November 20, 2017: Reporting (for) Action
Today, the radio and news reports are full of incongruities. In the headlines are the following stories: Edward Stuzik’s new book Firestorm: How Wildfire will Shape our Future apparently does link the Fort McMurray fires of 2016 to climate change and forecasts that there is much more of this to come. Meanwhile, our NDP government celebrates the Keystone XL approval in Nebraska, but uses the media moment to point out that there is still a need to get pipelines through to other markets as well, pushing for the approval of Trans Mountain through B.C. The news report that the Woodland Caribou are disappearing — in other words they are a species in danger of extinction. And this then threatens the way of life of specific Indigenous communities, particularly in the Cold Lake area and other parts of Northern Alberta. Meanwhile the new federal NDP Leader, Jagmeet Singh, visits Alberta and talks about ‘economic justice’, which is simply a new way of branding the long standing discourses of growth and jobs. He says: “We can’t achieve any of our goals, whether it’s climate change goals or improving social justice, without having economic justice, which means good-paying, dependable jobs.” Does the job of the hunter in Cold Lake count in the energy justice equation? And, at the same time, Muskrat Falls is in the news again today after several weeks with little mainstream news on the project. This time, the focus is not on the disruptions the project is and will exponentially continue to cause to the lives of Indigenous communities in the areas that are being flooded or how it will be an environmental blight destroying flora, fauna and whole ecosystems, but because it is over budget. This is what is potentially ‘criminal’ or for which a responsible party needs to be held accountable, not for all the other indignities associated with this energy project.
If people are listening to the reports, are they also listening to the frisson between the report? Are they noticing how the stories themselves are grounded in vastly different value systems? On the one hand, we have stories about pipelines and economic growth interrupted by reports, on the other, of environmental devastation caused by the very jobs and networks of infrastructure under discussion. These are the ironies of this moment.
At the same time, I’m reading George Monbiot’s latest book Out of the Wreckage: A New Politics for an Age of Crisis (2017), where he talks about the human capacity to collaborate and work together to overcome current circumstances and reclaim our communities.
If we are ever to start working together, we are going to have to start really listening to the stories we are telling about ourselves and start to see how and why they do not all hold together in a logically coherent way. And, more important than logics, they don’t hold together in terms of the value systems they espouse. If we want the story of our time and our communities to be cohesive, then we need to start aligning our political and economic goals, with our concerns for animal, plant, and human health, and for the health of our communities. It won’t be enough to simply worry about climate change and species extinction. We will have to act. And, or actions will hopefully, be driven by political coherent ideas that refuse the compartmentalization of information or problems, as though they are not all deeply connected: one woven into the fabric of the other, just as we too are deeply linked and part of communities, however, close-knit or alienated they might be.
(Image: Today’s CBC Headlines: http://www.cbc.ca/beta/news/canada/edmonton)