Interviews with Champions for Mother Earth: An Introduction
I have been writing for this posting “What are you doing?” for over one year now and a blinding flash of the obvious struck me: I have not focussed on the YOU part of the question. So, here is where this posting will be headed for at least the next year: I will be doing weekly interviews with random people, starting with a CACOR member, to showcase what this person has done, but, more importantly, to make the point that ALL of us, in our unique ways, have gifts that can help Mother Earth. This begs the question: who is Mother Earth? For me “she” is ALL creation – alive and not alive, because we now know that the boundary between the two is very porous. We are made of “dirt” and if that “dirt” is toxic, so are we.
There is an old adage that new ways of thinking and being start from just one person. That person IS you, IS me – if you choose to do so. It our choice. Be life affirming, or death affirming. Our current modern-industrial “civilization” certainly seems to be death affirming, but that does not mean we have to be like that. Now, rather than talk about it let’s see what real people in the real world are doing to be life affirming. Let’s be inspired by tales of people who have faced challenges and done their very best to over come them. And here is the kicker, if you and I live a good life, do our very best and “fail” to accomplish our stated goal, and I mean “fail” in the eyes of the world, we have NOT failed. We only fail when we don’t try. We only fail when we give up. We only fail when we lie to ourselves. We only fail when we betray a friend and what we believe in.
Does that make me unrealistic? Far from it, the opposite in face. Or, in an opposite viewpoint, does this makes me a pessimist? Of course not, but I am a realistic. I am a realist who see that living the good life, a life that you can look back on with satisfaction, I always hard, and unsafe and always has tears of joy mixed with tears of sorrow.
“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” — Mother Teresa
Here is an example of what I hope to do, but it is not my interview. Enjoy and hopefully be inspired and energized.
Maude Barlow – a CDN heroine
In three books, the latest just published, she’s explored every aspect of the human relationship with water and the danger we face from the ways we misuse it. Just one example of the results: the Aral Sea. Once one of the four largest lakes in the world, today it’s mostly a salty desert with a few patches of water here and there. Should Canadians and Americans care about that? Yep. As Maude explains, our own Great Lakes are on the same road to destruction. Here’s Maude. MAUDE BARLOW: Well, I got involved in the free trade fight with the very first free trade agreement in the world, which is the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, which was launched by Brian Mulroney and Ronald Reagan who was then president of the United States, back in the 1980s. I was opposed for many reasons. I came out of the women’s movement, and I was very worried that we were going to harmonize our social programs to those of the Ronald Reagan United States, which happened to happen as a matter of fact. We had a very high rise in child poverty and so on, over those next two decades. That was my original interest, but when I started looking at these trade agreements, I realized it was also a way for corporations to cut back on the democratic ability of governments to maintain control over their resources, environmental standards, health and safety standards, labour standards and so on. It was in that first trade agreement that I noticed that water was a tradable good. That’s what set me on the path on water. All these years later, I feel totally, completely vindicated in my analysis of trade and in the North American Free Trade Agreement. They added this concept of investor-state, where corporations can bypass their own government and directly sue the government of another country if they dare to try and bring in standards – environmental or whatever. It’s given corporations an enormous power. There are now close to 3,000 bilateral trade and investment agreements in the world and most of them contain this investor-state where corporations can sue governments. So, I think that the free trade and these investor-state agreements have been probably the most important tool that corporations have had to get past government authority and democracy and I feel totally vindicated in my very first opinion of free trade, which is that it is not ―free‖ at all. It comes with a terrible cost to people and the environment.
CAMERON [03:36]: Tell me some more about the investor-state dispute process, because I think very few people have any understanding or even know that it exists.
BARLOW: I think that people are going to know more about it as the cases come forward and people say, ―Why does that fracking corporation from the United States get to challenge Quebec’s moratorium on fracking?‖ or ―Why does that drug company get to challenge another ban on pesticides?‖ Like, wait! I think when people start to see it in person, they start to understand it. But investor-state is the right for a corporation of one country to sue the government of another country, if that country brings in laws or regulations that weren’t in place when they first invested. So, if you invest in a country and there are very lax environmental rules, but say that government changes and they want to bring in better environmental rules and they try to do that, everyone has to obey. But if you’re a foreign investor protected by investor-state agreement, you can sue that government for millions, even potentially billions, of dollars in compensation because that’s not what was expected. That’s not the anticipation you had when you went in there.