Saturday, November 16, 2019

Don't Take This Personally. It's Just Business.

Re-Education U. - Razor Wire Campus


A jarring report today in The New York Times on Chinese oppression of its Muslim ethnic minorities, mainly Uighurs, in its westernmost territories adjoining Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The newspaper has obtained 400 pages of internal Chinese government documents that call for "absolutely no mercy" in crushing dissent. The documents indicate the Chinese have already shipped over a million Uighurs, Kazakhs and others to internment camps for "retraining."

Children saw their parents taken away, students wondered who would pay their tuition and crops could not be planted or harvested for lack of manpower, the reports noted. Yet officials were directed to tell people who complained to be grateful for the Communist Party’s help and stay quiet.
...The Chinese leadership wraps policymaking in secrecy, especially when it comes to Xinjiang, a resource-rich territory located on the sensitive frontier with Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asia. Predominantly Muslim ethnic minority groups make up more than half the region’s population of 25 million. The largest of these groups are the Uighurs, who speak a Turkic language and have long faced discrimination and restrictions on cultural and religious activities.
...Since 2017, the authorities in Xinjiang have detained many hundreds of thousands of Uighurs, Kazakhs and other Muslims in internment camps. Inmates undergo months or years of indoctrination and interrogation aimed at transforming them into secular and loyal supporters of the party. 
Of the 24 documents, the directive on how to handle minority students returning home to Xinjiang in the summer of 2017 offers the most detailed discussion of the indoctrination camps — and the clearest illustration of the regimented way the party told the public one story while mobilizing around a much harsher narrative internally.
Even as the document advises officials to inform students that their relatives are receiving “treatment” for exposure to radical Islam, its title refers to family members who are being “dealt with,” or chuzhi, a euphemism used in party documents to mean punishment.

The government sends Xinjiang’s brightest young Uighurs to universities across China, with the goal of training a new generation of Uighur civil servants and teachers loyal to the party. 
The crackdown has been so extensive that it affected even these elite students, the directive shows. And that made the authorities nervous. 
“Returning students from other parts of China have widespread social ties across the entire country,” the directive noted. “The moment they issue incorrect opinions on WeChat, Weibo and other social media platforms, the impact is widespread and difficult to eradicate.”
...The authorities appear to be using a scoring system to determine who can be released from the camps: The document instructed officials to tell the students that their behavior could hurt their relatives’ scores, and to assess the daily behavior of the students and record their attendance at training sessions, meetings and other activities.
Family members, including you, must abide by the state’s laws and rules, and not believe or spread rumors,” officials were told to say. “Only then can you add points for your family member, and after a period of assessment they can leave the school if they meet course completion standards.
"Round up everyone who should be rounded up."
The party had previously used the phrase — “ying shou jin shou” in Chinese — when demanding that officials be vigilant and comprehensive in collecting taxes or measuring harvests. Now it was being applied to humans in directives that ordered, with no mention of judicial procedures, the detention of anyone who displayed “symptoms” of religious radicalism or antigovernment views. 
The authorities laid out dozens of such signs, including common behavior among devout Uighurs such as wearing long beards, giving up smoking or drinking, studying Arabic and praying outside mosques.
Meanwhile, as mom and dad are busy at "school" being re-educated, Beijing is shipping in Han Chinese "settlers", shades of what was done to Tibet.

This brings me to the point of this post - must we really do business with regimes as odious as China's or the Saudis'? Where do we draw the line? Yes - they're big, I get it. Too big to oppose? This is a brutal, totalitarian regime, a threat to global peace and a bully.

You may be dismissing this. It's China's problem, after all. No reason for us to worry.  If you think that, you haven't been listening to what's being said in Beijing and other Chinese power centres.

The Chinese have been remarkably candid, probably because they think we're a pretty complacent bunch. The Chinese are not really keen on becoming the new United States of America. They get the whole liberal democracy/capitalism thing, the model we formulated for the world order post WWII, and they're not fans.

China played by our rules, at least in the capitalism context, and it paid off biggly for them. But they've never warmed to democracy. Ask the people of Tibet. Ask the Uighurs or the people of Hong Kong.


The Chinese believe, as in war so in peace, to the victors go the spoils. China wants to define the next world order. It really does. Just ask it. They're also dealing with this "Century of Humiliation" thing, especially China's military brass. The Chinese have been marking National Humiliation Day since 1916. They remember that it was less than three centuries ago that China and India had the largest and second-largest economies in the world. Then we (that's you, Britain) put in an appearance, showed them what was what, and became the economic titans. Somebody is out for a little payback.

American military officers who have been involved with their Chinese counterparts have returned home with the willies.  Apparently when they engage in war games, the Chinese do not play nice. The enmity, it is claimed, is visceral. Then again, the Americans don't always help. I recall an op-ed in the Proceedings of the US Naval Institute in which an officer lamented how the Chinese were bound for first place and America was allowing that "without a fight." Bad attitude.

So China wants a new, made in Beijing, world order, one that has little time for western liberal democracy, and it wants the world, or at least most of it, to fall into step. What if that became the price of admission to a new form of globalism? You want to play, you pay.

Then you've got the 8-gazillion tonne gorilla in the room - climate change.  China may be the biggest emitter today, barely, but it also has a huge population that makes the junk we want and, besides, we had a 200-year head start with the carbon fuels.

Climate change could destabilize China and India. It could be an economy wrecker too. What then?

You've got an emerging dominant power (Thucydides Trap) in a mood to throw its weight around and rewrite the rules of the road, with a rapidly modernizing military led by guys with massive chips on their shoulders, facing devastating and destabilizing climate change impacts in the not-distant future.

Is it really in our best interests to simply ignore this? Maybe it's time we began taking a few more things personally. Not everything can be written off as "business."

Friday, November 15, 2019

Try Letting the People Win Some Times.


An item on the CBC web site suggests that Mr. Trudeau may appoint Chrystia Freeland to a new portfolio, perhaps deputy minister.
Trudeau is being advised to leverage Freeland's star power and place her in a role that will focus on domestic concerns. 
One option that has been discussed is naming her minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, making the restoration of national unity a focus of her mandate.
Mr. Trudeau's concern about the health of national unity is genuine but Chrystia Freeland is a poor vehicle to achieve that essential goal no matter how her mandate is framed or what powers she's given. That's a fast track to failure.

What we need is democratic restoration. Our's is a rotten system when a minority of voters, of those still willing to turn out to vote, can, by a margin of 34 to 38 per cent, determine who shall govern the rest and whether that will be by a minority or a majority. That's a formula for disaffection, division and the defeat of the very democracy we supposedly cherish and vow to uphold.

When fewer than 40 per cent can impose majority rule on the other 60 per cent, that's democracy in decay. It's rancid. It's rotten. In the long run it's ruinous. You cannot have democracy and yet so ruthlessly undermine it.

What can it be but arrogant to imagine that we can restore and build what had been such a great nation as ours in this way?

Roger Stone,a Man of Deep Convictions. Seven So Far.



Trump dirty trickster, Roger Stone, guilty of witness tampering, lying to Congress and obstruction of justice. Stone was convicted on all seven charges.

Enjoy the Greybar Hotel, Roger. I'm sure your new friends will give you lots of compliments on the Nixon tattoo.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

That's Where the Donald Got the Hair


Voila! Donald Trump's hair stylist.

aka Wayne Cochran and the CC Riders

Some Clouds Do Have a - BOOM - Silver Lining



Military ordinance, such as bombs, rockets or mines, doesn't like climate change. In the really hot regions, it can be an explosive situation. They're called UEMS, unplanned explosions at munitions sites. From Scientific American:

If exposed to extreme temperatures and humidity for long enough, a munition can become unstable and may even more or less strip itself apart. The wood in antipersonnel stake mines rots; rubber and plastic in plastic mines can shatter in the unrelenting sun. Without regular monitoring, heated explosive materials within munitions can force their way through seals and filler plugs, a shell casing’s weakest points. Nitroglycerin becomes so sensitive when it absorbs moisture that even a slight shake can set it off. White phosphorus melts into a liquid at 44 degrees C and can crack a munition’s outer casing as it expands and contracts with the temperature. When explosives leak out, some react with impurities in the air to form dangerously volatile crystals on the exterior that can explode with friction or motion. “The physical effect of abnormally high temperatures is that a high level of stress occurs between components because of the different expansion rates of the individual materials,” says John Montgomery, chief technical adviser for explosive ordnance disposal at the Halo Trust, a land-mine-clearance nonprofit organization.
Mortar shells, rockets and artillery rounds are particularly vulnerable because they are powered by propellants that make them liable to launch at the slightest provocation. Chemical stabilizers prevent self-ignition. But for every five-degree-C increase above its ideal storage temperature, the stabilizer depletes by a factor of 1.7, according to the Halo Trust. That depletion accelerates if munitions are exposed to a wide temperature swing over the course of the day. Eventually, there is no more stabilizer—and as a consequence, sometimes no more munitions site either. Most of Cyprus lost electricity in July 2011 when the nation’s principal power station was taken out by 98 shipping containers full of confiscated Iranian munitions that exploded after cooking for months under the Mediterranean sun, eroding their propellants.

Higher temperatures also raise the risk of handling errors by fatigued armorers. From chaotic conflict zones to the best-equipped NATO-standard storage facilities, soldiers say summer is when explosive accidents peak because of a combination of foggy decision-making and more sensitive munitions, both caused by extreme heat. “In the military, everything is more difficult when it’s summer,” says an Iraqi artillery officer who gives his name as Ali. “And now summer never ends.”

Priorities - An Already Faltering Petro-Economy or Future Survival. One Must Yield.



There's an anecdote often attributed to Winston Churchill that goes like this:
“Churchill: "Madam, would you sleep with me for five million pounds?" Socialite: "My goodness, Mr. Churchill... Well, I suppose... we would have to discuss terms, of course... " 
Churchill: "Would you sleep with me for five pounds?" 
Socialite: "Mr. Churchill, what kind of woman do you think I am?!" 
Churchill: "Madam, we've already established that. Now we are haggling about the price”
What's our price? What is Canada's price to abandon the fossil energy economy, especially coal and bitumen?

I suppose that depends who must pay. At the moment that's not us so much as people in other lands who never are included in the conversation when unprincipled people of power - Jason Kenney, Andrew Scheer, Preston Manning, Scott Moe, Stephen Harper and, yes, Justin Trudeau rise to the defence of Canada's highest carbon, most toxic fossil fuels.

There are people today who are dying from the impacts of our global, carbon-fueled climate crisis. They're dying. They're being forced from their ancestral homelands, their historic ways of life no longer viable. They're being thrust into resource wars, wars of survival. Even the lucky ones are having their lives truncated, abbreviated by lethal heat waves, crop failures and famine, new contagious diseases, severe weather events or the particulate aftermath of our petro-economies.
The climate crisis will determine the lifelong health of today’s children, doctors have warned, noting that global heating was already causing harm. 
Children are especially vulnerable and the global team of researchers say rising temperatures mean the bacteria causing deadly diarrhoea will thrive while poorer crop yields could lead to more malnutrition. 
The annual Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change tracks the impacts of global heating on health. As well as children, older people are particularly vulnerable to heatwaves since they are less able to regulate their temperature and fluid balance. 
The authors found that 220 million more people over 65 were exposed to heatwaves in 2018 compared with 2000. Europe, the report said, was especially at risk, due to its high number of older citizens living in large, hot, cities.
The 2019 report, coinciding with wildfires raging in Australia, also found that human exposure to fires had doubled since 2000. Wildfires not only cause deaths and health damage but had significant economic and social impacts. 
Nick Watts, executive director of the Lancet Countdown, said: “Children’s bodies and immune systems are still developing, leaving them more susceptible to disease and environmental pollutants. The damage done in early childhood lasts a lifetime. Without immediate action from all countries climate change will come to define the health of an entire generation.
The study tracks 41 indicators including the spread of infectious diseases. It was found that, spurred on by global heating, the ability of dengue fever to be transmitted by mosquitoes in 2017 was at the second highest level recorded since 1950, while nine of the 10 most suitable years for transmission had happened since 2000. “Dengue is the most rapidly expanding infection around the world,” said Watts. “It is called breakbone fever because it is incredibly painful.”

The report also found 2018 was the second most suitable year on record for the spread of the cholera bacteria, which cause much of the diarrhoeal disease and wound infections around the globe. Watts said the first native cases of tick-borne encephalitis in the UK were recorded in October. “This is a disease we know is moving as a result of climate change.” 
The report said infants were worst hit by malnutrition, and that, as temperatures have risen, the capability of many cereal crops to deliver full yields has fallen in the last 30 years.
Do you imagine that when Justin Trudeau sits down with Andrew Scheer or Jason Kenney their conversation turns to dengue fever or cholera or diarrhoeal epidemics. Do they explore the countless millions of children whose immune systems are being permanently compromised, their life expectancy shortened for many, extinguished for some by our petro-economy? Of course not. Those people are never part of their deadly equation. They're collateral damage, what the petro-economy treats as "externalities" that are to be kept off the books. How obscene is it that we neither acknowledge them nor our contribution to their ordeal?

There was a time when Canada was widely seen as a force for good, an honest broker, a peace maker and a peace keeper. Our current prime minister's father tried to bridge the divide between rich and poor, north and south. Those days are over. We are not that Canada any longer. We still cling to that tattered conceit but we're lying to ourselves.

The Tories set us on a new course, one in which you no longer spoke truth to power but, instead, spoke on behalf of power. Four years of Liberal government show that's not changing.

We have established what we are.

The Cult



Critics of the Republican Party are increasingly depicting the GOP as a "cult." It's no longer the party of Lincoln. It's the cult of Donald J. Trump.

In today's Guardian, columnist Richard Wolffe explores one of the cult's High Priests, Devin Nunes.

If you were on trial on national television, facing the possible loss of your job and the probable loss of what remains of your reputation, you might not place your fate in the hands of Devin Nunes
Nunes is a one-time dairy farmer who now milks the bursting udders of an entire herd of conspiracy-minded cows. 
...Less the cream of the cream, Nunes is more like the curd of the absurd. This sadly is the bovine bedlam we’re all committed to for the next 12 months of American politics. 
It’s a place where the best defense of Trump exhorting a foreign leader is that he was somehow rooting out corruption; where he was supposedly investigating foreign interference in the 2016 election when he was bribing a foreign government to interfere in the 2020 election; where the FBI and CIA have undermined themselves; and where the Democrats have been colluding with the Russians. 
Nunes led the herd in arguing that this is a victimless crime – the Ukraine president got his stupid missiles anyhow. In fact Nunes was really arguing that impeachment is the criminal victimization of a poor helpless crusader for truth, justice and good government, who happens to live in the people’s house on Pennsylvania Avenue. 
By some miracle of telekinesis, Nunes’s brain created a White House video featuring our humble hero, who insisted that his own impeachment wasn’t all it seemed on live television. 
“What’s going on now is the single greatest scam in the history of American politics,” said the real estate guy who is something of an expert in scams.
...“It’s all very simple,” said our very simple president. “They’re trying to stop me because I’m fighting for you.”  
This may come as news for anyone who is not circling the barnyard. Trump was apparently fighting for regular Americans when he was extorting the Ukraine president to smear Joe Biden.
Trump and Nunes are obviously hoping that voters cannot see through the fog on this farm. These hearings are so darn complicated and foreign, maybe Americans will never remember whether four legs are good or bad
This is the latest in a long line of so-called defense strategies that have run the gamut from unlikely to unbelievable. First came the wild fabrications: Trump’s phone call with Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, was supposedly perfect, and the whistleblower doesn’t exist.  
Then came the wild conspiracies: the Democrats were themselves fabricating evidence in secret hearings that somehow included Republicans. We spent an epoch or two debating Latin tit-for-tats. Now we have arrived at the stage of debate that involves hurling turds at a wall in the hope of finding something adhesive.
But what is a cult? What common threads run through the Branch Davidians, the Peoples Temple, the Manson Family, the Moonies, Heaven's Gate, and now the GOP and the Cult of Maga. From the International Cultic Studies Association:
The group claims to pursue lofty goals (e.g., salvation, bringing enlightenment to the world for the sake of peace, or solutions to specific world problems and injustices), sometimes through violent means. But a close look at the group’s accomplishments will invariably show that these publicly proclaimed goals are not reached, or that they mask less noble goals, such as amassing monetary wealth, gaining power and control over the followers, and feeding the leader’s need for adulation. Followers support and promote the leader’s self-aggrandizement in part because they perceive themselves as gaining prestige in the group for their righteous devotion and service to the leader. 
The defining characteristic of leaders of cultic groups is their need for adoration and for the continual buttressing of their delusional sense of omnipotence and infallibility. The leaders use all the means at their disposal—intimidation, seduction, systems of reward and punishment—to enforce the followers’ dependence on them. These leaders present themselves as fully realized or otherwise highly spiritual beings who have attained all that they need, or who have transcended need. Followers are typically persuaded to believe that their spiritual and material needs can only be met through total compliance with the leader’s demands, whether the demands be for work, money, sex, or recruitment of more followers.
Trump and his MAGA cult, public and Congressional, certainly fit that bill.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

You Don't Have to Like Hillary to Know She's Right


Hillary Clinton brought a warning to an audience in London today - Britain is at risk of succumbing to authoritarianism and fascism.

Speaking to an audience in London, Clinton said she took “very seriously” the fact that significant numbers of female MPs had opted not to run again for parliament in the coming election, in many cases citing online intimidation and threats against their safety. 
“When I heard about all these people, particularly the women, who weren’t going to run again [as MPs], and they attributed it to the threats they are going to face, that is not only a threat to individuals, that is a threat to democracies,” she said.
“If people are intimidated out of running for office in a democracy because of these hatemongers on the left or the right … that is the path [to] authoritarianism, that is the path [to] fascism.”

While we have fanciful notions that Britain stood alone against the Nazis as the rest of Europe yielded to Hitler, there were several prominent Brits, including royalty, who actually supported fascism. There have always been some who have flirted with authoritarianism, especially in the runup to WWII. Then King Edward, who abdicated to marry "that Wallis woman," American divorcee Wallis Simpson, was rather sympathetic to Hitler.

Trump "We're Keeping the Oil."

Turkish president Recep Erdogan seems to have received a warm welcome to the White House from his American counterpart, Donnie Trump. During the obligatory joint press conference Trump addressed the purpose of American troops remaining in Syria.



Is America out to seize Syrian oil? Having abandoned the Kurds is it now trying to prevent them from getting control of that oil? Has he cut some side deal with Erdogan?

That's the nature of Thug Life - nothing is ever really as it seems.

What? Labour Costs are Causing Foreign Companies to Leave China.



Deutche Welle reports that a surprising number of German companies are shifting all or part of their Chinese operations elsewhere. A transformation under way in China is making other, lower-wage countries much more attractive.

Nearly a quarter of German companies operating in China are planning to relocate all or part of their business out of the Asian country, according to a study released Tuesday by the German Chamber of Commerce in China.

The annual survey of 526 member firms in China found that 23% of them have either already decided to withdraw production capacity from the country or are considering it. A third of those companies have planned to leave China entirely. 
The rest say they will transfer part of their business and production overseas, largely to lower-cost countries in Asia. 
Operating costs in China have been rising as the country seeks to rebalance its economy from an export and investment-led model to one driven by services and consumer spending.
Photo - Chinese workers man the line at a VW plant in Shanghai.

International Energy Agency Sees Encouraging Signs on Climate Change but Too Little, Too Late.



The International Energy Agency's World Energy Outlook 2019 sees renewable energy and electric vehicles coming on stream much faster than predicted but not nearly fast enough.

The New York Times summarizes the 810-page IEA report.

Since last year, the agency has significantly increased its future projections for offshore wind farms, solar installations and battery-powered cars, both because these technologies keep getting cheaper and because countries like India keep ramping up their clean-energy targets. 
But the report also issues a stark warning on climate change, estimating that the energy policies countries currently have on their books could cause global greenhouse gas emissions to continue rising for the next 20 years. One reason: The world’s appetite for energy keeps surging, and the rise of renewables so far hasn’t been fast enough to satisfy all that extra demand. The result: fossil fuels use, particularly natural gas, keeps growing to supply the rest. 
“Without new policies in place, the world will miss its climate goals by a very large margin,” said Fatih Birol, the agency’s executive director.
"The world urgently needs to put a laser-like focus on bringing down global emissions. This calls for a grand coalition encompassing governments, investors, companies and everyone else who is committed to tackling climate change."

Today's Deep Thought



What's Our Policy to Avert Epidemics?


Beijing hospitals are treating two people for plague. It's not the bubonic plague. It is the much deadlier pneumonic plague.
Plague is caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis and can arise in three forms – a lung infection, known as pneumonic plague; a blood infection, known as septicemic plague; and a form that affects the lymph nodes, called bubonic plague. 
The latter form is perhaps the most famous, and was behind several pandemics including the Black Death of the late middle ages, which is estimated to have killed up to 60% of the European population. 
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US, plague typically spreads to humans who have handled an infected animal or who have been bitten by a flea hosted by an infected animal. However, in the case of pneumonic plague it can be spread when an infected person coughs. Pneumonic plague is highly contagious and is fatal if not treated quickly with antibiotics.

Venice Has a Water Problem



The city of canals and gondolas is no stranger to seasonal flooding but even Venice is not immune to sea level rise.  The city is now taking the brunt of the highest tides it has seen in 50 years and climate change is said to be the cause.
The mayor of Venice is poised to declare a state of emergency after the city was hit by the highest tide in more than 50 years, with another surge expected to cause further widespread flooding and destruction on Wednesday. 
Flooding in the lagoon city reached its second-highest level ever in the wake of the aqua alta, or high waters, which reached 1.87 metres late on Tuesday night amid heavy rain, just short of the record 1.94 metres (78 in) recorded in 1966. 
More than 85% of Venice was flooded, authorities said, including the historic basilica and many of its squares and alleyways. While the water level dropped slightly on Wednesday morning, a further torrent of water, whipped up by high winds, is forecast to sweep in later in the day, reaching a level of 1.60 metres.
Compounding the city's problems is ongoing subsidence, just over 9 inches in the past century. With sea levels expected to continue rising for centuries even as historic Venice sinks, it is going to take some creative genius to save the lagoon city. A 2 metre tide would submerge 90 per cent of the city.

St Mark’s Square was submerged by more than one metre of water, while the adjacent St Mark’s Basilica was flooded for the sixth time in 1,200 years – but the fourth in the last two decades. The last occasion, in November 2018, caused an estimated €2.2m (£1.9m) of damage

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Canadian Exceptionalism


There are some 180 countries but Canada is one of just three.  We are rated one of three countries "least likely" to meet our GHG emissions targets. Way to go, Canada.

The G20 nations account for 85 per cent of global economic activity and in 2018 produced 80 per cent of all greenhouse-gas emissions, which accumulate in the atmosphere and trap heat. 
The [Climate Transparency] report says about half the G20 members – 19 countries with advanced economies plus the European Union collectively – are on track to meet their current targets for cutting emissions by 2030 but those targets are much too mild. If every G20 member does not drastically scale up its targets, the G20 overall will produce more emissions in 2030 than it does today, Climate Transparency said. 
Canada, South Korea and Australia are the farthest from meeting targets to cut emissions in line with their Paris Agreement commitments, but those commitments are nowhere close to enough, the report says. Canada’s per-capita emissions, the greenhouse gases it releases divided by the number of people who live here, are the second highest in the G20, behind only Australia.
Of course, promises are always relative. If Canada was already a low emitter - as our government claims - it really wouldn't matter much if we didn't come through with our promises.

But Canada isn't a low emitter. We're a big emitter. We're in the top ten for overall emissions and, once the Justin Trudeau Memorial Pipeline, comes on stream we're expected to leap two, maybe three spots on that ranking. Speaking of threes, we're also in the top three for per capita emissions.

We see cutting emissions as a mortal threat to our economy and, in Canada, the economy shall always trump the global environment, the climate emergency proclamation notwithstanding.

Oh yeah, one other thing. The "targets" we're expected to miss - badly? Those were set by Stephen Harper.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

What's Going On In Our Waters? The Coastal Climate Crisis.



Until a couple of years ago coastal British Columbia had masses of purple starfish. Then something wiped them out.
Sea star wasting disease hit hard and fast. The disease arrived on the central coast of British Columbia in 2015 and rapidly killed 96 percent of the sunflower sea stars in the region. The disease exacted a similar toll on a range of other sea star species along the northeast Pacific coast. Jenn Burt, a doctoral candidate at Simon Fraser University and a Hakai Institute scholar,* was shocked by the carnage she witnessed. 
“When we showed up in the summer of 2015 to do our annual surveys, there were melted sea stars everywhere,” says Burt. “You would be literally swimming on a transect line and you’d come across single sea star arms.”
...Sea otters selectively hunt the largest sea urchins. Sea stars, however, go after the small and medium ones. In the absence of sea stars, Burt saw a proliferation of smaller urchins. These urchins, now unrestrained by predation, ate away at the kelp. As a result, the kelp forests suffered. With the SSWD epidemic, the annual survival rate of small and medium sea urchins increased by 166 percent. The density of affected kelp forests, meanwhile, declined by 30 percent.

It has been reported in recent months that Vancouver Island's kelp forests are coming under attack by massive numbers of urchins.
Tens of millions of voracious purple sea urchins that have already chomped their way through towering underwater kelp forests in California are spreading north to Oregon, sending the delicate marine ecosystem off the shore into such disarray that other critical species are starving to death. It's similar to what has been reported in B.C
A recent count found 350 million purple sea urchins on one Oregon reef alone — a more than 10,000 per cent increase since 2014. And in northern California, 90 per cent of the giant bull kelp forests have been devoured by the urchins, perhaps never to return. 
Vast "urchin barrens" — stretches of denuded seafloor dotted with nothing but hundreds of the spiny orbs — have spread to coastal Oregon, where kelp forests were once so thick it was impossible to navigate some areas by boat.
Now the climate crisis is believed to be the main cause of a deadly virus sweeping through sea mammals - sea lions, seals and otters - in the North Pacific.

A lethal virus that killed tens of thousands of harbor seals in the northern Atlantic in 2002 suddenly spread to sea lions, seals and otters in the northern Pacific Ocean two years later, confusing scientists, as NBC News reported
How could the pathogen that causes a measles-like disease in marine mammals that had only been found on the Atlantic coasts suddenly have spread to the Pacific? 
"We didn't understand how a virus from the Atlantic ended up in these sea otters. It's not a species that ranges widely," said Tracey Goldstein, a scientist at the University of California Davis who investigates how pathogens move through marine ecosystems, as National Geographic reported
Goldstein and her colleagues looked at 15 years of data and realized that the spike in the virus was commensurate with Arctic sea ice loss. The data, published in a new study in the journal Scientific Reports, finds that the loss of Arctic sea ice allowed otters and other mammals to move west and spread the virus. The study shows that global heating is opening new avenues for diseases to spread, as National Geographic reported. 
"The loss of sea ice is leading marine wildlife to seek and forage in new habitats and removing that physical barrier, allowing for new pathways for them to move," said Goldstein in a press release. "As animals move and come in contact with other species, they carry opportunities to introduce and transmit new infectious disease, with potentially devastating impacts."
The devastation of local otter populations and the starfish could explain the attack by urchins on our kelp forests. Otters feed on the urchins, keeping their populations under control and thereby safeguarding the kelp from their main predator.

This past week the New York Times reported on a contagious form of cancer attacking shellfish. The article claims the cancer is believed to have originated in bay mussels from British Columbia.  This cancer virus has now been found in mussels and clams in South America and in blue mussels in France. No one seems to know how this ends, what's next. All I know is that the federal Pacific headquarters of Fisheries and Oceans is in no rush to return my calls.

So what is Mr. Trudeau's Liberal government doing about this? Apparently nothing beyond squabbling with a gaggle of dryland premiers about a hopelessly gestural carbon tax as he falls even further behind meeting Stephen Harper's emissions targets.

We know salmon stocks are in decline. We know the orca can't find enough food and are at risk. Ottawa's response - let's build a new pipeline and launch an armada of supertankers onto the BC coast.

The study adds to a growing body of research signaling trouble for marine mammals, including an increase in marine heat waves that deplete their food supply and an increase in toxic algal blooms that can infect fish with a toxin that causes brain damage in marine mammals, as NBC News reported. 
"When we see these changes happening in animals, we can't ignore them, because the impacts on people and the planet are not far behind," said Elizabeth VanWormer, the study's lead author, as NBC News reported. "This shows how interconnected these things are — the health of people, animals and the planet."
Starfish, mussels, clams, otters, seals and sea lions all form links in the marine ecosystem. That ecosystem is now breaking down. No one knows how this ends.

This is coming on hard and fast and Ottawa is asleep at the switch. The message is clear. When climate change comes hammering on your door, you are on your own.

Saturday, November 09, 2019

The Brits Banned Fracking. Not Ottawa, And It's Ruining the Atmosphere.


A study out of Cornell has found that the fracking boom in the US and Canada is the chief culprit in the large spike in atmospheric methane levels.

Professor Robert Howarth examined hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, over the past several decades, noting the fracking boom that has taken place since the first years of the 21st century. Between 2005 and 2015, fracking went from producing 31 billion cubic meters of shale gas per year to producing 435 billion cubic meters. 
Nearly 90 percent of that fracking took place in the U.S., while about 10 percent was done in Canada.
...In addition to being the second-biggest contributor to the climate crisis after carbon dioxide, methane has been known to cause and exacerbate health issues for people who live in areas where large amounts of the gas is present in the environment. 
Chest pains, bronchitis, emphysema and asthma can all be caused or worsened by high levels of methane. The process of fracking has also been linked to pollution in drinking water.
Of course these are treated as "fugitive emissions" and therefore kept off Canada's emissions books. The Trudeau government is a big fan of LNG.  So too is our NDP government.

Yeah, A Tanker-Free Zone. Except When Ottawa Says Otherwise.

Ottawa needs to leave the safety of the west coast to the grownups. Ottawa's department of fisheries and oceans seems intent on wreaking as much havoc in the Pacific as it caused the eastern provinces when their once fabled cod stocks collapsed.

Out this way, DFO seems to work for the commercial fishing fleet. Maybe it's just the Trudeau government. Doesn't matter. They approve fish farms that spread disease into the wild salmon stocks. They allow overfishing of the coastal herring that feed the wild salmon. Salmon stocks are in decline. DFO looks the other way and the commercial fleet has at them. The orca are starving from the lack of salmon. Now we have to learn from the New York Times that some species of shellfish out here have developed a contagious form of cancer.
Call DFO, they don't even return their messages.

Ottawa promised a tanker free zone along the north coast. Except for the exceptions.


10,000 Ton Texas Tanker traveling the B.C. Coast from Ingmar Lee on Vimeo.

When "Worst Case" Becomes Your New Normal


How did scientists get climate change so wrong? The question is asked in today's New York Times. Things are happening today that just ten or fifteen years ago scientists were warning might - worst case scenario - but just might happen by the end of this century if we didn't change our ways.
Had a scientist in the early 1990s suggested that within 25 years a single heat wave would measurably raise sea levels, at an estimated two one-hundredths of an inch, bake the Arctic and produce Sahara-like temperatures in Paris and Berlin, the prediction would have been dismissed as alarmist. But many worst-case scenarios from that time are now realities.

...A recent essay in Scientific American argued that scientists “tend to underestimate the severity of threats and the rapidity with which they might unfold” and said one of the reasons was “the perceived need for consensus.” This has had severe consequences, diluting what should have been a sense of urgency and vastly understating the looming costs of adaptation and dislocation as the planet continues to warm.
The NYT article sets out a litany of bad calls, stretching from one pole to the other and everything in between. Even as the powerful denounced them as "alarmists," the scientific community continued to grievously err on the side of understatement, bordering on unfounded optimism.

The harm they caused by refusing to speak candidly, truthfully, is that they provided the cover the political caste needed to do as little as possible to thwart or adapt to severe climate change impacts.

 Our own prime minister is still working off targets set by Stephen Harper and we're not even on course to meet those. Canadians I meet don't know that Canada with our minuscule 0.5 per cent of the global population is in the Top Ten overall greenhouse gas emitters. They don't know we're in the Top Three per capita emitters. When the feds get the Justin Trudeau Memorial Pipeline operational, Canada is expected to move up three spots on the Top Ten list.

When a nation with barely one half of one per cent of the global population makes it into the Top Ten overall greenhouse gas emitters, worse than 170 other countries, and your government says it doesn't matter, we're small potatoes, what we do doesn't matter, then what anybody, any nation does really doesn't matter, does it?
If the Trump administration has its way, even the revised worst-case scenarios may turn out to be too rosy. In late August, the administration announced a plan to roll back regulations intended to limit methane emissions resulting from oil and gas exploration, despite opposition from some of the largest companies subject to those regulations. More recently, its actions approached the surreal as the Justice Department opened an antitrust investigationinto those auto companies that have agreed in principle to abide by higher gas mileage standards required by California. The administration also formally revoked a waiver allowing California to set stricter limits on tailpipe emissions than the federal government. 
Even if scientists end up having lowballed their latest assessments of the consequences of the greenhouse gases we continue to emit into the atmosphere, their predictions are dire enough. But the Trump administration has made its posture toward climate change abundantly clear: Bring it on! 
It’s already here. And it is going to get worse. A lot worse.


Friday, November 08, 2019

You Feelin' Like You Need a Laugh?


When I "cut the cable" I lost my connection to CBC's 22 Minutes. I still haven't worked out what to do with that but I have reconnected with 22 Minutes. The satire is pretty awesome, enough to make any Canuck proud. Here, a few.




No harm meant, Maxime. Maybe a bit.


Then, for your nightcap, this. I think it will outlive us all.

Has DFO Screwed Up Again?



Have BC mussels developed a form of contagious cancer?

The New York Times is reporting on research out of Columbia University that traced the cancer back to Bay mussels from British Columbia and has since spread to shellfish in South America and Europe.

Humans have spread a contagious form of cancer around the world. 
Researchers reported on Tuesday that the cancer, which invades mussels, has spread across the Equator. Originating in one species in the Northern Hemisphere, the cancer has established itself in another species in the Southern Hemisphere
“There’s no natural explanation for how that happened without human help,” said Michael Metzger, a biologist at the Pacific Northwest Research Institute in Seattle and a co-author of the report, published in the journal eLife.
While working as a postdoctoral researcher at Columbia University, Dr. Metzger discovered that four species of shellfish — including soft-shell clams and bay mussels — had transmissible cancers of their own. It was the first time anyone had discovered contagious cancer in aquatic animals.

Dr. Metzger and his colleagues suspect that sick shellfish release cancer cells. The cells float along the currents until they are sucked up by healthy animals as they filter seawater for food. In one case, the researchers found, the cancer cells had moved from one species of shellfish into another. 
Nicolas Bierne, a geneticist at the University of Montpellier in France who studies blue mussels, realized that this finding perhaps held the solution to a mystery that he had been struggling with. 
Analyzing the DNA from blue mussels in France, he and his colleagues had discovered some genetic markers that looked as if they belonged to another species: bay mussels. He might have expected such a result if these species interbred — but bay mussels don’t even live in French waters.
Being fond of our local shellfish I called the seafood shop at the nearby fishing port. They've heard nothing. Seeking assurance I then called the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans at their Vancouver headquarters. Those who read this blog know the esteem in which I hold DFO.

The fellow I spoke with had heard nothing about it but he put me on to someone else's voicemail. I'm not holding my breath while I await their callback.

If this is a health hazard that DFO has overlooked that could be the final straw. It's time that British Columbia put an end to Ottawa's incompetence and reclaimed jurisdiction over our own fisheries.

Bolton Wants to Spill His Guts on Trump?



Former Trump national security advisor and bellicose neoconservative may be ready to turn on his former boss.

The New York Times reports that John Bolton's lawyer says his client is ready to sing and has a lot to say.
John R. Bolton, President Trump’s former national security adviser, has knowledge of “many relevant meetings and conversations” connected to the Ukraine pressure campaign that House impeachment investigators do not yet know about, his lawyer told lawmakers on Friday. 
The lawyer, Charles J. Cooper, made that tantalizing point in a letter to the chief House lawyer in response to House committee chairmen who have sought Mr. Bolton’s testimony in their impeachment proceedings but expressed unwillingness to go to court to get an order compelling it.
...Mr. Bolton did not show up for a deposition scheduled on Thursday because, his lawyer said, he wants a judge to determine whether he or his former deputy, Charles M. Kupperman, should testify in defiance of the White House. In effect, Mr. Bolton and Mr. Kupperman are asking for a court ruling on competing demands by the executive branch, which does not want them to testify, and the legislative branch, which does.

And Now, a Word From Britain's Ministry of Defence



From time to time this blog refers to research papers on climate change released by the Pentagon and Britain's Ministry of Defence.

The Brits recently released the sixth edition of their "Global Strategic Trends: the future starts today."

It's not pleasant reading, it's not entertaining. The central theme is, "the rate of change and level of uncertainty may outpace good governance and unity”. Run that through your mind - two or three times. Given what's transpired over the past ten years, it's hardly implausible.

Like most papers, "the future starts today" is fashioned for a particular target audience. Like most papers I link to I don't expect many will have the time to read it. Fortunately, in this case, there's a YouTube video to accompany the report suitably watered down so as not to distress the general audience.



Earlier this month, the US Center for Climate and Security released its latest overview of the Pentagon's position and preparedness, "Chronology of U.S. Military Statements and Actions on Climate Change and Security: Jan 2017- Oct 2019."  It lists 35 senior Defense Department officials who have "publicly raised concerns" about climate change. Quite a list:

This includes then-Secretary of Defense, James Mattis; Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Paul J. Selva; Secretary of the Navy, Richard Spencer; Chief of the National Guard Bureau, General Joseph Lengyel; Assistant Secretary of Defense for Energy, Installations and Environment (IE&E), Lucian L. Niemeyer; Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, R.D. James; Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Installations, Energy, and the Environment, Phyllis L. Bayer; Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Installations, Environment, and Energy, John Henderson; Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Glenn Walters; Vice Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Bill Moran; Air Force Vice Chief of Staff, General Stephen Wilson; Army Vice Chief of Staff, General James McConville; AFRICOM Commander General Thomas D. Waldhauser; Air Force Director of Civil Engineers, Major General Timothy Green; NORTHCOM/ NORAD Commander, General Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy; Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral John Richardson; Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy, and Environment, Alex Beehler; Assistant Secretary of Defense for Sustainment, General Robert McMahon; Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joe Dunford; Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Robert Neller; Commander of Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM), Admiral Philip Davidson; Commander of United States European Command and NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe, General Curtis M. Scaparrotti; Commander of United States Transportation Command (TRANSCOM), General Stephen R. Lyons; Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force, General David L. Goldfein; Secretary of the Air Force, the Honorable Heather A. Wilson; Commander of US Africa Command (AFRICOM), General Thomas Waldhauser; Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Bill Moran; the nominee for Commandant of the Marine Corps, Lieutenant General David Berger, Secretary of the Army Mark Esper; Army Chief of Staff, General Mark A. Milley; Senior Naval Intelligence Manager Mr. Jeff Ringhausen; Commander ​of Air Combat Command, General Mike “Mobile” Holmes; Assistant Secretary of Defense for Sustainment, Hon Robert McMahon; Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Installations, Environment and Energy, and Hon John Henderson; and Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment, Hon Alex Beehler.
I'm not going to go through all that stuff. I only add it in for the one or two of you who might want to go exploring.

Trudeau Pipeline Gets Pushback in Washington



A group of climate activists in southern Washington are blocking the delivery of pipe from India destined for the construction of the Justin Trudeau Memorial Pipeline.
Young activists interrupted the delivery of a controversial pipeline to a port in southern Washington at daybreak on Tuesday, once again taking the lead in the climate fight. 
Tuesday’s protest by Portland Rising Tide was part of a continuing effort to disrupt the opening of project that expands a pipeline running from Edmonton, Alberta, to the coast of British Columbia and would open export markets to hundreds of thousands of barrels of crude oil from the Alberta tar sands. 
Climbers flanked by kayaks chained themselves to a pier on the Columbia River between Oregon and Washington, intending to intercept the delivery of pipe manufactured in India for the project.
Pipe from India? I wonder if India supplied the pipe for the new Keystone XL pipeline that ruptured in North Dakota, spilling 1.4 million litres of diluted bitumen.

Depicted is pipe now stored in Kamloops soon to be aimed at the British Columbia coast.

A "Century of Revolution and Chaos"



When we entered the 21st century a few history types predicted we were embarked on a century of revolution and chaos. They suggested that our traditional institutions and modes of organization would fail us and, in some places, they would be overthrown. It seems those predictions of 20 years ago are coming to pass.

In many ways, the unusual moment we are experiencing today resembles the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when interlinked political-economic crises and social revolts and revolutions completely transformed our world. Many of the democratic rights and liberties that we see as essential today – including universal voting rights, the 8-hour working day, rights to divorce, unionize or national self-determination – have their roots in the social revolts and revolutions of the early twentieth century. 
Recent studies on social movements and revolutions highlight very interesting similarities between these two periods. Mark Beissinger at Princeton University, for instance, found that the number of revolutionary situations between 2010-2014 are almost equal to the 1915-1919 period. At the Arrighi Center for Global Studies at Johns Hopkins University, my colleagues and I also found that the frequency and geographical spread of social protests around the world since 2010 is exceptionally high, making the current moment comparable to the period of world revolutions of 1905 and 1917-1919.
...Setting aside prospects about revolutions, even the utopianism of the 19th century socialists (e.g. those of Owenites, Saint-Simonians, Fourierists) has vanished from the political imagination of the Global Left. It seems that efforts aiming at re-establishing the mid-20th century welfare states — which had provided some security to parts of the working class population in Global North at the expense of exclusion of billions of people in the Global South — has replaced both the utopian and revolutionary visions. That is why today it is much easier to imagine the end of the world than to imagine the end of capitalism and the existing world political order.
So far the affluence of the developed world has averted any significant social unrest much less revolution. Yet it's hard to see tranquility ahead as the full brunt of the climate crisis reaches our borders. Climate research predicts this will begin in the coming decade in tropical zones and it will have an  immediate ripple effect across the temperate north and the south. The massive migration of marine life - fish, marine mammals and seabirds - ever poleward is our bellweather. We will not escape what they flee from.

In my readings for this post  I stumbled across a study in LiveScience that contends America has a 50-year revolutionary cycle and the next event is due around 2020.
Circa 1870, the North fought the South in the Civil War. Half a century later, around 1920, worker unrest, racial tensions and anti-Communist sentiment caused another nationwide upsurge of violence. Then, 50 years later, the Vietnam War and Civil Rights Movement triggered a third peak in violent political, social and racial conflict. Fifty years after that will be 2020. If history continues to repeat itself, we can expect a violent upheaval in the United States in a few years. 
It sounds like pseudoscience, but it's a published theory. "My model suggests that the next [peak in violence] will be worse than the one in 1970 because demographic variables such as wages, standards of living and a number of measures of intra-elite confrontation are all much worse this time," said Peter Turchin, an ecologist, evolutionary biologist and mathematician at the University of Connecticut.
I have some difficulty with this theory but, hey, I'm no ecologist, evolutionary biologist or mathematician. And it does seem to echo the warnings of some, such as Chris Hedges, who contend that America is now simmering in a pre-revolutionary state. Then again, how many once relatively cohesive societies are not, today, deeply riven? How many have not succumbed to something vaguely resembling tribalism, camps that are inherently suspicious and hostile toward each other? Where drawbridges are pulled up, the portcullis lowered, as we focus on not what unites us but everything that divides us?

In a comment yesterday on another blog, Northern Reflections, I suggested that these deeply divided societies, such as America's, operate like an open wound that leaves the state undefended against viral infection, Donald Trump being a perfect example. The virus enters the bloodstream, sepsis sets in and, unless promptly and forcefully treated, death ensues.

America is riven. Its government is detached from its people. Political capture begat regulatory capture and now, with Trump at the helm, even judicial capture is in place. The 2014 Princeton study by Gilens and Page documents how America's 'bought and paid for' Congress routinely favours special interests when they clash with the public interests. Professors Gilens and Page concluded there was no doubt that the US had ceased to be a democracy and had, instead, become an oligarchy.

Political capture meant that regulated industries could stack regulating boards and bodies with their own representatives, giving them direct control over some vital governmental powers. What started with establishing influence progressed into control of some powerful bodies. 
Throwing Trump out of office is not going to remedy these ills. They existed before he decided to seek the Republican nomination. It's no surprise that the private interest influence and control has consolidated under Trump's administration.

The public is acrimoniously divided to the point where it is sometimes too distracted to object. Trump's people hear his harangues against the "deep state" when the real alternative government is right before their eyes in the capture of political and regulatory power.
These are the conditions that attack the immune system of liberal democracies that, around the world, are in retreat and, in some cases, succumbing to authoritarian rule.

Show Us Your Science, Mr. Trudeau



It was about as dire a warning as they come. Nobody was crying 'wolf.' Certainly not 11,000 of them.

They warned of "untold suffering" around the world if we don't change our ways in very short order. We know what that untold suffering is going to look like - we've seen it before only not on a planetary scale. It will manifest in famine, dislocation and migration, resource wars, wars of survival, and more. That's what will be on the menu for millions of our fellow human beings if we stay on our current course.

That warning is certainly sufficient to trigger the "precautionary principle" in our government's decision making, particularly on fossil fuels that those thousands of scientists, echoing so many others before them, say must be left in the ground - unless we're willing to inflict "untold suffering" on others. The precautionary principle is as sound as it is straightforward:
"The precautionary principle or precautionary approach states if an action or policy has a suspected risk of causing harm to the public or to the environment, in the absence of scientific consensus that the action or policy is [not] harmful, the burden of proof that it is not harmful falls on those taking the action. ...The principle implies that there is a social responsibility to protect the public from exposure to harm, when scientific investigation has found a plausible risk. These protections can be relaxed only if further scientific findings emerge that provide sound evidence that no harm will result."
That principle is also the law of Canada.
In 2015, the Federal Court of Canada upheld the precautionary principle as part of the substantive law of our country. The Supreme Court of Canada has also applied the precautionary principle.
11,000 scientists speaking with one voice exceeds the threshold of "a suspected risk" of looming harm. It's the fire hall bell.

Fortunately, Canada has a prime minister who, as far back as 2015, pledged that his government - our government - would "follow the science." How monstrously hypocritical would it be for him to ignore this massive scientific consensus. After all it is his foremost duty to protect us, you and me, our kids and our grandchildren. That's Job One. It is stated quite clearly in the preamble to the Emergencies Act.

If Mr. Trudeau disagrees all he need do is prove that our fossil energy policy is not harmful to the public or the environment. He's got plenty of scientists on the government payroll. He's even said, repeatedly, that his government has "done the science" whatever that means.

So where is Mr. Trudeau's science? Where is it? This is where it gets sticky. Environment Canada says it hasn't been done. The Royal Society says the science hasn't been done. Only Mr. Trudeau claims he has "done the science" and he's not producing it. There are lots of questions and no answers, not from the Dauphin.

I chose the photo of Greta Thunberg meeting Mr. Trudeau for the powerful message it conveys. Her body language is plain. The way she's crossed her legs, how she's tucked her hands. But it's her face, her eyes, that speak volumes. And Mr. Trudeau, his body language? He looks like he'd sooner be walking barefoot on broken glass.


Wednesday, November 06, 2019

How Do You Like Your Chances?



Maybe you think they're just making this sh*t up. Maybe you would like to think they're just making this sh*t up but you realize that they're not. Maybe the enormity of what they're saying is more than you can process so you don't want to think about it period.

11,000 scientists are not a hoax. A hoax is essentially a fraud, a deception. I used to do a good bit of fraud work. Some of the bad guys I encountered were really, really good at it. I learned a lot from them. One thing I learned is that scams don't like numbers. Too many cooks spoil the broth sort of thing. People drift off script, some get cold feet, some are not worth a dam at telling lies. 11,000 people, that's no hoax. 11,000 scientists, highly educated experts from a broad range of disciplines, you've got to take them at face value.

It's incumbent on us to accept that they're telling the truth. Now it's time to confront the truth they're telling us, their blunt and dire warning that our survival is in grave peril.

The good thing is that they've told us what we must do to have a viable future. The bad thing is that it's one hell of a shopping list. We have to overhaul this thing, our way of life, how we're governed, our economy both domestic and global. We have to change course and we don't have the luxury of time.

Here are a few of their observations.
The climate crisis is closely linked to excessive consumption of the wealthy lifestyle. The most affluent countries are mainly responsible for the historical GHG emissions and generally have the greatest per capita emissions (table S1).
...Profoundly troubling signs from human activities include sustained increases in both human and ruminant livestock populations, per capita meat production, world gross domestic product, global tree cover loss, fossil fuel consumption, the number of air passengers carried, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, and per capita CO2 emissions since 2000.

...Especially disturbing are concurrent trends in the vital signs of climatic impacts (figure 2, supplemental file S2). Three abundant atmospheric GHGs (CO2, methane, and nitrous oxide) continue to increase (see figure S1 for ominous 2019 spike in CO2), as does global surface temperature (figure 2a–2d). Globally, ice has been rapidly disappearing, evidenced by declining trends in minimum summer Arctic sea ice, Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, and glacier thickness worldwide (figure 2e–2h). Ocean heat content, ocean acidity, sea level, area burned in the United States, and extreme weather and associated damage costs have all been trending upward (figure 2i–2n). Climate change is predicted to greatly affect marine, freshwater, and terrestrial life, from plankton and corals to fishes and forests (IPCC 2018, 2019). These issues highlight the urgent need for action.

...Especially worrisome are potential irreversible climate tipping points and nature's reinforcing feedbacks (atmospheric, marine, and terrestrial) that could lead to a catastrophic “hothouse Earth,” well beyond the control of humans (Steffen et al. 2018). These climate chain reactions could cause significant disruptions to ecosystems, society, and economies, potentially making large areas of Earth uninhabitable.

To secure a sustainable future, we must change how we live, in ways that improve the vital signs summarized by our graphs. Economic and population growth are among the most important drivers of increases in CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion (Pachauri et al. 2014, Bongaarts and O’Neill 2018); therefore, we need bold and drastic transformations regarding economic and population policies.
The group then identifies six areas in which we need wholesale change, now.

On energy they urge a rapid (i.e. engineered) shift from fossil fuels to renewable clean energy. We don't, we die. They're blunt about it - fossil fuels must be left in the ground where they can no longer poison our environment. You would have to be thicker than Scott Moe not to understand that means leaving the high carbon, low value stuff - coal and bitumen - in the ground.

Next up are short-lived climate pollutants - methane, black soot and hydroflourocarbons. That captures natural gas among the pollutants we must outlaw. That's bitumen, coal and natural gas. Oh dear.

Third is rehabilitating the biosphere, i.e. reversing  habitat and biodiversity loss,  while protecting and restoring the planet's forests through reforestation and afforestation. Afforestation is the tougher of the two because it means taking land now used for other purposes and planting trees there instead.  With a population now nearing eight billion, more than three times the global population when I was born, we've been devouring our wilderness to meet human needs. It's going to be tough to give land back to nature especially as we have already degraded our stocks of arable farmland.

Numero Quatro - 'where's the beef?' We must break our meat habit and switch to an increasingly vegetarian diet. All that grazing land should be put into crops to feed humanity. They also call for a drastic reduction in food waste. Oh, if only.

The Big Number Five. Surprise, it's the economy. We've got it stoked to crazy levels.  We're extracting and consuming far more than nature, our biosphere can provide.  And, as capitalism demands, we're still in relentless pursuit of perpetual exponential growth in GDP. Our own Justin Trudeau is an open advocate of endless growth, GDP.
Our goals need to shift from GDP growth and the pursuit of affluence toward sustaining ecosystems and improving human well-being by prioritizing basic needs and reducing inequality.
Ecosystems come ahead of GDP. So do improving human well-being and reducing inequality.

Are you ready for an end of capitalism, the economic model we've embraced back to the 17th century? We have built a global civilization on capitalism but capitalism has also been instrumental in bringing us to the edge of this abyss. Are we really interested in living within our ecological means? Can we accept structuring our society, our economy to live in harmony with our biosphere, the one we've been savaging for decades?

The final area where urgent change is needed is population. On this one I'm not so sure that these scientists have the full measure of our predicament.
...the world population must be stabilized—and, ideally, gradually reduced—within a framework that ensures social integrity.
Credible and respected NGOs such as the Global Footprint Network conclude that mankind exceeded the Earth's ecological carrying capacity around 1970 when population passed the three billion mark. Since then we've more than doubled in numbers and that increase has been compounded by increases in longevity and in per capita consumption. GFN and other sources think that we've been in 'overshoot' for so long that the Earth's sustainable carrying capacity has declined to just two billion.


I can understand the dilemma facing these scientists. There's no acceptable means to slash human population by 75 per cent in short order. We will probably get there through a variety of means - war, disease, climate die-off (famine, resources exhaustion, etc.).

Okay, now we've gone through the Six Deadly Sins and what we must do about them if we want to preserve some viable future. We know what must be done but also the scale of what must be done.

Canadians are extremely fortunate that we have a federal government that has solemnly pledged to "follow the science." I assume that includes the science of survival but I suppose I could be wrong. I hope not.

What would our government have to do to meet these six criteria? Population - we get a pass on that one. The other five, we don't.

Energy. Canada's an energy superpower. The only two parties that have ever governed our country are big on the fossil fuels, especially one of the most harmful one, bitumen. The prescription is blunt - leave that stuff in the ground. Instead we're moving to flood world markets with even more of the high-carbon, low-value, climate-wrecking garbage. Justin Trudeau has made way more progress on this than Stephen Harper ever did.  The Dauphin is about to pull the trigger with his new and greatly expanded pipeline.

Do you think he'll "follow the science"? I surely don't.

What about methane, natural gas? Our government is a big advocate of LNG projects to get Canadian fracked gas to world markets.  Science? Meh.

Rehabilitating the environment is next. Canada is one of the two remaining sources of real wilderness. The other is Russia. A lot of our wilderness, our forests, is at risk to pests such as the pine beetle. Climate change is an additional forest stressor. We may need to reforest with tree species that are pest- and climate-resistant but we still have that option. It's an iffy proposition for governments already defunded but it's possible.

The vegetarian thing. That's going to be a hard sell. People like their beef. They like their pork. Canada being a democracy, sort of, what would it take to garner public support for slashing meat production and consumption? Think Alberta is already foaming at the mouth? I doubt we'll see Ottawa grow the cojones needed to tackle that one but who knows?

Capitalism and the abandonment of the GDP-based economy. Our prime minister, in keeping with every prime minister before him, is a big fan of GDP. He boasts of it. Gotta keep that exponential growth perpetual. More this year and more next year and the year after that and forever. It's dangerously delusional. I'll let David Suzuki explain.



Yet it seems to me every bit as delusional to expect that our leaders, including this prime minister, will accept what Suzuki observes is a matter of "mathematical certainty." It doesn't take a great mind to see Suzuki's point but, for some reason, our leaders are conditioned to ignore it. Isn't that like jumping in the back seat with a thoroughly drunk driver?

I don't see this call to arms being answered by the leadership we have today. I don't see other nations heeding this urgent warning either. What does that portend? We'll know soon enough.

If this makes you feel like throwing in the towel, don't. We need to fight this even if we're cynical about the outcome. Public attitudes are changing and while concern about climate change doesn't yet translate into a willingness to do much about it, it is a start. It does focus the public on what's happening and the more they learn the more powerful the fight becomes.  The government side can't grow nearly as fast as public opinion. That makes the fight worthwhile.