What Do Stephen Hawking, Jane Goodall and I Have in Common?

I wrote a book with my close personal friend Stephen Hawking. I call him Steve, or Stevie. Jane Goodall also wrote a part of the book. And Desmond Tutu. And … well … okay I ‘contributed’ to a book with them and Mr. Hawking is not my close personal friend, yet. I’m sure he will be after he reads the part that I wrote.

I was asked to contribute to a book called “Global Chorus” edited by Todd MacLean. Todd knows my friend Jim Ferguson. I know Jim from radio broadcasting school, er, The Radio Broadcasting Program at Loyalist College in Belleville that I attended in my younger years.

Jim is one of those people whom I have run into from time to time throughout my life who have helped me to recognize that I have no future going in a certain direction. Jim has one of those mellifluous voices that comes through stereo speakers loudly and clearly and he possesses a natural gift to speak clearly, succinctly, and off the top of his head all day long without a hesitation or pause. I, on the other hand, do not have a good radio voice and I had to script everything I was going to say on air because otherwise I would stumble, so it just sounded like I was reading. The program was a 2-year course. I got a job selling radio advertising in Peterborough at the end of the first year, because I saw the writing on the wall, but I still managed to get my diploma by completing the required work. So when you see Cam Mather R.B.D., H.B.A., it sounds pretty impressive but it means “Radio Broadcasting Diploma, Half a B.A.” I intend to complete the second half of my B.A. in Women’s Studies when I’m 65 and tuition is free (or at least I think it’s free). Well, how likely is that professors will try and kick out the grey haired guy at the back of lecture hall?

I point out these shortcomings in my academic past to suggest that I am perhaps not worthy to be published in the same book as David Suzuki and Jane Goodall and Elizabeth May (leader of the Green Party of Canada) and Maya Angelou and Nelson Mandela. But Jim had recommended me to Todd who was bringing together authors and writers and Todd asked me to provide a contribution.

“Global Chorus” includes 365 contributors discussing their take on the climate crisis. http://globalchorus.ca/ Todd was obviously very successful in getting a large number of well-known people to contribute, which is a testament to his persuasiveness and that of his friends, and family who helped him, as well the gravity of the situation humanity faces with our treatment of the biosphere.

Todd has been on a cross-country promotional tour and is doing well getting publicity for the book.

http://www.thestar.com/entertainment/books/2014/11/28/former_buskers_book_on_climate_change_snowballed.html

I believe he’s into his second printing.

I’ve started to read through the book and it’s quite inspirational. My contribution is on page September 28. Temple Grandin is August 8. The Dalai Lama is April 18.

Todd asked for a one-page response to this:

“Do you think that humanity can find a way past the current global environmental and social crises? Will we be able to create the conditions necessary for our own survival, as well as that of other species on the planet? What would these conditions look like? In summary, then, and in the plainest of terms, do we have hope, and can we do it?”

In reading the book it’s interesting to see other people’s perspectives. There tends to be a lot of philosophy and a lot of the use of the word “hope” and future generations and the big picture stuff. From what I’ve read so far though, mine offers the best hands-on practical solution to the problem as you’ve read in my blogs … live your life as if there is a high-price on carbon, vote Green and lobby for the government to put a price on carbon … that sort of nitty-gritty stuff. After 30 years in the environmental movement I’m just not into rambling about that whole ‘hope’ and ‘the kids of the future’ thing because while the younger generation is doing some amazing stuff, a lot of them just have their heads buried in their smart phones and I don’t blame them because their parents are screwing up royally.

And since people just don’t seem to want to address the problem head on, the best solution is to put a high price on carbon and start ratcheting it up quickly so people get off their butts and do what needs to be done. This is why I’m putting all my energy into the Green Party right now. Once in power we will put a price on carbon and turn this monstrosity around before it hits the iceberg … although I’m not sure an iceberg is a good metaphor for the bad outcome from global climate change. Or maybe it is. The documentary “Chasing Ice” seems to show an awful lot of icebergs calving from glaciers.

I really liked Lester Brown of the Earth Policy Institute’s response, which is a very practical. And my neighbor songwriter Sarah Harmer focuses on the need to shift our focus away from the individual to the collective care of our communities. Olivia Chow, a Toronto-based politician (and widow of Jack Layton, leader of Canada’s left-wing NDP) starts her discussion of the need for government action with a quote from Jack that was widely publicized after his death several years ago.

“Love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.”

To which I add … yes, and a price on carbon is a good start. And we should all stop flying. And start eating a locally grown plant-based diet. And install geothermal heating systems. And solar panels … Sorry, just couldn’t help myself.

*** Many thanks to D.H. and N. B., longtime readers of this blog, for their recent donations. We are very grateful for your support!

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If you’d like to order the book from amazon, please use this link. (We receive a very small commission when you use the links to amazon on our website. It doesn’t matter what you purchase as long as you link to amazon from here.)

3 Responses to “What Do Stephen Hawking, Jane Goodall and I Have in Common?”

  • For my 2009 talks (rants ?) on the coming Money Meltdown,
    my friend with the camera chose this sentence for the label :

    “HOPE is NOT a Strategy “

  • David Hribar:

    Thank you and I ordered the book.

  • Gerrit:

    Congratulations! You are so right. Less “hope and change” and more actual change. We individuals need practical advice and our society needs a practical shove.

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Cam Mather and his wife Michelle live independently off the electricity grid using the sun and wind to power their home and their CSA. Cam is working towards the goal of making his home “zero-carbon” and with his extensive garden he aims to grow as much of his own food as possible. He is available to speak at conferences and other events and has motivated many people to integrate renewable energy into their lives, reduce their footprint on the planet and get started on the path to personal food, fuel and financial independence.
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