Amazon Petition Update

We now have a new Minister of Foreign Affairs, François-Philippe Champagne! Since no reply from the former Minister, Chrystia Freeland, was forthcoming, we forwarded our petition to Mr. Champagne to ensure that he knows we haven’t forgotten.

Dear Honourable François-Philippe Champagne:

I would like to take this opportunity, as you begin your post as our new Minister of Foreign Affairs, to forward a petition with well over 700 signatures, condemning Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s significant inaction on environmental protections in the Amazon. As fires have died down, deforestation has continued to rise, assuring this ecosystem’s vulnerability.

Former Foreign Affairs Minister, Chrystia Freeland, did not reply to the hundreds of people who showed concern over this issue, as indicated by our petition, and we hope to hear a reply from youThe full petition is attached.

The most recent news shows that Canada is hoping to push Bolsonaro towards stronger environmental protections via Mercosur negotiations, but given Bolsonaro’s stubborn denial of any problems in the Amazon, such efforts are disingenuous. Only trade withdrawal, as France, Austria, and Ireland have pushed, can hope to advance the safety of the people and ecosystem of the Amazon, and indeed, of Brazil.

Canada’s progress report on this Free Trade Agreement (see GBA+ Summary for Canada-Mercosur FTA) states, “Canada has yet to achieve a Trade and Indigenous Peoples chapter with an FTA partner, Canada is pursuing such a chapter with Mercosur: A Trade and Indigenous Peoples chapter is a vehicle to drive economic development and prosperity for Indigenous peoples.”

Given that “trade with Brazil account[s] for a majority—77.4%—of Canada’s total trade with Mercosur,” (quoted from same report as above) we are paying close attention to what your Ministry does to address the injustices and environmental destruction in Brazil, especially because Canada aims to abide by UNDRIP and address our climate crisis.

We look forward to your reply,

Myrtle Millares
on behalf of petitioners

Please feel free to express your own concerns via –
Telephone: 613-995-4895
Fax: 613-996-6883
Email: Francois-Philippe.Champagne@parl.gc.ca
Mail:
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6

Local Business for Climate Action

A couple of weeks ago, we launched sister campaigns aimed at urging local businesses to support youth activists in the lead-up to the Global Climate Strikes. If you’re interested in participating, the campaign is on until the end of the day tomorrow.

Click here to write to businesses
Write to businesses

One campaign is aimed at patrons and asks that they e-mail their neighbourhood businesses to put up Climate Strike posters. It provides an e-mail template to copy, paste and send. Businesses are then directed to the campaign below.

This one is aimed at business owners directly. Whether they sign up because someone has e-mailed them or of their own accord, they can download image resources for posting.

Click here if you own a business
Click here if you own a business

Thank you to all who participated, turning public focus toward the future of our youth.

Here are the businesses who signed up so far to bring attention to the Climate Strikes.

Mountain Equipment Co-op, Patagonia, and Lush have also made public their support for this Friday’s Toronto Climate Strike. If you wrote to them, thank you! Consumers have the power to push businesses toward social responsibility and/or validate these initiatives.


*This business has sent a photo or link showing their display of Climate Strike information.

Yes, the Amazon is still burning…

Click here to sign petition.

Brazilian Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo, in a CNN interview with Christiane Amanpour, says “the Amazon is not burning, not burning at all. We have fires this year, a little more than last year.” He says that these fires are not an unprecedented crisis (Video: https://www.cnn.com/videos/tv/2019/09/04/amanpour-brazilian-foreign-minister-ernesto-araujo-amazon-fires.cnn).

We’re asking our own Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister, Chrystia Freeland, to condemn President Bolsonaro’s inaction in order to forge a path toward meaningful environmental protections for the Amazon and its people.

Why?

Despite the Brazilian government’s denial of the scope of the Amazon destruction, Canada continues to talk trade with Brazil, pushing for environmental protections that are simply not forthcoming (https://globalnews.ca/news/5822097/canada-amazon-protection-mercosur-brazil/). Canada is still trying to figure out ways to put profit over people and planet instead of focusing on our Climate Emergency.

In the meantime:
– The lives and homes of the Amazon’s Indigenous people are under threat.
– Global rainfall patterns will be affected and as a result, crop production (https://globalnews.ca/news/5828481/amazon-wildfires-rain-food-production/).
– A vast ecosystem is destroyed.

PLEASE SIGN THIS PETITION, available for one more week. And share widely.
DONATE: Amazon Watch

Dealing with Eco-Anxiety: Embracing Sadness, Part 2

The next in a series of posts by Dr. Nate Charach. Read Part 1 here.

depression-2912424_1280In my first blog post I outlined my understanding that there are pleasant and unpleasant emotions rather than classifying them as positive and negative. The most crucial emotion to lessen my “eco-anxiety” has been sadness. Let’s first examine why sadness is appropriate and then we will look at how to use it effectively.

Sadness is the emotion of loss. If you lose your beloved mother, it is healthy to feel sad. If we lose our job, an important relationship or our purpose in life, it is imperative that we feel sad. This sadness alerts us to the importance of what we just lost.

When viewing sadness from this perspective, we don’t have to dig very deep to imagine why we feel sad about the current state of our world. Here is a short list of things that make me feel sad:

Loss of security about our survival
Loss of certainty that our children will live to see “old age”
Loss of meaning in our work
Loss of meaningful connections with people
Loss of security that we will have clean water to drink and healthy food to eat
Loss of security that we will know how to survive the heat and cold temperature           extremes when we run out of fossil fuels
Loss of connection with nature
Loss of confidence in the political systems that are supposed to look out for our   common good
Loss of control over a situation that directly impacts us yet we can only indirectly   effect
Loss of secure housing for millions of people
Loss of loved ones due to severe weather events

And I’m sure there are more. For each person, some of these losses will resonate more than others. Certainly there are many more reasons than I listed. The only way to identify which losses are the most important to us is to listen to our sadness.

So what does it look like to listen to our sadness?

We must connect with a part of our brain that is not “logical”. We must find an environment that feels safe and secure. We then ask ourselves what is making us sad. If this brings tears to our eyes then we are on the right track. Crying is a natural response to sadness. It acts as a stress reliever. The tears in our eyes contain stress hormones which can leave our body through this process.

To truly listen to our sadness, tears are a requirement and also not sufficient. We need to surrender to our sadness without trying to change it. And so, when our tears come, we must embrace them and allow them to guide us to the most important actions that we can take.

Many people are afraid to give themselves up to this process for fear that their sadness will never end. However, when we allow our emotions to run their course without blocking them they come in patterns of waves. These waves are time-limited and always end.

Once we clearly identify our losses through listening to sadness, we need to effectively prioritize how to fill this void. This is the way that sadness motivates us to make necessary change.

If we have lost our mother and therefore feel sad, the goal is not to find a new mother. Instead, to effectively use our sadness, we tell stories about our love for her and find ways that she can live on through us. Likewise, if we lose our job or our relationship, new jobs or relationships will not be identical yet if they fulfill us, our sadness diminishes. If they do not adequately fill our void, the sadness persists. This sadness is crucial because when we listen to it, we address any critical loss. When our life is full of meaning once again, our sadness subsides.

While writing this post I needed to take a break due to my own sadness. The Amazon Forest is burning and I only just learned the extent and causes of it. Waves of sadness overcame me for the majority of the day and continue to still creep in from time to time. My sadness was reminding me of the importance this rainforest holds to the planet. The Amazon provides 20% of the world’s oxygen. The Amazon is home to the greatest biodiversity left on this planet. It is home to many Indigenous people who hold customs that live in harmony with the Earth. One of Project Drawdown’s clear priorities is to protect our existing rainforests. All of these make the destruction of the Amazon a huge loss. My tears are entirely appropriate.

After listening to this sadness, I now find myself donating money actively to save the rainforest and brainstorming ideas to campaign for their protection on a much broader level. Responding to these tragedies in this way is the most effective action that I can take to deal with this issue. As a result, the sadness lessens. I cannot individually stop the fires in the Amazon and if I contribute as a piece of a much larger contribution, then there is hope.

The fear we have of listening to our sadness is deeply embedded in most of us. If we allow ourselves to drop below the surface of our icebergs we can sit with our sadness. Through this process we learn that sadness is not dangerous in itself. Our “eco-anxiety” will turn to “eco-grief”. The things we love that we are losing will become crystal clear. Contrary to our reflexive fear that our sadness is dangerous, connecting to our sadness is the most effective way that we will survive. Let’s embrace our sadness. Let’s validate it. And then allow it to guide us toward effective action.


Nate Charach is a psychiatrist who works at a community hospital and has also completed his permacultural design certificate. His emotions urge him to combine these skills to create thriving communities that are in harmony with nature. With his clients, he attempts to work in partnership to find common meaning and value from their challenges.

The general information provided on this website is for informational purposes only and is not professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or care, nor is it intended to be a substitute therefore. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider properly licensed to practise medicine or general healthcare in your jurisdiction concerning any questions you may have regarding any information obtained from this website and any medical condition you believe may be relevant to you or to someone else.

Continue reading “Dealing with Eco-Anxiety: Embracing Sadness, Part 2”

Dealing with Eco-Anxiety: An Introduction by Dr. Nate Charach

We are excited to introduce this guest post by Dr. Charach, providing timely insight into the swirl of emotions many of us feel as we strive to gain a sense of place in the midst of our climate crisis.

Many people struggle with anxiety, depression and other mental health challenges. Culturally we are often focused on “reducing stigma” of “mental illness” and this conversation is largely disconnected from how our world causes unpleasant emotions. Psychiatry’s current paradigm of mental illness is well-intentioned and often misses the mark. The real focus on reducing stigma needs to be on reducing the stigma of our emotions rather than their resulting “symptoms”. We need to connect our emotions to the things in our world that are demanding our attention. When we do this, we recognize that it is not a coincidence that mental illness is rising while the climate crisis unfolds. “Eco-anxiety” occurs when we miss out on what our underlying emotions tell us. Never before have Vonnegut‘s words been more true: “a sane person to an insane society must appear insane”.

The most important lesson I have learned from those I have worked with in my practice is to listen to what our emotions tell us. Our emotions always have some truth to them even if we cannot see it at first. Below is an image that summarizes my understanding of how emotions work:

The states of mind on the surface are the most obvious and are the emotions that we describe as mental health problems. If we are paralyzed by our worries, we call it “anxiety”. If we flip into a rage when we stub our toe, “anger” is the problem. All of the states of mind written on the tip of the iceberg are actually secondary responses to primary emotions that are beneath the surface. Emotions that we stigmatize and, therefore, subconsciously disconnect from.

Most people call the emotions below the surface “negative”. When we are young, our father comforts us with “don’t cry, you’re ok”. As we get older, our mother says “Oh, don’t feel guilty, you are doing the best that you can”. These are meant as supportive statements, yet they tell us that our emotions are wrong.

Our emotions are an interpretation of stimuli and are wired similar to our other sensory functions. Vision uses light as its stimulus, while emotions use “pleasant or unpleasant” and “aroused or calm” internal sensations as input. Emotions compile this information from our internal environment and use memories from the past to anticipate what this means about our external environment. This gives us important information and motivates us to action. When we learn to mistrust this function, we become disconnected from it. We have a sense that something is wrong but can’t identify what.

Imagine for a moment that, since I was three, my parents told me that red is a “negative” colour. When I pointed to a tomato, I was told “oh, that’s not really red, don’t look there”. I could try to do this. I could walk around and every time I saw a firetruck or a cardinal I would turn away. I would find this very difficult. Even if I was successful at always ignoring red, I would often make wrong decisions. If I was hit by a car because I ignored a red light, I would blame the other person.

And so the same goes for emotions. “Loneliness” as an emotion tells me to connect with more people. If I notice that I feel “depressed” when the underlying emotion is “loneliness”, I need to connect with the loneliness. If I only listen to the depression, I will isolate myself from others. This will exacerbate the loneliness rather than address it.

If we avoid feeling “negative” emotions, then our bodies feel greatly distressed because they are ignoring clear input. When we successfully disconnect ourselves, we make decisions on partial information. This leads us to make decisions that are not in our best interest while also ignoring the world around us. If we instead recognize these emotions as “unpleasant” rather than “negative”, our perspective on the world changes.

If you experience “eco-anxiety” or depression based upon the numerous “depressing” things in our world, I urge you to connect with your emotions more carefully. You likely have been pushing away very unpleasant emotions, as most of us have. For a solution to our climate crisis, we must connect with our unpleasant emotions. Let them teach us and motivate us. Learning to listen is tricky. In my future posts, I will discuss ways to listen to these emotions that can keep us from feeling overwhelmed. I will also discuss my understanding of how each of these unpleasant emotions can be effectively interpreted.

This process will involve feeling pain. Rather than disconnect from that pain, we should instead experience it with others. Through connecting with ourselves and our community at large, we can address the root causes of our climate crisis. In so doing, we will feel our unpleasant emotions less frequently. They will still come at times to remind us about the work that remains to be done, because there is so much to do. If we continue to listen to our emotions, together, we can build a way of living that is in harmony with nature.

Together, let’s change our cultural myths about emotions. Let’s allow them to genuinely motivate us to be part of a change that is much bigger than ourselves.

(Read Part 2)


Nate Charach is a psychiatrist who works at a community hospital and has also completed his permacultural design certificate. His emotions urge him to combine these skills to create thriving communities that are in harmony with nature. With his clients, he attempts to work in partnership to find common meaning and value from their challenges.

The general information provided on this website is for informational purposes only and is not professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or care, nor is it intended to be a substitute therefore. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider properly licensed to practise medicine or general healthcare in your jurisdiction concerning any questions you may have regarding any information obtained from this website and any medical condition you believe may be relevant to you or to someone else.


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