Fat Cat Canada’s Giant Litter Box

Fat Cat illustration by Franke James

Fat Cat, population and fresh water illustration by Franke James

waterfall illustration by Franke James

tailing pond photo illustration by Franke James. Photo Copyright © 2005 The Pembina Institute Photo: Dan Woynillowicz, The Pembina Institute OilSandsWatch.org

dead duck illustration by Franke James

tailing pond and methane illustration by Franke James

cow illustration by Franke James

tar sands photo by © Jiri Rezac / Greenpeace. Map copyright Google. Wikipedia map by Norman Einstein. Composite illustration by Franke James

Canada is number one exporter illustration by Franke James

Biggest energy project illustration by Franke James

cartoon illustration of Prime Minter Harper illustration by Franke James

tar sands photo by © Greenpeace/EM. Illustration by Franke James

tar sands photo by © Jiri Rezac / Greenpeace. Illustration and photo of sewer grate by Franke James, Environment Canada statistic from Kelly Cryderman Vancouver Sun Dec 6, 2009

cartoon illustration of toaster by Franke James

ozone layer polar bear illustration by Franke James

backpack flag love illustration by Franke James

fossil illustration by Franke James

dirty old man illustration by Franke James

fat cat villain illustration by Franke James

Harper demonized illustration by Franke James

Shared Values: Canadians & Sustainability national study by Hoggan & Associates, 2006-2009. Quote from Globe letters. embarrassed illustration by Franke James

Heavy lifting illustration

grocery bags illustration by Franke James, TTC bus photo by istock/kozmoat98

shoes and boots CO2 illustration by Franke James

twitter screen grabs and fact cat illustration by Franke James

twitter and cat tail illustration by Franke James

Flamingo Florida north illustration by Franke James

health canada report cover

health canada report cover

shoe and boot smog illustration by Franke James

Greenpeace Canada photo of Ottawa action Dec 7 2009

call PMO illustration by Franke James

call PMO illustration by Franke James

Prime Minister Stephen Harper
PMO’s Ottawa Office: (+1) (613) 992-4211
Toll-free: 1 (866) 599-4999
Calgary office: (+1) (403) 253-7990
Twitter: @PMharper
e-mail: pm@pm.gc.ca
fax: 613-941-6900

send canada a message illustration by Franke James

litter box illustration by Franke James

What Canadians Can Do

If you’re a Canadian reading this, here’s the action plan from CLIMATE ACTION NETWORK CANADA:

  1. Take action to make sure your federal elected official:
    a) Signs the Kyoto Plus Pledge For Elected Officials
    b) Supports and implements the Climate Change Accountability Act

    The Climate Change Accountability Act is currently moving through Parliament. The bill asks Canada to commit to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050 and define Canada’s approach to climate change moving into the climate treaty negotiations in Copenhagen.

    Contact Your Federal MP:
    You can find your Member of Parliament using your postal code

  2. Educate your friends, colleagues and co-workers about the need to take action on climate change NOW!
  3. Attend events in your area hosted by CAN member groups. Also check out The World Wants a Real Deal
  4. Contact CAN members to find out more ways to get involved
  5. Sign the petition at kyotoplus.ca

Visual Essay Credits:

“Fat Cat Canada’s Giant Litter Box” © 2009 Franke James

Photographs, illustrations and writing by Franke James, MFA, except as noted below in order of appearance:

Tailing Ponds illustration features: photo © 2005 The Pembina Institute, Dan Woynillowicz OilSandsWatch.org

“Big as England” illustration features: Tar sands photo by © Jiri Rezac / Greenpeace
Grand Vision illustration uses: Tar sands photo by © EM / Greenpeace

“Sewer Sky” illustration features: Tar sands photo by © Jiri Rezac / Greenpeace

Scaling Parliament Buildings in Ottawa: December 7, 2009 ©Greenpeace Canada

Background Research & Resources:

My thanks to the following people and organizations who helped with research reports and photographs for this essay: Andrew Nikiforuk, Gavin Dew at desmogblog, Greenpeace Canada and Pembina Institute.

Shared Values: Canadians & Sustainability national study by Hoggan & Associates, 2006-2009

Building on a comprehensive national study that began five years ago, this new 2009 survey examines the views of 4,368 Canadians as well as 1,000 of the country’s “thought leaders”senior-level individuals in business, academia, government, non-government organizations, and media. The study explores their beliefs and attitudes about sustainability, global warming and a wide range of social and environmental issues.


Dirty Oil: How the tar sands are fueling the global climate crisis by Andrew Nikiforuk for Greenpeace, September 2009

Health Canada Report: Harper Government Suppresses Climate Report Now Available Here

Does the Alberta Tar Sands Industry Pollute? The Scientific Evidence
Kevin P. Timoney, and Peter Lee
Cattle statistic: Page 10: “At the Mildred Lake Settling Basin (MLSB), 60-80% of the gas flux across the pond’s surface is due to methane; the pond produces the equivalent methane of 0.5 million cattle/day [11].”

Climate Leadership, Economic Prosperity: Final Report on an Economic Study of Greenhouse Gas Targets and Policies for Canada; The Pembina Institute, October 2009

Taking the Wheel PDF The Pembina Institute [www.oilsandswatch.org]

Survey of Albertans on Oil Sands PDF The Pembina Institute [http://www.oilsandswatch.org]

Carbon 2008 PDF Corporate Knights [www.corporateknights.ca]

[Originally published on Franke James Green Conscience site]

Green Living Magazine writes: “There’s something about Franke”

“Franke James is using her creativity to tackle climate change—armed with a paintbrush and a vivid imagination—and having dazzling results.”
Photo of Franke James by Kourosh Keshiri for Green Living Magazine

Franke James, artist, author and co-founder of The James Gang, is profiled in the Fall 2009 issue of Green Living Magazine. The issue urges Canadians “to take a stand” and challenges them to become greener citizens.

“Canadians want to do more for the environment than the proverbial ‘changing of lightbulbs,’ ” says Lindsay Borthwick, editor of Green Living magazine. “The goal of this issue was to show them how. From voting to volunteering, leading by example to making climate change art, we’ve showcased the numerous ways to help individuals, families and communities work toward significant environmental change.” Green Living Magazine cover, Autumn 2009

Green Living journalist Astrid Van Den Broek interviewed Franke for the profile and wrote, “James’ voice comes through so strongly in her eclectic, captivating online visual essays that sometimes I feel like I’ve been reading her diary entries, instead of public documents. But that’s exactly why they stand out. While so much environmental messaging is filled with admirable but often abstract concepts or clichéd language that fails to connect with its audience, James manages to avoid both. Instead, she offers her atypical journey toward a greener life in these can’t-click-away illustration-meets-photography-meets-storytelling essays.”

The Social Leper illustration by Franke James

Franke comments, “I was delighted when Green Living said they wanted to do an article on my environmental visual essays. However I was totally amazed at Astrid’s thoroughness in interviewing me — even interviewing people I know from across the country. And going back to where I attended grade school! I joked that it reminded me of the Sesame Street segment “This is YOUR Life!” I’m not usually the one being interviewed (if you know my work, I often interview friends, family, pundits, and strangers for my essays). But I’m very grateful they decided to write the article, and honored to be part of their “Take a Stand” issue — because taking action on climate change is the #1 challenge we face. Failure to reduce CO2 emissions today imperils the future well-being of our children and future generations. Society as a whole has not gotten that message, yet.”

Alex Mayer, Director of the Michigan Tech Center for Water and Society, who helped Franke calculate the stormwater runoff for Paradise Unpaved, was interviewed for the article. Dr. Mayer comments, “I’d never seen anything like these essays applied to environmental advocacy and it affected me intellectually and emotionally.”

Astrid goes on to write, “Mayer’s experience is echoed by Stan Kozak, curriculum specialist for Learning for a Sustainable Future, who recently witnessed James’ tour de force at a workshop on climate change education. “We’d spent two days looking at the science and it was not looking good. Then, bango, Franke James comes along and says ‘do the hardest thing first’ and then shows that she has done it and is still living to prove it—and she is artistically thriving and maybe even seeing some financial benefits as well,” says Kozak. “I think Franke should be the ‘closer’ at more conferences just to keep people’s spirits up—and let them know there is hope if people take personal responsibility.

“There’s something about Franke” is a lively and entertaining read about Franke’s role as an artist, environmental author and activist. It shares her passion, creativity and counter-intuitive advice to ‘do the hardest thing first’ with a growing audience.

But the story is still being written as Franke continues to share her message of environmental art and activism. Ryan Dean, a 350.org coordinator at Bates College (and a recent graduate) commented on her Bates College keynote to this year’s incoming students:

“What can I say? Attending your talk really put things into perspective for me. I can honestly say that your visit to Bates really made all of the lofty possibilities a tangible reality. I am so impressed because you not only recognize that you must take up this social responsibility yourself, but you are actually compelling enough to get others to do the same. Students here came away from your talk both with a greener conscience AND ways in which they could create activist art themselves. It’s brilliant.

I find your combination of activism and art completely inspiring and it has sparked an energy in me that has only grown in the days since! My head is buzzing with the number of new ideas that I am determined to see come to fruition. Thanks for everything.”