Living Our Environmental Challenge
Written by and
Format: Hardcover, 384 pages
Publisher: Knopf Canada
ISBN: 978-0-307-39978-6 (0-307-39978-8)
Pub Date: September 6, 2011
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From one of the world's most controversial campaigners, This Crazy Time is the No Logo of the NEW environmental movement, an essential must-read that combines Bill Bryson's personable style and humour with Naomi Klein's hard-hitting activism and research.
Passionate, profound, inspiring and funny, Berman is inspiring people from all walks of life to get off the sidelines and fight the good fight--and win. This unique book--part manifesto from a leader, part humorous activist memoir from a soccer mom--offers a wryly honest, behind the scenes, ultimately uplifting look at the state of the planet. For almost 20 years, Tzeporah Berman has been one of our most influential environmentalists. A founder of ForestEthics and PowerUp Canada, she was instrumental in shaping the tactics and concerns of the modern environmental movement.
In her early 20s she faced nearly one thousand criminal charges and 6 years in prison for her role organizing blockades in Canada's rainforest. With ForestEthics she took on Victoria's Secret with a photo of a chainsaw-wielding lingerie model, convincing the catalogue manufacturer to stop using paper made from old-growth forests. She then transformed her tactics and sat down with CEOs and political leaders to reshape their policies and practices. She participated in saving over 12 million acres of endangered forests, including Canada's Great Bear Rainforest, and has campaigned against the development of Canada's oil sands. In her new role at Greenpeace International she is fighting the problem of our time: climate change, including researching the impacts of the Gulf Oil Spill and protesting oil drilling in the Arctic. As a concerned mother, her book is an impassioned plea for a better world.
It was the oddest thing to watch as one after another, the scientists and UN officials and all my environmental colleagues from around the world made statements condemning Canada.
After hearing that, every morning I’d get up at five and go to the main coordinating office to check the agenda, which was larger than an encyclopedia. I’d flip through it, underlining and highlighting sessions I thought I should attend. I went from international panel to international panel and learned more than I ever wanted to know about the coming impacts of climate change. What blew me away most was not just the statistics but that so many scientists were unable to stop themselves from crying.
The second day in Bali, Canada had the dubious honour of receiving the Fossil Award of the Day for a leaked memo that showed Canadian delegates had been instructed to agree to nothing short of binding targets for all countries. The memo went on to propose that Canada push for a “special circumstances” addendum. The positions were designed to derail the negotiations in Bali. The Harper government knew full well that China would never agree to be treated the same as the “developed countries” that had created the mess to begin with, let alone agree to special circumstances for Canada and other oil-producing nations. The result was that Canada could hide behind China, and the Harper government was left with a very convenient excuse to do nothing.
I delivered my speech, and it was a tough one to make because I’d never felt less proud of being Canadian. So that’s what I talked about. “Today I stand here as a Canadian, ashamed. Ashamed that while the international community struggles to fight global warming, Canada is developing the largest fossil fuel project in the world, the Alberta tar sands. Ashamed that my government has reneged on our Kyoto commitments and is refusing to commit to strong absolute emissions reduction targets and, more than that, holding up important international agreements that would chart a path forward.”
Then I laid out for them just how much climate change had already changed Canadian forests. Ten million hectares (25 million acres) of forest are completely dead due to pine beetle infestations. The pine beetle is an innocuous little bug that used to die every winter when the temperature dropped below minus forty degrees. The problem is that the beetles don’t die seasonally anymore because it doesn’t get cold enough. The result is that pine beetles are eating their way through British Columbia’s old-growth forest.
There were over a thousand environmentalists in Bali for the climate talks. At the end of every day hundreds would meet and vote on which countries did the most to hurt the potential for progress in fighting climate change. Canada won first, second and third place. On the third day, Canada’s minister of environment, John Baird, finally arrived, just in time to win all three days’ Fossil Awards.
“Tzeporah Berman is a modern environmental hero, and this fascinating book shares her exciting history, and the even more exciting thinking that it’s given rise to. If we get out of our ecological woes, she’ll be a big reason.”
—Bill McKibben, author of Eaarth and founder of 350.org
“Tzeporah’s inspiring and humorous story about her development as an environmental activist has significance far beyond the successful struggle against old-growth clear-cutting in British Columbia. If governments remain unwilling to enact effective climate policies, the obvious next step is for civil actions that engage the public while slowing or preventing investments that facilitate fossil fuel combustion (coal plants, oil pipelines, freeways). Who better to lead that charge?”
—Mark Jaccard, member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and author of Hot Air: Meeting Canada’s Climate Change Challenge
“Tzeporah Berman has risked life and liberty in what is ultimately the greatest cause: the future of this planet. Sad, alarming, witty and bold, This Crazy Time takes us inside the war against those who are so recklessly and ruthlessly destroying the Earth while most of us sleep.”
—Ronald Wright, author of A Short History of Progress
“Tzeporah Berman is one of the few people with the insight, experience and guts to show us a way forward that actually might work. This Crazy Time seamlessly blends hard-won practical tips on how to build a mass movement for change with deeply moving stories of Berman’s own successes and failures in the high-stakes world of international environmental campaigning. It shows how each of us—by working with others and marrying courage with political and business smarts—can change the world, for real and for good. This is a fabulous book. It will give you goosebumps, make you laugh and leave you in tears. And you won’t put it down till the last page.”
—Thomas Homer-Dixon, author of The Upside of Down
“Tzeporah Berman’s true-life exploits make a great read. From Paris Hilton to rock concerts in forest blockades, she manages to share a very personal take on the state of our planet with the highs and lows of life as one of our strongest eco-campaigners.”
—Elizabeth May, Green Party Member of Parliament
“In This Crazy Time, Tzeporah Berman brings the inflated rhetoric of the environmental debate down to earth and puts a passionate and empathetic human face on the defining global challenge of our time. Her journey from the front lines of logging blockades to the hot seats of corporate boardrooms is told with remarkable intimacy and rare self-reflection, tracing the central arc of the environmental movement as a whole over the past twenty years. In times growing crazier with each day’s weather, we need her thoughtful leadership more than ever.”
—Chris Turner, author of The Leap and The Geography of Hope
“Over the past twenty years the environmental debate has been loud, raucous and increasingly prominent. And Tzeporah Berman has been right there in the thick of it. Berman is a key leader and, in this book, a thoughtful interpreter of significant events. Let her be your guide to some of the most exciting, and important, moments in recent Canadian history.” ––Rick Smith, executive director of Environmental Defence; co-author of Slow Death by Rubber Duck
“If you've ever uttered the word ‘can't,’ you need to pick up This Crazy Time. Tzeporah Berman's inspirational journey from accidental logging activist to international climate champ will show you how a fearless dreamer can help safeguard millions of acres of old-growth forests and tackle the biggest challenge of our time: climate change. You'll walk away with an honorary MBA in changing the world. How will you put yours to use?”
—Adria Vasil, author of the Ecoholic series
“You can call Tzeporah Berman a crazy, tree-hugging, jailbird, eco-terrorist. But in today’s world it’s just about the only honest job around. Save a vital rainforest, or clear-cut its giant redwoods into newsprint, packaging and toilet paper. Are we kidding? Our tragedy is that we aren’t all chained to a tree.”
—William Marsden, author of Fools Rule: Inside the Failed Politics of Climate Change
“If you’ve ever wondered how ordinary people become the extraordinary people who change the world, read this book. Here is a memoir that will convince you Canada’s forests are a global treasure, but more importantly, reminds each and every one of us that we have the power to act on our beliefs. Fast-paced, frank and often surprisingly funny, This Crazy Time is a primer for a more impassioned world.”
—J.B. MacKinnon, co-author of The 100-Mile Diet
"Tzeporah Berman is a Canadian environmental hero and national treasure. This Crazy Time is a must-read for those on any side of a particular environmental issue. Tzeporah Berman emphasizes the power of dialogue and the importance of compromise for reaching lasting solutions to environmental problems. And she leaves the reader with a sense of optimism that each and every one of us can make a difference."
—Andrew Weaver, Professor and Canada Research Chair in Climate Modelling and Analysis; author of Keeping our Cool: Canada in a Warming World
About this Author
TZEPORAH BERMAN is a co-founder of ForestEthics and PowerUp Canada, and the former Greenpeace International Climate and Energy Co-Director. She has been designing and managing environmental campaigns for almost twenty years. She is known for her role in coordinating the largest civil disobedience in Canada’s history, the logging blockades in the rainforests of Clayoquot Sound in 1993, during which she was arrested and charged with 857 counts of criminal aiding and abetting. She is also known for her work in creating unlikely alliances with the logging industry and major paper and wood consumers that have resulted in the permanent protection of millions of acres of old-growth forests. She was one of the experts in Leonardo DiCaprio’s documentary, The 11th Hour. The Royal BC Museum has included her in a permanent exhibition as one of the 150 people who have changed BC’s history. She has been lauded as “Canada’s Queen of Green” in a cover story in Reader’s Digest and was recognized by the Utne Reader as one of 50 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World.
MARK LEIREN-YOUNG is the author of Never Shoot a Stampede Queen, winner of the 2009 Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour, and The Green Chain—Nothing Is Ever Clear Cut. He wrote, directed and produced the award-winning feature film The Green Chain, and wrote and produced the EarthVision award–winning TV comedy special Greenpieces. His stage plays have been produced throughout Canada and the US and have also been seen in Europe and Australia. As a journalist he has written for such publications as TIME, Maclean’s and the Utne Reader. He’s half of the comedy duo Local Anxiety and has released two CDs—Greenpieces and Forgive Us We’re Canadian.
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