Cameron Wigmore, Green Party Member: September 2006

September 24, 2006

Stop Bias Against Green Party by Tom Axworthy - PLUS: Environmentalism & Christianity

Enjoy this wonderful article, and please explore the links to a number of other articles exploring environmental stewardship & Christianity at the bottom of this post!

Environmentalists should be welcomed to political table, says Tom Axworthy

Stop Bias Against Green Party - by Tom Axworthy
Sep. 24, 2006

"Scientists, like the Greens, have been worried about climate change for decades. New to the movement are evangelical religious leaders: In February 2006, 86 of them declared "Love of God, love of neighbour, and the demands of stewardship are more than enough reason for evangelical Christians to respond to the climate change problem with moral passion and concrete action."

It is time the Canadian political and media establishments stop discriminating against the Green party and the ethic it represents. If we are serious about preserving the planet and if we care about fair play, Canadians must demand the Greens be welcomed to the political table.

The basic premise of the Green movement is that "all life in the planet is interconnected and that humans have a responsibility to protect and preserve the natural world." Founded in Canada in 1983, the tiny minority of Greens in the 1980s were right about the impact of the fossil-fuel economy on global warming. As the science on climate change has become more mainstream, so should the Greens.

Global warming means that extra-solar radiation is being trapped at the Earth's surface; the rise in average temperature is only the signal that something profound is going on. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the world's most authoritative scientific body on the problem, has documented the steady rise in global temperatures and attributes most of it to human activities.

James Hansen, head of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Science, believes that in 10 years we will be at the tipping point — there will already be too much carbon dioxide in the system...

(article snipped)

...Last week, satellite images revealed dramatic openings in the Arctic ice big enough to allow a ship to sail to the North Pole. Scientists, like James Lovelock, creator of the GAIA Hypothesis, are deeply concerned.

He wrote this year "the climate centres around the world, which are the equivalent of the pathology labs of a hospital, have reported the Earth's physical condition and the climate specialists see it as seriously ill, and soon to pass into a morbid fever that may last as long as 100,000 years."

Scientists, like the Greens, have been worried about climate change for decades. New to the movement are evangelical religious leaders: In February 2006, 86 of them declared "Love of God, love of neighbour, and the demands of stewardship are more than enough reason for evangelical Christians to respond to the climate change problem with moral passion and concrete action."

These traditional allies of President George Bush have broken with him on the issue of climate change. They argue that change is real, that the poor will be hardest hit (as happened with Hurricane Katrina) and that Christian moral convictions demand a response. An evangelical-scientific alliance to force business and government to exercise responsible stewardship could change politics in a hurry.

If the Greens have been right on one of the largest issues of our time, they have also been dogged in building support. In the 2006 election, they won 4.5 per cent support by running candidates in all 308 ridings. Yet the established parties and the networks have not allowed the Green leader to participate in televised debates.

The Bloc Québécois, which runs no candidates outside of Quebec, gets hours of television time; the Greens are shut out. This has to change. If Canadians are ever to make the leap from a consumer society to a conserver society, the job of public education will be tremendous. For reasons of substance (to create a large environmental coalition dedicated to change) and for reasons of ethics (to give a national party a fair chance), Elizabeth May, the Green leader, must be included in the next debates. The new leader of the Liberal party should refuse to participate in any debate that excludes the leader of the Greens. To prevent climate change, we must change the current climate of denial; a starting point would be giving the Green party the respect it deserves.

Thomas S. Axworthy is chairman of the Centre for the Study of Democracy at Queen's University.

- - - - -

Politics, ecology, economics, Green Party, Christianity, environmental stewardship... all of these subjects are related to the others. Maybe I'm tackling too big a topic in this post, but I enjoy exploring how my political endeavors relate to my spiritual & environmental efforts.

Environmentalism can compliment economics, and in fact care of our ecology is a necessary element in having a functioning economy that is sustainable. The Green Party has given this thorough consideration and has an excellent plan regarding our economy in relation to ecological considerations.

The following is a list of interesting articles
exploring environmental stewardship & Christianity. There seems to be two opposite schools of thought: a side that in part supports a free market and/or growth, and a side that supports more government involvement and/or sustainability. Both frame their definition of stewardship under each model. I think both extremes are just that - extremes, and the most reasonable concept of environmental stewardship for the Christian, or anyone else, is somewhere in the middle and draws aspects from both schools of thought.

(note: the titles below will link to the full articles.)

- - - - -

Stewardship and the Environment
"...Many Christians are suspicious of the affinity groups like the Evangelical Environmental Network have with mainstream statist (or outright pagan) environmentalism, but they have not been trained in an appropriate response. Thus, after being browbeaten with the stewardship lingo, they leave the field of battle to the theological liberals and political statists...
...One approach in dealing with the new “stewardship” advocates is to inquire about the criteria for good stewardship. How do we know when we have been good stewards? How do we know when the tradeoffs between garden-tending and “being fruitful and multiplying” have been made appropriately? Is it better to use a 40-acre plot of land for wildlife habitat, for a farm, for a pharmaceutical plant, or for housing? The evangelical environmentalist material I have read so far would not rule out any of these possibilities. How can that decision be made, without resorting to the crucial information provided by that hated system of free market prices? The answers should be revealing..."

- - - - -

An Evangelical Declaration on the Care of Creation
"...The earthly result of human sin has been a perverted stewardship, a patchwork of garden and wasteland in which the waste is increasing. "There is no faithfulness, no love, no acknowledgment of God in the land...Because of this the land mourns, and all who live in it waste away" (Hosea 4:1,3). Thus, one consequence of our misuse of the earth is an unjust denial of God's created bounty to other human beings, both now and in the future..."

The above declaration seems to be written in the spirit of love, and I recognize the good will within it, but I don't completely agree with the logic and statements contained within it. Nonetheless, it is a very interesting document.

- - - - -

Eco-Myths - Don't believe everything you hear about the church and the environmental crisis.
Myth 2: It's Not Biblical to be Green (Calvin B. DeWitt) "...I am amazed to hear Christians sometimes say that biblical faith has little in common with the environmental cause. Even worse, some evangelicals fear that teaching people to enjoy and respect creation will turn them into pantheists..."

- - - - -

Stewardship Without Prices and Private Property? Modern Evangelical Environmentalism’s Struggle to Value Nature
"... Christians are right to seek ways to improve stewardship over nature. Yet those who are most vocal in their advocacy of stewardship seem intent upon neglecting critical sources of information about the allocation of natural resources. Numerous evangelical scholars and entire denominations give far greater weight to governmental intervention as a method of stewardship than to free-market pricing...
...schemes of central planning are no substitute for the market’s role in calculation. Statist environmentalism, however dressed in rhetoric of “justice” or “Christian stewardship,” is untenable because it lacks the necessary information to make resource allocations. Pursuing “eco-justice” or conservation of nature without protecting private property and the price system is “zeal without knowledge.” Being a Christian does not give one access to new revelation on the ideal allocation of resources."

This article is pro-libertarian & free-market, and anti-socialism & government regulation. It seems to represent the argument for government regulation in a way that is weaker than reality and mostly unappealing, and then argue against that representation. Despite this bias it is interesting reading. See the list of official denominational statements on the environment included in the original article .

- - - - -
Stewardship and Economics: Two Sides of the Same Coin

"...examples display the shared biblical origin of the terms economics and stewardship. Economics can be understood as the theoretical side of stewardship, and stewardship can be understood as the practical side of economics. Here in the Midwest, over the course of the winter we’ve heard a number of news reports about the dilemma facing households over the rise in home heating costs. Often, the decision must be made to pay only one of two bills, to pay the heating bill or buy food. Dire situations like these are ones in which tough economic decisions are made by the heads of households. Far from being a discipline that explains all of human existence, in the biblical view, as we saw in the case of the shrewd manager, economics is the thoughtful ordering of the material resources of a household or social unit toward the self-identified good end. Thus, if we hold a biblical view of economics and stewardship, we will not be tempted to divorce the two concepts but instead will see them as united. On a larger scale, then, economics must play an important role in decisions about environmental stewardship. Economics helps us rightly order our stewardship. The fact that some advocates for political action on global warming are now attempting to propose economic arguments for their position is a positive step toward reconciling these two often estranged concepts..."

This article is basically about the concept of eco-economics. Click here and here for links to info on a great book exploring this concept.

- - - - -

Climate Change: An Evangelical Call to Action
"...Over the last several years many of us have engaged in study, reflection, and prayer related to the issue of climate change (often called "global warming"). For most of us, until recently this has not been treated as a pressing issue or major priority. Indeed, many of us have required considerable convincing before becoming persuaded that climate change is a real problem and that it ought to matter to us as Christians. But now we have seen and heard enough to offer the following moral argument related to the matter of human-induced climate change. We commend the four simple but urgent claims offered in this document to all who will listen, beginning with our brothers and sisters in the Christian community, and urge all to take the appropriate actions that follow from them..."

- - - - -

Preserved Garden or Productive City? Two Competing Views of Stewardship
"...The first position, understood as the preservationist view of stewardship, is manifest in the Evangelical Environmental Network’s Evangelical Declaration on the Care of Creation. This view emphasizes the pristine state of creation before the fall into sin, and understands this “garden” to be the ideal toward which we are to bend our efforts. The failure of humankind lies principally in its inability to both sustain creation’s fruitfulness and preserve creation’s powerful testimony to its Creator...

...The second position is evident in The Cornwall Declaration on Environmental Stewardship. This view emphasizes “productivity” and “proliferation.” The “productivity” view of stewardship stresses the unity between the biblical mandate both to “be fruitful and increase in number” and to “rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground” (Gen. 1:28 NIV). The adherents to the Cornwall Declaration affirm human “potential, as bearers of God’s image, to add to the earth’s abundance,” and recognize the identity of human beings as both "producers and stewards."

Again I have to say that neither concept is entirely exclusive of the other. The preservationist view could be said to be supportive of "producers & stewards", but that the word producers doesn't allow for consumption of huge amounts of resources in an unsustainable manner. The proliferation view seems to fit with what the Bible states, and even in the parable told by Jesus (see full article) it appears that one is being told to 'develop and grow your assets'. While the economy is important in both views, and it's smart to make prudent personal investments, (my house has appreciated - hooray!) in the big picture of the world economy we can no longer grow; the human population is too large (it would take three earths for every person to consume resources at the rate that we do in North America), our resources and energy sources are being depleted rapidly, and environmental degredation is everywhere. The economy is a subset of ecology, and only through realizing this can we move forward together with a plan to improve the quality of life for everyone on our planet.

September 21, 2006

Oilsands: Burning Energy To Produce It

This image of the oilsands in northern Alberta links to an interesting video on oilsands development.

I wrote the following letter as a submission for the oilsands consultations that are taking place around Alberta. If you wish to make your voice heard, now's the time. Contact or call 1-877-644-4695 or go to for more info.

I want to add that in the 2006 Green Party platform it stated that
the GPC would create thousands of new "Green collar jobs" by encouraging the development of low-emission industries in areas most affected by the shift away from natural resource sectors. Yes, my friends who work in the patch can vote Green knowing that they won't be out of work under a Green government.

- - -

To whom it may concern,

My name is Cameron Wigmore and I am writing this letter to you as a concerned Canadian. If it's possible, I would like to request for this to be read aloud by someone during the consultations please. I would be pleased to know that you have a system in place that allows people to be easily and readily heard.

It is my opinion that we are doing too much too quickly. What's the rush? If I were to ask the oil companies this question I imagine their answer would be profit related. It would be nice to see companies in the oilpatch taking the social and environmental implications of their business into consideration, but since the government says they don't need to do so, the companies don't worry about it. Why would they? To be fair, I realize that doing so would cut into their profits, and as a small business owner myself I can understand why a company would want the regulating bodies to stay out of their business so they can do what they want as quickly as they see fit. Sustainability doesn't fit in their equations. But it is in our best interests to regulate this industry properly. In this case it is my opinion that we can strengthen our economy by conserving our ecology.

This brings me back to my question. What's the rush? If I asked the city councillors in Fort McMurray or other negatively affected communities I'm sure I'd get an earful about how the government has been irresponsible in allowing, even promoting, such development and damage. I'd hear that many other people agree that we're doing too much too quickly. I remind everyone that recently the Regional Council for the Municipality of Wood Buffalo, which includes Fort McMurray, voted unanimously to apply for intervener status on any and all new oil sands projects coming before Alberta’s Energy Utility Board. Their infrastructure, police and social services are overstrained and woefully inadequate in the wake of this boom. They can't keep up with the pace set by the provincial government and this is a case where a municipality has taken matters into their own hands.

So let's ask the provincial and federal governments. What's the rush? Why are we doing so much so fast? Why are we moving forward with inadequate environmental impact studies being done? Why are vast areas of boreal forest being eliminated with no indication that we can ever restore this land? Yes, we can reclaim it, but I urge everyone to research what qualifies as land reclamation. Why are we allowing this extremely financially profitable activity to occur while we reduce royalties and taxes on oilsands development? Why should I believe that the companies, the government or even the organizations charged with ensuring public safety and proper activity regarding the oilsands share my concerns and wishes? To be clear, my wish is for no further leases to be issued and for current development to be properly examined for environmental impact.

To paraphrase James Howard Kunstler in his book entitled The Long Emergency, "The profits of a generation of speculators will be converted into costs passed along to future generations in the form of lost jobs, squandered equity, and reduced living standards. This is a convoluted liquidation sale of the wealth of the Earth for the benefit of a few people, with the average family sentenced to a race to the bottom as the economic & environmental assets are dismantled and sold off and livelihoods are closed down." Think about this. This is happening.

The economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of the environment. In other words, ecology isn't a subset of the economy; it's the other way around. We need to transform our economy so that it respects ecology and gives us a healthy country with healthy Canadians. If we continue business as usual without accounting for and charging for the irreparable ecological damage that is occurring then we are practicing bad government and bad business.

I'll close this letter with a few quotes. My favourite and probably the most relevant is last.

"What many now call 'growth' will soon be seen as accelerated decay."

"Anyone who thinks that an economy can be expanded forever, within the confines of a finite planet, is either a madman or an economist"
Economist Kenneth Boulding

"Capitalism is the extraordinary belief that the nastiest of men, for the nastiest of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all."
Economist John Maynard Keynes

"Environmental injury is deficit spending. It’s a way of loading the cost of our generation’s prosperity on to the backs of our children."
"To waste and destroy our natural resources, to skin and exhaust the land instead of using it so as to increase its usefulness, will result in undermining in the days of our children the very prosperity which we ought by right to hand down to them."
"Where there is no vision, the people perish."
Proverbs 29:18

Cameron Wigmore
Drumheller, AB
CEO, Crowfoot EDA