The women’s rights and temperance movements

Americans probably drank more in the nineteenth century than they had in the preceding century, and drunkenness was widespread. In reaction, by midcentury the temperance movement had become strong, much more pervasive than the movements for either blacks’ or women’s rights. Many advocates of temperance did not support blacks’ or women’s rights, but both abolitionists and feminists usually supported temperance. Advocates of women’s rights usually regarded drunkenness as a male practice which victimized women, subjecting them to cruel abuse. Because divorce was virtually impossible, a woman married to an abusive, alcoholic husband had little protection for herself or her children. Therefore, to advocates of women’s rights, the temperance movement was another radical reform, like women’s suffrage and the abolition of slavery, for the protection and emancipation of women.

Mabee, Carleton. Sojourner Truth: Slave, Prophet, Legend. New York University Press, 1993. p. 194

B.C.’s latest move against the Kinder Morgan pipeline

When it comes to stopping unsustainable fossil fuel development, anything that creates investor uncertainty can be useful. By that metric, the British Columbia government’s announcement of a diluted bitumen shipment expansion moratorium while it studies how a diluted bitumen spill would unfold is a small contribution to shifting Canada to an acceptable development pathway.

Still, I wish governments would look squarely at the real problem: the fundamental contradiction between continued fossil fuel exploitation and the climatic stability objectives that states including Canada asserted in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Paris Agreement, and in their own climate announcements. Making it all about local issues may be politics as usual, but it misses the main ethical issues at play.