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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Saturday, February 27, 2010

We Are Bringing Democracy to Afghanistan How?

To the dismay of his political opponents and many of his international backers, President Hamid Karzai has moved to ensure that he can handpick members of an electoral monitoring commission, removing significant U.N. oversight of future elections. The Election Complaint Commission was the oversight body that documented widespread irregularities in the presidential elections last August, ruling that at least a million votes cast for Karzai were suspect and forcing him into a runoff.  Karzai's opponents denounced the new decree, saying the move threatened the stability of the Afghan state.

Officials in Kandahar province have begun humanitarian preparations in advance of fighting later this year, when NATO forces are expected to launch their most ambitious assault on Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan since 2001. ...King said Kandahar presents unique challenges, because it is much more populated than Helmand and insurgents are not concentrated in a few key locales.
So we're fighting to bring democracy to Afghanistan by killing the local civilians because the insurgents are not concentrated in a few key locales.  If you read the CBC article, you will also see they haven't ruled out air strikes - despite the risks of killing civilians.  And Mr Karzai is taking steps to ensure that the oversight of future elections wil be done by his handpicked minions. Hmmmnnnn - a weak, unpopular government propped up by the US,  insurgents that are difficult to distinguish  from the local good guys, and  air strikes.   This seems familiar: can you say Vietnam?  

And has the federal Canadian government told us how much the Afghan war is costing us? 
The military mission in Afghanistan could cost a total of $18.1 billion or $1,500 per Canadian household by 2011, according to a government report that also criticized how financial records are being kept.

Apparently, even a faux democracy doesn't come cheap.

For Those Who Think Environmental Activism Does Nothing

On the contrary - environmental activism changes the zietgeist.
The leaders of Canada's oil sands, faced with global scorn and protests that have interrupted their operations, are turning to the country's foresters – as well as its miners, who had similar experiences – for guidance on how to respond.  Governments and oil sands companies are environmental targets, just as MacMillan Bloedel was. Anti-oil-sands groups spent last fall staging protests that temporarily shut down several oil sands operations, while shareholders have driven the issue onto the agendas of Statoil, Royal Dutch Shell and BP. Canada has become an angry target among online commentators who see the oil sands as an egregious and greedy foray into the production of “dirty oil.” Among industry leaders, there is a broad recognition that something needs to change. The lesson that is consistent in the forestry and the mining experience is that you cannot sloganeer, you cannot ‘spin' your way out of these types of issues,” .... “The ultimate solutions are rooted in performance.”
So keep up the pressure on oil companies, the Canadian government, and on Alberta.  The pressure is working: tar ands producers now realize that they must perform - not spin.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Giant Icebergs

An iceberg the size of Luxembourg has broken off from a glacier in Antarctica after being rammed by another giant iceberg, scientists said on Friday, in an event that could affect ocean circulation patterns...."The calving itself hasn't been directly linked to climate change but it is related to the natural processes occurring on the ice sheet," said Rob Massom, a senior scientist at the Australian Antarctic Division and the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Center in Hobart, Tasmania.
The calving hasn't been directly linked to climate change ....yet.   I posted Dec. 1, 2009 on how the hole in the ozone layer has slowed climate change in Antarctica to date.  

And You thought Albertans Hated the NEP

Wait until they hear about the following  idea.
Canada’s oil and gas industry can and should be converted to a public-interest industry whose mandate would be to serve the broader public interest, not just the private interests of owners and shareholders....At present, the private corporations that dominate the oil and gas industry in Canada are inflicting serious environmental harm and causing major social and economic problems...The oil and gas corporations strenuously resist paying adequate royalties to the public owners of these resources, resulting in a loss of government revenue to support public services, infrastructure, and long-term savings.
The authors of this opinion piece suggest that "as with any corporate acquisition, the cost of buying out the industry would be paid for out of its future profits. In other words, the net cost to Canadian taxpayers would be zero, or close to it."  You have to admit, it is an interesting alternative to merely raising royalties and strengthening environmental regulations in the oil patch.  Perhaps "publicizing" the oil and gas industry would upset Albertans - but it would benefit Canadians and our democracy.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Food and Cheap Oil

Hey - Jeff Rubin has a blog about, of all things, how weaning our economy off oil means some fundamental changes in the way we live, and other things.  (He is the former chief economist at CIBC.)


From a post entitled "How much longger will our Chinese food be delivered?"
Behind the green facade of the farm gate lies one of the most energy-intensive industries in the world. From fertilizer to farm machinery, most modern agriculture is really about making hydrocarbons edible. No matter what the crop, the most important input is always energy — and it’s getting to be more so every day. Driven by ever greater fertilizer use and farm mechanization, energy represents half the cost of growing wheat (up from 30 per cent only a decade ago), and over 40 per cent of the cost of growing corn or sorghum.
Mr Rubin recommends getting used to local produce as the days of cheap energy are almost over.  I predict that not only will we be eating local food,  industrial agri business will not survive peak oil.   As small farms are more productive, we will probably be tending small farms by hand - without fertilizers made from and with light sweet crude.  We may even be keeping chickens in our back yard as Vancouverites are premitted to do!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Thomas Homer Dixon and Andrew Weaver Vs The Deniers

GLOBAL WARMING HAS STOPPED." Skeptics often say Earth's climate is showing a trend toward stable or even declining temperatures. But they have to cherry-pick data from the climate record to support this argument.
"THE CLIMATE IS ALWAYS CHANGING." This argument is simply a red herring. No one is suggesting that the climate didn't change in the past. First, in historical terms, the size of the potential change we're inducing is huge....Second, the predicted speed of change this century – especially if it's accompanied by a surge in extreme climate events such as severe droughts and floods – could overwhelm many human societies.
"SCIENTIFIC UNCERTAINTY IS SO GREAT THAT WE CAN'T MAKE FIRM POLICY DECISIONS." Scientists know an enormous amount about our climate and that knowledge is advancing at extraordinary speed....Still, there is much they don't know, especially about some regional impacts.
Such uncertainty is an inescapable feature of all highly complex systems. If the potential costs of inaction were low, it could make sense to delay until scientists learn more. But in the case of global warming, the potential costs of inaction are extremely large.

Please send the PM a letter pointing out these facts - and inform him that Canadians want Canada to lead - not follow the US!

Monday, February 22, 2010

More Destructive Hurricanes Predicted


Top researchers now agree that the world is likely to face stronger but fewer hurricanes in the future because of global warming.... Overall strength of storms as measured in wind speed would rise by two to 11 per cent, but there would be between six and 34 per cent fewer storms in number. Essentially, there would be fewer weak and moderate storms and more of the big damaging ones, which also are projected to be stronger due to warming.  An 11 per cent increase in wind speed translates to roughly a 60 per cent increase in damage, said study co-author Kerry Emanuel, a professor of meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Interestingly, the article's commenters include climate change deniers.  Examples: "Oh here we go again - more alarmist poppycock.  " and  "Once again, "settled science" on a matter than cannot currently be proven beyond a shadow of a doubt. Someone tell these people that an example of "settled science" is a round earth. Another example is gravity."  Of course, both commenters have Phds in climatology.   And could someone point out to the second person I quoted that the theory of gravity has been revised and amended.  Or does he think Einstein  was a fraud?

Climate change deniers cannot be reached with reason and evidence:  activists must create a culture where community pressure forces deniers to act.  It can be done - think of how our view of smoking has changed  - smokers don't smoke inside anymore . (Interestingly, many big name climate deniers worked on denying that smoking kills.)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Are Profits The Most Important Thing?

The cost of pollution and other damage to the natural environment caused by the world's biggest companies would wipe out more than one-third of their profits if they were held financially accountable, a major unpublished study for the United Nations has found.  The report comes amid growing concern that no one is made to pay for most of the use, loss and damage of the environment, which is reaching crisis proportions in the form of pollution and the rapid loss of freshwater, fisheries and fertile soils.....Another major concern is the risk that companies simply run out of resources they need to operate, said Andrea Moffat, of the US-based investor lobby group Ceres, whose members include more than 80 funds with assets worth more than US$8tn. An example was the estimated loss of 20,000 jobs and $1bn last year for agricultural companies because of water shortages in California.
Are profits the most important thing in the world?  More important than healthy ecoysystems?  Just in case no one else has noticed, I'd like to point out that the economy is a subset of the environment, not the other way around.   We have no Planet B  - so let's work for a velvet climate revolution  - a world that is sustainable and more democratic than  the one we live in now. 

No Wonder Businessmen Loved the Nazis

Neil Reynolds discusses government debt in the Wednesday, February 17th edition of the Globe and Mail, page B2.
The risk of national bankruptcy in the advanced economies is rising inexorably.... This is a democracy problem.  The constant pressure of more government - more public alms, more public programs, more public subsidies, ...is pushing the richest countries on Earth towards insolvency. .... The fundamental fact is that almost all democratic countries share the same destructive dynamic - to solve every perceived social and economic problem by throwing money at it.   
I'd advise Mr. Reynolds to stop sleeping with his copy of  Plato under his pillow.   Or to at least stop kissing his photo of Friedrich von Hayek before bedtime.  Seriously, if democracy is the problem, what is the solution?    What would he propose as an alternative form of government?   Facism? A theocracy?  A totalitarian regime  legitimated by the  divine right of kings?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The New Economics Foundation - 21 Hours

I love the foundation's ideas and publications.   One of their latest is entitled 21 Hours.  They suggest that a twenty one hour work week become the new norm for three reasons.  Firstly, a shorter work week would eliminate unemployment and ensure that unpaid labour is distributed equitably between the sexes.  Working less may help break the "habit of living to work, working to earn, and earning to consume." Less consumption equals fewer ill effects on the ecosystems that sustain humanity.  Thirdly, less consumption and fewer paid hours may lead to a more resilient sustainable economy.

Sounds completely un-doable, doesn't it?   However, the nef lists examples of short work weeks in their paper and proves it can and has been done.  They point out that working less would give all of us more time to be active citizens,  among other benefits.  Part of a velvet climate revolution, don't you think?

Their paper is well worth time spent to read it - just click on the link to their site on my blogroll.

Another Traditional Method

In a vast wilderness of thorn trees and grasslands on the edge of the Kalahari desert, Peter Knipe farms a menagerie of thousands of animals, from goats and cattle to impalas and giraffes. His most exotic import, however, is a friendly looking dog named Neeake.  Raised with a herd of goats since he was a puppy, Neeake has bonded with the goats so loyally that he guards them with his life. He scans the horizon constantly, searching for predators, keeping the cheetahs and leopards at bay.

Isn't this another old fashioned labour intensive method?  One that happens to work  very successfully  though .... The cheetahs and the goats are both safe using the dog to safeguard the goats.   Perhaps we, as a culture should be considering reviving more of these old farming methods.   Expecially since small holdings are the most productive farms.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Preconceived Notions - Part 2

In 1491,  Charles Mann describes "milpas" in  Mexicao.  A milpa is a field in which up to a dozen crops are planted at once - they usually include corn, beans squash, tomatoes, avocadoes, hot peppers, and sweet potatoes.   "Milpa crops are nutrionally and environmentally complementary .....there are places in Mesoamerica that have been continuously cultivated for four thousand years and are still productive. " (P 221) Contrast this with our system of agriculture - we exhaust our soils within years.  Of course, these fields are tended by hand.  Doesn't that make them less productive than our system of industrial farming and therefore impractical ?  Not at all. The UN 's Food and Agriculture Organization shows maximum productivity is achieved by farming tiny areas - between 1 to 2 hectares -  with a multiplicity of crops and tending them by hand.

So will a velvet climate revolution include de-urbanization and a return to small holdings? 

Preconceived Ideas Rap Us On Our Shins

I am reading two books at once:  1491 by Charles C Mann and Integral Ecology by Esbjorn  (the o should have an umlaut) and Zimmerman. Curioulsy, a commonality between the two books exists.  Both books/ authors refer to environmentalists who long for a supposed pristine past - one where humans were closer to nature -and then demolish that argument. 
Many deep ecologists are epistemological realists who condemn post modern environmentalists for speaking of nature as a social construct. In so doing, deep ecologists call upon the very same modern, scientific worldview that they otherwise blame for contributing to environmental destruction.  (Integral Ecology, page 146)
Indians worked on a very large scale, transforming huge swathes of landscape for their own ends.( 1491, p 279) Faced with an ecological probem, the Indians fixed it. Rather than adapt to Nature, they created it. They were in the midst of terraforming the Amazon when Columbus showed up. {(1491 page 349) Please see Mann's appendix for an explanation of his use of the word "Indian.}
So our - my -  preconceived notion that nature is pristine is supported neither by logic nor by the practices of the First Nations of North and South America.    Perhaps we should picture an ideal world and ecosystem and work to create it.    

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Meanwhile In California

A lobby group that includes BP and Shell in its membership has launched a legal challenge against low-carbon legislation in California that in effect rules out the use of oil from Canadian tar sands. The action by the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association (NPRA) comes amid growing political, investor and consumer pressure on US oil companies not to participate in the carbon-intensive tar sands of Alberta.
The good news is that pressure is growing on oil companies not to participate in mining the tar sands.  The bad news is that oil companies are fighting to continue business as usual.  Business as usual is not viable for two reasons.  We should be curbing greenhouse gas emissions (just ask the Bangladeshis) to mitigate the effects of climate change - and we should be using our remaining oil wisely to build a sustainable way of life.  Peak oil is gonna hit hard - and wouldn't it be prudent to plan for the  coming crisis? 

Those With Sisu Take the Lead

Finland, population 5.3 million, challenged the international powers-that-be again last week, hosting an ambitious one-day "action summit" to rescue the Baltic sea from decades of pollution, environmental degradation and neglect.  National leaders from all nine Baltic coastal states, plus "catchment" countries such as Norway and Belarus, attended. So too did EU representatives and about 1,500 delegates, representing regional organisations, large and small businesses, NGOs and local activist groups..... Events in Helsinki showed that smaller countries, private organisations and individuals don't have to wait for big international players. It was a first-class illustration of the sort of grassroots-upwards approach urged by commentators and activists since the implosion in Copenhagen.
Hopeful news indeed.....let's spread the idea that we don't have to wait for governments.  Pressure them to do the right thing , yes...but don't wait for them.

Friday, February 12, 2010

On Top of Contamination - Increases in GHG Emissions

British Columbia was the only province in the country to report an increase in greenhouse gas emissions from major industries in 2008, according to figures released by Environment Canada.  The figures cover so-called "facility greenhouse gas emissions" from power plants and heavy industries such as mining, pulp and paper, and petroleum.  British Columbia's dubious distinction was largely the result of oil and gas extraction, Environment Canada said.
Not only are we failing to monitor contamination at oil and gas wells,  we are increasing greenhouse gas emissions.   This sounds like an environmental disaster - especially when one considers that most of the natural gas produced in BC is probably going to be used in mining the Alberta tar sands.

Oil and Gas Site Contamination Risks

An audit of the BC Oil and Gas Commission has found that it must improve its oversight of oil and gas sites in order to adequately manage the risks of contamination, says Auditor General John Doyle in his latest report, released today.

Mr Doyle's report states that " An independent field review of sites that have received a Certificate of Restoration is not carried out to ensure that objective assessments are being made. The OGC relies mainly on desk reveiw of consultant restoration reports, submitted by operators, to provide oversight of the certificate process."  http://www.bcauditor.com/

 Can you imagine the Canada Revenue Agency relying on H & R Block to ensure that tax returns filed were correct?  Plenty of room exists for fudging in this system....

And worse - Mr Doyle's report states that " There are also a number of sites known as "legacy sites" that were certified as reclaimed to environemntal standards of the day before the OGC was established, and before modern standards existed."  The Oil and Gas Commission has not taken any steps to test these sites - so any contanimation that may exist is essentially ignored.  If we don't know about it, it doesn't exist, right? 

Conniving Canada

Rich nations furthered their "conspiracy to divide the developing world" at December's UN climate summit in Copenhagen, while Canada "connived" and the EU acted "to please the United States", according to an internal document from a Chinese government thinktank obtained by the Guardian. .... The paper is scathing about the US-led "umbrella group", which it says adopted a position of inaction. Canada, it says, "was devoted to conniving" to convince the world that its pledge of a 3% emissions reduction between 1990 and 2020 is significant, while having no intention of meeting its Kyoto protocol target of 6%.
Our leadership drag their feet on climate change?  Spin and connive?  Jamais!

Meanwhile - tick, tock, tick, tock ... time is running out on opportunites to save money, reduce greenhouse gas emissions,   amd reverse climate change.  And Canada fiddles.....and other countries protect their turf. And argue. And debatae.

 We need a different world view.  For starters, we might  consider the impacts of our actions on all future generations.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A Surprising Effect of Global Warming - Toxic Fish


Scientists studying burbot in the Mackenzie River, one of the country's most pristine rivers, have been surprised to discover that mercury, PCBs and DDT in the fish are rising rapidly, a finding they say is linked to climate change....Dr. Stern said researchers do not know whether contaminants are increasing in fish elsewhere. The burbot were caught near Fort Good Hope, where temperatures have risen an average of 1.9 degrees since the early 1970s. But he has been part of a wider research effort that has found strong hints that warming is driving a rapid increase in biological activity in the north, with the potential to increase harmful chemical residues in animals.
A commenter on the site had a question:
"I have a question to all the climate change deniers out there. What natural calamity\catastrophe would it take to convince you all that climate change is real? "    I hope whatever calamity convinces climate change deniers that they are wrong actually hits that portion of the world in denial - the Anglosphere.   Bangladeshis, Kenyans, those Indians building ice dams in Ladakh, Tibetans, Nepalese, the Inuit, et al are convinced and are working hard to cope.   How long will we live in denial?

Check Out Wiser Earth

From WiserEarth:   http://blog.wiserearth.org/

A way of checking your organization's health.
Chances are that your organization’s success is reliant on building and maintaining healthy inter-personal and inter-organizational networks. But do you have any idea whether they are ‘healthy’? Can you think of an effective way to improve them? Fortunately for us, The Monitor Institute has just released a helpful new tool: ‘The Healthy Network Diagnostic’. It’s based on extensive interviews with nonprofit network experts and was tested in the field with many of the Packard Foundation’s grantees. Read this presentation below for instructions and the diagnostic test.
Check out Paul Hawken's site - WiserEarth - it is well worth the visit. 

Monday, February 8, 2010

Earlier Springs

As snow flurries continued to cause disruption across the country today, spring may feel further away than ever. But recent winters have been ending earlier than ever before, according to a new assessment of Britain's wildlife that reveals global warming could be disrupting the delicate balance of nature. The analysis confirms that spring and summer are occurring earlier, but also shows that this trend appears to be accelerating. The shift could pose problems for animals, birds and fish that rely on springtime flowering of plants to supply food for their young....The results showed that more than 80% of trends between 1976 and 2005 indicated earlier seasonal events.
Climate change deniers had better look at all the evidence regarding climate change - not just seize upon cranky emails from CRU researchers as proof that global warming isn't happening.  Do they also discount Watson and Crick's findings because those two treated Rosalind Franklin badly?  Not likely.....

Wal-Mart Goes Green - As Does Canadian Tire -Why Don't We?

Per The Globe and Mail, page B2, Monday, February 8, 2010
Wal-Mart wants to swap green thinking with leaders of some of the country's most high-profile business...Wal-Mart has even managed to draw executives from retail rivals such as Canadian Tire Corp. ....to discuss how going green is good for the planet and good for business.  ...by switching to more efficient lighting in its stores, [Canadian Tire] will save about $ 12-million in 2010, or 85 million kilowatts in electricity and greenhouse gas emissions.
$ 12 million dollars ain't pocket change to anyone.  There are numerous win-win situations like the one illustrated by Canadian Tire.  For instance, at home one can use compact flourescent bulbs intead of incandescents, turn one's computer and TV off when not in use, and turn one's heat back at night to reduce one's carbon footprint AND save money.  Why not do so?

The business papers are full of articles indicating businesses take climate change seriously.   Why don't the rest of us?

Saturday, February 6, 2010

No Impact Man (2009)

We rented No Impact Man  tonight and loved it.   (Google YouTube and No Impact Man to watch the trailer.) Don't get me wrong - I'm not giving up electricity - especially not living in Canada where we need electrical power or the furnace won't run - but I loved the point the movie made about life being - gasp! - MUCH BETTER without constant consumption.   I highly recommend it....
From his blog at http://noimpactman.typepad.com/
The No Impact Experiment is a one-week carbon cleanse. It is a chance for you to see what a difference no-impact living can have on your quality of life. It’s not about giving up creature comforts but an opportunity for you to test whether the modern “conveniences” you take for granted are actually making you happier or just eating away at your time and money.
Velvet climate revolution, here we come!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Haiti and the Dominican Republic

According to the CIA , Haiti is far poorer than the Dominican Republic.  (No, I'm not privy to their internal memos - they publish this stuff on the Internet.) 
Infant mortality                   59.69 / 1000 live births
Life expectancy @ birth     60.78 years
Literacy                             52.9 %
GDP per capita                 $ 1,300
Pop below poverty line       80 %

                                               Dominican Republic
Infant mortality                     25.96/1000  live births
Life expectancy @ birth        73.7 years
Literacy                                87 %                                
GDP per capita                    $ 8,300
Pop below poverty line         42.2 %

Same island - far different outcomes. Why?  Environmental degradation and poor governance in Haiti...
Experts say deforestation in Haiti stretching back to the Duvalier dictatorships -- leaving the nation with less than 2 percent forest cover -- contributes to erosion that undermines food output by the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere....Years of weak government were also a shortcoming.
I'd say the writer of the Reuters article was being kind to the Duvaliers by calling their rule  'weak government.'  However you classify the goverance of Haiti, its current situation is a reminder to us all that we cannot have a healthy, happy culture and people without thriving ecosystems.

Thursday, February 4, 2010


I witnessed a soul retrieval healing for a friend recently.  While my friend and the healer were journeying, the beat of the drum proved almost hypnotic.  I wrote the following:
The healer suggested "outside, in nature find a stick...."
Are we not nature?
Not if we live in a linear world - a poverty stricken world without mess, change or growth.
And we do everything we can to destroy life and growth: spiders, bacteria, mice ....
We clean furiously,
lay traps,
sweep away cobwebs...
and we spray pesticides and weedkiller outside.
We detest life.  We detest change.
We wish to end the cycle of life - death - life.
Oh - to be a machine......
We are not machines.
We are life. Stardust . Divinity. Energy.
We scintillate and shimmer and dance  and coruscate and change and
die and are born once more.
From this we create balance.
We are ordered tension.
Crystals growing - decaying - shifting - changing.
When we prevent change we prevent life.
We wish to die  -  permanently.
That is why we try to kill Gaia.
We desire sterility.
No change. When we achieve that, we too will be gone.
We want that.  We hate ourselves.
If we learn to love ourselves, we will  save the world.
She is a part of us - we are a part of her -we need her.
So -
when we are healed of self hatred, we will be healed of world hatred.

I wrote the above before I read Ecopsychology: Restoring the Earth, Healing the Mind; Edited by Theodore Roszak, 1995.
Ecopyschology suggests that we can read our transactions with the natural environment - the way we use or abuse the planet - as projections of unconcious needs or desires , in much the same way we can read dreams and hallucinations to learn about our deep motivations.

Climate Change, Conflict and Fragility

The US Pentagon has acknowledged that climate change increases the possiblity of conflict around the world.  "The Pentagon will for the first time rank global warming as a destabilising force, adding fuel to conflict and putting US troops at risk around the world, in a major strategy review to be presented to Congress tomorrow. The Pentagon, in acknowledging the threat of global warming, will now have to factor climate change into war game exercises and long-term security assessments of badly affected regions such as the Arctic, sub-Saharan Africa, and South Asia." http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jan/31/pentagon-ranks-global-warming-destabilising-force

 International Alert, an independent  peace building organization funded by the European Union,  has spent twenty years attempting to create peace.  "Effects of climate change such as more frequent natural disasters, long-term water shortages and food insecurity could combine with other factors and lead to violent conflict." http://www.international-alert.org/press/Climate_change_conflict_and_fragility_Nov09.pdf

 In spite of these two organizations' diametrically opposed missons, they agree on the security implications of climate change. Unlike the Pentagon, International Alert attempts to understand and  prevent conflict. They conclude that, by instituting good governance,  peaceful solutions to the problems caused by global warming are more likely to be created.  Do you doubt their conclusions?   Fragile states are characterized by an elite that controls economic and political opportunity - think of Guatemala.  Conflict risk is increased when  resources are hogged by by elites and the poor have no access to institutional structures through which their grievances can be addressed.     Hmmmnnnnn  - now I'm wondering if the BC pipeline bomber feels he has no other way to express grievances besides violence.     (Goerge Monbiot did call Canada a thuggish petro state.)

I conclude that climate change activists must be politically aware and work towards increasing participation in democracy if a velvet climate revolution is to be successful.

Hockey Stick Graph

The board of inquiry at Pennsylvania State University said it found no evidence that Michael Mann, a leading climatologist, had suppressed or falsified data, tried to destroy data or emails, or misused information. ....It also cleared Mann of purposely hiding or destroying email relating to an IPCC climate change report.
Can we now get on with dealing with climate change?  

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A Very Interesting View from Davos

But the financial meltdown and recession are arguably symptoms of a bigger systemic crisis and deep institutional failures.  ...Then sustainability became a matter of competitiveness and cost reduction, by capturing efficiencies such as reducing waste and energy use. CEOs everywhere at Davos said we've now arrived at the point where sustainability must be integrated into business strategy – what a business is, and how it operates and relates to the rest of the world.   ....There is growing agreement that gross domestic products and gross national products are flawed tools for measuring the health of country, and we should instead emphasize the idea of Gross National Well-Being or something similar. ....Just as some companies have moved to “triple-bottom line” reporting for their impact on society, many economists argue that GDPs and GNPs measure activities that are detrimental to society and ignore activities that are beneficial.
Read Don Tapscott's entire articles at the above website.   I find it hopeful that, at an elitist event like the World Economic Forum,   themes such as those listed  emerge.  An ever-increasing awareness that the world we live in is flawed is the precursor to improving it.  We cannot create a more egalitarian and more sustainable way of life until we admit the system we have doesn't work for the poor and for the eocysystems we exploit.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Bhola Island, Bangladesh (from Al Jazeera)

From the video:  "Much of their crops are drowning in sea water.  As climate change intensifies, coastal areas will be innundated. Therefore, we will lose land. Under business as usual conditions, up to 30 % of agricultrual productivity will be lost in South Asia." 

With a sense of impending doom, Bangladeshis are adamant that something must be done to reverse the climate change which threatens to swallow the country's islands and shoreline, irrevocably changing the lives of the millions who have their homes there.
Why do we in North America live in climate change denial?

15 Convincing Minutes From www.350.org

Ross Gelbspan's video is well worth watching.  He points out that, in a democracy, honest information is a vital precursor to decision making.  He adds that very powerful interests with oodles of money - oil and coal corporations - have essentially been stealing our reality. The power of the oil and coal industry bodes poorly for our democracy and our planet.

Tar Sands and The Environment

The oil sands don't need another environmental headache but they're getting one, courtesy of concerns about the possible extinction of caribou.  A major environmental group, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, is calling on Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach to set aside from development more than half the area in and around the oil sands to prevent the region's dwindling caribou herds from being wiped out.  In a letter to the Premier on Monday, the group said placing large parts of bitumen-rich northeastern Alberta off-limits to development would help the province repair some of the damage the oil sands have inflicted on its global image.
Canada risks becoming the international poster child of unsound resource development if it doesn't do a better job of developing the oil sands, federal Environment Minister Jim Prentice says.  He told a Calgary business audience Monday that the government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper supports continued expansion of the oil sands, but that large energy companies need to do more as Canada seeks to reach its targets under the Copenhagen climate change accord.
Preventing more quick development of  Alberta tar sands would not only save habitat for caribou, it would help slow Canada's greenhouse gas emissions.  Sounds like a good idea to me....

Monday, February 1, 2010

Easy Like Water - From Al Jazeera (Original Post Jan 19, 2010 )

Floating schools, alternate energy , solar power, access to healthcare, and the empowement of  women: watch this!  Yes, it is long - but worth it. 

Bangladesh is living with climate change right now and adapting with acumen and determination.  The developed world emitted the greenhouse gases that are causing Bangladeshi  land to disappear under the waters.  Therefore, is it not up to us in the developed world to do our part by reducing greenhouse gas emissions?

Climate Change Deniers Please Take Note

The Pentagon will for the first time rank global warming as a destabilising force, adding fuel to conflict and putting US troops at risk around the world, in a major strategy review to be presented to Congress tomorrow. The Pentagon, in acknowledging the threat of global warming, will now have to factor climate change into war game exercises and long-term security assessments of badly affected regions such as the Arctic, sub-Saharan Africa, and South Asia. But the navy was already alive to the potential threat, with melting sea ice in the Arctic opening up a new security province. The changing chemistry of the oceans, because of global warming, is also playing havoc with submarine sonar, a report last year from the CNAS warned.
US soldiers and marines, meanwhile, were getting a hard lesson in the dangers of energy insecurity on the battlefield, where attacks on supply convoys in Afghanistan and Iraq inflicted heavy casualties.

But climate change isn't a problem .  Yet, as Gwynne Dyer pointed out in Climate Wars, militaries around the world are factoring global warming into their analyses and planning processes.  Insurance companies are very concerned about ever increasing payouts, and telecom and oil companies see the Arctic ice melt as a business opportunity.