes of those intimate experiences that we are losing with climate change.

“What “used to be” is painful to remember. Forcing the spike of an unlit firework into the cold, dry ground. Admiring the frost on the holly berries, en route to school. Taking a long, restorative walk on Boxing Day in the winter glare. Whole football pitches crunching underfoot. A bit of sun on Pancake Day; a little more for the Grand National. Chilly April showers, Wimbledon warmth. July weddings that could trust in fine weather. The distinct possibility of a Glastonbury sunburn. At least, we say to each other, at least August is still reliably ablaze—in Cornwall if not at carnival. And it’s nice that the Scots can take a little more heat with them when they pack up and leave.”

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Thinkers, writers, conservationists meet to discuss formalized land ethic for Canada at Speak to the Wild

By Faisal Moola, Director General of the David Suzuki Foundation in Ontario and Northern Canada

In early September, some of Canada’s leading writers, conservationists and scientists, including some from the David Suzuki Foundation, met near Wells Gray Provincial Park two hours north of Kamloops, B.C., to discuss whether it’s time for Canada to enshrine a land ethic in Canadian laws and policies.

The conference, Speak to the Wild, was co-hosted by Thompson Rivers University and the Wells Gray World Heritage Committee. Those attending included notable writers Robert Bringhurst, Sharon Butala, Ted Chamberlin, Lorna Crozier, Trevor Herriot, Patrick Lane, Tim Lilburn, Candace Savage, and former Canadian Poet Laureate John Steffler, as well as ethnobotanist Nancy Turner and philosopher Jan Zwicky.

Participants considered two questions.

The first concerned the possibility of legal reform around the rights of wilderness: Is it time to move Canada’s Constitution toward a formalized land ethic, and if so, what would that look like?

The second question pertained to our personal connection to wild places: How can we strengthen this connection in ourselves and encourage it in others? In particular, what is the role of narrative and the poetic experience in developing a meaningful relationship with wild Canada?

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