Back in 2015, during the Toronto350.org / UofT350.org fossil fuel divestment campaign, I set up UofTFacultyDivest.com as a copy of what the Harvard campaign had up at harvardfacultydivest.com/.
The purposes of the site were to collect the attestations we needed for the formal university divestment policy, to have a repository of campaign-related documents, and to provide information about the campaign to anyone looking for it online.
The site was built with free WordPress software and plugins which have ceased to be compatible with modern web hosting, so I will re-list the important content here for the benefit of anyone seeking to learn about the campus fossil fuel divestment movement in the future:
Of course, U of T announced in 2021 that they would divest. Since then, the Climate Justice U of T group which developed out of the Leap Manifesto group which organized the second fossil fuel divestment campaign at U of T (after Toronto350 / UofT350) has succeeded in pressuring the federated colleges of St. Michael’s, Trinity, and Victoria University to divest as well.
Yesterday I got my steel bedframe, futon, pillows, and bedding delivered by my cousin Oleksa and his partner. I had no space for them in my temporary student co-op digs, and my aunt offered to hang on to them until I had a new place.
That means that the move which began in March when I learned that I would be forced to leave my room on Marlee Street because the landlords illegally refused to add me to the lease has finally ended. It also means no more sleeping on the floor with a yellow foam sleeping bad, Thermarest collapsible pillow, and light-duty MEC sleeping bag.
If you have been sympathetic to my cause and my suffering, my PhD dissertation is my most sincere, detailed, highly scrutinized, and high-effort way of explaining the climate change crisis which we are enduring and how to work toward a course of action to save us all. Reading it is the best thing you can do in response to observing how much difficulty and pain has been involved in creating it.
Please don’t assume it is written for academics and not for you. It is written for everyone who cares about the future of the world, and more than anything I want people to engage with it. Please also do not assume it’s written in impenetrable or obscure language; I wrote it to be comprehensible to anyone with a substantial and educated interest in climate change: among policy-makers, activists, environmentalists, journalists, and those merely morbidly concerned about the future of this sphere of Nickel-Iron we call The Earth:
Persuasion Strategies: Canadian Campus Fossil Fuel Divestment Campaigns and the Development of Activists, 2012–20
If reading the whole thing seems like too much, consider reading just the preface on positionality before chapter 1 for an explanation of how I am trying to engage with the climate change activist movement, along with section 5.5 (“Climate justice within the CFFD movement”, p. 190), section 5.6 (“Purity versus effectiveness”, p. 192), and section 5.7 (“Policy durability”, p. 201).
If you prefer a paper copy and will actually read it, contact me and I will send you one of the copies available at cost from Lulu.com.
Because the pay working as a food delivery cyclist is so dismal — and because ultimately I need a job with career advancement potential and the prospect of doing useful work on climate change — I am beginning another round of job research and applications tomorrow: job portals for all levels of government, universities, academic publishers, energy companies, environmental NGOs, and really anything plausible.
The search is a bit of a grim one largely because of the very specific experience requirements for nearly any position I look at. Employers mostly want to take on someone who has recently done a very similar job and can provide references to show their aptitude at it. When it comes to applicants without experience who have the potential to be good at the work, it would be risky and counter-intuitive to hire someone promising over someone proven. The kind of entry-level jobs where it is possible to get in without prior experience, and where it is also possible to advance, seem to be vanishingly rare.
The social dimensions and office politics of climate change work are also a confounding factor. Even people and organizations whose job it is to highlight the severity of the crisis don’t appreciate being reminded of that in person. The world is full of thousands of people working on one narrow aspect of the climate problem, but pulling back to consider the scale of the problem overall compared with the scale of our efforts to combat it is deeply upsetting and demoralizing: especially to the sort of mid-career professionals with young kids who occupy most of the professional positions related to climate change. Having kids makes it psychologically intolerable to recognize the depth of our catastrophe, and the natural response to someone bringing up such uncomfortable ideas is to wrap the worry-inducing person up in smooth layers like a pearl until they are silent and no longer an irritant to the normal course of business.
I have not been able to find another job, I love cycling, and I know the city — so I have been trying out working as food delivery rider for uber.
The lesson from 19.5 hours in is that it pays far below miniumum wage, even before considering any expenses.
At JJ International Inc at 438 Spadina I bought a large two-shelf insulated backpack for food deliveries for $84.76.
Since my total revenues, revenues per hour, revenues per delivery, and revenues per kilometre were all dismal in the first few days, I took a Smart Serve course in order to be able to carry deliveries with alcohol. The course took about 3 hours and cost $44.95.
Just now, I had to take a break from a Saturday night shift to go home because all my external phone batteries are dead.
In sum, so far:
- I have been online for 19 hours and 18 minutes.
- I have ridden 153 km.
- I have earned $150.04 ($116.55 in fares and $34.39 in tips).
- That works out to about $7.69 per hour, which is a considerable over-statement because it doesn’t count the riding time required to get into the high density zones with many restaurants or to ride back home.
- It took basically 17 hours of work to pay for the carrier bag and Smart Serve certificate.
All told, a person would be far better off working at the Ontario minumum wage of $16.55 than doing deliveries for uber eats by bike.
Taking into account both the things we are doing right (some carbon pricing, some other efforts) and what we are doing wrong (building more fossil fuel production, transport, and use infrastructure) Canada is still not even moving in the right direction on fossil fuels and climate change: Canada could lead the world in oil production growth in 2024.
The people leading our society are earning a legacy as the worst wreckers and vandals in human history: inheriting a planet that is the sole jewel of life in the solar system, and passing on profound and perhaps inescapable peril to their human successors while simply blotting out most of the rest of life on Earth.