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 26, 2011

El Savador

While debate about whether climate change is real or not continues in the US, the world's leading producer of CO2 emissions per capita, those already living with the effects, like Jose Domingo Cruz in El Salvador, don't have time to debate.  "Our storms are increasing in number and intensity," Cruz, a member of his community Civil Protection Committee that responds to community needs during natural disasters, told Al Jazeera while standing on a levy that ruptured during Tropical Storm Agatha last year. "All of us attribute this to climate change."
...the people are, however, forming a movement that is learning to protect and sustain itself in the increasingly chaotic world of global climate change and its severe ramifications on people, the environment, and local economies.
"Local communities are on the front-lines of climate change, and many local organisations like the Mangrove Association are offering the only significant response to this very serious problem," Nathan Weller of EcoViva told Al Jazeera. "Communities like those in the Bay of Jiquilisco can no longer rely solely on the conventional development model to intervene for them. They live the effects of climate change, are working actively on solutions to confront them, and the Mangrove Association serves to catalyse these efforts." 
In what has become a major grassroots social movement that aims to increase diversified sustainable farming, organic foods, food security, and all of this via environmentally friendly methods, many people living in this area are actually seeing their lives improve, despite the challenges.
We could learn something from these folks in El Savador.

Subsidies to Fossil Fuel

You know I have often heard discussion at the local Timmie's regardin goil and cola corporations.  Folks are sympathetic when they consider  how sickly  - how impoverished - oil companies are in Canada.  Ditto those poor, poor coal mining corporation s- hardly make enough to feed and clothe their CEOs.   Why, fossil fule corporations barely made a hundred billions last year worldwide.

No?  You haven't heard that either?  Why in hell is the federal government subisdizing them?
Meanwhile, the federal government subsidizes oil companies to the tune of $1.4 billion every year, according to the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD). It's more if you factor in other fossil fuels such as coal.
If the government ended those subisidies, and directed them to the clean energy industry, wouldn't we all be better off in the long run? 

And why doesn't the mainstream media mention those subsidies more often?

The Climate Action Network is working to get the federal government to end those irresponsible tax breaks.
Please go to
and add your voice to those protesting this.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Extreme Weather

Unlike northern China, Queensland, Australia has no shortage of precipiation.  Are flooding and violent cyclones connected to climate change?  Cliamte change models predict extreme weather events ......

....we begin to see trends which suggest that rising temperatures are making a particular kind of weather more likely to occur. One such trend has now become clearer. Two new papers, published by Nature, should make us sit up, as they suggest for the first time a clear link between global warming and extreme precipitation (precipitation means water falling out of the sky in any form: rain, hail or snow.)
Maybe we should worry ......

This Is What Drought Looks Like in China

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Baby, It's Weird Outside

Remember the heat wave in Russia laast summer?  The forest fires?  The loss of their wheat crop due to drought?   How about the floods in Pakistan and the loss of their cotton crops? 

Climate change models predict unusual and extreme weather events.   Like severe droughts.  Hmmnnnn... we seem to be happenign another drought.  This one is in northern China.  From Forbes ....

BEIJING (AP) - Provinces in China's severely parched northeast have been ordered to step up emergency irrigation as part of a $1 billion effort to minimize the loss of crucial wheat crops. China is the world's largest wheat-growing nation but its wheat belt has gotten virtually no precipitation since October. Expected shortages of the crop in China have already pushed up global prices for the commodity. The government's Office of State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters said in an online statement late Sunday that the drought situation remained "grim" and urged local officials to dig more wells and carry out other emergency irrigation measures. The U.N.'s food agency has warned the drought is driving up China's wheat prices, and now the focus is on whether China will buy more from the global market, where prices have risen about 35 percent since mid-November.
China doesn't usually import wheat.  If it is forced to import, wheat prices are going to increase again.  This is going to affect you, dear reader.   Your bread and pasta is going to get pricey.  Unhappily, higher food prices probably aren't enough to wake up the middle classes in North America and get them to riot in the streets demanding action on climate change.  

Friday, February 11, 2011

“The Mirror Crack'd From Side to Side.”

Wikileaks has exposed all kinds of interesting things - including US worries about oil reserves.

The US fears that Saudi Arabia, the world's largest crude oil exporter, may not have enough reserves to prevent oil prices escalating, confidential cables from its embassy in Riyadh show. The revelation comes as the oil price has soared in recent weeks to more than $100 a barrel on global demand and tensions in the Middle East. Many analysts expect that the Saudis and their Opec cartel partners would pump more oil if rising prices threatened to choke off demand. However, Sadad al-Husseini, a geologist and former head of exploration at the Saudi oil monopoly Aramco, met the US consul general in Riyadh in November 2007 and told the US diplomat that Aramco's 12.5m barrel-a-day capacity needed to keep a lid on prices could not be reached.….The US consul then told Washington: "While al-Husseini fundamentally contradicts the Aramco company line, he is no doomsday theorist. His pedigree, experience and outlook demand that his predictions be thoughtfully considered."
That consular officer's fears appear to be well founded:


The world is much closer to running out of oil than official estimates admit, according to a whistleblower at the International Energy Agency who claims it has been deliberately underplaying a looming shortage for fear of triggering panic buying. The senior official claims the US has played an influential role in encouraging the watchdog to underplay the rate of decline from existing oil fields while overplaying the chances of finding new reserves.

Looks like those peak oil theorists were correct - except they haven't been crying  "the doom has come upon us!"

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Warmest Year(s) on Record

Was I in a coma? How did I miss the news about the warmest year on record in Canada?

Canada had its warmest year on record in 2010, according to the country's environmental agency, with the biggest impact seen in the Arctic region.

The national average temperature for the year was 3 degrees Celsius above normal, based on preliminary data, according to a report put on Environment Canada's website on Monday. That made it the warmest year since nationwide records began in 1948. Most areas of the northern territory of Nunavut and of northern Quebec were at least 4 degrees above normal, while the Arctic tundra region was 4.3 degrees above normal. Along with the Arctic tundra, the Arctic mountains and fiords, the northeastern forest and Atlantic regions also had the warmest year on record.

And did anyone see a lot of coverage of the fact that 2010 was the warmest everywhere?

The year 2010 is the warmest year on record, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said here on Thursday, warning that the warming trend may trigger more extreme weather events. "We can indeed report that 2010 is now going to rank as the warmest year on record at the same level as 2005 and 1998," WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud told a press conference.
It’s not just the World Meteorological Organization – Check out the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – NOAA for short.

According to NOAA scientists, 2010 tied with 2005 as the warmest year of the global surface temperature record, beginning in 1880. This was the 34th consecutive year with global temperatures above the 20th century average.by researchers at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York.
The Times of India reported on the effects of climate change as well. A lot …..


Global average temperature last year was 0.53 degrees Celsius above the average level during 1961-90, and it is higher than the two previous warmest years -- 1998 and 2005 -- in the last decade. More disturbingly, the Arctic sea-ice cover, which is a protective layer against global warming, was the lowest on record last month, with an average monthly extent of 12 million square kilometres or 1.35 square kilometres below the 1979-2000 average for December.
Researchers at the prestigious Climate Institute in Sydney said that warmer temperatures were expected to produce more intense torrential downpours like Yasi, particularly in the country's tropical north. Yasi, a maximum-category five storm reportedly large enough to cover most of the United States and with winds stronger than Hurricane Katrina, hit Queensland on Thursday, packing winds of up to 290 kilometres (180 miles) per hour. Queensland is still recovering from a record deluge and floods that destroyed tens of thousands of homes and killed more than 30 people last month. The Climate Institute is calling for urgent measures to arrest global warming as north Queensland recovers from the twin disasters.
So why aren't Canadians rioting in the streets?