A broken heart: “Chasing Ice” moves climate denier to dump Bill O’Rielly

(Special thanks to Skeptical Science for posting this to Facebook and making me cry. View the post here and share.)

When someone starts a sentence with the words “I love Bill O’Rielly“, I take them quite seriously on that. Bill is a master emoter-prevoker. It is a craft: he needs no real facts to spin fear, hate and single mindedness into complaisant trust with his viewers… people long for passionate lines of thinking to align with. It makes us feel alive, especially in these times of convenient, easy living.

Life is supposed to involve a “fight.” For something. Anything.

So when this woman does a 360 on her Global Warming Deniership (yes, in capitals), I literally cried. There is nothing like a broken heart, and it is plain to see on her face and in her voice. No crafting. A genuine shock to the soul and a wake-up call: you’ve been cheated on.

Sorry, Bill. Sounds like this Chasing Ice movie is gonna get you dumped in a big way.


PS – From the creators of “The Cove” – another must watch.

My Climate Action Credibility… exposed (rated PG)

I was pleased to receive a provocative comment from a reader regarding my “credibility” today. It got me fired up a bit, but more importantly, it helped me to reflect and then to blog about my personal credibility.

I think it is very important for anyone trying to create change to disclose their personal efforts (how they are walking the talk), and Steve from Virginia made me realize that I probably haven’t done that enough. Beyond that, it gave me the opportunity to blog about my thoughts on creating positive change for the environment that is at odds with the economy and fossil fuel customs: that extremists don’t relate well to the mass of humanity we need to change.

Sometimes I lament that I’m not stretching every muscle, dollar, brain cell, and second to have the absolute least amount of impact I possibly could have.  And then I realize I would be giving up my entire known life, including the people and places in it. I would also lose my ability to influence those people and places I care about. That would suck.

So Steve from Virginia, thanks for the prompt. I hope you learn something from it too.

On 2012/08/28 at 2:02 am, Steve commented:

Great job Heather …

what kind of car do you drive?

Unless you can say, “None,” you have no credibility

To which I replied:

Hi Steve! Interesting comment – thanks for sharing your perspective. Here’s my story:

I cycle and take the bus every single day it is humanly possible. You can ask any of my friends, family, colleagues, fellow bus riders and everyday commuters I wiggle my buns of steel at during rush hour (rain or shine). Alternatively, I do have the option of working from home, from time to time.

But, I do own a car. My parents gave me their 1998 Honda CRV when I was putting myself through University and had just had my son. And I certainly did rely on that vehicle regularly then, when bus routes did not accommodate. The alternative was to give up juggling work, school and parenthood (work and school were far away from each other, so cycling everyday and transporting a new born in between was prohibitive).

Had I not had a vehicle then, I probably would not have finished university and probably would not be doing what I am for a living (I.e. would not have the credibility of the knowledge I have). It was hard enough with a car. Since then, I have thought of selling it and joining a car coop for those odd grocery runs, hectic days and holiday trips, although, there is another factor in my life.

I married a man that fixes things for a living (a welder). He needs a truck for certain aspects of his business, but otherwise, chooses to drive the fuel efficient Honda (he is also a skilled mechanic and has improved every aspect of fuel efficiency we have been able to afford). And whenever possible, he does quotes via motorcycle. It might be also worth sharing that I married him before I really developed my zeal for climate action… he was NOT the kind of man most, who have gotten to know me recently, would guess I had chosen to marry, because I have changed.

All this to say: I get it. There is the option for my husband to retool and get a desk job, perhaps for us to move closer into the city and benefit from the lower stress life of public transit, walking and bicycles 24/7… why wouldn’t I make him do it if I care so much? I HATE driving. It is costly, inefficient, stinky, destructive, and noisy… not to mention the atmospheric impacts. The reality is that we are part of a society that is transitioning, and even the most passionate climate/humanity/environmental activists are prone to getting caught in the middle. And, not everyone is cut out for a desk job (neither can desk jobs deliver even close to half the needs of society).

If you read my articles (and consider the time a young, working mother put into writing them) you will clearly see how deeply I care, and how credible that care is. So to speak in absolutes, and say that I have NO credibility, well, quite frankly it makes you sound like a dink.

And I mean that in the nicest of ways… honestly. I hope you can learn from it.

Because my story is one of a person who has GROWN to appreciate the imperative for action. Someone with a a standard, upgrade your TV, drive when you can afford it, the earth is “too big for us to break”, but be a good person and don’t litter upbringing that has suffered tears and heart break for choosing to be different… or better… while loved ones and peers made fun, or worse, berated me for daring to suggest they were in the wrong…

My friend, I have learned. Change is #&*ing hard. Economically, personally, socially… and you can’t fault people for struggling through it, otherwise YOU lose your credibility – as someone unable to relate to the majority of humanity. You’ll have your cult following and that. Is. It. And seeming like a bright guy (from the peek I’ve taken at your blog), I’d suggest that would be a shame.

Anything hard has its ups and downs. But it’s worth it. And that is what I am communicating in my blog. Welcome to my climate action ADVENTURES.

Good luck with your endeavors,


P.S. Regarding my loved ones (including my husband) and their perspectives – partly because of my efforts, and (somewhat) tempered approach to communicating about climate action, they have grown to be much more aware, excited to talk to me about climate change and the environment, and several are making good headway in the low-carbon transition. I have done well not to alienate them because I value them as people and I learn a lot from relating to people that do not have the zeal (yet).

So, what do you think? Am I less credible because I’m not perfect? Should I just shut up and sit down until I am living off the grid and growing all my own food? Or should I blog more about how I am stretching my efforts to make progress towards it (and how I’m learning from my failures)?

To a new world waiting,



Building Sustainable Communities Conference: closing thoughts & thanks

Wow. Where do I even start. I suppose I should just express some gratitude for a full size keyboard after tweeting my finger tips off the last four days from my iPhone! (Find the crowd-sourced micro-blog here.)

This last day kicked off with a keynote by Peter Comrie of Full Spectrum Leadership, who appropriately used our supremely heroic and passionate conference organizer, Joanne de Vries, as an example of someone who is taking full responsibility for her life’s experience and impacts. Joanne is someone who asks “what more can I lovingly contribute?”  We could all stand to be a lot more like Joanne.

My favourite quote Peter provided went something like:

In times of change learners will inherit Earth, while the knowers will find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.

– Eric Hoffer

This plainly strikes me as beautiful. Perhaps because I consider myself a learner, and it feels like a pat on the back… but also because it summarizes the imperative that Dr. William Rees spoke to: that we must re-evaluate our current worldview and associated paradigm. That a reality where we can infinitely grow our economy, and derive ongoing well-being, does not exist.

Hard knocks, for sure. But us learners will get over it.

A very close second was along the lines of:

In the sands of time, one who sits idle will not leave footprints… and who wants to leave butt prints?

I spent the last couple years questioning my commitment to footprints, due to an influence of “knowers”. I let the judgement and expectations of people close to me steer me away from a passion and true sense of self…

I respect everyone’s right to their own world view (which does conflict at times with the urge to give a littering bigot a somewhat violent shake), but I feel compelled now to re-acquaint myself with mine. This conference gave me a fresh outlook on this.

I will not leave butt prints. I will take full responsibility for my life’s experience and impacts.

What makes me feel even better about this, is that I am not alone. The 5th BSC gave me the opportunity to admire a variety of footprints, of all shapes and sizes. I’ll share a few here in brief, and hopefully will find time soon to elaborate more on each in future blogs.

  • Midway.  I have a hard time typing that without a throat lump and tear.  Want to be one of the first to see the catalyst for a movement that will change the way we live every day? http://www.midwayfilm.com/
  • Wes Kmet. This friendly Kelowna citizen shared with me his passion for holding his local government accountable. How does he do it? He gives away business card sized contact lists for all city council members… and encourages citizens to be responsible for their lives impacts 🙂
  • Youth need space. Eric Brown from Sustainable Cities International shared some insights for youth engagement. A striking irony for me: youth don’t have the funds to patronize commercial and other public spaces, so are driven out (“no loitering”), and forced into dark basements with video games… then criticized for it. Youth need safe public space!
  • Bus me there, Scotty. Public transit and active transport routes really are the future – for significant health, environmental and economic reasons. Lots of smart people working on this.
  • Sustainability needs a succession plan. There are variety of gaps in the workforce needed to deliver sustainability solutions.
  • Food security. It really is as critically important as I have been going on and on and on about for years. Next: to explore my potential contribution.

Okay, I really could go on… but it’s getting late. I think in closing, I’ll share a tweet stream of some random food security concerned tweeters that stumbled upon in the #5thBSC feed:


Looks like a good conference going on in Canada under #5thBSC Discussing food security, agriculture, sustainability, great topics
@shmeedieEdie Irons

.@NYFarmer Thanks for that! I’ve been looking for good Canadian food and farm tweeps to follow, and #5thBSC is a treasure trove.

@Schmeedie We hit the motherlode of info with #5thBSC Edie @arzeena @RealEstateFdn
To a new world waiting,

Building Sustainable Communities: A conference for winners

I’m not really a big Charlie Sheen fan, but there is something to be said about #Winning… especially when you are surrounded by sustainability practitioners and advocates that are doing just that.

After the first day of the 5th Building Sustainable Communities conference, I can say that I’ve already been inspired by the “can do” mindset of some of the delegates.

Of course, this “can do” mindset also is backed up by the “must do” mindset – as was eloquently communicated by Bill Rees who key noted a session I was in.

He communicated the imperative for a transition to a new worldview that does not involve pretending we can continuously achieve economic growth without depleting earths resources to the point of disaster. Sad, but true: we have to change.

The rest of the day was spent hearing about ways and means for making that transition. And I expect to hear more on the coming days.

When I’m recovered from the travel, I’ll put some more time into sharing some key learnings and resources. In the mean time, if you attended BSC, and have something to add, please have at it in the comments box!


Are your new city councillors keen on community wellness for the long term? Do tell!

My afternoon was invigorated by a teleconference with sustainability leaders from the Okanagan region today. People who care about the well being of their community, including clean and livable cities, effective health care and a healthy environment and climate. And they are keen to do more than talk – they are convening for action.

Joanne de Vries was the convener. She is a well networked, highly respected leader whom I hear about in various circles of climate action around British Columbia. It’s no surprise why, when you get the chance to meet her. She is an attentive listener and she exudes a can-do spirit that could inspire the biggest cynic. (More about Joanne’s organization: Fresh Outlook Foundation).

Joanne is the kind of person you would want to see on your city council. Which leads to my real reason for writing today.

Across BC, new local government council members have been elected. I imagine that in some cases, these new appointments will be good for fostering a holistic approach to sustainability (social, economic and environmental). In other cases, the outlook may not be so great. For the rest, it may be too soon to tell.

I think for a council member to be effective, they must be able to lead others to support or take action. Leadership is earned when people decide to follow you on a path you believe is good for them, guided by a vision they believe in.

So if there is one piece of advice I may offer them, it is this: pay attention to the community sustainability  leaders. 

These are typically people that have a balanced approach to promoting action that leads to community well being. They are seasoned in appreciating the self interest of citizens (you have to be when you are focused on advancing the well being of all). Most of all, they don’t take their responsibility lightly: sustainability leaders are ethically driven to do the right thing for even others not like them (not something we can say for all elected members in various levels of government…).

Now, for those interested in convening for action, there is a simple way to ensure decision makers spend their time advancing down a path that will lead to well being in your community for the long term. Ask them:

  1. Are they in support of SMART Growth?
  2. Are they committed to the Climate Action Charter?
  3. What does citizen engagement look like to them?

If they don’t know what the heck you are talking about… send them to my blog. If they do, leave a comment and tell me who they are and I will be happy to personally send them a thank you note… they are making my job easier 🙂

To a new world waiting,


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