Friday, December 11, 2009

Happy Holidays, Friends.

155 Marlee Ave. Apt. 201 Toronto M6B 4B5

All is well here, but I have decided to postpone my Christmas and New Year festivities until May. I’m working hard to get my next book, The Russian Quest for Peace and Democracy, to Lexington Press in March and I need every minute of the time. So I’m skipping the tree, gifts, parties, and even my traditional New Years Day bash this year. I expect the book to be beyond my control by May and I’ll throw a party or two then. I’m enjoying the work a lot.

Why am I behind schedule? Because I was “impresario” of a forum on nuclear weapons that was held in the Toronto City Council Chamber on November 13 and 14. It took a lot of work (17 months!) to get such eminent speakers and arrange video streaming of Mayor Akiba from Hiroshima, Pavel Podvig in Geneva and Rebecca Johnson in London. The whole event worked well. You can read about it in the forthcoming (January) issue of Peace Magazine (see and watch the whole event on our web site – all the 12 prepared speeches, plus the welcoming speech by Toronto’s Mayor David Miller, plus the question-and-answer sessions after each speech. Do take a look: and pass this link on to your unconcerned friends, because they need to know what we still have to handle.

Now I am trying to fulfill a request that several speakers made – especially Sen. Douglas Roche, who assured us that if we can get 5,000 short letters (not e-mails) sent to Prime Minister Harper asking for something, he will take note. Other speakers urged us to be sure to combine climate change and nuclear weapons in the same letter. So I’m starting my own campaign to accomplish this, and several peace organizations will join this in January. You can too.

So, as a personal favor, let me ask you to write (on real paper) a short letter to the prime minister (or if you aren’t Canadian, to your president) on behalf of a child (mine is on behalf of Aleksandra and Katarina Ajvazovic of Oakville, Ontario) asking him to save their world by working to (a) create a convention to eliminate nuclear weapons from the planet by 2020, and (b) bring the global concentration of CO2 down to 350 parts per million. That’s all you need to say. Send a copy of it or a note to me; I’ll keep tally. My email is: and I thank you for doing this! It’s the best Christmas present you could give me. His address:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Office of the Prime Minister, 80 Wellington Street, Ottawa K1A 0A2

My life has been satisfying but quiet this year. Peace Magazine is going strong. One high point recently has been my purchase of a Kindle, which is a swell way of carrying up to 1500 books in my purse. So far, I have only one book on it, but it’s a good one and I’ll buy more gradually. I love taking it out to read in coffee shops and noticing other people’s staring (enviously, I like to imagine, but probably just curiously).

I just had my knee checked by an orthopedist, expecting to be told I need a metal replacement but he said it’s just a torn ligament — an easy thing to fix with an arthroscope. Wow, how great! I’ve had it for over 20 years and it could have been fixed right away if I’d whined louder. I’ll have it done in January or February.

For several weeks I’ve been trying to direct attention to “biochar” as the most promising way of removing CO2 from the atmosphere and burying it. The Rocky Mountains in BC and Alberta are covered with dead trees killed by the pine beetle, which used to die when winters were cold. They plan to burn those trees and send immense amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere. What they should do is build portable ovens in which to turn the trees into charcoal and bury it. The Amazonian Indians did that thousands of years ago and the carbon is still there, sequestered and enriching the soil. It would cost a lot to make charcoal on such a large scale, but it would go a long way to offset the tar sands that Canada is insisting on exploiting, to catastrophic effect. The science has vetted the value of biochar, but the newspapers won’t print my letters to the editor, presuming, I suppose, that I am a crackpot. Just wait. In a year or so they will be covering it.

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