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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Sunday, October 28, 2012

Turn a Blind Eye

I often read news sources located outside North America in my search for news on climate change.   Some examples of the results:
In Rajasthan, nearly 22.97 million hectares of land are under varying degrees of degradation and desertification. In an effort to end this, the Arid Forest Research Institute in Jodhpur has suggested mega shelter belts in western parts of the state apart from developing intensive green belts along all the roads or canals.  "The climate change has already started showing its effect. Rajasthan is likely to be one of the worst-affected. Proactive measures to mitigate climate change have to be taken now as biotic measures take a long time to bear fruit.  http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/jaipur/Mega-shelter-belts-proposed-in-western-Raj-to-contain-climate-change/articleshow/16985812.cms

Computer models have accurately forecast conditions on Mars and are valid predictors of climate change on Earth, US and French astronomers said on Tuesday. These computer programs predicted Martian glaciers and other features on Earth's planetary neighbor, scientists found. http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-10-17/science/34524229_1_climate-change-climate-models-earth-and-mars

In what could change the contours of climate change negotiations, India and China have successfully brought together a disparate group of developing countries to take on the EU and its new-found friends — small and least developed countries.  In a just concluded meeting of the new formation called the 'Like Minded Developing Countries on Climate Change' in Beijing, the group came out with a strong statement backing India's demand for integrating equity and the principle of common but differentiated responsibility into any new regime. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/India-China-team-up-with-developing-nations-at-climate-talks/articleshow/16921888.cms

The correlation between warming surface waters and tropical cyclone intensity has been scientifically verified. While it's unclear if climate change is causing an uptick in natural disasters, we cannot deny that the percentage of Category 4 and 5 hurricanes has increased since the 1980s. We can't expect to bury our heads in the sand and avoid loss of property and life. As Mayor Bloomberg of New York City said, "We face two urgent challenges. First, we have to shrink our carbon footprint to slow climate change. Second, we have to adapt to the environmental challenges that are already beginning to take place." Last week, New York City Council unanimously passed legislation - the first to be enacted by any state or local government in the US - to make climate change mitigation and adaptation central to its city's planning. http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2012/09/201299201250421417.html
Sometimes it's good news - often it's depressing news.    The really interesting part is how little of it makes it into the Globe and Mail orthe Financial Post.  Part of the reason Canadians are sunk deep in denial is due to the media silence on climate change.     Keep writing letters to the editor; talking to yoru neighbours; and nagging your elected represenatives.  Go to protests - get involved!

Postscript:  Australians live in denial too.

The Climate Institute says government and business have much to do to protect Australia's infrastructure from damage in natural disasters..."We need to recognise that we've got to deal with what's coming."  http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/national/business-govt-must-protect-infrastructure/story-fncynkc6-1226504977361

Saturday, October 27, 2012

US Geological Survey

From the US Geological Survey's website:
As much as 44 billion tons of nitrogen and 850 billion tons of carbon stored in arctic permafrost, or frozen ground, could be released into the environment as the region begins to thaw over the next century as a result of a warmer planet according to a new study led by the U.S. Geological Survey. This nitrogen and carbon are likely to impact ecosystems, the atmosphere, and water resources including rivers and lakes. For context, this is roughly the amount of carbon stored in the atmosphere today.  http://www.usgs.gov/newsroom/article.asp?ID=3436
Whaddya mean - when this region begins to thaw? Ask the Inuit and Dene in the north - the permafrost is already thawing! 

At his home in Arviat on the western shores of Hudson Bay, the snow is arriving later and melting sooner. Hunters are falling through the ice or becoming trapped in slush. Polar bears are so desperate for food that they are raiding the town’s garbage dumps.


Or watch the video below.....

And just in case you have forgoten that what happens in the Arctic affects us in the south,  George Monbiot described the effects of Arctic melt on our food supply here.


The jet stream is a current of air travelling eastwards around the upper northern hemisphere. It separates the cold wet weather to the north from the warmer, drier weather to the south. Wobbling along this ribbon are huge meanders called Rossby waves. As the Arctic heats up, the meanders slow down and become steeper. The weather gets stuck.    Stuck weather is another way of saying extreme weather. If the jet stream is jammed to the north of where you are, the weather stays hot and dry, and the temperature builds up – and up. If it’s lodged to the south of you, the rain keeps falling, the ground becomes saturated and the rivers burst their banks. This summer the UK and the US seem to have found themselves on opposite sides of stuck meanders, and harvests in both countries were savaged by opposing extremes of weather.

Spewing more carbon into the atmosphere is going to kill off the human species.   Selling more oil faster is just plain suicidal. The Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline is an EXTREMELY stupid idea - speeding up the export of oil from the tar sands will ACCELERATE climate change.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Speaking of Undemocratic

I went to a talk by Maude Barlow (among others) in Kamloops last night.  One of the items in her speech caught my attention:   the impacts of the Canada-China Foreign Investment Protection Protection and Promotion Agreement   on the citizens of Canada.  And it's not just the left that is wondering why there's no public scrutiny and discussion on the impacts of this deal.

In one week’s time, unless something strange happens, a far-reaching Canada-China investment agreement will take effect. It’s one of the most important commercial agreements Canada has signed since NAFTA. But whereas NAFTA could be terminated on six months’ notice, this deal locks in the signatories for a minimum of 15 years.It’s tantamount, you might say, to a commercial bill of rights for China in this country – an economic meshing on our part with the authoritarian Asian giant, giving it potentially considerable weight in the pace and scale of our resource development.
The problem is, few know much about the deal. It’s being rammed through the parliamentary system without scrutiny, foisted on the business community, the opposition parties and the country with hardly a word of debate or a vote. Our role is to accept it on faith – to take the government’s word for it. But how are we to know if the pluses outweigh the negatives without public examination? This agreement didn’t even make it into one of those democracy-shredding omnibus bills the Conservatives have become so fond of.    
 Lawrence Martin and Maude Barlow aren't the only people worried about this deal.  Gus Van Harten is urging the premier of BC  to stop this deal.
 I wrote to Premier Clark by email on Oct. 10, 2012 urging her to take action to stop the federal government from ratifying the Canada-China Investment Treaty (aka FIPA) on or about Oct. 31, as planned, until the treaty's constitutional and other implications could be assessed properly and resolved.  Under the Canadian constitution, the federal government is incapable of unilaterally implementing international treaty obligations in areas that fall within provincial jurisdiction. Nor is it acceptable for the federal government to use its treaty-making powers to do an end run around the federal-provincial division of powers or in a way that diminishes Canadian federalism and democracy.      http://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2012/10/24/BC-FIPA-Response/
Andrew Nikiforuk, the author of The energy of Slaves reviewed in my previous post, says:

Appallingly, the treaty would give Sinopec, one of the big Chinese backers of the Northern Gateway pipeline, the right to sue the government of British Columbia if it blocks the project. Sinopec could also demand that only Chinese labour and materials be used on the pipeline. Moreover the treaty gives Chinese state owned companies "the right to full protection and security from public opposition."The agreement, like all bad deals, comes wrapped in totalitarian paper. The deal does not require provincial consent. It comes without any risk-benefit analysis. And it can be ratified into law without parliamentary debate.  http://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2012/10/11/Chairman-Harper/

I'd suggest we all contact Terry Lake and Christy Clark asking that they seek an injunction to stop this deal from passing as the federal government seems to be implementing a treaty obligation that trespasses on provincial jurisdictions.   If you're worried about the pipelines proposed by Kinder Morgan and Enbridge, please write!    If you're worrid about democracy, please write!

Moreover, please write to the Conservative members of the federal committee demanding that Parliament seek a debate and vote in the House of Commons before this deal becomes law on November 1, 2012 .  That's NEXT week, for Pete's sakes! 

Petrostates and Slavery

A long selection of quotes  is listed below:

Canada is losing ground in a key global measure of gender equality, sliding out of the world’s top 20 chiefly due to a lack of female representation in politics. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/economy/economy-lab/canada-slips-in-gender-equality-rankings/article4634420/

The Liberals and NDP have been trying since 2010 to have the Tories release their cost breakdown for the planes and have been rebuked at every turn, until Auditor General Michael Ferguson’s bombshell report earlier this month.
“Ministers systematically, since 2010, gave this House information which has proven to be incorrect, inadequate, partial and, in some cases, untrue,”  http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/politics/article/1168971--hiding-f-35-fighter-jet-costs-shows-conservatives-in-contempt-says-rae
A top lawyer at the world's largest civil liberties organization warns that Canada's increasing participation in the so-called "War on Terror" has jeopardized democracy. http://thetyee.ca/Blogs/TheHook/Rights-Justice/2012/08/16/War-on-Terror-Democracy/

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative cabinet fairly erupted in indignation this past week as Canada took a knock from a United Nations envoy for turning a blind eye to the poverty, inequality and, yes, the hunger in our midst....These are not transient problems. They are deeply-rooted, systemic and point to “a broken social protection system and the failure of the state to meet its obligations to its people,”
Is there a connection?   You bet there is.

I just finished reading The Energy of Slaves by Andrew Nikiforuk (Greystone Books, 2012.) 
"All petrostates dusplay similar traits.  Oil booms engender not only spending mania but poor statecraft, ineffectual tax regimes, political extremism, and long periods of authoritarian rule.  "(page 182)    They are characterized by military spending, a concentration of power,  increased income inequality, and a reduction in gender equity.

Read the book - it's hugely interesting. And depressing.  And think about Canada ....