Friday, April 21, 2006

What Is The Meaning of This, I Wonder?

In their last epic battle with the demons that were devouring the world, the gods of old sent streams of fire down from the Himalayas. The goddess Durga emerged from that fire, and Kali sprang from her brow and triumphed over the demons. Down through the centuries, around a stone image of Kali at an out-of-the-way jungle temple on the banks of a branch of the holy Ganges, a warren of shrines arose. The place came to be called Kalighat. The fetid and splendid city of Calcutta rose up around it, and Calcutta grew to become British India’s imperial capital. Then the great river changed its course, and Kalighat was left to fester on the banks of the scum-covered Tollynalla Canal. There was a dead dog floating in it the first day I visited.

That’s from yet another published excerpt of my book, which I’m now touring, which is why I'm in Ottawa at the moment, for the International Writers Festival, among other things. The weather’s nice and warm.

Am I to take from this that Canada’s national environmentalist lobby hasn’t accomplished anything of substance since Brian Mulroney was the prime minister? Quite possibly. But this makes Mulroney deserving of such lapdances?

Meanwhile, back in the land of nonfiction, here’s an account of Emily’s Monkey, which is an aggregation of some of the writers you’ll find under the Literary Comrades links on the side of this page. “The collective is now planning a second evening, in mid-June, for aspiring and published creative-nonfiction types to get lambasted by the Straight’s Terry Glavin, and, organizers hope, to pitch Toronto agent Anne McDermid. For information on that event, e-mail” I'm looking for to this, but I promise not to lambaste anyone, despite what my colleague John says.

Here’s something else I haven’t figured out yet. But then, figuring all that stuff out is an ongoing work in progress for all of us. Here’s what I mean:

To British Columbia’s 19th-century Oblate missionaries, aboriginal people were unsaved souls. To American gold miners in the Fraser canyon, they were target practice. To Gov. James Douglas, they were loyal British subjects. To Joseph Trutch, British Columbia’s first land commissioner, they were no better than “the he-panther or the she-bear.

That’s from an essay of mine, “Neolithic Hippies Revised As First Farmers,” here.

Meanwhile, in response to my essay here, Doug Hopwood, of Vancouver, writes:

Thanks for your great article on global warming [“Global warming”, April 13-20]. However, you didn’t mention that although Americans are the number-one producer of greenhouse gases, Canadians are responsible for very nearly as much, per person. Also, if everyone lived like the average Canadian, we’d need 4.1 Earths to sustain us all.

Your figure that we need to reduce greenhouse gases by 70 percent to “avoid calamity of apocalyptic proportions” is spot-on. But most people are unaware that the Kyoto Accord asks for countries to reduce their emissions by only six to 12 percent. Canada’s figure is a pathetic six percent, and we can’t even agree on that. So lets take matters into our own hands!

Visit to calculate how much global warming you are personally responsible for and to get ideas for changes to reduce your impact. Car usage is not the only problem. Eating a meat-centred diet uses approximately 50 times more fossil fuels, 50 times more water, and far more land than a vegetarian-centred diet. Methane emissions from livestock farming contribute significantly to global warming. Taking plane trips has a huge environmental impact. Visit, and to calculate how many trees you need to plant to offset your lifestyle.

Even small changes such as choosing one day of the week to not eat meat or use a car would reduce a person’s emissions contributions by 14 percent. Transportation of goods accounts for one-eighth of all world oil consumption, so try always to buy locally produced goods.
So, please, let’s pull together to stop this before it’s too late. We are each personally responsible, and if the politicians won’t do it, we can.

Good one, Doug.


Blogger double-plus-ungood said...

That global footprint site is pretty good. I scored 4.8 hectares, about half the Canadian average, but that's still more than two Earth's worth.

10:33 AM  

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