Malkolm is cycling on! He is now cycling from Alaska to Washington DC, and then continuing on to the UN Climate Change conference in Cancun in December.
It all started with Bird Year, Malkolm and his parents' year-long, fossil-fuel-free journey in search of birds. Cycling a total of 13,133 miles (21,144 km), they identified 548 different bird species and raised more than $25,000 for bird conservation. Bird Year turned them into confirmed cyclists and taught them that climate change was more serious than they had thought.
In 2009, Malkolm biked from Whitehorse to Ottawa as a part of Pedal for the Planet: the project called for the Canadian Government to become a leader in the struggle to come to grips with climate change. The Harper Government did not even meet with the young cyclists.
Malkolm is now 18 and just finished high school. On August 24, he dipped his foot in the Pacific Ocean in Skagway, Alaska. Then headed up and over the White Pass to the Alaska Highway on his journey to Washington and on to Cancun.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Showdown in Regina: Tar Sands vs Mother Earth

A throng of Greenpeace protesters lined the fence that kept the public away from Government House. Some lay like corpses on the sidewalk; their hands painted red, paper tombstones over their heads inscribed with "Dying for Climate Leadership" The Canadian premiers were behind the fence for the Council of the Federation meetings.
Numerous organizations had united to plan rallies and protests during the week of the meetings. Our goal was to make a huge racket and force climate change on to the agenda. We hoped that at least one premier would speak out against the tar sands and take the first step down the "green brick road".
For most of the week I would be a protester, but this time I had left behind my placard and my Kyoto Plus t-shirt. Instead Martina and I were disguised as reporters, hoping to get up close to the premiers. I was hoping to ask one of them a tough question, Martina was hoping to get a photo of one of them looking awkward.
We were soon being grilled by security guards. Our identities were scrutinized, phone calls were made and our bags were searched. We were supposedly with a university radio station, yet I had no recording software. I didn't even know where I was supposed to go. I was hoping that mycluelessness would be overlooked, or that we'd pass as dumb, harmless students. They finally gave us our acredditation passes and we were free to go.
A forest of reporters and photographers surrounded Manitoba premier Gary Doer. He answered a few questions then vanished through a door. Quebec's premier stepped up to speak. Soon Saskatchewan premier, Brad "climate criminal" Wall approached the mic.
I heard the protesters shouting from outside the compound. "When I say fight for you say justice. Fight for! Justice! Fight for! Justice!"
"When I say climate you say justice. Climate! Justice! Climate! Justice!"
"When I say Wall you say criminal. Wall! Criminal! Wall! Criminal!"
"Mr Wall, as you can hear, the protesters are demanding stronger action on climate change." called out one journalist. "What would you say to them?"
Premier Wall launched into a lengthy answer. I couldn't believe the nonsense he spouted. He assured us that Saskatchewan's leadership on combatting climate change is as good if not better than any other jurisdiction in the world.
How could he get away with such blatant hogwash? Saskatchewan's target for greenhouse gas emissions reduction for 2020 is 12% higher than than its 1990 levels. The scientists are telling us that we need to cut our emissions by 25-40% below 1990 levels. Brad Wall's head is stuck in the tar sands. He would love for the destructive industry to expand from Alberta into Saskatchewan. The tar sands already releases dozens and dozens of megatonnes of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere, and leaks deadly toxins into water systems.
It is easy to get depressed by the tar sands, by Brad Wall and other short-sighted polititions, yet my week in Regina gave me great cause to hope. I met hundreds of activists and citizens who are part of a grassroots uprising. Our voices are being heard in across Canada; our political leaders will no longer be able to ignore us.
I remember a first nations activist, Clayton George Thomas Muller speaking at our rally. He told that during during the civil rights and womens' rights movements, and in every struggle in the history of humantiy there have been tough times. There have been times when bringing about change has been impossible, when the opponent has seemed overwhelmingly powerful. But Clayton reminded us that every time the hard work of grass roots foot soldiers has prevailed, and that change will come.
The fight against climate change will be no different.

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