Heal Our Planet Earth (HOPE)’s
Global Emergency Operation (GEO)’s
Compassion for Animals Road Expedition #6 (CARE-6)
Field Journal #3
founder of HOPE
lead campaigner of GEO
“road warrior” of CARE-1, CARE-2, CARE-3, CARE-4, CARE-5 & CARE-6
I’m still in Missoula, staying at Anja’s place. But the tar sands have not been left to the back of my mind. What I saw from the air and on the ground, in the latter case also smelled, will never leave the fore-front of my mind for as long as I care for this Earth.
I when I entered the UBC back in 1966, I put myself into pre-med program, but I’m not destined to be a healer, at least on the biological level. I was so squeamish and weak-stomached that I could not tolerate even the sight of the color photographs of skin diseases and almost all internal ailments exposed to view, let alone the real thing. Meanwhile, I did an IQ test, and deemed myself fit material for physics, and switched over to pure science. Why physics? Well, since my childhood I’ve been wondering what I was. I mean, I asked myself as a child, “What am I?” The notion that I was a human being and sitting at the pinnacle of all creation just didn’t satisfy me. In secondary school, under the Irish Jesuits, my quest for meaning and purpose was formalized in the Catholic format. For example: Question: What is your purpose in life? Answer: To glorify God, and to get my soul into Heaven. I almost volunteered myself for the priesthood, until I found out, and not from the Church, about the Inquisition, where, in the Middle Ages, millions of people were burnt at the stake, and at that after prolonged and hideous torture, for basically the freedom of thought and speech and non-violent action. I was shot out of the Church as if by a canon propelled by my revulsion. So, what does that leave me? Physics. I wanted to know what I was made of, physically, and most basically, on the subatomic level. Spiritually, I’d just have to pray, basically to myself, and nonetheless arrived back at that I was a healer at heart.
So, by a series of seemingly random events spanning the ensuing decades, I found myself, on July 1, 2008, in the right seat of a Cessna 172 chartered from McMurray Aviation for 1.5 hours, looking down upon the gaping wounds and oozing sores on the face of my beloved Mother Earth, I found confirmation for the name of the organization I founded in 1999 – Heal Our Planet Earth (HOPE).
Perhaps due to that dark landscape haunting my vision on my drive from Fort McMurray back to Edmonton, I had a near miss that could have ended the tour right there and then, not to mention the lives of Taina and myself. I value the life of Taina highly, but place my own life way below that of Mother Earth, which explains why I mentioned the tour first. To me, the tour means the life of Mother Earth herself. If the tour fails, Mother Earth herself may fail. The tour is tough going, even with the able help and generous backing of Dr. Peter Carter, Julie Johnston, Taina, Nan Sea Love, Rebecca Monaghan, Charlotte Templeton, Dominique Landis, Lane Ferrante, Janice Kobi, Doris Lynn, Lois Baum, Natalie Jarnstad, among others. If I do not believe that our mission can save Mother Earth, I would just as well go to another planet. Anyway, Highway 63 is a two lane highway, namely one lane in each direction, which means that if you want to pass somebody, you always have to take a risk. And, as you may well guess, many of the vehicles were 18-wheelers. So, at one point, I initiated action on passing an 18-wheeler, when, not until I was halfway past it before I saw that in front of it was a small pick-up truck that the 18-wheeler was tailgating. This totally screwed up my calculations. Oncoming was another 18-wheeler, which all of a sudden looked lethally close. As soon as Taina saw the pick-up truck, she said, “Yikes!” I forgot what I said, but remember doing a quick calculation on whether I should jam on my brakes and retreat behind the 18-wheeler I had half-passed, or going for it. The pick-up truck was being tailgated by the 18-wheeler anyway, so it couldn’t slow down to let me in even if it wanted to. My foot chose to press on the gas pedal, and my car issued a growl and shot forward and slipped in front the pickup truck with a very slim margin to spare.
After we resumed cruising, I asked Taina if her heart rate had risen. She said, “Nope, I trust the driver, and yours?” I said, “Nope, I trust my car. By the way, did I say anything when you said ‘Yikes’?” She said, “Yeah, you said, ‘Yep’.” Not one of the famous last words, haha.
Back to Missoula, as I mentioned in the last entry, I was invited by the Independent to go to their office for an interview, which happened 2:15-3:00 pm on Thursday. I brought with me my laptop, and showed the editor Skylar Browning the photos of thawing permafrost on the spot. He had no problem grasping the seriousness of the situation, but being a new editor (as of June this year), he might want to stick by the book, and said that he needed a local “hook” to run the story. I asked Browning back, “What if WW3 breaks out, but it hasn’t bombed Missoula yet, do you still need a local hook to run the story?” He said, “Yes, and the hook would be maybe a Missoula man fighting the war somewhere. So I took my fall-back position and told him that I gave a presentation to Footloose, Anja’s Missoula-based anti-trapping group – not exactly a lie, since Anja was Footloose and I had spoken about global warming to her. He said that might work, and that he would call up Dr. Steve Running (see entry#2) and ask him a couple of questions. So, there might be a story next Wednesday, or there might not. I also checked out the Missoulian, whose editor flatly said that it was not newsworthy, and closed the door on that. Well, you win some, you lose some. Can’t win them all, as they say. And, as I say to the HOPE-GEO team, we work on percentages. If for every 10 attempts we get 5, that’s 5 successes, not 5 failures. So for every failed attempt, we move one closer to the next success. I guess here’s proof that I’m the cup-half-full kind of guy.
By Anja’s intervention, I got to meet two man also on Thursday, Steve Woodruff, Deputy Director, Northern Rockies branch of Western Progress (www.westernprogress.org). It is not a sharply focused group, and Woodruff, according to Anja, is a hunter, but he is pro-environment where global warming is concerned, and has testified in Congress. We might consider inducting his group into our Coalition to Abolish the Tar Sands (CATS).
The other person I met was David Merrill, Executive Director of Global Warming Solution (www.globalwarmingsolution.org). They had thought of the same problem of how to build a global green fund, but has advanced a different solution – for the UN to impose a half-percent tax on all foreign currency tradings. This might be even easier to achieve (or should I say: less difficult) than ours, though it would not simultaneous achieve a step in global disarmament as ours would. I ran this by Peter while on the phone, and he said both should proceed, and I concur.
One person I contacted yesterday was Lynn Wolff of the Dakota Resource Council at Dickenson, North Dakota. He and I had a phone conversation back in April or May. Their problem was, and still is, the tar sands’ southern pipeline going right through North Dakota and South Dakota on its way south to Texas. At this point, the pipeline has been laid in ND, but not yet SD, and they still intend to stop it. Upon hearing that I had over-flown and actually visited the tar sands, he became even keener than before, and offered to organize a mini tour for me to cover the cities of Billings (MT), Mile City (MT), Dickenson (ND), Bismarck (ND), Jamestown (ND), Fargo City (ND) and Cedar Rapids (IA). He and I talked again twice today, the second time, I told him about the Animal Rights Conference and my profile in it. I said that 1,000 people will attend that conference, and I intend to transform the movement with my 11 speeches, particularly my 12 minute Sunday evening plenary speech titled “Act Globally” shared with only the famous Jewish author Richard Schwartz (a great honor), and that stopping their pipeline is of enormous import in the global warming scheme of things. I said, “Trust me, I will not let you down.” He was driving, and asked me to email him the link to the site. We agreed to talk again tomorrow.
Over the last days in Missoula, I spent almost all my wakeful hours on the internet and the phone. I did have dinner with my dear friend Dave Taylor, his spouse Jerry and Anja on Thursday evening. Otherwise, all Anja could do was to drag me out on nature walks an hour a day. She has two dogs, one looking like a wolf, named Jasper, and one looking like a fox, named Annie. They barked at me for the obligatory initial 10 seconds upon my first arrival (when Anja was not home), but after that, it was all tail-wagging and lying-next-to. Jasper slept in my room two nights, and come when I call. Annie is a bit cooler, but trustingly eats out of my hands (with Anja’s permission of course). In one walk, we encountered a Vietnam vet named Dennis West with two half-Husky-type dogs, one black, one white. He showed us the front view of an advancing grizzly bear taken at close quarters (within 10’) with his cell phone, and told us that he was saved by his two dog right after taking that picture, that the white dog leapt on to the back of the bear, and when the bear stood up, she hung on, while the black one bit the bear in its groin area, causing it to flee. “My ex told to its my dog or her, and guess which I chose,” he said. Yes indeed, if anyone said something like that to me, whether or not I loved the dogs, I would chosen them.
While walking by a swift-flowing river yesterday, Charlotte called and told me that she had rented a storage space for the 1300 books I’ll be asking Lightning Source to ship for conference. She told me it cost $75, and of course we’ll cover it. Charlotte has constant physical pains, and a family to raise as a single parent, and yet, is putting out energy galore, as do Nan and Rebecca. I am so bless, as is Mother Earth in these small yet profound ways.
This evening, I will write media releases to my immediate destinations in MD, ND/SD and IA.