Rosemary Ganley The Peterborough Examiner September 9, 2021
Linda and Alan Slavin ~ Photo Credit Lois Tuffin
Every time I hear or read information from former Trent physics professor and longtime community educator Alan Slavin, I learn two or three crucial facts about our world (and even more importantly, I retain those facts).
They tend to influence my thinking and actions.
He is a climate warrior with none of the common “warrior” characteristics: those of brashness, loudness and domination. Always courteous, articulate, well-researched and persistent, his is exactly the kind of influence we need. Right here in our home city.
Two recent examples of Al’s meaningful citizen activism are these. On August 6, the anniversary of the atomic bomb blast over Hiroshima, Japan, taking 140,000 lives, the brave, small band called the Peterborough Peace Council organized a candlelit vigil at the wharf along Little Lake. They have done this since 1984.
Such beauty, on an August evening, the fountain gushing skyward, the city lights aglow, the water reflecting the sunset. It was a quiet, hour-long gathering, with an open mike for people to speak, sing or lament. This year it was chaired by Gianne Broughton. Sheila Nabigon-Howlett spoke with power. Margaret Slavin read poetry. I chatted with a newcomer, Nathan, who has come to Peterborough from L’Arche, Richmond Hill.
Lyn Miller and Judy Amsbury sang in harmony, an actor named Sue led the singing of “Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream,” and a downtown person, Marie, was moved to sing “Jesus Loves Me.”
The vigil was reverberant of the radical changes that time brings. In Tokyo, at that very moment, the world’s athletes were exerting themselves at the Olympics, assisted by some 40,000 smiling volunteers.
In Peterborough, people lingered after launching their glowing crepe-paper-covered candles onto the lake, watching them slide away with the slight current.
Alan Slavin gave a short talk showing the tight link between militarism, which was the main theme of the gathering, and dark climate consequences, the subject of a new and alarming United Nations report.
I learned that greenhouse gas emissions caused by military activity are exempt from inclusion in a country’s emissions total. Even reporting on it is optional for countries. Slavin said it is a gaping loophole. War and war preparations are major emitters of greenhouse gases.
November 2021 will be the 26th UN conference on climate (called “COP 26”), in Glasgow. It will show that climate crisis is a more certain threat than war, for most people around the globe.
Moreover, Canada is not among the 55 countries who have signed the Treaty onthe Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, first developed in 2017. We support the retention and potential use of nuclear weapons through our alliance with NATO.
Scarcely 48 hours later, I caught the same person, Alan Slavin, leading a session on retrofitting a house, at the monthly meeting of the local group “For our Grandchildren.” www.4RG.ca He is a powerful “green” leader who has done much of the work he was describing on his 1860 farmhouse.
In 30 minutes, he described clearly and with slides (available on the 4RG website), adding an air-source heat pump, injecting insulation, (cellulose or fiberglass) exchanging old appliances for efficient ones, and working on windows (the most expensive item). And there is government support for doing this.
It is the project of a dedicated citizen, painfully aware as a scientist of the dire nature of our climate predicament, and resolved to do all he can as an individual.
I don’t know anyone more expert on the facts, and more able to inform and motivate than Professor Slavin. The world’s temperature is likely to rise 1.5 degrees Celsius this decade, largely from humans using fossil fuels. That will especially devastate poor countries, rural people, and Indigenous communities.
To avoid the worst, we must spend 25 percent of our Gross National Product on adaptation, walk away from new pipelines, curb consumerism, stop subsidies to fossil fuel industries, and move out of our “place of delusion.”
We have among us a trustworthy guide.
"Gleanings" is Rosemary Ganley's new book. You can purchase directly from the author at firstname.lastname@example.org or from >Amazon<