Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Breach -- a DVD on declining salmon populations

The Breach
DVD -- 82 minutes
August Island Pictures
2015, Kino Lorber Inc., New York

My husband and I watched this DVD documentary recently, and I felt compelled to tell others about it. The film chronicles the disappearance of salmon from the Atlantic, and now whole populations are disappearing from the Pacific Ocean. Commercial over-fishing, extractive industries like oil, copper, and coal, and farm fisheries threaten Pacific salmon.  Indigenous people, as always, stand to suffer the most, as salmon is an important food source for them. Compelling in the story was how the life cycle of salmon benefits everyone, even the trees in the watersheds where the salmon spawn and die.  Farm fisheries threaten Pacific salmon in Alaska where farm Atlantic salmon are raised in the same watersheds where wild salmon swim. The farms pollute the waterways and produce lice that attack and kill young wild, salmon.  Boycott farm-raised salmon!  The focus in the last part of the film was Briscoe Bay, Alaska, an important sock-eye salmon habitat and the impact that the proposed, humongous Pebble Copper Mine will have on the salmon, the environment, and the people.  Block development of Pebble Mine in Alaska!  Overall, the film is beautifully done.  A captivating woman's voice over with an Irish accent speaks as a salmon, sometimes lecturing the viewer.  The script delivers the message well.  Artistic animation helps move the story.  You really must see this documentary if you care at all about our environment and our food sources. It's available online or at your local library. 

This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein

This Changes Everything, Capitalism vs. the Climate
by Naomi Klein
Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, New York, 2014

If you think you are not responsible for combatting global warming, think again. You better read this book. It has "radicalized" me into becoming an environmental activist.

With notes and acknowledgements this book is 532 pages (paperback) and jammed packed with information, facts, and opinion.  Naomi Klein makes the compelling case that unfettered capitalism as a way of life is destroying the environment and is a big contributor to global warming. The faster we-the-people regulate large corporations, particularly the extractive industries like oil and mining, the better chance we have of reversing climate change. She outlines case after case after case of the harm the oil industry has done to the environment.  Extreme extraction like fracking is especially harmful to land, water, and people. If you haven't heard of the earthquakes in Oklahoma caused by fracking, you are living in a vacuum.

Our church book study group read the book, it is on the recommended reading list for the Episcopal Diocese of Eastern Oregon, and it has top reviews from a number of organizations and individuals. I had to make a tremendous effort to read the book, because in the first two sections, Klein paints a pretty dismal picture. Her writing is dense with fact and opinion. She is often repetitive but she gets her points across with facts. In part one she outlines how free market fundamentalism helped overheat the planet in a chapter by that name.  She gives extensive coverage to the climate deniers, to scientists who think creating clouds will cool the planet, to the environmental groups she calls Big Green, some of whom, as it turns out, are in bed with Big Oil. In chapter seven she tells us that there are no messiahs, that the green billionaires won't save us. She beats up on Richard Branson, the airline magnate, at length and points out that even though he talks a good green game, he and other green billionaires don't follow through on their promises.

Klein gets more hopeful in part three with the chapter on the new climate warriors, who are ordinary citizens blockading the advance of the extractive industries.  She sees hope in the Blockadia movement and gives examples of the development of the movement, like the protest to stop the Keystone XL pipeline.  She says that extraction and refining has always required sacrifice zones and usually it is the underrepresented and poor who pay the price. "Through various feats of denialism and racism, it was possible for privileged people in North America and Europe to mentally cordon off these unlucky places as hinterlands, wastelands, nowheres . . . . the people reaping the bulk of the benefits of extractivism pretend not to see the costs of that comfort so long as the sacrifice zones are kept safely out of view." (p. 311) Throughout the book she does not mince words.

She applauds the effort of Indigenous peoples to prevent tar sand development, open pit mines, fracking, and pipelines  from destroying their lands and livelihoods.  White people are glad to see this push back from the Indigenous people, but they can't think that Indigenous people can carry on the fight by themselves. Everyone has to join in.  Ironically, we now need the Indigenous on "our" side, whereas their concerns and battles were invisible to us before.

Klein advocates much more regulation of the extractive industries, read here Big Oil, Big Coal, Big Copper, think the development of the Pebble Mine in Briscoe Bay in Alaska.  I don't see that in today's political climate more government regulation is in the cards, but I'd be happy if someone proves me wrong.

And when we keep oil in the ground we affect the love affair that American have with their trucks and SUVs. When are we going to stop buying them and go to more fuel-efficient vehicles? It would also affect plastics and related industries.  When will the American consumer stop buying products that are not environmentally friendly? The consumer price index is a huge indicator of the health of our economy and what happens if and when Americans stop consuming so much? There are far reaching implications of what Klein proposes in combatting global warming, and time is of the essence.

The divestment movement is another way to combat contributors to climate change. Institutions, colleges, organizations can divest in the stock of these companies that they hold. This is making headlines now. International laws and moratoriums can prevent and rollback expansion of carbon polluters. (p. 353). Some of the groups involved in the new wave of anti-fossil fuel activism are Food & Water Watch,, Greenpeace, Rainforest Action Network and Friends of the Earth.  "It is this corroded state of our political systems that is fast turning Blockadia into a grassroots pro-democracy movement." (p. 361) Needless to say, Klein is not kind to political systems controlled by big industry.

Klein says that filling out surveys, signing petitions, and giving money isn't enough. We have to get out on the front lines and demonstrate, let our voices be heard. She says if you think that someone else is going to fight to combat climate change and things will turn out fine, you are wrong. (I was in this group.) We-the-people are responsible and have to make our voices heard. In our book study group, we asked ourselves what can we do, a small group in a small, rural town. We decided to start by showing the DVD documentary of This Changes Everything to raise awareness. I have ordered the DVD, and we will have a showing and discussion of it at our Senior Center and invite the public. Many people are simply not aware of the direness of the global warming situation. Through education we might create more activists.

"The task is to articulate not just an alternative set of policy proposals but an alternative worldview to rival the one at the heart of the ecological crisis -- embedded in interdependence rather than hyper-individualism, reciprocity rather than dominance, and cooperation rather than hierarchy. This is required not only to create a political context to dramatically lower emissions, but also to help us cope with the disasters we can no longer avoid." (p. 462)

If you are concerned about the future for your children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren and planet Earth, you must read this book and take up the cause of combatting climate change.

By way of explanation

I share this blog with a short list of friends from around the US, and I haven't been posting lately because I haven't been inspired with subject matter and I'm having problems still with the MAC operating system and how it files photos. A post without a photo is not as interesting, and I always try to include a photo.  Recently, I have been inspired to do more about our environment and climate change. Posts now may include more environmental issues, politics, minority issues and my opinions. If you don't want to be notified by email, just let me know and I'll take you off my list.  I am convinced we all need to be more proactive in combatting global warming. A book I read recently made me sit up, take notice, and start doing something myself. The next post is a review of that book.  Thanks for reading my blog!