New York, Part 3: Gibson & Beasts, McKibben & 350, Hope

After the cliffhanging Will-anyone-come-cause who-knew Symphony Space Event of October 27, there was a certain amount of Survivors’ Imbibing and Snack Gobbling in the Helmsley Park Lane bar (Nan Talese of Doubleday, LuAnnWalter of Anchor, Phoebe Larmore, Orville Stoeber, Graeme Gibson and me, with a very kind server indulging us). This was a dual, occasion, for we were also toasting the publication of Graeme Gibson’s stunning Bedside Book of Beasts — man’s relationship, as seen through art and literature, to our fellow carnivores on the planet. (See picture, website at  , interview at  Graeme is doing this book as a fundraiser for the Pelee Island Bird Observatory,  (, for the Wildlife Conservation Society, (, and for Panthera,,  which is dedicated to saving the big, beautiful cats such as panthers, tigers, and jaguars. It won’t escape anyone that the Predator Day sermon and hymn in The Year of the Flood were inspired partly by Graeme’s work in this area – as well as by William Blake’s Tiger poem. (Did he who make the lamb make thee?  The God’s Gardeners answer is Yes.)

Then, on Wednesday, October 28, Graeme and I heaved ourselves upright and we met Ron Mann and his camera crew of one, Michael Pessah, and traipsed off to the Natural History Museum. After traipsing around in the rain looking for the back entrance, we were again indulged, this time by helpful Museum staff. Ron Mann wanted some bird-related footage, so we went to the Bird Hall, where there are dioramas of various habitats and their birdlife from around the world. (Hint: from across the room these look quite 3D and magical, although up close the birds are dimmer in colour than they are in life.) Graeme and I wandered around, looking at birds we have seen, birds we might see, and birds we are unlikely ever to see. (Spirit willing, flesh maybe not up to it.) We talked about our bird life, some of which you can see at, and about the importance of thinking about our biosphere as a whole – what’s killing birds now will kill us eventually. They really are the canaries in the coalmine!

This event tied in with another Ron Mann filming of the day before, when Bill McKibben and I met to discuss Bill’s astonishing 350 initiative.  See:

On 24 October, people in 181 countries came together for the most widespread day of environmental action in the planet’s history. At over 5200 events around the world, people gathered to call for strong action and bold leadership on the climate crisis.

Over 19,000 photos have been submitted so far! See them all on Flickr »

This is an amazing website – for all those looking for inspiration, look here! People from all around the planet – in a grassroots, ground-up, inspired way – put together their own events, using whatever they had, plus their own inventiveness and energy, and, well, hope. Yes, they can. And if our world leaders somehow feel they can’t, they’d better pop awake, now.

Bill and I talked about many different ideas – Ontario, if you’re really serious, drop the speed limit 10K and save megacarbons, and while you’re at it, please don’t build vertical meatgrinder windmill farms in  Important Bird Area major migration flyways such as Pigeon Bay off the Kingsville-Leamington shore. We also discussed initiatives already underway, including the Zerofootprint  Building Re-skinning Contest – 40% of carbon emissions come unnecessarily from buildings that leak energy – we pump it in as air conditioning or heat, it flows out through the leaks. See:

And in Scientific American just now, there’s a story on using algae in vertical walls to generate energy! That’s radical!

Can human beings use their ingenuity, energy, skills, and ability to co-operate to dig themselves out of a nasty future? The Hope is in the details.New

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