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Signatories of the Just Earth declaration give their responses (most recent comments first). More will be posted

Mike

It is nice to see a proposal which will challenge both consumers and industry to make meaningfull changes to the way we lead our lives and impact the enviornment. We have to move away from making empty promises and take real action. Only then will we see positive results that can and will be enjoyed by further generations.

Stefano Plati

The whole ordeal of the carbon tax, is not a tax to make a profit over a profit, but a tax to make our society more resourceful. In the past, as well as now we have severely depleted our resources and harmed our earth, it's time for us to take action and make our world a better world for today and tomorrow, for it is our lives and our children's life to live. This is our environment, and lets make a change now rather than later.

Luba Goy, actor, Royal Canadian Air Farce

I'm an actor who makes a living at political satire and poking fun at environmental disasters. The reality is that it's not a laughing matter. It's time to get serious about climate change.

I'm happy to lend my voice to this coalition for environmental justice. Let's stop depleting our natural resources and leave something for future generations.

From C.P.S. Taylor, professor emeritus, University of Western Ontario

My support for the JustEarth Coalition results from (1) my confidence that the scientific consensus on global warming is close enough to a correct picture, (2) the conviction that human beings are stewards of this Earth, whether they know it or not ,and (3). the obvious conclusion that if anything is to be done, people of this Earth (the comfortable, affluent ones, really) must push all who emit carbon dioxide to change the way they do things so that less is given off, & more is consumed by vegetation. (Other damaging emissions must be reduced or eliminated as well, of course.)

Two hundred years ago the Christians in the street in Britain brought pressure to bear on the government to halt the slave trade.

They invented the commercial boycott, in this case of sugar, and they organized instant public meetings. As soon as a Member of Parliament was in an area, handbills would go up announcing a meeting that evening in that locale, and a previously arranged platform party, chair and speakers would be there. Thus the members of Parliament were shown how much support there was to ban the slave trade.

It took three years to get the trade banned and some thirty more to get the slaves freed.

To go forward with this Coalition we need a degree of cohesion among those who will lead in this endeavour, but the leaders need to find ways of engaging ordinary people at their own level, through any voluntary associations they may belong to whose mandate can be found to include a care for our island home. It was the Christian congregations 200 years ago. They are still among us, and it is part of their understanding of things that they are stewards of this creation. But there are, I expect, other extensive voluntary associations, besides all religions, that can be brought in.
The scientifically based consensus that we have a crisis of global warming does not tell us what actions are best to take, what strategies to employ. That will take thought and money, both government (if persuaded) and private. Even dreaming up useful behaviour changes for the whole affluent population will take much thought, let alone the effort of encouraging people to adopt it. (Does the abolition of smoking in public places offer a good or a bad example?)

One place for the coalition leaders to start is getting a list of who are currently doing something toward the same goal, and then talking with them.

Joy Kogawa. I believe that every little thought, every gesture, every tiny ting we can do to save the planet will make a difference. And this little sentence is my little effort at this moment. I trust that each semmingly insignificant impulse and action will be in the hands of a greater power. And I trust that the greater power is benevolent. I don't know where the trust comes from, But I'm grateful for it.

Dr Ursula Franklin, CC, FRSC: What a timely initiative. It is so urgent that the talk about “doing something about the environment” stop and be replaced by concerted, knowledgeable and appropriate actions that put EARTH and doing her justice first.

Marilyn Churley, former Ontario Environment minister: JustEarth is JUST what we need to save our plane NOW. The doomsday clock used to be about the threat of nuclear war, but now the hand is creeping up again because of a new global threat--climate change.

Despite strong evidence for years of global warming, we have seen a lot of talk by our governments but little action. In February 2007 we received the strongest warnings ever from the INtergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

If we don’t act decisively now the devastation we are going to leave future generations is no longer in any doubt. They can’t vote yet to save their planet--it is our responsibility to force our governments to save it for them.

 

Dr Maxwell A. Cameron, Dept. of Political Science, University of British Columbia

To: lynnmcd@uoguelph.ca

The Just Earth: Coalition for Environmental Justice has called for an "environmental enlightenment" involving "profound change in our democratic political system." As a political scientist I am inspired by this declaration, welcome the recognition of the need for political reform, and call upon my colleagues to work toward the goals of "Just Earth."

Democracy means, at a minimum, one person, one vote. There has, of course, always been disenfranchisement. In the ancient world, women and slaves were not citizens, and modern democracies exclude people outside the national territory, future generations, and non-human animals. Yet the decisions we make today affect life on this planet, including people beyond our borders and those are not yet born-indeed they call into question whether we have a future as a species, and whether our species can cohabit with the rest of life on the planet.

Democracy means one person, one vote, yes, but also more. It involves the association of free and equal citizens under the law, based on the hope that the good life is best achieved by free women and men acting in common purpose. It may well be the case that each one of us, by pursuing our own narrow self-interest (insofar as buying SUVs and living on airplanes can be considered in one's interest), may collectively drive the planet into environmental collapse. If so, the fault lies not with democracy. Nor should we turn to the illusion of an environmentally-sustainable despotism. The fault lies, rather, with how democracy is actually practiced. Humanities' greatest achievements have come about as a result of collective action for common purpose based on the remarkable human capacity to learn and adapt to changing conditions. The environmental challenges we face today will test our ability to adapt existing political institutions to new circumstances.

Democracy should not be merely a cash register of narrow, individual preferences. We need to find ways of making decisions based on a full account of the impact of human activity on the planet. We may be guided by what Aristotle called "practical wisdom," meaning, in this case, deep and constant collective reflection on how to balance and sustain life in an era of environmental degradation and climate change. By building on the legacies of struggles for justice and equality before the law, for popular participation and responsible government, for freedom of speech and association, we can reinforce our fiduciary responsibility for the natural environments we inhabit and extend our understanding of rights and welfare into new areas.

We need to provide legal protection to the animal kingdom. Spain has taken a first step by considering legislation to recognize that chimpanzees, gorillas and other great apes have a right to life and freedom from torture. We also need legislation to protect animal welfare. The industrial husbandry (a fine euphemism, that) and slaughter of animals-often to support unhealthy diets-is both sickening (literally, as in the case of avian flu) and environmentally destructive. We must address global poverty and inequality as sources of environmental degradation, extending fundamental welfare rights beyond our borders to encompass populations at greatest risk to environmental damage to which we have contributed disproportionately.

Perhaps the biggest challenge lies in the mismatch between the global scale of climate change and environmental destruction and the territoriality of national democratic institutions. We find ourselves face to face with a colossal "prisoner's dilemma" in which each country seeks to shirk the burden to taking the necessary collective steps toward a solution. The public will have to lead the politicians in a global movement for change. In the process, we may be able to build more cosmopolitan and inclusive democratic institutions. Such a hope may animate us, but we should also be moved by something deeper: a collective survival instinct.

The 1990s was the "turn around decade." We had a chance to arrest climate change and we missed it. Our failure to act over the past 17 years was shameful and inexcusable. Now is the time for change, before it is too late.

Dr Maxwell A. Cameron, Dept. of Political Science, University of British Columbia