This Isn’t Climate Change

Here’s the scene in Victoria Park today. Look at all that grass and those puddles to splash in. It’s terrific that spring is just around the corner so early in the year! Whee! Best of all, no one can say this abnormal weather proves climate change. You can’t use one unseasonably warm day to prove that something weird and scary with dire consequences for civilization is going on with the climate! That’s un-science! So even though it’s plus-two degrees Celsius — the ninth February day in a row temperatures have gone above zero — don’t worry, everything’s fine!

Oh, and if you’re a parent? there’s no need whatsoever to be concerned about the heatwaves, droughts, extreme storms, unstable economies, food shortages, water crises and mass extinctions in your kids’ futures. Those things won’t happen.

Everything’s fine! Keep voting for pipeline politicians and making fun of environmentalists! La la la la la!

Two T-Shirts In January

T-shirt in January
I’M OUTSIDE IN JANUARY ONLY WEARING TWO T-SHIRTS AND I’M NOT COLD This weather is not normal. Also, I have a banana.

Working late tonight, needed a coffee. Figured I’d just walk across the pedestrian mall to The Good Earth because I didn’t wanna trot all the way to Atlantis (though I like Atlantis coffee better).

But a funny thing happened on the way to the caffeine.

Since this is a 20-second walk and it’s a relatively not-cold day, I don’t put on my coat. When I get to Good Earth, though, it’s closed. So I can either head to The Second Cup in the Cornwall Centre, or walk a few blocks to Atlantis (and the best coffee).

Even though I’m only wearing two thin American Apparel 50-50 shirts and I’m outside in January, I settle on Atlantis.

It was a painless walk.

Yeah, I like food and beer, so I’m well padded and I’m sure that helps me stay warm. Still, there’s no way ANYONE should be able to be outdoors in January for any length of time without shivering their skin off.

I got my coffee and I walked back to the office. Stopped to talk to a pal on the O’Hanlon’s patio, then bumped into Beatty and asked him to take the picture in this blog post.

Total time outside in T-shirts: probably 25 minutes. Total frostbite: none.

Continue reading “Two T-Shirts In January”

Need Some Cheering Up About The State Of The World Tonight? Don’t Read This.

Why, why, why do I read depressing things after sunset? From Vice, which at some point apparently assembled a collection of interesting writers (Greg Palast?!?!), comes this jolly confection:

Recent data seems to suggest that we may have already tripped several irrevocable, non-linear, positive feedback loops (melting of permafrost, methane hydrates, and arctic sea ice) that make an average global temperature increase of only 2°C by 2100 seem like a fairy tale. Instead, we’re talking 4°C, 6°C, 10°C, 16°C (????????) here. The link between rapid climate change and human extinction is basically this: the planet becomes uninhabitable by humans if the average temperature goes up by 4-6°C. It doesn’t sound like a lot because we’re used to the temperature changing 15°C overnight, but the thing that is not mentioned enough is that even a 2-3°C average increase would give us temperatures that regularly surpass 40°C (104°F) in North America and Europe, and soar even higher near the equator. Human bodies start to break down after six hours at a wet-bulb (100% humidity) temperature of 35°C (95°F). This makes the 2003 heat wave in Europe that killed over 70,000 people seem like not a very big deal. Factoring in the increase we’re already seeing in heat waves, droughts, wildfires, massive storms, food and water shortages, deforestation, ocean acidification, and sea level rise some are seeing the writing on the wall:

We’re all gonna die!

The article’s called “Some Credible Scientists Believe Humanity Is Verrrrrry Close To Destruction”. And this horrible, awful, terrifying piece reminded me of a couple of other stories I’ve read in the last few years.

Continue reading “Need Some Cheering Up About The State Of The World Tonight? Don’t Read This.”

BTW: The Conservatives Un-Fucked A Thing They Had Fucked Previously

I don’t think we passed on Friday’s news that the Tories have restored some funding to the Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Laboratory (PEARL).

PEARL, which has been tracking ozone depletion, air quality and climate change in the High Arctic since 2005, and contributes data to several international environmental monitoring projects, is run by an informal network of university researchers called the Canadian Network for Detection of Atmospheric Change. The network announced early in 2012 that the station would be forced to cease year-round operations at the end of April that year after being unable to secure the $1.5-million annual funding it needed to stay open all year. The station had been funded primarily by the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences, a granting agent funded by the federal government from 2000 to 2010. In the 2011 budget, no money was allocated to CFCAS. Instead, $35 million over five years was budgeted for the CCAR program, but it had not yet started accepting applications for funding. The network had applied for other grants, but had been turned down for all of them.

Great news!

New Dog!

New Dog (may 2)I know Regina doesn’t like negativity. Oh, do I know. But even this town’s stare-at-the-sunny-side-until-its-eyes-melt citizenry unites in collective wrath at the snow season that’s only just ended. And why not? The winter of 2012-12 was a frozen, loitering molester that overstayed its welcome by at least six weeks, crushing our dreams of a warm and lovely April in the process. This cold cur, this icy cad, this frosty cockadoodledipstick has earned every fleck of rage-propelled spittle that our righteously frothed gobs can expel. Ptoouii!

But winter’s over now! And to make sure it stays over, we combed through our file photos to find the most springy, warm-weathery image we could for this issue’s cover. BEHOLD! This 2010 shot by Darrol Hofmeister features Whitney and Derek frolicking on a sun-lit Wascana Park path. So bright! So cheerful! So devoid of icicles! Let this Prairie Dog cover be Regina’s talisman against any further unseasonal precipitations of a sub-zero nature.

If you see so much as a speck of snow before October, just roll this edition up and smash that fucker until satisfaction is achieved.

SO WHAT’S IN THIS ISSUE? So glad you asked! Ridiculous weather is the focus of both Greg Beatty’s report on the science of the season and an Aidan Morgan essay on April’s under-appreciated horror. Elsewhere, our mighty American friend Paul Constant delves into his nation’s post-Boston, conspiracy-obsessed psyche, while me and Paul Dechene team up for a beat-down on the Conservative party’s latest boundary commission malarkey (fun game: try to guess what parts I wrote). What else? Oh, lots of stuff. We’ve got film and CD reviews, Canada’s most  ADD hockey column, a new Ask Greg (it’s been a while!) and of course the always-popular “and much more”. It’s a good little issue of Prairie Dog! Pick it up at your nearest street box, convenience store, restaurant, pub or coffeeshop, or wherever better free publications are available.

Science Matters: Muzzling Scientists Is An Assault On Democracy

David SuzukiAccess to information is a basic foundation of democracy. Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms also gives us “freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication.”

We must protect these rights. As we alter the chemical, physical and biological properties of the biosphere, we face an increasingly uncertain future, and the best information we have to guide us comes from science. That scientists — and even librarians — are speaking out against what appear to be increasing efforts to suppress information shows we have cause for concern. The situation has become so alarming that Canada’s Information Commissioner is investigating seven government departments in response to a complaint that they’re “muzzling” scientists.

The submission from the University of Victoria’s Environmental Law Centre and Democracy Watch alleges that “the federal government is preventing the media and the Canadian public from speaking to government scientists for news stories — especially when the scientists’ research or point of view runs counter to current Government policies on matters such as environmental protection, oil sands development, and climate change” and that this “impoverishes the public debate on issues of significant national concern.”

The complaint and investigation follow numerous similar charges from scientists and organizations such as the Canadian Science Writers’ Association and the World Federation of Science Journalists, and publications such as the science journal Nature. Hundreds of scientists marched on Parliament Hill last July to mark “the death of evidence”.

The list of actions prompting these grievances is long. It includes shutting the world-renowned Experimental Lakes Area, axing the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, eliminating funding for the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences and prohibiting federal scientists from speaking about research on subjects ranging from ozone to climate change to salmon.

All of this has taken place as the federal government guts environmental laws and cuts funding for environmental departments through its omnibus budget bills. It has justified those massive environmental policy changes in part by saying the review process was slow and inefficient, but research by scientists at the University of Toronto, published in the Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, “found no evidence that regulatory review in Canada was inefficient, even when regulators had an ongoing load of over 600 projects for review at any given time.”

The government appears determined to challenge any information, person or organization that could stand in the way of its plans for rapid tar sands expansion and transport and sale of raw resources as quickly as possible to any country with money. Continue reading “Science Matters: Muzzling Scientists Is An Assault On Democracy”

Your Afternoon Climate Freak-Out

I stumbled across this terrifying thing thanks to a link on Kottke, one on the great blogs (it’s where I nicked this morning’s Cruise Ship video from). This news, reported in Mother Jones, is not so great:

Say what you want about the Obama administration’s relative ignoring of climate issues: Many of his top scientists are paying rapt attention, and they think we’re about to get our butts kicked—although dumping the news at 4 p.m. on a Friday gives some indication of where it sits in federal priorities.

The National Climate Assessment is produced by the US Global Change Research Program, which is tasked with collating climate research from a wide variety of federal agencies and, every few years, distilling it into one major report. The latest, a first draft, is the third such report (the last was in 2009), product of a 1990 law that requires the White House to produce semi-regular updates on climate science to Congress. Today’s report echoes the themes ofearlier editions, and paints a picture that is all the more grim for being an unsurprising confirmation of the dangers we’ve come to know all too well. Here’s the top six things for you to worry about this weekend, according to the report

1. Climate change is definitely caused by human activities. Always nice to hear government officials acknowledge this essential fact. And the report concedes that our only hope of curbing warming is to kick our addiction to greenhouse-gas spewing fossil fuels.

2. Extreme weather is increasing, and that’s our fault, too.  In particular, searing temperatures, heavy rain, and prolonged drought.

The rest is here.

Related: last week I had a barstool conversation with a friendly-seeming  guy who wasn’t positive climate change was as scary as scientists are saying it is. I did my best to bring him up to speed/make him shit his pants in terror by running through some of the well-known impacts: melting Arctic, drought, erratic weather, extra-powerful storms that require tons of money to repair (i.e., New York a few months back), etc. The report Mother Jones discusses covers the same ground except it’s much more thorough than Barstool Steve and it comes directly from scientists working in the field, not just some semi-informed drunk running an alt. paper.

David Suzuki says this stuff all the time and it’s true: we’re in trouble.  We should have started cutting emissions and researching alternative energy on a massive scale more than two decades ago. We’re paying a price for delaying action (which happened thanks to misinformation, propaganda and flat-out lies from climate change deniers, who often have vested interests in the fossil fuel industry).

The global warming bill is only going to go up the longer we ignore it. At some point, it might be too high to pay.

COP 18: Guess Who The Bad Guys Are

The 18th session of the Conference Of The Parties opened this week in Doha, Qatar. Its mission: find the political consensus to save the planet from catastrophic warming in the little time we have left before shit gets right out of hand (grim note: it might be too late to prevent calamity, although we can probably still mitigate total apocalypse, woo).

It says something about the total failure of morality, vision and courage of the world’s political and business leadership that no one expects anything actually significant to come out of this round of negotiations. I seems pretty reasonable to just give up and stop paying attention. Well fuck that despair shit. Climate change is fact, it’s having real impacts NOW and we need to find international agreement on what to do about it and not ignore it like a bunch of “la-la-I-can’t-hear-you”-ing sissies.

How nasty are things getting? From the Guardian:

While the diplomats dither, time is running out. Global greenhouse gas emissions are still rising, having barely registered a blip from the financial crisis and recession. As a world, we are doing worse than ever on climate change, just when we need to be doing better – if emissions do not peak by 2020, scientists have warned, we may lose forever the chance to contain climate change to manageable levels. On current trends, the world is headed for 6 Celcius of warming, a level not seen for millions of years and that would cause chaos, according to the International Energy Agency. Fatih Birol, chief economist, says: “I don’t see enough of a sense of urgency. We do not have time to waste. We need progress at these talks.” Achim Steiner, executive director of the UN environment program, warns: “While governments work to negotiate a new international climate agreement, they urgently need to put their foot firmly on the action pedal.”

This isn’t alarmist malarkey. This is real. You should be terrified and angry. You should share that terror and anger with your politicians, your friends, your relatives and everyone else you know.

Get on it!

Anyway, The Guardian will probably be the best place on the Internet to follow daily Doha news although I’d suspect good ol’ reliable Desmog Blog will have mandatory reads as well. And you’re welcome to visit the United Nation’s Doha page. They’ve put it on the Internet just for you.

MEANWHILE! Like I suggested in the headline,  Canadians are the bad guys are at Doho. How could we not be? We’re the only country that quit Kyoto! We suck!

(Well, the Conservative government and the Canadians who support them quit Kyoto and dragged the rest of us along. I’m not sure most of us wanted to bail on the treaty. I hope not.)

How suck? ALL THE SUCK. Here’s The Guardian on how much Canada blows:

The cornerstone of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s policy has been to try to approve key pipelines, such the Keystone XL, from Alberta to Texas, the Enbridge Northern Gateway, from Alberta to the West Coast, and Enbridge Line 9, an eastbound pipeline reversal that could see tar-sands crude pumped to Quebec and the Atlantic coast. Harper’s 2012 budget bill, called C-38, replaced the entire Environmental Assessment Act in order to “streamline” approval of major oil and gas pipelines. The 2011 budget slashed funding for Environment Canada by over $222m (£140m), with cuts specifically to departments dealing with climate change, clean air, waste management and water resources.

“The environment assessment regime put in place in the past year would be a laughing stock in a developing country,” said Elizabeth May. “We have a government that is less concerned about climate than the CEOs of major oil companies.”

So that’s where we’re at with climate change. It’s really bad, eh? Happy Friday!

Sorry for this crankypants post. I’ll toss up some animal videos shortly after 3:00 to cheer you up.

Who Are We Going To Believe: John Gormley Or NASA?

A top NASA scientist says this summer’s crazy weather is caused by global warming. From an Associated Press story on the Globe And Mail’s website:

The relentless, weather-gone-crazy type of heat that has blistered the United States and other parts of the world in recent years is so rare that it can’t be anything but man-made global warming, says a new statistical analysis from a top government scientist.

The research by a man often called the “godfather of global warming” says that the likelihood of such temperatures occurring from the 1950s through the 1980s was rarer than 1 in 300. Now, the odds are closer to 1 in 10, according to the study by NASA scientist James Hansen. He says that statistically what’s happening is not random or normal, but pure and simple climate change.

“This is not some scientific theory. We are now experiencing scientific fact,” Hansen told The Associated Press in an interview.

John Gormley is skeptical about global warming. A real scientist working in a relevant field isn’t. Nearly ALL scientists studying climate accept that human activities are warming the planet and the consequences are frightening.

Who are Saskatchewanians going to believe? The answer will say a lot about us.

Another Hack Journalist Talking Science On The Gormley Show

And, in this case, that hack would be me.

Yeah, I guess word has reached John Gormley about me declaring victory in our climate science bet (you can read about that in the latest issue), as it seems I’ll be back on his show this (Tuesday) morning. I expect we’ll be discussing the difference between weather and climate.

Update: My time on the show wrapped about 45 minutes ago. Wow. That was hard. Talking to callers and trying to stay polite is reeeeeeeally hard. Steve likened it to me being thrown into a monkey house. I don’t know if I’d go that far but… yeah…. Cosmic rays? Seriously??

Score Another Point For Climate Science

Yesterday’s New York Times opinion pages carried an interesting piece by Richard A Muller, a professor of physics at the University of California, Berkeley, and a former climate science skeptic.

Yes, former. In his NYT piece, Muller announced that he has switched sides.

Muller is the guy behind the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature Study. It was a massive project to go over all the temperature and climate data available and see if the claims of a warming earth are for real. And when he started this three years ago, his climate-science-denier bona fides must have been, in part at least, crucial in helping him secure funding from the notoriously right-wing and climatology-hostile Koch Foundation.

With a pedigree like that, if the whole man-made global-warming thing was indeed a massive con-job by Big-Government-loving liberals, Berkeley Earth would have been the study to debunk it.

But that’s not what happened. In Muller’s words….

My total turnaround, in such a short time, is the result of careful and objective analysis by the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project, which I founded with my daughter Elizabeth. Our results show that the average temperature of the earth’s land has risen by two and a half degrees Fahrenheit over the past 250 years, including an increase of one and a half degrees over the most recent 50 years. Moreover, it appears likely that essentially all of this increase results from the human emission of greenhouse gases.

In other words, when honest scientists actually take a look at the climate data, they can’t help but be convinced that the consensus position on global warming is the right one.

And that’s all fine and dandy but I still can’t help but feel that Muller is kind of a prick. I mean, the only reason he embarked on this whole adventure is because he formerly bought into a bunch of climate-denier hogwash then went around essentially claiming that the work of the climate-science community must be either fraudulent or inept. Then he caps it all off by saying, “Only I, Richard A Muller, am qualified to pass judgement on this data. Step aside and eat my science dust.”

But as it turns out, everybody in climate science was right and Dick just wasn’t listening. The models predicted it and the data confirms: the globe is warming and people are the cause.

Meanwhile, the Koch brothers must be livid. They’re used to spending their money on research that supports their burn-that-oil-and-damn-the-CO2 agenda. I’m betting Muller won’t be invited to their Christmas party this year.

For more on this, here’s a very good Paul Krugman piece about the Berkeley Earth Study from before Muller made his public conversion.

Massive Melt In Greenland

For the upcoming issue, I got to interview Michael E Mann, the director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University and one of the researchers behind the famed hockey stick graph.  I asked him if there’s a new piece of evidence for climate change that he finds particularly compelling. He said he couldn’t pick just one because he sees new, compelling evidence almost every day.

And as it happens, I’m looking through the science news last night, and sure enough, I come across a story about how almost all of Greenland’s surface ice vanished over four days in July.

Shit.

From the NASA website:

For several days this month, Greenland’s surface ice cover melted over a larger area than at any time in more than 30 years of satellite observations. Nearly the entire ice cover of Greenland, from its thin, low-lying coastal edges to its two-mile-thick center, experienced some degree of melting at its surface, according to measurements from three independent satellites analyzed by NASA and university scientists.

On average in the summer, about half of the surface of Greenland’s ice sheet naturally melts. At high elevations, most of that melt water quickly refreezes in place. Near the coast, some of the melt water is retained by the ice sheet and the rest is lost to the ocean. But this year the extent of ice melting at or near the surface jumped dramatically. According to satellite data, an estimated 97 percent of the ice sheet surface thawed at some point in mid-July.

And here’s a pic of that melt. On the left, a July 8, 2012 satellite image. On the right, one from July 12, 2012. White is surface ice, light pink is probable melt, dark pink is actual melt.

And in case you think this is just some kind of data error, the melt has been confirmed by three satellites.

A Heat Wave Is Not Necessarily Caused By Global Warming But

Meanwhile in srs bznss, Roger Ebert (@ebertchicago) tweeted a link to a scary AP article on this summer’s raging U.S. scorchapocalypse. Is it global warming? Well, we can’t say that, because weather (such as a heat wave) and climate (long-term trends in temperature, storms, etc.) are different things. But hell yeah it IS global warming.

Inset quote time!

If you want a glimpse of some of the worst of global warming, scientists suggest taking a look at U.S. weather in recent weeks. Horrendous wildfires. Oppressive heat waves. Devastating droughts. Flooding from giant deluges. And a powerful freak wind storm called a derecho. These are the kinds of extremes climate scientists have predicted will come with climate change, although it’s far too early to say that is the cause. Nor will they say global warming is the reason 3,215 daily high temperature records were set in the month of June.

Yeah uh huh. Meanwhile, North America is maggot-shot with political leaders who ignore scientists, minimize the dangers of climatic and ecological degredation and generally keep us throttled full-speed down the fossil fuel highway because they really care about jobs for their constituents hahaha no bales of money and fuck the future if it can’t take a joke.

Let’s have another scary inset quote!

Such patterns haven’t happened only in the past week or two. The spring and winter in the U.S. were the warmest on record and among the least snowy, setting the stage for the weather extremes to come, scientists say. Since Jan. 1, the United States has set more than 40,000 hot temperature records, but fewer than 6,000 cold temperature records, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Through most of last century, the U.S. used to set cold and hot records evenly, but in the first decade of this century America set two hot records for every cold one, said Jerry Meehl, a climate extreme expert at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. This year the ratio is about 7 hot to 1 cold. Some computer models say that ratio will hit 20-to-1 by midcentury, Meehl said.

aaaahhhhhhhh

And wait, wha?

While at least 15 climate scientists told The Associated Press that this long hot U.S. summer is consistent with what is to be expected in global warming, history is full of such extremes, said John Christy at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. He’s a global warming skeptic who says, “The guilty party in my view is Mother Nature.”

Oh fuck off. There’s always gotta be one of ’em in every news story, doesn’t there? I’m not even gonna bother Googling John Christy to find out he’s an economist/geologist/creationist/paid fossil fuel shill/whatever. I’ll leave that to you guys.

Full story here, by the way.

UPDATE Yeah, I looked up John Christy. He actually IS a climate scientist! Apparently a very bad one.

Sunday Bummer: Suzuki Resigns Because PM J.R. Ewing Is Attacking Environmentalists

How did I miss this? Not only did I miss the story Friday morning but I got an e-mail from the Suzuki Foundation on Saturday, and I missed that, too. Boo me.

Anyway, David Suzuki has resigned from the board of his charitable foundation. Here’s an excerpt from his resignation letter:

I have reached a point in my life where I would like to consider myself an elder. I want to speak freely without fear that my words will be deemed too political, and harm the organization of which I am so proud. I am keenly aware that some governments, industries and special interest groups are working hard to silence us. They use threats to the Foundation’s charitable status in attempts to mute its powerful voice on issues that matter deeply to you and many other Canadians. This bullying demonstrates how important it is to speak out.

You can read the whole thing here. Righteous squawking aside, I think it’ll be okay that Suzuki stepped down from the board of his foundation — though it could conceivably mess up his Science Matters column, which we’ve been running for more than a decade (I’m looking into that).

Who knows, maybe he was going to step down anyway, but because he’s politically savvy, he used his departure to take a well-deserved shot at our depraved, oil industry-run Conservative government (which totally deserves it for behaving like fascists). UPDATE: Suzuki actually resigned last year but the news broke in the media last week.

Speaking of Suzuki’s enemies, they are real and they are organized. Example: we got an op-ed submission last week criticizing Suzuki’s absolutely terrific article in the April 5 prairie dog. The letter was from Ottawa-based Tom Harris, executive director of the Orwellian-named International Climate Science Coalition, and was a nakedly political effort to attack Suzuki’s credibility and obscure the facts around climate change. I forwarded it to Dechene, who’ll have a blog post at some point. (We might also do something more in-depth on this organization in a future issue.)

A newspaper editor who wasn’t savvy to anti-environment propaganda would probably have been duped into running the ICSC column without comment. It’s a good reminder how pro-oil industry organizations with secret funding wage organized propaganda campaigns against environmentalists and the public interest.

Climate Change: Scarier And Scarier

From The Guardian:

The models showed that average world temperatures are on course to rise by between 1.4C and 3C given mid-range greenhouse gas emissions. According to the findings, the world is very likely to cross the critical “two degrees barrier” at some point this century if emissions continue unabated. Experts believe warming of 2C above pre-industrial levels could trigger runaway climate change that cannot be reversed.

Question: I know prairie dog readers care (though I’m a little concerned that we get more feedback about our Cathedral grocery store coverage than our global warming coverage), but do Saskatchewanians in general give a shit about the future? It’s people under 20 who are going to get creamed in a world destabilized by global warming. But screw ’em, right? They’re just kids and we’ll be dead. Besides, our wise elders have more important things to fret about. Like fetal rights.

After all, last year we Saskatchewanians deliberately elected a federal government that attacks scientists and environmentalists. And it’s not like we didn’t warn people.

Also, I meant to post this last week but I got swamped. Here’s a Globe and Mail story about David Suzuki dealing with the usual stupid bullshit from idiot  politicians. Here’s an excerpt:

Senator Don Plett asked his fellow senators: “If environmentalists are willing to accept money from Martians, where would they draw the line on where they receive money from? Would they take money from al-Qaeda, the Hamas or the Taliban?” Senator Percy Mockler referred to the Suzuki Foundation and others as “qualified bad, not to mention ugly, foundations.”

It’s just embarrassing. Yup, we sure elected some real winners to a majority government last year, and they’ve done their part to kick the snot out of science, fact-based policy and civility. Bravo, Saskatchewan! Canada would’ve had a hard time steering toward extreme right-wing politics without your folksy, commonsensical contributions.

Good vs. Bad

According to the Federal Government…

Good Guys: Energy companies, the National Energy Board, Environment Canada, business and industry associations.

Bad Guys: The media, the biodiesel industry, environmental and aboriginal groups.

As a First Nations Freelance Writer and environmentalist that means…I scored an Enemies List Hat Trick! What do I win? A fully loaded SUV?

The Lobby Busting Entourage must be on the dreaded Enemies List too.

They are Council of Canadians, the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN) and Climate Action Network Canada (CAN Canada) whose sole purpose is to meet with EU Embassies and challenge the arguments being brought forward by Canadian lobbying against the EU Fuel Quality Directive (FQD).

Why is Canada lobbying against the EU Fuel Quality Directive (FQD)?

I’m glad you asked.

“This is because the policy includes a default value for bitumen (what is produced in the tar sands) that recognizes it is a high-carbon fuel, thereby discouraging its use.”

Rather than reduce emissions, Canada would rather change the entire playing field to allow for more emissions globally.

“The Harper Government has failed Canadians and the world by refusing to take the climate crises seriously,” says Hannah McKinnon of Climate Action Network Canada. “Instead of fighting a pollution battle at home, the government has chosen to fight a Public Relations battle abroad –it is pathetic that our government is putting more energy into trying to kill climate change policies in other countries than doing its fair share to fight climate change in Canada.”

Peter Kent announced today that the oil and gas industry, Ottawa and Alberta will spend another $150 million on monitoring the oil sands environment over the next three years.

Would it be too much to ask for an independent commission?

A Censored Canadian Artist Makes The New York Times’ Blog

I’m not sure how much Dog Bloggers have ranted (if at all) about the case of Franke James, a Canadian artist whose funding for an international show was pulled by the government because her work is critical of the tarsands and Canada’s obstructionist carbon climate policy. Anyway,  New York Times’ blogger Andrew C. Revkin picked up the story last week and interviewed James. Here’s a short excerpt:

Q: Some will say, of course, that governments are free to shift spending priorities and it’s not as if they’re censoring you, just cutting off government subsidy. How do you respond to such points?

A: Your question contains several questions so let me break it down: Is the Canadian government free to shift its spending priorities? Most people would automatically say “Yes, of course.” However when it comes to arts funding it’s not so simple… Let’s rephrase the question this way: “Is the Canadian government free to deny funding to art which does not support its official policies?” Then the answer from many people would be “No” because to deny funding threatens free speech and freedom of expression. (And it starts to sound like only government propaganda will get Arts grants, which does not sound like a democracy.)

Read the whole thing here.

Oh yeah, one more thing: this is Canada. We support and nurture culture and free expression and we’re proud of it. Commentators eager to whine about how government funding of Canadian art and artists is a waste of their tax dollars are welcome to share their miserable, selfish and toxic remarks in this forum. They are also strongly encouraged to move somewhere  where governments don’t support culture. Preferably Mars.

Banks, The Climate And Priorities

The mighty George Monbiot has an observation:

They bailed out the banks in days. But even deciding to bail out the planet is taking decades.

Nicholas Stern estimated that capping climate change would cost around 1% of global GDP, while sitting back and letting it hit us would cost between 5 and 20%. One per cent of GDP is, at the moment, $630bn. By March 2009, Bloomberg has revealed, the US Federal Reserve had committed $7.77 trillion to the banks. That is just one government’s contribution: yet it amounts to 12 times the annual global climate change bill. Add the bailouts in other countries, and it rises several more times.

This support was issued on demand: as soon as the banks said they wanted help, they got it. On just one day the Federal Reserve made $1.2tr available – more than the world has committed to tackling climate change in 20 years.

Much of this was done both unconditionally and secretly: it took journalists two years to winkle out the detail. The banks shouted “help” and the government just opened its wallet. This all took place, remember, under George W Bush, whose administration claimed to be fiscally conservative.

But getting the U.S. government to commit to any form of bailout for the planet – even a couple of billion – is like pulling teeth. “Unaffordable!” the Republicans (and many of the Democrats) shriek. It will wreck the economy! We’ll go back to living in caves!

It says everything you need to know about the our society that we literally invest more to keep banks healthy than we do to keep the planet healthy. Scary.