I blog about environmental and social justice issues because I am very concerned about the health of the interdependent web of life of which we are a part.

Melting Arctic ice.......beautiful and frightening!

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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!





May this be the year that we learn to walk lightly on the earth and understand that we are part of the web of life.  May we remember that the economy is a subset of the environment and not the other way around.  May we begin to live within our limits before Gaia forecloses on us.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Reply From the PM!

Dear Mr.______________:

On behalf of the Right Honourable Stephen Harper, I would like to acknowledge receipt of your recent correspondence, in which you raised an issue that falls within the responsibilities of the Honourable Jim Prentice, Minister of the Environment.

Please be assured that your comments have been carefully reviewed.  As a copy of your letter has already been sent to Minister Prentice, I am certain he will wish to give your views every consideration. For more information on the government's initiatives,  you may wish to visit the Prime Minister's web site, at
http://www.pm.gc.ca/

Yours sincerely,
"Scribble ....assistant  for"
L.A. Lavell,
Executive Correspondence Officer

I feel so much better now...  Actually, I was a little startled that the PM's office staff got my and my partner's honorific right - how would they know whether I and my partner were Mr., Ms., Dr., or Mrs. and Mrs.?

And the PM's website does not mention any concerns about reversing climate change.  Sigh .......he must like hearing from me.  I will send him another letter requesting that Canada do better: please do the same.  The relentless drip of water on stone ......

Culture and Climate Change

http://www.goethe.de/ges/umw/prj/kuk/ein/en4589306.htm
What will the climate be like in future? How will our society change? How will people around the world react, and how will they cope with all this?   Equally wide-ranging are the artistic statements and messages that the artists seek to communicate: they include documentation, even meditation, as well as quiet criticism and vociferous activism. Besides the fine arts, it is above all films and performances that explore questions of climate change. Architecture and urban planning produce results that have a concrete impact on our everyday lives; they react to change processes and to calls for sustainable concepts, and attempt to use innovative solutions to achieve a new “greener” way to build.
Apparently, I'm not the only person wondering what the future will look like.... What will our society look like if we begin to deal seriously with the issue of climate change?  What would a velvet climate revolution look like?
Let's assume that the heads of government in Copenhagen should resolve incisive measures to minimize greenhouse gas emissions. Then, we would not only need to drastically lower consumption of energy from fossil fuels, but we would also need to tremendously change our daily habits. I call this our daily Copenhagen: a culture of wasting resources is coming to an end. To respond to climate change, we need to develop a culture of participation in our societies as well as completely new global alliances. In the southern hemisphere, local knowledge is very important. This can teach us how to deal consciously with scarce resources.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Womens' Voices on Climate Change



http://vodpod.com/watch/2297818-womens-voices-on-climate-change-columbia

"Evrything we do is important."

Gramsci and Climate Change

Gramsci was an Italian Marxist philospoher who was jailed by the fascists.

As a political radical, Gramsci wanted to change people's thinking and priorities, but this also required an engagement with the shared mode of thinking and acting, since for our communication we have to be ....'conformists.' ....This is a kind of dual task, using language and imagery that communicates effectively through the use of conformist rules, while trying to make this language express non-conformist proposals. The object was to formulate and discuss ideas taht are signifcantly new but which would neveretheless be readily understood in terms of old rules of expression.  (Amartya Sen, The Idea of Justice, 2009)
Are we climate change activists not engaged in the same process?  In the developed world, we try to change people's way of thinking and their priorities each time we hold a rally, write a letter to the editor, lobby the government, shame the government, blockade a road, go to jail, et al in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  Are we effective?  Perhaps - recent polls in Canada demonstrated that people care about climate change and want the federal government to do more.
http://www.climateactionnetwork.ca/e/news/2009/release/index.php?WEBYEP_DI=35
However, the Canadian federal government has taken little action - it is following the American lead - and it seems the PM hopes to do nothing. How do we translate poll results into action by the government?  We mobilize the public by using visual imagery and emotion to slip through their defensive denial.  James Cameron's movie Avatar  did this superbly as I discussed in an earlier post.  So did Greenpeace when they climbed the Parliament buildings and unfurled their banners: no one was hurt and the banners were in place for hours.  Theirs is the standard we  should all attempt to meet in our activism.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Two Things: Avatar and a Book (and a Spoiler Alert)

Please don't read this post if you don't want to hear about the plot of Avatar.



I had just read The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World (Wade Davis, 2009) when I went to see Avatar.  The movie is sensational entertainment: it is also a vehicle for James Cameron's environmental message.  The book is heavier going - it  discusses human cultures and the ethnosphere -  it reminds us  that " the path that we (the developed world) have taken is not the only one available .... by their very existence, the diverse cultures of the world bear witness " to different ways of living.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

ABeCedary of Valuable Contributors to Human Life

Artists, Agro-ecologists, Agitators, Appropriate technology geeks, Biophiles,  Composers, Child minders, Cloud watchers, Dancers, Dreamers, Dreadlock braiders, Drummers, Ethno botanists, Ecosystem activists. Furniture builders, Foresters, Fire ecologists, Freaks, Gardeners, Green architects, Healers, Intuitives, Internationalists (as opposed to those who support globalization,) Jam and Jelly makers (if ya think jam isn’t important, you haven’t tasted my sunshine marmalade,) Journalists, Lovers, Linguists, Long-now watchers, Lighthouse keepers, Marathoners, Mystics, Meddlers, Memory keepers, Organic farmers, Poets, Philosophers, Pagans, Queers,  slow food Restaurateurs, Rainwater harvesters, River keepers, Singers, Social workers, Solar panel makers, Shamans, Seed savers, Tree talkers,Vintners, Writers, Witches, Wise Women, and Wind Whisperers.

Carry on with you're doing - making things better for humanity and the earth one step at a time.  Thank you - all of you.  (If I've missed a category that should be included, please email me and I'll add them to the list.)

Friday, December 25, 2009

Mental Health and Climate Change

http://www.culturechange.org/cms/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=423&Itemid=63
A small yet growing body of evidence suggests that how people think and feel is being influenced strongly by ecosystem transformation related to climate change and industry-related displacement from the land. These powerful stressors are occurring more frequently around the world.
Albrecht’s stunning insight? That there might be a wide variety of shifts in the health of an ecosystem—from subtle landscape changes related to global warming to desolate wastelands created by large-scale strip mining—that diminish people’s mental health.
The end of the last century was marked by an increase in depression and other mental illnesses.  Is it possbile that, when we damage our ecosystem, we also damage our mental health? 

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Federal Provincial Spat Continues

http://www.cbc.ca/canada/montreal/story/2009/12/23/quebec-canada-charest-harper-copenhagen-climate-talks.html
In 25 years in politics, Charest says, he's never seen a federal government rely so heavily on the White House before taking a position on an issue, with Ottawa now saying it will model its climate policy on Washington's.  Charest says the Harper government has displayed hostility toward environmentalists.  Charest cited an on-camera argument between Harper press secretary Dimitri Soudas and Canadian environmentalist Steven Guilbeault.

That spat featured Soudas accusing Guilbeault, with cameras rolling next to them, of being behind a spoof designed to embarrass the Canadian government. That accusation enraged Guilbeault, and American pranksters later claimed responsibility for the stunt.

"You saw it like I did," Charest told TVA. "His press secretary attacking an environmentalist — on the basis of false information."
Quebec, British Columbia  and Ontario are far ahead of the federal government on this issue.  Environmental issues are a shared responsibility of the provinces and the federal government. The provinces named above, along with Manitoba, are members of the Western Climate Initiative, a collaboration if states and provinces working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and grow a clean energy economy. 
http://www.westernclimateinitiative.org/   Perhaps environmental activists should concentrate their consciousness raising and lobbying  in the above provinces: their efforts would ensure that ambitious targets like Quebec's are actually met.  

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Salt Spring Seeds Sale

Salt Spring Seeds are having a sale on their open pollinated, non GMO, organic seeds until the end of 2009.
http://www.saltspringseeds.com/
We had a fantastic harvest in 2009, thanks to warm dry weather through summer and
fall. We are eager to start sharing our seeds with you! Until January 1/2010, all our regular seed packets are $3.25 each instead of $3.50.
One can purchase seeds of currant tomatoes, wild tomatoes, yellow tiger striped tomatoes, Balinese tomatoes,  green zebra tomatoes, purple tomatoes, and yellow tomatoes.  Of particular interest in a recession is Radiator Charlie's Mortgage Lifter tomatoe. (Try it and see if it works!)  They also sell beans, sweet and hot peppers, eggplant, all kinds of salad greens, oats, barley , wheat, peas, watermelon, corn ...... YummmMMMMM!  I'm going to have to dig up more of our lawn and replace it with vegetables.  If you do the same, you will enjoy incomparable flavour at harvest and a zero mile diet.  One cannot do better than that in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  

I have bought seeds and garlic from this company for years and their service and seeds are wonderful.  They are listed in my blogroll as Heritage and Heirloom Seeds. 

If you do not want to garden yourself, consider offering your lawn to someone who does want to garden who has no lawn.  Charge them a portion of their produce as your rental.....

Banksy Takes Action After Copenhagen


This is why I love artists:  they are incorrigible, uncontrollable, and subversive.  Banksy is taking action to create a climate revolution in London.  Let's be inspired by him.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Good, Liberal, Compassionate People

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/dec/21/copenhagen-failure-us-senate-vested-interests
So what happens now? That depends on the other non-player at Copenhagen: you. For the past few years good, liberal, compassionate people – the kind who read the Guardian – have shaken their heads and tutted and wondered why someone doesn't do something. Yet the number taking action has been pathetic. Demonstrations which should have brought millions on to the streets have struggled to mobilise a few thousand. As a result the political cost of the failure at Copenhagen is zero. Where are you?

Is this music not to your taste, sir, or madam? Perhaps you would like our little orchestra to play something louder, to drown out that horrible grinding noise.
I'm not going to sit on the Titanic waiting for someone else to do something.  I will continue to write the PM (I must  be his favourite correspondent by now,)  I will lobby our municipal government to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and I will persuade, cajole, and motivate every perosn I meet.  What about you?

Happy Winter's Solstice!


The light will return .....

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Climate Change and Water

You would think that anyone who has been blethering on about climate change as much as I have would know about the connections between water, climate change, and energy usage.  However, I did not until I found a paper entitled Climate Change and the Global Water Crisis: What Businessess Need to Know and Do at                           http://www.pacinst.org/reports/ungc_climate_water/index.htm
Water  is used for extracting, refining, processing, and transporting all forms of energy, from coal to solar.  Large volumes of water are used as cooling water in conventional thermal generating plants. Energy production can also cause signicant water pollution.  A much less recognized connection between water and energy are the vast amounts of energy used to treat, distribute, and use water. Water is heavy . . . .Energy needs are particularly high for places where water is .... piped over long distances and steep terrain.
Climate change will increase water demand due to droughts; reduce the quality of available because of sea level rises and extreme flooding (does anyone remember the lack of drinking water in Haiti after Hurricane Jeanne dumped two meters of water in 36 hours?;) and melt the glaciers that supply water to China, Pakistan, Indian , and western Canada .

The authors of the paper suggest that companies should manage their risk in various ways.  To me, the most important is that businesses 
seek opportunities for collective action as water and energy are connected to social, cultural, and environmental issues ... by pooling resources and bringing together a wide range of expertise and knowledge through partnerships for a common goal.
A velvet climate revolution will require us all to pool our knowledge and expertise in pursuit of the common goal: survival.  And presumaly, we all wish for more than a mere Hobbesian survival:  we all want a  socially and environmentally just culture living within  limits imposed by the environement.   Cooperation is and will be absolutely necessary - between people, nations, and businesses.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Ray Anderson Speaks

The biggest culprit in the massive mistreatment of the earth by humankind is business and industry, which happens to be where I have spent the last 52 years. Thanks to Interface Carpet, I have become a recovering plunderer. I once told Fortune magazine that someday people like me would go to jail [since] theft of our children's future is a crime. Tomorrow's child has spoken to me with this message: 'We are each and everyone a part of the web of life and we have a choice to make on our brief visit to this beautiful blue and green living planet. To hurt it or to help it.'
Ray Anderson  is the CEO of Interface Carpet. Those words above were part of  his TED talk.  (Please note that Interface Carpet is an extremely successful business.)  You can find his speech at:
http://www.ted.com/talks/ray_anderson_on_the_business_logic_of_sustainability.html 

A Modest Suggestion

Tom Flanagan, Ph.D., tried to helpt environmentalists in his latest paper, Resource Industries and Security in Northern Alberta. You can find his paper under "F" (for his last name , people!)  in the Publications Archive of The Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute at
 http://www.cdfai.org/publicationsauthor.htm#F

(You may recognize him as the Right Honorable Stephen Harper's campaing manager during the PM's successful run for the leadership of the Canadian Alliance.) Well, actually he did not intend to assist environmentalists.  His paper discusses security threats to the tar sands.  But, in his conclusion on page 12 of his essay, he describes his security nightmare:
If two or more of the five categories of people described above - saboteurs, eco-terrorists, mainstream environmentalists, Treaty 8 First Nations, and Metis - came together in a single movement, they could become a serious obstacle to development [of the tar sands], given that innumberable roads, piplelines, and physical isntallations are widely spread across the huge, thinly settled, lightly policed territory of Nothern Alberta and adjacent areas...
I suggest that First Nations, the Metis, and Greenpeace should take Mr. Flanagan up on his suggestion  and make common cause after brushing up on Gandhi's principle of satyagraha.  Per Gandhi, satyagraha was
 love-force or soul-force. In the application of satyagraha, I discovered in the earliest stages that pursuit of truth did not admit of violence being inflicted on one’s opponent but that he must be weaned from error by patience and compassion. For what appears to be truth to the one may appear to be error to the other. And patience means self-suffering. So the doctrine came to mean vindication of truth, not by infliction of suffering on the opponent, but on oneself.
A modest suggestion .......

Greening The Tar Sands

An article in today's Globe and Mail on companies developing technology to green tar sands mining:
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/industry-news/energy-and-resources/battle-for-the-oil-sands/article1406051/
 there remains a profound skepticism on the part of industry to embrace new technology. It's visible in spending patterns – energy companies spend half as much on research and development than the Canadian industrial average. 
An inventor having difficulties raising enough money to build a prototype to test his technology stated:
“I'll be blunt, part of the problem is Alberta,” he says, blaming government-owned research facilities who control the flow of some research dollars. “I think part of the issue is that we may represent competition to the steam status quo. … I don't understand that myself. The industry has so much to gain and so little to lose.”
Does the industry reluctance to innovate have anything to do with the federal government?
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/climate-change/canadas-strategy-promise-now-implement-later/article1406232/
Canadians will still have a lengthy wait before Ottawa rolls out its climate change plan, despite a tentative political accord at the Copenhagen summit.   The delays will make it more difficult, and potentially more costly, for Canada to meet its target to reduce emissions by 20 per cent from 2006 levels by 2020. Companies are continuing to invest – particularly in the emissions-intensive oil sands sector – without knowing what emissions limits they will face. If regulations are put in place in 2010, the country will have to reduce emissions by 17.3 megatonnes a year to meet the target; by delaying until 2012, the annual effort increases to 21.6 megatonnes.
Perhaps the Canadian government should implement greenhouse gas emissions regualtions soon so that tar sands miners have an incentive to invest in better technology.  Please send the PM a letter on the subject ...

Friday, December 18, 2009

Business As Usual

The planet's future does not concern us.  Starvation in Africa does not concern us.  Beetle kill in the Interior of BC does not raise a flicker of distress in anyone but unemployed forestry workers. Future potential drought and consequent hunger in Asia does not worry us - even if those Asians without water have nuclear weapons. The disappearance of small Pacific Islands like the Maldives under the waves is not a bother to us. An ice free Arctic will not be a problem to anyone except those pesky polar bears. We will carry on - down the road to disaster - no matter how Lumumba Di - Aping, the negotiator for the G 77 group of countries,  and the  President of the Maldives natter on.  We will not listen - their words do not concern us.

That is implicit  in the Copenhagen Accord : it is a nonbinding  agreement with no targets.  Any mention of containing temperature rises to 1.5 C has been struck from the agreement.  Even more astonishingly, so has any effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 % by 2050.

To hell with the politicians!  We will have to find a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions without them: we must create a velvet climate revolution.   Tonight, I cannot imagine how  - but we will find a way.  We must  - we cannot accept institutionalized intergenerational and social injustice.

“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”  Martin Luther King, Jr.

"HOPE is the thing with feathers,That perches in the soul, And sings the tune without the words, And never stops at all" Emily Dickinson

Canadian Values

http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2009/12/18/climate-canada-award.html
A coalition of environmental groups at the Copenhagen climate change conference gave its "Fossil of the Year" award to Canada on Friday.
The citation called Canada "the absolute worst country at the talks."
We're number one ! Splendid!  
And:
http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2009/12/18/troops-afghan-investigation018.html
Canada's military police have been quietly investigating allegations for more than a year that the country's troops abused Afghan detainees.

Canadian soldiers captured the detainees sometime in 2008 and the investigation into their conduct has been ongoing for at least a year....MacKay apparently never told the House there were allegations against Canadian troops, at least one of which is still being investigated.
That is in addition to the ongoing court martial of a Canadian captain charged earlier this year with murdering a wounded Afghan fighter in his custody.
New Canadian values defined:  torture, a blatant disregard for environmental justice, and a disregard for the truth.   Makes one proud to be Canadian, doesn't it?

What He Said On the UN Climate Conference at Copenhagen

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/dec/18/copenhagen-negotiators-bicker-filibuster-biosphere
At no point has the injustice at the heart of multilateralism been addressed or even acknowledged: the interests of states and the interests of the world's people are not the same. Often they are diametrically opposed. In this case, most rich and rapidly developing states have sought through these talks to seize as great a chunk of the atmosphere for themselves as they can – to grab bigger rights to pollute than their competitors. The process couldn't have been better designed to produce the wrong results.

Even before this new farce began it was beginning to look as if it might be too late to prevent two or more degrees of global warming. The nation states, pursuing their own interests, have each been passing the parcel of responsibility since they decided to take action in 1992. We have now lost 17 precious years, possibly the only years in which climate breakdown could have been prevented. This has not happened by accident: it is the result of a systematic campaign of sabotage by certain states, driven and promoted by the energy industries. This idiocy has been aided and abetted by the nations characterised, until now, as the good guys: those that have made firm commitments, only to invalidate them with loopholes, false accounting and outsourcing. In all cases immediate self-interest has trumped the long-term welfare of humankind. Corporate profits and political expediency have proved more urgent considerations than either the natural world or human civilisation.

A Happier Way to Live

I had an epiphany yesterday  - I realized why people recoil when I discuss climate change.    I tell any audience that climate change is real - it is happening as we speak - I point to real world events like the melting of the ice caps and glaciers - the pine beetle killed forests in British Columbia - earlier springs - and I stress that, as a society we must DO SOMETHING about our greenhouse gas emissions.  However, the subtext to my words is "I demand that you change everything about the way you live - moreover,  I want you to restructure your mental maps of the world. " No wonder people look horrified, disbelieving, and anxious as they flee my company. Therefore, I'm going to add a section to my spiel: I'm going to tell folks that these changes will improve their lives. And my claim to a happier, more fulfilling life is backed up by evidence. What ? How on earth?

The Ethics of Climate Change

Finally - a mention of ethics in the mainstream media.
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/climate-change/copenhagen-and-the-ethics-of-climate-change/article1404694/
Imagine the world being shuffled like a deck of cards and redealt. Canadians suddenly no longer know who they are, where they live, how much money they have, what their status is – they exist behind what U.S. philosopher John Rawls termed a veil of ignorance.

Thus separated from the biases of their former selves, they can consider the morality of a given issue. Would they condone the carbon emissions of the tar sands if they found themselves living in an impoverished society on the equator, struggling for a sliver of industrialization while temperatures rise and bake their land?
No, of course they wouldn't condone the gHG emissions of the developed world.....

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Ummm - I Don't Think This Is A GOOD Thing

I posted earlier today about the  UN study that predicted that global temperatures would rise by an average of 3C if the emissions cuts offered so far at the Copenhagen climate change summit don't increase.  Doing very little looks like an absolutely terrible idea now:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/dec/16/ipcc-sea-level-rise-temperatures
A study forecasts 9 m sea-level rise if temperatures meet 2C threshold.  Hundreds of millions of people around the world would be affected as low low-lying coastal areas became inundated.
And yes, the author of the study is publishing it in a peer reveiwed journal: Nature to be exact.  Global temperatures may rise by an average of 3 C under the current emissions cuts at Copenhagen... and sea levels may rise by 9 metres at 2 C?  Why aren't we applying the precautionary principle?  After all, in the words of
protesters' signs,there is no Planet B



Perhaps we should take care of it ......it is the only home we have.

Justice For All

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/dec/17/un-leaked-report-copenhagen-3c
A confidential UN analysis obtained by the Guardian reveals that the emissions cuts offered so far at the Copenhagen climate change summit will lead to global temperatures rising by an average of 3C.  The analysis seriously undermines the statements by governments that they are aiming to limit emissions to a level ensuring no more than a 2C temperature rise over the next century, and indicates that the last 24 hours of negotiations will be extremely challenging.

A rise of 3C would mean up to 170 million more people suffering severe coastal floods and 550 million more at risk of hunger, according to the 2006 Stern economic review of climate change for the UK government - as well as leaving up to 50% of species facing extinction. Even a rise of 2C would lead to sharp decline in tropical crop yields, more flooding and droughts.

Rajendra Pachauri said "the tragedy of the situation is that those countries that have not at all contributed to the problem of climate change will be the ones that are most affected"  (picture from Guardian site.)


What values do we espouse?  Do we really want our leaders to  sign a treaty leaving the poorest vulnerable to stavation?  The picture above wasn't taken by a time traveler - climate change is impacting people and ecosystems as  I type.   Do we wish it to get worse?

Ethics and Climate Change (First Posted Dec. 15, 2009)

Climate change is a fact.  Look outside your door in the Interior of BC  at the pine trees killed by the mountain pine beetle and climate change.  Look at the loss of permanent sea ice in the Arctic.  Ladakh villagers building dams to save their glaciers.   Kenyans perishing of starvation.  Polar bears eating their own young .  Glaciers that have vanished.  Temperature data (no, not all data was produced through CRU at East Anglia)  showing a relentless upward trend line.  The early arrival of spring.

And then consider who climate change will impact most in the future.  Asian rivers like the Indus, Ganges, and Yangtze may dry up as the Himalayan glaciers melt - leaving more than a billion people  without water for their crops.  The Maldives and other low lying Pacific atolls may vanish. Starvation caused by drought will decimate Africa.  Most of the damage will be in places other than Canada.  Most of the toll will be on future generations of poorer, browner people.

Cutting down and phasing out greenhouse gas emissions is a matter of intergenerational and social justice.  No economist or climatologist can tell us what to do based upon their data: however, they can recommend a course of action. We, as a community, then decide what to do based upon  our values.

What are our values?  Facing a crisis of monumental proportions, what course of action should we take?  What kind of society do we want?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Hunger Strike

I've joined a hunger strike: http://www.350.org/  asked people concerned about climate change to do so on Thursday, December 17, 2009.
In their words, " but somehow it feels appropriate at what's a very solemn moment. Some of our allies around the world have been going without food for more than a month, and they've asked others to join this fast for 24 hours--starting any time on Thursday....  As global warming kicks in, more and more people will starve ....Most of us can't know the true terror of hunger, because we know we'll eat again soon, but we can join in what organizers are calling a Hunger Strike for Survival."
UPDATE:  Well, I did it.  And realized  how mcuh I take food for granted - if I'm hungry, I am able to eat.  But not everyone lives in my situation  .... and if we do not reduce GHG emissions, more people will lack food.

A Disgrace

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/climate-change/while-climate-critics-swinging-harper-unlikely-to-step-into-the-ring/article1401877/
From the awarding of “fossil of the day” trophies, to calls from provincial premiers for more ambitious national emissions-reduction targets, to reports that the government is cutting a special deal for the oil sands, the activity away from the negotiating table has been deeply embarrassing to the Harper government.
Critics in Copenhagen say the dismay over Canada's stand extends well beyond environmentalists, and includes United Nations officials and delegates from other countries who hope to fashion an agreement that will commit developed countries to substantial reductions in emissions from 1990 levels – something Canada refuses to do.
Canada is destroying our grandchildrens' future.  PLEASE write to the PM and tell him Canadians wish to commit to a substantial emimssions reductions from 1990.

What The Giant Squid Off The Coast of BC Mean

http://www.csmonitor.com/Environment/2009/1215/Squid-invasions-signal-changes-in-the-Pacific-Ocean
Scientists, meanwhile, ponder what the dramatic range expansion of a species usually confined to lower latitudes implies about the Pacific Ocean in general.  Although natural cycles are probably behind some of the changes in the Pacific Ocean that scientists are observing, climate change seems to be pushing the ocean beyond the limits of natural variability. The jumbo squid invasion of California and beyond is one symptom of these larger oceanographic changes.
But climate change isn't happening.....

Climategate Discussed

http://www.csmonitor.com/Environment/Bright-Green/2009/1215/Climategate-global-warming-and-the-tree-rings-divergence-problem/%28page%29/3
Much discussion of the Climategate e-mails has centered on "tricking" tree ring data that may not confirm global warming. What's the divergence of data all about and does it really confirm cooling instead of warming? In other words, tree growth may have slowed because the amount of sunlight reaching trees, which is especially critical to growth at high latitudes, has diminished since the mid-20th century.  If global dimming is a major factor in the divergence of the past 50 years, should we expect to see the opposite of divergence — realignment? — now that the skies are cleaner?

D'Arrigo responds: "I think this would be difficult to detect and tease apart due to the many competing factors potentially impacting tree growth – hard to separate this type of effect from other environmental factors but an intriguing possibility."

Elizabeth May read all ten years of hacked emails: please have a look at her blog for her conclusions. She doesn't decide global warming is fake.  She concludes that scientists involved were cogitating about problems such as the tree ring issue above ... NOT plotting to deceive the world about climate change.

http://www.desmogblog.com/climatespin-using-stolen-emails-cripple-policy
An independent analysis of the emails, however, show that they did not, in any way, undermine the scientific foundation for our understanding of how and why the climate is changing. Even Hayward acknowledges that "Climate change is a genuine phenomenon, and there is a nontrivial risk of major consequences in the future."
I keep wondering who funded the hack.......

Another Missed Opportunity

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/dec/16/uk-green-technologies
Britain's transformation to a low-carbon society will be delayed by a lack of people trained in the right skills unless the government significantly increases its investment in the sector, a group of MPs have warned. They said that hundreds of thousands of jobs could be created if the government doubled its funding of green technologies, making the UK a world leader in a market worth £3tr worldwide.

"The government has missed a big opportunity to kick-start a green industrial revolution with its £3bn fiscal stimulus. Germany, the US, Japan and China have invested billions in their low-carbon industries," said Tim Yeo MP, chair of the House of Commons environmental audit committee (EAC).

In the US, the government has spent about £50bn to create half a million new green jobs, while Germany, Japan and Korea have also announced major plans to grow their domestic environmental sectors. China's economic stimulus plan includes £142bn for environmental measures
And what are Canada's plans for funding green technologies and clean energy?  It seems we are defending the tar sands instead .... another missed opportunity.

Perhaps our PM should read The March of Folly by Barbara Tuchman. 

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Just Who Is Indulging Themselves?

http://www.straight.com/article-275021/vancouver/canadian-government-shamed-hoax-copenhagen-summit-climate-change
Dimitri Soudas, spokesman for Prime Minister Stephen Harper, stated in an e-mail, "More time should be dedicated to playing a constructive role instead of childish pranks."
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/how-us-pranksters-hoaxed-the-world-at-canadas-expense/article1400519/

Canada yesterday won yet another "Fossil of the Day" award handed out by a coalition of environmental groups to the countries "doing the most to obstruct progress in the global climate change talks." The award brings Canada's tally so far to six.
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/climate-change/ontario-quebec-assail-emissions-targets/article1398952/
Climate-change scientists and environmental groups have accused Canada of being part of the problem, not the solution, in Copenhagen
Just who is indulging in childish pranks instead of engaging in constructive action?  The real joke at Copenhagen is Canada's actual postion on climate change.

From Copenhagen .....

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/un-climate-talks-resume-after-protest/article1399263/


American flags on our backpacks when we travel?

Monday, December 14, 2009

WTF !!!????

http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2009/12/14/greenhouse-gas-emissions.html
The Conservative government has considered abandoning some of the greenhouse gas reduction goals set out in its 2007 green plan and allowing weaker targets for the oil and gas sector.  The government draft documents make the argument that the U.S. bill gives smaller targets to trade-sensitive sectors, such as manufacturing. It suggests the Canadian oil and gas sector, including the oilsands, deserves the same treatment.
Amazing.  Bloody amazing.  How on earth would Canada meet its greenhouse gas emissions targets if it weakened the standards for the oil and gas industry?  Were they thinking of abandoning all reason and science?

I understand that Prime Minister Harper's political base is in Alberta - that he doesn't wish to offend the Alberta oil and gas industry - that he owes Alberta his political life - but - but - WTF?  Does he really wish to be singlehandedly responsible for more than a billion people in Asia having no water?  For the Maldives disappearing under water?    For drought induced starvation in the Horn of Africa?  Isn't he a Christian?  Does he not consider it a moral imperative to relieve other peoples' suffering ?  I suggest Mr. Harper read a book by Michael Northcott called  A Moral Climate: The Ethics of Global Warming.

At least it was a draft suggestion.  For the moment....

Feds Criticized By Provinces

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/climate-change/ontario-quebec-assail-emissions-targets/article1398952/
The environment ministers of Ontario and Quebec used a press conference to declare Canada's emission-reduction targets inadequate and wholly unambitious compared with the two provinces' own targets. “It's absolutely imperative that Canada take a tougher position regarding greenhouse-gas emissions,” Ontario's John Gerretsen said.  Quebec, which is rich in clean hydro power, recently set an emissions target at 20 per cent below 1990's level by 2020 and slapped a carbon tax on fossil fuels. Ontario, which wants to promote itself as a clean-technology centre as traditional manufacturing gets walloped by the recession and the high dollar, has a target of 15 per cent below 1990's level.
Internal and external critics seem to have no efffect on the Canadian federal government....but - surely, instructions from the voters matter to them.  Please send them a letter instructing them to committ to a "real deal" at Copenhagen.  (Please feel free to use my earlier letter posted on this blog if you wish.)

Explore Climate Change Through Google Earth

http://www.google.ca/landing/cop15/
Has anyone else noticed this?  I have not had time to explore it this morning as I must go to work - bit it looks  interesting. Poke around and tell me which feature you think is best....

Sunday, December 13, 2009

It's Sunday

Our church rang its bells 350 times this Sunday .  And Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, preached in Copenhagen.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/dec/13/archbishop-canterbury-copenhagen-service
He said that fear paralysed individuals, corporations and governments from making the choices needed to affect real and lasting change.  "We are afraid because we don't know how we can survive without the comforts of our existing lifestyle. We are afraid that new policies will be unpopular with a national electorate. We are afraid that younger and more vigorous economies will take advantage of us – or we are afraid that older, historically dominant economies will use the excuse of ecological responsibility to deny us our proper and just development."  But humans were not "doomed to carry on in a downward spiral of the greedy, addictive, loveless behaviour" that had brought mankind to this crisis and he urged people to scrutinise their lifestyles and policies and how these demonstrated care for creation. He called on people to consider what a sustainable and healthy relationship with the world would look like.
Amen.

From Elizabeth May's Blog on Copenhagen

http://greenparty.ca/blogs/7/2009-12-13/sunday-update
.... Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, head of the IPCC. Dr. Pachauri confirmed what I have seen as best science: that we need to ensure GHGs stop rising and start falling by 2015, or it will be too late. He called for large scale grassroots mobilization and citizen movements to push governments.


Greenpeace's huge message: "Politicians talk. Leaders Act."

Saturday, December 12, 2009

For Those of you Who Wish to Invest Greenly

http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=33214&Cr=climate+change&Cr1=

The private sector arm of the World Bank today launched the first ever eco-friendly stock market index that allows investors to track the carbon efficiency of companies doing business in emerging economies.

In partnership with the giant financial services corporation Standard and Poor’s (S&P), the International Finance Corporation (IFC) established the S&P/IFC Investable Emerging Markets Index expecting it to mobilize more than $1 billion for carbon-efficient companies over the next three years.

The pioneering index is meant to encourage carbon-based competition among emerging-market businesses, give carbon-efficient companies access to long-term investors and result in lower carbon emissions in developing countries, as well as reducing the carbon footprint of investors’ portfolios.

“With growing pressure on investors to diversify and maintain returns by increasing exposure to emerging markets, and with more and more investors keen to demonstrate a preference for sustainability… IFC hopes that the launch of this index will help ensure that carbon efficiency is rewarded,” said IFC Vice-President for Business Advisory Services Rachel Kyte.

Will It Make Any Difference?

A friend responded to a request that she conserve water as follows: 
I have an "idealogical" problem with the project. That is, I believe that all of the good efforts of a million citizens in terms of water conservation can be wiped out in one minute by the government giving -- as it has, rights to mining companies to dump their tailings and other toxic wastes into what have previously been pristine, untarnished lakes and streams.  This, to me, is the bigger battle. I find this in every element of the enviromental movement. The "common man/woman" is willing to go to terrific effort to improve the quality of air, water, and land. But, without government leadership -- and WITH government "sabotage" of those efforts, the benefit of the "small steps" are wiped out.
I agree with my friend in many ways:  for example,  I was annoyed when  the Liberals issued a "One Tonne Challenge" to Canadians without taking any steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from industries  - especially industries such as the tar sands.

How do I reconcile my perception that personal measures may be futile with my perception that we MUST do something about climate change before it is too late?   I do both.   I conserve water, recyle, repalce my incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescents, take the bus to work sometimes, walk,...and I attempt to get the government to change its policies.

But - and this is a big but - governments WILL NOT change laws or policies until the political will exists to change them. (Stephen Harper is not crazy enough to piss off his base in Alberta unless pissing off his base gets him a  majority government.) So - doing things like raising awareness around water conservation or helping organize a 350.org rally raises consciousness.  It also creates political will.  We sent  more than one hundred letters from our small town  to the Prime Minister  asking  him to commit to a binding and science based agreement at Copenhagen.  These letters were generated at our October 24, 2009 rally: they must have caught his attention.  

So --- send the PM a letter, I say.  Lobby governments - federal, provincial, and municipal.  Educate yourself - and then educate your  neighbours and your friends. 

And do the small things like conserving water to ensure your example is congruent with your words. 

And, in the long run, if our deepest fears are realized, and we destroy the entire ecosystem of the earth, you can say "I made the right choice: I  worked to save the earth."

Canada's Copenhagen Nightmare May Be Coming True

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/climate-change/canada-fiercely-opposes-proposal-to-extend-kyoto/article1398083/
A draft proposal published at the climate-change summit Friday for the countries in the Kyoto Protocol, the only international greenhouse-gas reduction treaty, calls for five years to be added to Kyoto, taking it to 2017. Canada fiercely resists any extension of the treaty.

Canada ratified the protocol in 2002, when Jean Chr├ętien's Liberals were in power. But the Conservatives under Prime Minister Stephen Harper have argued for years that the targets agreed to by Canada are impossible to meet. In common with many developed countries, Canada wants Kyoto to lapse in 2012, partly for fear of having to pay non-compliance penalties if it remains intact.
Gee - we haven't even tried to meet our targets .  And now we're fiercely opposed to  extending the Kyoto Protocol because someone might notice we haven't evern tried - and slap us with non compliance penalties.  Hasn't the Canadian government noticed that it is possible to meet those targets?  Some countries have done so....

Please send the Prime Minister a letter or email telling him you want Canada to meet our Kyoto targets . 
Or just instruct him to stop obstructing real progress towards a real deal at Copenhagen.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Dawa Steven Sherpa Explains Why Dealing With Climate Change Is Important

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/video/2009/dec/10/copenhagen-sherpa-himalayas

You have to help us because it is a problem you have brought to us. When you have a quarter of humanity who are going to face a serious shortage of water, then that is not just about climate change and environment,  that is a humanitarian crisis .  That's also security.   When 1.3 billion people see, because of the actions of the west historically  they are being disenfranchised,  then there is going to be a lot of hostility towards them in the future.
Dawa Steven Sherpa explains that climate change is visible in Nepal right now in the video at the above link.  He does not mention that some  of the 1.3 billion people who depend upon glacial melt water from the Himalayas live in countries that possess nuclear weapons. China, India, Pakistan ...... Do you really think the leaders of those countries will watch their populations die of starvation without doing something?   Do you thin I'm being overdramatic? No water in the rivers equals no crop growth equals anger ....

Candlelight Vigil In Kamloops, December 11, 2009


This  vigil was part of a huge world-wide mobilization on the weekend of December 12th mid-way through the Copenhagen negotiations.  About forty people turned out on a cold and dark winter night (at least it wasn't a stormy night!) on the beach in Pioneer Park in a "Vigil for Survival."  Again, Kamloops rocks!  Thanks everyone !
UPDATE:
In a news release, the group said more than 300 events took place Saturday across Canada.

Candle Light Vigil In Kamloops December 11, 2009 (check for new posts below this one)


Kamloops citizens concerned about rich countries' lack of action on climate change will have another chance to send a message to politicians  at the UN Copenhagen climate talks. 
 People are invited to gather at Pioneer Park on the banks of the South Thompson River at 6:30 pm on December 11th for a candlelight “Vigil for Survival”.
Please dress warmly and bring a windproof light source.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Check Your Pension Fund

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-investor/investment-ideas/pension-funds-cast-eyes-on-oil-sands-stake/article1395300/
The hot rumour in Calgary this week - and there's always a hot rumour or two in the oil patch - has one or more public sector pension funds negotiating with ConocoPhillips for the oil sands holding the U.S. energy giant put on the block last month. The Syncrude stake could be worth anything up to $4-billion, and ConocoPhillips wants to deploy this capital on new reserves.
Check the investments your pension fund holds: if it contains tar sands companies (like Suncor, Syncrude or others mentioned in the article,) let your pension fund know you don't want your pension funded by the destruction of the boreal forest and  by greenhouse gas emissions.  Check out the coporate triple bottom line link on this blog to find alternate investments your pension fund could make - or better yet, send your pension fund administrators the link . The adminstrators could then check out all prospective investments for their triple bottom line statements.  This is an alternate way of slowing tar sand development: pension funds invest big bucks.

Kyoto Protocol Targets

 A friend asked me whether any countries had met their targets under the Kyoto Protoccol.  Kyoto sets out an agenda for Annex 1 countries for reducing GHG emissions by 5.2 %  from 1990 levels. (By the way, Portland, Oregon will have reduced its GHG emissions to 10 % below its 1990 levels by 2010 in spite of an 18% percent growth in its population.)  According to Wikipedia, the answer to my friend's question is yes. Denmark, Germany,  and the United Kingdom have all reduced their GHG emissions by at least 14 % without including land use, land use change, and forestry in the calculations. France has met its obligations as well if land use is included.
 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kyoto_Protocol#Change_in_greenhouse_gas_emission_since_1990

Implicit in my friend's question was "Could Canada have reduced its GHG emissions if it had tried?"  Denmark and Germany are relatively cold countries and Germany is a large country.   So the answer is yes - if Canada had made any effort at all, we could have achieved reductions.  Germany has cut its emissions by 17 % partly because it has actively supported green industries and clean energy. ( Please see my earlier post on Germany and clean energy at "Sunshine and Power. )

Shortsighted?

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/canada-raises-flag-over-disputed-territory/article1393688/
The federal government has moved more aggressively to assert sovereignty in the North as the Arctic sea ice retreats under rising global temperatures.  "As global climate change continues and traffic through the Northwest Passage is expected to increase, our government is committed to safeguarding Canada's Arctic and protecting its most special natural features," Mr. Prentice told a news conference in Ottawa.
So, on the one hand, the Canadian government admits  climate change is occurring.   Ordinarily, hearing  Mr.Prentice make this concession would pleae me. However, in my opinion, this admission and the government's anxiety to exert a claim over the Arctic may have something to do with the Unites States Geological Survey's estimates of oil and gas reserves in the Arctic basin.  And I would be far more impressed if the Canadian government reduced greenhouse gas emissions - and stopped trying to win the Fossil of the Day award in Copenhagen each and every day.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Watch this Slideshow On Polar Bears

http://www.reuters.com/news/pictures/slideshow?articleId=USRTXRLWU#a=1
Remeber how I posted that the permanent sea ice in the Arctic  has vanished?   Permanent sea ice supports polar bears and enables them to hunt seals....... now that it is gone, they are eating their own young. Watch the slide show at the above link if you have a strong stomach.

But climate change isn't a problem.....

And Now For Something Different That Blackens Canada's Reputation

The Globe and Mail (that pinko rag) ran an editorial yesterday on Afghan detainees (page A16.)
The record speaks for itself on what the Canadian government knows, or should have known, about the torture of Afghan detainees. It speaks far louder than the falsehoods from the government that have by now become routine.
Sitting Conservatives are going "Ouch!!!!!!"
Today - OUUUUCCCH!!!!!!!!!!
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/top-generals-detainee-reversal-hikes-pressure-for-public-inquiry/article1394104/

Canada’s top soldier has reversed himself on testimony he gave this week, with Chief of the Defence Staff Walter Natynczyk now admitting that a prisoner severely beaten in 2006 by Afghan interrogators had earlier been taken into custody by Canadian soldiers.
Hmmmnnnnn - isn't Mr. Natynczyk Mr. Hillier's successor?  And wasn't Mr. Hillier attacking Richard Colvin's credibility in the nastiest manner?  Didn't he even suggest that Mr. Colvin was parroting Taliban propaganda?  Moreover, the Defence Minister, Peter MacKay has denied for years that Afghan detainees were tortured.  Mr Hillier and Mr MacKay should apologize to Mr. Colvin.   And perhaps the Conservative government should explain to Canadians how not upholding the Geneva convention wins hearts and minds in Afghanistan.  Or how allowing prisoners to be tortured sows democracy in a foreign land.  Or how covering up torture  enhances Canada's reputation.

Perhaps I'll put an American flag on my suitcase when I am next abroad.
UPDATE:
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/protest-grows-against-tory-governments-attack-on-colvin/article1393674/
Although Mr. MacKay has repeatedly insisted that not a single case of torture could be proven, he acknowledged through a spokesman yesterday there is "credible evidence" that detainees transferred to Afghan security forces have been tortured.
Peter Mackay is toast.  And, if the Conservative government may be as well..... if they keep backfilling and attacking.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Canada May Be Cutting GHG Emissions More Quickly Than Anticipated

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/climate-change/us-makes-first-move-at-copenhagen/article1391958/
The Obama administration delivered a much-needed jolt of optimism on the opening day of the Copenhagen climate change summit by declaring greenhouse gases a health hazard, strengthening the President's hand to push for deal at the make-or-break meeting.  Environmental groups said the ruling will help give U.S. President Barack Obama the moral authority to push hard for a successful global carbon-reduction deal at the Copenhagen summit, which is to end Dec. 18 when 192 countries are due to lend their political endorsement to a new climate-change accord.
If Prime Minister Harper was counting on the US Senate to delay, disparage, and discourage greenhouse gas emissions reductions, he must now wonder if he will be committing to much more stringent targets than he wants.  He has consistently stated that Canada would follow the lead of the Americans.  He must be chagrined tonight for two reasons. The first -  that President Obama appears to be willing to go to great lengths to reduce America's GHG emissions.  The second -  that the President is a crafty, intelligent pol.

Those Precious Tar Sands The Prime Minister Protects

A paper published in the (peer-reviewed) Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences concludes that the "oil sands development is a greater source of contamination than previously realized."  (You can find the study on line just as I did.) They also concluded that "our study confirms the serious defects of the Ramp."   Ramp is short for the Regional Acquatic Monitoring Program  - a program that the Alberta government and industry have used to defend the tar sands. Ramp  reported that the effects of tar sands mining are minimal and that human health and the environment are not adversely affected.   In effect, the Alberta government has depended upon flawed science to develop the tar sands - all the while ignoring the complaints of  residents downstream from them. (Fort Chipewyan residents are convinced that tar sands development is responsible for their elevated rates of cancer.)  Moreover, oil production in the tar sands is a major reason that Canada's greenhouse gas emissions are among the highest in the world.  Wouldn't it be sensible to apply the precautionary principle and at least slow further development of the tar sands?

Perhaps We Can Hold a Pool

Canada received  the "Fossil of the Day " award today from a coalition of environmental groups at Copenhagen. Does anyone want to estimate how many such awards Canada will garner? We could hold a pool .....

Tonight, I'm ashamed of being Canadian.

So Much For Justice

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/dec/08/copenhagen-climate-summit-disarray-danish-text
The UN Copenhagen climate talks are in disarray today after developing countries reacted furiously to leaked documents that show world leaders will next week be asked to sign an agreement that hands more power to rich countries and sidelines the UN's role in all future climate change negotiations. It is understood to:
• Force developing countries to agree to specific emission cuts and measures that were not part of the original UN agreement;
• Divide poor countries further by creating a new category of developing countries called "the most vulnerable";
• Weaken the UN's role in handling climate finance;
• Not allow poor countries to emit more than 1.44 tonnes of carbon per person by 2050, while allowing rich countries to emit 2.67 tonnes.
Developing countries that have seen the text are understood to be furious that it is being promoted by rich countries without their knowledge and without discussion in the negotiations.  "It is being done in secret. Clearly the intention is to get [Barack] Obama and the leaders of other rich countries to muscle it through when they arrive next week. It effectively is the end of the UN process," said one diplomat, who asked to remain nameless.
So much for social justice.... the countries that created the problem will punish the poorest who are already suffering.... This will work out well.....

Which is the Warmest Decade on Record?

I'll give you a hint - you are living through it. 
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/dec/08/met-office-warmest-decade
The past 10 years have been the warmest in recorded history, according to the UK Met Office.  The Met Office also released the raw data from around 1,500 global monitoring stations in an effort to satisfy critics who have demanded that researchers be more transparent with their data in the wake of the email hacking row at the University of East Anglia. In a separate announcement, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) in Geneva said today that 2009 will be one of the 10 warmest individual years recorded.
Please read the entire article: it makes clear that, unless you are a diehard conspiracy theorist intent on grimly ignoring reality, global warming is happening right now ...and punishing the poorest nations most.  Reducing our greenhouse gas emissions is a matter of social and environmental justice.

As always, please let the Prime Minister of Canada know that you want him to commit to a binding, science based, and just deal at Copenhagen.

ClimateGate Answered Per Scientific American

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=seven-answers-to-climate-contrarian-nonsense&page=4
Claim 5: Climatologists conspire to hide the truth about global warming by locking away their data. Their so-called "consensus" on global warming is scientifically irrelevant because science isn't settled by popularity.
Can ClimateGate be true? aRe the deniers correct?  Are Climatologists conspiring   to tax and enslave the world?  The answer from Scientific American after the jump.....

Thursday, December 3, 2009

24 Hours of Air Traffic



Aviation has been growing faster than any other source of greenhouse gases.  Between 1990 and 2004, the number of people using airports in the United Kingdom rose by 120 percent...[and the planes'] carbon dioxide emissions almost doubled in that period.  (page 174, Heat: How to Stop the Planet From Burning, George Monbiot, 2006)

Lord Stern Is Hopeful

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/dec/03/nicholas-stern-copenhagen-pledges
Lord Stern disagrees with James Hansen - he wants the copenhagen talks to succeed.  He said:
If you look at the kind of offers that are now on the table we are just a few billion tonnes short per annum of the kind of emission cuts we need to get on target for 2020.  "That means there is a significant way to go but it is possible to get there."  Lord Stern said a "strong, outline, political agreement" at Copenhagen could lead to a dynamic industrial revolution. He said the "extra bit" that needed to be done would require increased commitments from some countries which had already made emissions-cutting offers, as well as a bigger fight against deforestation. "Both those things could take us there and I trust they are both possible."
If Canada agreed to cut greenhouse gas emissions, instead of burying its head in the tar sands, that would help the world achieve the 2020 tragets.  Please send Prime Minister Harper a letter suggesting that he commit Canada to significant targets.

Legal Reasoning By William Rees

One of the creators of the eco footprint, William Rees, suggests that Canada should be criminally responsible for the deaths of people due to climate change.
http://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2009/12/02/CanadaEnvironmentCriminal/

In this light, climate change deniers defend a position that will kill millions of people, destroy critical ecosystems and undermine prospects for global civilization. Common sense and social justice demand that the world's nations move forcefully to prevent the anticipated wave of eco-violence. Failing to act renders foot-dragging governments guilty of moral negligence . What is missing in international law is acknowledgment of the offense and the capacity to create and enforce a legal duty to act.
He is suggesting that international law add a crime to its books called "death by envioronmental negligence and egregious footdragging.  If this ahppens, George W. Bush and Stephen Harper should think twice about travelling abroad.  Impossible as this sounds today, think of what happened to Pinochet .... cetainly the generaations to come after us are going to ask all of us why we did nothing.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

And You Thought Only Climate Change Deniers Wanted Copenhagen to Fail

No one has called James Hansen a climate change denier - or, if they have, they haven't paid any attention to the news since -  oh  - 1987 or so. But the head of the Nasa Goddard Institute for Space Studies thinks it would be better for humanity if the Copenhagen talks collapsed.  Don't believe me?  Check
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/dec/02/copenhagen-climate-change-james-hansen
In Hansen's view, dealing with climate change allows no room for the compromises that rule the world of elected politics. "This is analagous to the issue of slavery faced by Abraham Lincoln or the issue of Nazism faced by Winston Churchill," he said. "On those kind of issues you cannot compromise. You can't say let's reduce slavery, let's find a compromise and reduce it 50% or reduce it 40%." He added: "We don't have a leader who is able to grasp it and say what is really needed. Instead we are trying to continue business as usual."
It is a very interesting article........and thought provoking.  Should we be as uncompromising as James Hansen?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Our Prime Minster Was Made Unhappy By Those Nasty Europeans

http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/732862--u-s-green-scheme-beats-canada-s
Harper, a diplomatic source said, was "unhappy" that the UN Secretary General, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen were invited to the Commonwealth's annual heads of government meeting and allowed to turn it into a staging ground to build momentum for Copenhagen, which runs from Dec. 7 to 18. Canada was essentially blindsided on the weekend by a joint French-British proposal to establish a $10 billion climate-change fund to help developing countries.
Perhaps Canada would not be "blindsided" if we had actually taken any steps to lower our greenhouse gas emissions.( Portland, Oregon, among many other cities, have demonstrated that it is possible to lower emissions  substantially.)  And now, I predict, Mr. Harper will be unhappy with an analysis of his proposed cuts to Canada's greenhouse gas emissions:
Expert analysis shows the U.S. plan will go much further in cutting emissions when additional measures are factored in like tougher fuel efficiency rules for cars, renewable electricity standards and investments in "green" development in poor countries, known in climate change parlance as clean development mechanism projects.
So - Canada still isn't committing to cutting greenhouse gas emissions.  What will it take? Expulsion from the Commonwealth?   Help convince Mr. Harper that cutting greenhouse gas emissions is a good idea - please send him a letter instructing him to do so - not just talk about it!

Hole in Ozone Layer Has Protected Ice Thus Far

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/dec/01/ozone-antarctica
The hole in the Earth's ozone layer has shielded Antarctica from the worst effects of global warming until now, according to the most comprehensive review to date of the state of the Antarctic climate.   But scientists warned that as the hole closes up in the next few decades, temperatures on the continent could rise by around 3C on average, with melting ice contributing to a global sea-level increases of up to 1.4m.
The original report is at http://www.scar.org/  .

Various governments have been studying the issue of sea level rise  - including the province of British Columbia.  http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/epd/climate/pdfs/sea-level-changes-08.pdf
The low to high estimates of sea level rise for Vancouver (on page 8) are .04 metres to 1.03 metres   Of course, these estimates by the provincial government are based upon IPCC predictions - so they may be far too low as they were set before the above SCAR reprot was released. 

  How many major cities in the world are located in a low lying coastal area?  How much money is sea level rise going to cost?  Before you answer, consider the destruction wrought by storm surges in Cockermouth and the Cowichwan valley..... Perhaps we should do something about greenhouse gas emissions while we still can....

Monday, November 30, 2009

I Don't Really Need To Add Anything

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cif-green/2009/nov/30/canada-tar-sands-copenhagen-climate-deal
This country's government is now behaving with all the sophistication of a chimpanzee's tea party. So amazingly destructive has Canada become, and so insistent have my Canadian friends been that I weigh into this fight, that I've broken my self-imposed ban on flying and come to Toronto. 
So here I am, watching the astonishing spectacle of a beautiful, cultured nation turning itself into a corrupt petro-state. Canada is slipping down the development ladder, retreating from a complex, diverse economy towards dependence on a single primary resource, which happens to be the dirtiest commodity known to man. The price of this transition is the brutalisation of the country, and a government campaign against multilateralism as savage as any waged by George Bush.
Until now I believed that the nation that has done most to sabotage a new climate change agreement was the United States. I was wrong. The real villain is Canada. Unless we can stop it, the harm done by Canada in December 2009 will outweigh a century of good works.
In June this year the media obtained Canadian briefing documents which showed the government was scheming to divide the Europeans. During the meeting in Bangkok in October, almost the entire developing world bloc walked out when the Canadian delegate was speaking, as they were so revolted by his bullying. Last week the Commonwealth heads of government battled for hours (and eventually won) against Canada's obstructions. A concerted campaign has now begun to expel Canada from the Commonwealth.
The purpose of Canada's assault on the international talks is to protect this industry. This is not a poor nation. It does not depend for its economic survival on exploiting this resource. But the tar barons of Alberta have been able to hold the whole country to ransom. They have captured Canada's politics and are turning this lovely country into a cruel and thuggish place.

Munk Debate Tomorrow: December 1, 2009

http://www.munkdebates.com/
C02 levels in the atmosphere are climbing steadily higher. Some believe this is having a devastating effect on humans and nature, while others argue that the threat has been overstated. Is this the moment for a bold international treaty to curb carbon emissions? Or, are the social and economic costs of reducing C02 emissions too high in world where a billion people live on a dollar or less a day?

Just days before the United Nation’s historic Copenhagen summit the Munk Debates will tackle one of the great public policy questions of our time: how should the world respond to climate change?
Elizabeth May, George Monbiot, Bjorn Lomborg  and  Nigel Lawson will debate climate change.

Sign up for a FREE webcast  on December 1, 2009 at the above site: look for the Webcast Signup icon.

It should be interesting.....
UPDATE:  You can still view the debate via a podcast from the above site.

Sunshine and Power

The BBC News states that “the cost of installing and owing solar panels will fall even faster than expected. ….solar panels would be cost-competitive with energy form the grid for half the homes in Europe by 2020 –without a subsidy.” http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8386460.stm
Arise Technolgy, a company dedicated to becoming a leader in high-performance, cost-effective solar technology, was offered $ 80 million in financing by the German government in 2008 to locate a factory in Germany.  Part of this money was in the form of a grant to Arise.  Where are the Canadian government's incentives to alternative energy companies?  Why wouldn't Canada want a company like Arise creating jobs here? Why wouldn't we be investing in clean power instead of protecting the interests of big oil?

The federal government seems to want Canada's  economy to stay a samll, open staples economy..  and that baffles me.

The good news on a personal level is that solar panels function longer than predicted and will be cheaper to install - thanks to the German government. 

Description of Canada Less Than Flattering

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/nov/30/countries-to-watch
Canada
Influence rating ★★★
In stark contrast to its cuddly international image, Canada is the dirty old man of the climate world – missing its Kyoto emissions reduction target by a country mile (by 2007, it was 34% above its target) and showing no signs of reigning in its profligacy.  Friends and foes Roundly criticised by developing countries for being way off the pace, now there are calls to suspend it from the Commonwealth.   What they're offering  A pathetic 3% cut on their 1990 emissions levels by 2020 – an offer mired in thick black tar.   What they most want No curbs on its ability to mine those lucrative tar sands in Alberta for oil (a far more carbon-intensive process than regular extraction). Least likely to say "Look, when you set a target, you've got to stick to it, OK?"

Maldives
Influence rating ★
Talk about punching above your weight.  Thanks in no small part to the colourful and PR-savvy president Mohamed Nasheed, the Maldives have become a key voice for soon-to-be climate victims around the world. The island nation is the Vince Cable of the talks – no real power but solidly on the moral high ground (if not the literal high ground).   Friends and foes A member of the G77 group of developing nations, and pals with anyone wanting some good PR.  W hat they're offering To go totally carbon neutral by 2020. A frog with solar panels would look less green.   What do they most want Large cuts by all the developed nations.  Most likely to say "I bet you've never had a cabinet meeting under water."
Some days I wish I had been born in the Maldives.  I might be worried about the prospect of my country vanishing under water - but I wouldn't be ashamed of its position on the crisis of the 21st century. 

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Apparently Peer Pressure Is Effective

http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2009/11/27/commonwealth-meeting.html
The United Nations secretary general added his voice Friday to the chorus of activists trying to prod Canada into taking greater action on climate change.  Ban Ki-Moon said Canada, as the next country to host the G8 and G20 meetings, must pick up the pace in setting a mid-range goal to curb emissions.  "Many countries, developed and developing countries, have come out with ambitious targets," Ban said.   "And Canada, as one of the leading G8 countries, and G20, Canada is going to soon chair G8. Therefore, it is only natural that Canada should come out with ambitious targets as soon as possible."

http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2009/11/28/commonwealth-climate.html
Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh hold a meeting at the Commonwealth heads of government summit in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, on Saturday. (Chris Wattie/Reuters)I look forward to seeing a comprehensive agreement in Copenhagen where we'll actually get on with actually reducing emissions as opposed to setting abstract targets," said Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Well!!!!!  Apparently having scientists call for Canada's expulsion from the Commonwealth,  the UN Secretary General lecture him, and rhe Queen of England and Canada stress the need for action on climate change was all it took to get Prime Minister on board.  Peer pressure works ...now let us add to it by writing the Right Honorable Stepen Harper and telling himm however admirable his words have been, we want to see ACTION.
UPDATE:
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/canada-agrees-to-contribute-to-10-billion-climate-change-fund/article1381653/
Canada has agreed to write a cheque for a $10-billion (U.S.) fund that would help poor nations cope with the consequences of climate change but Prime Minister Stephen Harper isn’t budging on calls for his government to offer deeper and faster cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.
If Mr Harper isn't budging on greenhouse gas emissions, just what is the point of helping poorere countries cope with climate change? Or are we only investing in an ark? 

Send him a letter and tell him you want Canada to do better!

It Is The Worst of Times: It Is the Best of Times

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/arctic-sea-ice-has-nearly-vanished-expert-fears/article1381174/
One of Canada's top northern researchers says the permanent Arctic sea ice that is home to the world's polar bears and usually survives the summer has all but disappeared. Experts around the world believed the ice was recovering because satellite images showed it expanding.  But David Barber says the thick, multiyear frozen sheets crucial to the northern ecosystem have been replaced by thin “rotten” ice which can't support the weight of the bears. “It caught us all by surprise because we were expecting there to be multiyear sea ice – the whole world thought it was multiyear sea ice,” said Dr. Barber, who just returned from an expedition to the Beaufort Sea.
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/indias-shift-to-cut-back-emissions-raises-hope-for-climate-agreement/article1381167/
Word that India will soon roll out emission reduction targets signals an emerging consensus toward a climate-change agreement next month at Copenhagen, despite the Canadian government's much-noticed ambivalence.  India, one of the last holdouts in the fight against global warming, will announce the move within the next few days, French President Nicolas Sarkozy revealed yesterday.  United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon placed added pressure on Canada yesterday, chiding Ottawa for its inaction on climate change at a Commonwealth meeting of heads of government, in which climate issues are dominating the agenda.
The push for action in Trinidad reinforces recent progress toward a climate-change agreement ahead of the summit in Copenhagen.
The permanent sea ice is gone - faster than the IPCC models predicted -but, perhaps, the world is finally taking this issue seriously.   Now, if we can get Canadian politicians to commit to action on climate change.....I live in Hope.

What Will Canada Contribute ?

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cif-green/2009/nov/28/africa-climate-change
Climate change will hit Africa – a continent that has contributed virtually nothing to bring it about – first and hardest.  Africa will not only be hit hardest, but it will be hit first. Indeed, the long dreaded impact of climate change is already upon us.
Climate change, which was largely brought about by the activities of developed countries, has made it difficult for poor and vulnerable countries to fight poverty. It has created a more hostile environment for development. No amount of money will undo the damage done. But adequate investment in mitigating the damage could partly resolve the problem.
Developed countries are thus morally obliged to pay partial compensation to poor and vulnerable countries and regions to cover part of the cost of the investments needed to adapt to climate change.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/nov/27/gordon-brown-unveils-climate-fund
Gordon Brown has unveiled a $22bn (£13.3bn) global fund to respond to the world's "climate emergency" by fast-tracking funds to poorer countries from next year.  The prime minister said Britain would contribute £800m to the Copenhagen Launch Fund
What will Canada contribute?  Or will Canada bury its head in the sand and ignore the problem?

Friday, November 27, 2009

Someone Else Thinks Canada Is A Laggard

Canada was a global leader in environmental issues - the main broker, for example, of an international ban on ozone-depleting chemicals - up until the 1990s. In recent years, however, the country has fallen from the front ranks to become one of the world's most conspicuous laggards in greenhouse gas reduction and a virtual nonentity in the clean-tech boom.  This isn't just bad news for the planet; it's bad business for Canada.
In what pinko environmental rag did I find this obviously biased quote?  Glad you asked - the quote is from an article called Now, More Than Ever.  It was published in the December 2009 issue of that commie magazine  Report on Business.  Page 62, to be exact.
The article also states:
a whole new industrial economy....has emerged primarily in those places where climate change has been acknowledged not just as a fundamental fact of life and the defining crisis of the 21st century but also as an opportunity. ...the nations and compamies leading this second wave will continue with installations and innovations ....because building this new generation of infrastructure is a smart business move, based upon sound economics.
And Canada is pinning its 21st century hopes to the tar sands........this is gonna work out well - I can tell.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Feel Free To Copy The Letter I Sent To the PM

November 26, 2009
Right Hon. Stephen Harper
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6

Dear Prime Minister:

Human caused global warming is an enormous crisis for humanity. It is also a highly significant issue of global environmental justice: 80 % of greenhouse gas emissions are released by just seventeen countries – one of which is Canada. People are dying of starvation in the Horn of Africa and drowning in Bangladesh due to the changes caused by global warming. Canada has done nothing but obstruct attempts to rectify this situation. Therefore, and quite rightly, we are the subject of international criticism due to our failure to act in any meaningful way.

Now the Commonwealth is under pressure to suspend our membership due to our recalcitrance. Prominent campaigners, politicians and scientists have called for Canada to be suspended from the Commonwealth over its climate change policies.

Surely you do not wish Canada be suspended from the Commonwealth due to our lack of action on climate change – or to be mentioned in the same breath for greenhouse gas emissions as Pakistan, Zimbabwe, Nigeria and South Africa are mentioned for electoral or human rights violations. Please commit Canada to legally binding, science based greenhouse gas reduction targets.

I'm Not the Only One

who thinks Canada is an international disgrace.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/nov/26/canada-criticised-over-climate-change
Prominent campaigners, politicians and scientists have called for Canada to be suspended from the Commonwealth over its climate change policies.
Canada's per capita greenhouse gas emissions are among the world's highest and it will not meet the cut required under the Kyoto protocol: by 2007 its emissions were 34% above its reduction target. It is exploiting its vast tar sands reserves to produce oil, a process said to cause at least three times the emissions of conventional oil extraction.
We can change this. We must change this.  If we do not, each of us is morally responsible for killing people by drowning or drought in Bangladesh, the Maldives, Kenya, et al.