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Hornby Island, BC Canada
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Photos and article by Will Thomas



Remarks delivered by Will Thomas to islanders at the 350 event on Hornby Island, at the edge of the Pacific in British Columbia, Canada:

(Namaste to ocean and audience) Thanks to Rudy and those who helped organize and advertise this event. And blessings to each one of you for showing up. Because the first rule for change is: You have to show up. Thanks to you, on this crucial day in Earth’s history Hornby’s voice won’t be left out of the biggest global uprising in modern times.

What I want to know is, why does "350" look like "SOS"?

I’m just a simple sailor. But a threatened sea level rise of 40 feet within the next few decades commands my full attention. For I’ve found that nothing focuses a sailor faster than suddenly finding yourself in rising water up to your knees!

When it comes to displaced populations, drowned croplands and waste dumps – a three-foot sea level rise is considered catastrophic.

We’re talking about a slow-motion tsunami that does not recede.

For me, the words "Climate Change" have already jumped from abstract numbers to heart-wrenching reality. As I speak, an atoll named Ulithi – where we called in Micronesia and whose gentle people adopted my mate and I – is preparing to evacuate in advance of rising seas. At least 350 other atolls are on the endangered list.

Mother Ocean is a strict and powerful teacher. If you are a land person, you can write her poems and think you love her. If you are a sailor you can respect and fear her. But you cannot argue with the ocean that covers three-quarters of this planet.

I’ve learned that onboard a small boat a thousand miles from nearest land, there are no distractions. Feedback is immediate. Everything counts. You have to pay attention.

That night on the equator, still a week out of the Marquesas, we could have lost the mast when the starboard shroud gave way. Thea was on watch. When her shout woke me, I did not respond, "I’ll be up in a while, dear. Let me just see if there’s another beer in the fridge and what’s on TV."

At sea aboard a 31-foot plywood trimaran there is no fridge, no beer, no television and no bullshit. There is only the wind in your face and breaking seas three-eighths of an inch from your bum.


During that eight year voyage, every night when I was asleep off-watch, my life was in Thea’s hands.

Today, my future is in your hands. Just as your future is in mine. And the lives of every creature in every generation to come will depend on the choices each one of us makes right now in the carbon we help burn – or not – in the products we buy, reuse, recycle or reject because we don’t need them more than life.

After all, aren’t we all crewmembers onboard a spacecraft orbiting a small star in the backwaters of a minor galaxy? Since our space colony is surrounded by the cold irradiated vacuum of deep space – and since our best instruments have detected no other habitable planets out to 20,000 light years – and since the waters are rising as our children look to us with trust in their eyes – the Big Question is:

What are we going to do after this gathering? Because onboard this ark we call Earth, there are no lifeboats.

So thank you for showing up today and taking part in the biggest mass "upwising" in history. More than 5,000 events in 181 nations, from Antarctica to Afghanistan show once again that people everywhere can act without waiting for irrelevant governments and mass media sold out to short-sighted corporate interests.

Joanna Macy calls this "The Great Turning".

The Great Turning defends the Earth wherever lives – and I don’t mean just human lives – are threatened. The Great Turning addresses the political and social causes of this emergency and creates practical, life-enhancing alternatives.

Most of all, the Great Turning is about changing our minds and taking immediate action to reduce our own carbon footprint to something as light as the seagull tracks on this beach washed away by the next cleansing tide.

In Tahiti, Captain Cook had a problem. His seamen were removing the iron spikes from their ship and trading them for the favors of the vahines ashore. Tahitian women are truly stunning. But Cook’s crew was picking their ship to bits. They had to stop.

Piece by piece, we are removing the spikes from our own spaceship: eroding our solar radiation shielding, removing and contaminating our air and water scrubbers, killing off unseen creatures who are really no further away than our next heartbeat and breath. And most of us are not making love with beautiful Tahitian ladies.

Once again, the call is: "ALL HANDS ON DECK!"

And while we’re busy manning the pumps, it might be prudent to start acting as if the living ecologies that sustain us and every other soul onboard matter more than below decks entertainment, conveniences and distractions.

Because, my sisters and brothers, this Earth is our mother. And it’s tough to live on a planet like Mars.

Forget 2012. Transformation is not a magic trick. Like any voyage of discovery, it requires attention to right action. And every inconvenient choice you make will have Gaia’s blessing and protection. If you doubt that – just look at the weather today!

So let’s focus on each decision we make as energy users and consumers. Go to my website – – and learn how you can live happier and healthier – and personally save thousands of trees and hundreds of thousands of gallons of water by installing an inexpensive bidet available online from Toronto.

The next time you find yourself with your car key in your hand, ask yourself: Is this trip to Ford Cove for another bag of chips really necessary? Could I share a ride with someone? Could I take my bike – or my electric bike – instead?

And the next time you prepare to light your woodstove, think about not just your family’s health and the carbon about to be released from that firebox.

Consider also how its soot will eventually end up on the Arctic icecap, along with particulates from your car’s exhaust, trapping sunlight and melting that ice a little bit faster. Or slower, if you choose more insulation and clean hydro-electric heat instead.

Look around you. These are your friends and neighbors. These are your fellow crewmembers. If you want to follow up on this event, why not attend the next Hornby Crop Circle? Check The Grapevine for the time of our next meeting. It’s soon.

We meet occasionally to share yummy potlucks, organize our community garden and discuss how this island might become more resilient in the face of Climate Change & Peak Oil. As one participant put it, "It’s as much about building a community as it is about building a garden."

By coming together with our concerns and our commitment, we manage to feel less freaked out – and really good – at the same time.


Because the Good News is we’re coming together all over this planet. When you get home, click on for snapshots of this paradigm-changing event from around the world. Your tears will be of joy.

It looks like we’re starting to get the lessons we’ve so persistently arranged for ourselves.


It’s time for each one of us – and for this community acting together – to become the leaders we’ve been waiting for!

Let’s get on it. Remember, it’s always a good idea to keep your ship together. And when it comes to Climate Shift and sea level rise.

It’s always better to be at the table than on the menu.

Thank you.

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