Monday, July 15, 2019

Canada Going Down America's Rabbit Hole

A nation divided or how we have to reap what Justin sowed.

For many of us staring into the abyss of deeply fractured America is chilling. Well get used to it, buttercup, we're going down that very same road. From The Tyee:

The American political sickness has infected us. And it’s hard to see how our democracy can cope.

Start with an Angus Reid poll released last month. It asked people to set out the three most important issues facing the country. 
Climate change and environment, said Canadians. For 40 per cent of us, the issue was among the three most important. 
The poll found 65 per cent of Liberal supporters considered it among the three most critical issues; 58 per cent of NDP supporters; and 71 per cent of Green voters. 
But only eight per cent of Conservative supporters cited climate change and the environment as an important issue. 
Traditionally, political parties have competed for votes based on their proposed solutions to what most of us see as problems. Waits for surgery might be too long, for example. One party might argue the answer is higher taxes and more funding for health care; another might campaign on a promise to allow people to pay for private surgeries and skip the queue. Voters can decide. 
But when we no longer even agree on problems, our version of democracy doesn’t work. We’re divided into camps, staring at each other with incomprehension, scorn or, occasionally, hatred. 
And when the breakdown is centred on an issue that’s widely accepted as a grave threat to humanity, we’re moving away from useful political debate to destructive factionalism.
The American contagion - Racism.
Racism is embedded in our society. Many Canadians alive today grew up in a time when overt or institutional racism was accepted. It is still part of our culture, a daily reality. The challenge is to acknowledge that reality, and do better. 
But the poll results signal that many Conservative supporters don’t share that belief. More than two-thirds are prepared to proclaim that people with different coloured skin or different religions shouldn’t be allowed into the country. 
While our actions have often betrayed our principles, Canadians have broadly accepted the notion that racism is wrong. It is part of the context for our society and politics. 
But current Conservative supporters are rejecting that principle
Racism is OK again, at least when it comes to immigration.
EKOS concludes something much bigger is going on. The poll results reveal a surge in support for “ordered or authoritarian populism,” it says. 
It’s a global phenomenon, but U.S. President Donald Trump offers a good case study. His supporters — not all — oppose immigration, especially non-white immigration. They don’t trust political parties or other institutions, science, people with expertise or anyone who holds a differing view. They want a strong leader and more police and, as EKOS summarizes, share “a general desire to pull up the drawbridge and return to a ‘greater’ more secure past.”
Tories Hunker Down
[Angus Reid] asked supporters of the three national opposition parties about their second choice. About 85 per cent of NDP voters had one in mind —Liberal was the leading option. Most Green supporters also had a second choice, with the NDP leading the way. 
But more than half the Conservative supporters — 53 per cent — said they had no second choice. (The People’s Party was the leader among those who did have a choice.)  
It’s hardly new that many people are committed to a political party, for a variety of reasons.

But the value of political campaigns and debates is eroded when more than half the supporters of one party declare their minds cannot be changed by anything they hear or read, or the qualities of the local candidates. 
And the party leader is freed from a sense of responsibility to supporters. No matter how badly he or she behaves, the flock will follow.
...We’re entering into a post-Trumpian political era in Canada, one where we are divided in ways that don’t allow rational discussion. One where we no longer listen to one another, and where we see enemies, not people with different solutions to shared problems. One where fear — of immigrants, experts, others — replaces hope.
Trudeau's fanboys won't like to hear this but the Dauphin's refusal to implement electoral reform played a contributing, albeit perhaps not dominant, role in our political malaise. If there was one thing, above all others, that became clear during Harper's reign it was how badly Canada needed democratic restoration.

We can no longer survive as a society when fewer than two out of five can deliver a false majority mandate to a guy like Harper or even a guy like Trudeau. They become unresponsive to the democratic health of the nation and that permeates down to the electorate.

Justin knew this when he appealed to voters in 2015. He probably still knows it. The difference is first-past-the-post delivered him an undeserved majority in 2015 and will favour the continuance of powerful Liberal/Conservative governments in the foreseeable future.

After all, why put up with the messy business of governance when you can rule instead?

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Taking the Environment to Heart or You Are What You Breathe

How's your ticker? Probably it's not as good as you imagine.

The problem is - poison air. That's especially true for those who live and work where the air is often worst, urban centers.
The hearts of young city dwellers contain billions of toxic air pollution particles, research has revealed. 
Even in the study’s youngest subject, who was three, damage could be seen in the cells of the organ’s critical pumping muscles that contained the tiny particles. The study suggests these iron-rich particles, produced by vehicles and industry, could be the underlying cause of the long-established statistical link between dirty air and heart disease. 
The scientists said the abundance of the nanoparticles might represent a serious public health concern and that particle air pollution must be reduced urgently. More than 90% of the world’s population lives with toxic air, according to the World Health Organization, which has declared the issue a global “public health emergency”.
...“For really young people, the evidence is now of very early-stage damage both in the heart and the brain,” she said. “We have a likely candidate [particle] able to access both organs, with the pathological evidence to show damage is happening.” 
A recent comprehensive review concluded that air pollution may be damaging every organ and virtually every cell in the human body, as tiny particles are inhaled, move into the blood stream and are transported around the body. Much of the evidence of harm, from diabetes to reduced intelligence to increased miscarriages, is epidemiological, as harmful experiments on people are unethical. But one study in 2018 found air pollution particles in the placentas of women who had given birth.
Here's a clue. Save for sea fog, you shouldn't be able to see the air you breathe. Even  on this island, normally swept with cool breezes off the Pacific, smoke can build up from wildfires hundreds of miles inland and that's laced with PM 2.5 particulates. The people of Edmonton, Calgary and cities in the BC interior and Saskatchewan have been pretty hard hit yet their leaders - Kenney, Moe, Trudeau - think flooding world markets with high carbon bitumen is still a fine idea.

Friday, July 12, 2019

When You're So Pleased With Your New Hire You Have to Wrap the Announcement In An Apology.

Elizabeth May has always been a good measure less progressive than the party rank and file, probably the inevitable result of her Mulroney years.  Like her provincial cohort, Andrew Weaver, no one would consider her even centre-left. She and the membership have clashed in the past. In one instance it resulted in May pouting about perhaps leaving the Greens.

She obviously realized that taking Warren Kinsella aboard for the campaign would not sit well with many Greens. That's why the announcement came wrapped in excuses and unconvincing assurances.

After months of hand wringing and negotiation, the Greens have hired Kinsella to set up a “situation” room for them. His principal task, according to party sources, is to “protect” Elizabeth May from the kinds of attacks that are now routinely made on political leaders, on social media and by other parties.
“Lying and personal attacks in politics have become the new norm,” Green Party deputy-leader Jo-Ann Roberts told The Tyee. 
“Elizabeth had to admit that she does not have the sophistication it takes to deal with this stuff. We can play to her great strength, climate change, but only if we don’t let other people take her apart at the knees. Kinsella knows the dark world much better than we do. By hiring him, we are sending a message to other parties: we will not just let ourselves be attacked.”
But there is a risk in putting Kinsella on the team, even if it’s only on a fixed term contract. 
The Greens have pitched themselves as a party that does politics differently. That has always meant a firm prohibition against ad hominem attacks on the party’s opponents. Kinsella is a person who has earned his chops as a political bar room brawler, someone who never let diplomacy stand in the way of landing a good shot. 
In fact, he’s made it plain that “negative politics work” and proudly bills himself as “the Prince of Darkness” in Canadian politics. One former ally, deciding Kinsella’s methods posed too big a risk for clients, reportedly calledhim “a human shrapnel machine.” 
May has not responded to a request for an interview, but she clearly understands that although there is a clear advantage to hiring Kinsella, there is also a risk. This is what she said to her inner circle after the decision had been reached to engage Kinsella:
“People will accuse us of swimming with the sharks, but we have to keep reminding them we are dolphins.” 
There is more to those words than an amusing aside. The Tyee has learned that under the terms of the agreement reached with Kinsella, his job is not to be the “wolf” attacking detractors and political opponents, but to “protect” the leader.
I can accept that May lacks the "sophistication" to deal with attack politics but does she really think she can put a jackal on a leash? This guy's obsessive vendetta with Trudeau is inescapable even for Unsophisticated Liz. Does she really imagine that he won't exploit his position to advance his personal cause?

People will rightly accuse May of 'swimming with the sharks.' What she needs to realize is that sharks aren't too fussy whom they bite when it suits them. Ask Ignatieff or Olivia Chow.

What Brits See in Donald Trump

Someone asked "Why do some British people not like Donald Trump?"

Nate White, an articulate and witty writer from England, wrote this magnificent response:

"A few things spring to mind.

Trump lacks certain qualities which the British traditionally esteem.

For instance, he has no class, no charm, no coolness, no credibility, no compassion, no wit, no warmth, no wisdom, no subtlety, no sensitivity, no self-awareness, no humility, no honour and no grace - all qualities, funnily enough, with which his predecessor Mr. Obama was generously blessed.

So for us, the stark contrast does rather throw Trump’s limitations into embarrassingly sharp relief.

Plus, we like a laugh. And while Trump may be laughable, he has never once said anything wry, witty or even faintly amusing - not once, ever.

I don’t say that rhetorically, I mean it quite literally: not once, not ever. And that fact is particularly disturbing to the British sensibility - for us, to lack humour is almost inhuman.

But with Trump, it’s a fact. He doesn’t even seem to understand what a joke is - his idea of a joke is a crass comment, an illiterate insult, a casual act of cruelty.

Trump is a troll. And like all trolls, he is never funny and he never laughs; he only crows or jeers.

And scarily, he doesn’t just talk in crude, witless insults - he actually thinks in them. His mind is a simple bot-like algorithm of petty prejudices and knee-jerk nastiness.

There is never any under-layer of irony, complexity, nuance or depth. It’s all surface.

Some Americans might see this as refreshingly upfront.

Well, we don’t. We see it as having no inner world, no soul.

And in Britain we traditionally side with David, not Goliath. All our heroes are plucky underdogs: Robin Hood, Dick Whittington, Oliver Twist.

Trump is neither plucky, nor an underdog. He is the exact opposite of that.

He’s not even a spoiled rich-boy, or a greedy fat-cat.

He’s more a fat white slug. A Jabba the Hutt of privilege.

And worse, he is that most unforgivable of all things to the British: a bully.

That is, except when he is among bullies; then he suddenly transforms into a snivelling sidekick instead.

There are unspoken rules to this stuff - the Queensberry rules of basic decency - and he breaks them all. He punches downwards - which a gentleman should, would, could never do - and every blow he aims is below the belt. He particularly likes to kick the vulnerable or voiceless - and he kicks them when they are down.

So the fact that a significant minority - perhaps a third - of Americans look at what he does, listen to what he says, and then think 'Yeah, he seems like my kind of guy’ is a matter of some confusion and no little distress to British people, given that:
* Americans are supposed to be nicer than us, and mostly are.
* You don't need a particularly keen eye for detail to spot a few flaws in the man.

This last point is what especially confuses and dismays British people, and many other people too; his faults seem pretty bloody hard to miss.

After all, it’s impossible to read a single tweet, or hear him speak a sentence or two, without staring deep into the abyss. He turns being artless into an art form; he is a Picasso of pettiness; a Shakespeare of shit. His faults are fractal: even his flaws have flaws, and so on ad infinitum.

God knows there have always been stupid people in the world, and plenty of nasty people too. But rarely has stupidity been so nasty, or nastiness so stupid.

He makes Nixon look trustworthy and George W look smart.

In fact, if Frankenstein decided to make a monster assembled entirely from human flaws - he would make a Trump.

And a remorseful Doctor Frankenstein would clutch out big clumpfuls of hair and scream in anguish:

'My God… what… have… I… created?

If being a twat was a TV show, Trump would be the boxed set."

This Year the Arctic is On Fire

It's been damp and chilly down here on the island. It's not great but at least the rains have been limiting the fire risk and we've yet to have one of those choking smoke days.

Those wanting warmth can head due north. It's much warmer in Alaska than in coastal British Columbia.  Anchorage had a record 90F day last week, its hottest day ever. But, true to form, warmth brings fire and fire brings smoke laden with fine particulate matter, carbon monoxide, even cyanide.

It's not just the trees that are burning. Tundra is essentially peat, an ancient fuel, and as the tundra thaws it dries and can easily catch fire.
Arctic wildfires, some the size of 100,000 football pitches, emitted as much carbon dioxide (CO2) last month as the country of Sweden does in a whole year, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said on Friday. 
“Since the start of June we’ve seen unprecedented wildfires in the Arcticregion,” a WMO spokeswoman, Clare Nullis, told a regular UN briefing in Geneva. 
“In June alone these wildfires emitted 50 megatonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere, this is the equivalent of Sweden’s annual total CO2 emissions. This is more than was released by Arctic fires in the same month between 2010 and 2018 combined.”

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Election Prep - Lesson One

Are you ready for the upcoming election campaign? You're going to hear more bullshit this year than you did last time and last time they really laid it on thick.

They'll be shucking and jiving, Trudeau and Scheer. They'll have a special supply of bullshit on hand when they start parrying questions about climate change. Trudeau will preen his feathers and crow about his carbon tax. Scheer will reply with utter nonsense  knowing that his base, the knuckle-draggers, don't really give a shit about climate change, not if you tell them a horde of immigrants are coming to steal their jobs.

The problem isn't them, it's us. We let them look us in the eyes and lie their asses off. We don't punish them for their lies. If we did, Justin Trudeau would no longer be the leader of the Liberal Party.

Trudeau and Scheer aren't running for something. They're running against something - each other. "Vote for me. At least I'm better than that asshole."  Wow, some choice. Yet, between them, they'll still account for better than 70 per cent of the vote. A lot of that will be auto-pilot votes, a tribal sort of thing. The family tradition vote. Dumb as a rubber mallet but, by god, consistent. The rest will be those they'll have to hoodwink with empty promises, the type Jacques Parizeau labelled 'lobsters' to be hauled from the trap and dropped in the boiling water before they can change their minds.

You see, there's the problem. We have to fear what they tell us, their pitch, knowing that a good bit of it will probably be bullshit. In a functioning democracy it should be they who fear us.

"Two Solitudes" - We're At It Again

This time we're not pitting French Canada against English Canada. This time we're pitting the educated and informed against the poorly-educated and ill-informed. The latter favours Tories, the other side supports the Liberals, NDP, Greens, etc.

Donald Trump didn't hesitate to boast "I love the poorly-educated." They are, after all, disproportionately represented among his base.

The same goes for Andrew Scheer, Dave Tkachuk, Jason Kenney and, of course, "Buck-a-Beer" Ford. The less you know the better they appear and the less you know the better they like you.

In today's Globe Konrad Yakobuski asks if this is Canada's "Deplorables" moment?

The most consequential development in U.S. politics in recent years has been what’s called the “diploma divide.” White Americans without a college degree, who once solidly backed Democrats, now vote overwhelmingly Republican. The Democratic base has shifted from the white working-class to visible minorities and white urban elites with college degrees. 
This cultural segregation along political lines means that Democrats and Republicans no longer speak the same language or espouse common values. They are not only uninterested in hearing the other side; they are contemptuous of it.
...University of Ottawa professor Amir Attaran set off a Twitter storm this week by calling the Conservatives “the party of the uneducated,” based on Abacus Data poll showing the Tories with a 12-percentage point lead over the Liberals among Canadians with a high-school education or less. This, in Prof. Attaran’s view, is why “Conservative governments offer numbskull policy, like Buck-a-Beer,” one of Ontario Progressive Conservative Premier Doug Ford’s signature initiatives, which may or may not be as dumb as it sounds. only have to look up the word “numbskull” in the dictionary to understand that Prof. Attaran did not mean his remarks to be taken as a compliment. They were a clear dig at the supposedly less-enlightened ideas of the Canadian right, which, under its current cohort of leaders, tends to celebrate know-nothingness over investigation and evidence-based policy. 
Needless to say, Prof. Attaran’s tweets had the desired effect of provoking outrage and hysteria among some excitable Conservatives. A few of them responded in vulgar terms, which only served to reinforce the depiction of Conservative supporters as inarticulate yahoos. 
...With an election looming, Liberals should asking themselves how their party came to lose voters with a high-school education to the Conservatives. In the 2015 election, high-school educated Canadians split their support almost evenly between the two main parties, as EKOS pollster Frank Graves pointed out on Twitter. A May EKOS poll, however, showed the Conservatives with a 2-to-1 lead over the Liberals among this group of voters. 
Our once big-tent parties are no more. Most Canadians with a postgraduate degree would no longer dream of voting Conservative; working-class voters with a high-school education have come to see Justin Trudeau’s Liberals as elitist and out of touch with their everyday concerns. 
How did that happen? 
Maybe it’s because common folks can see through all the virtue-signalling and high-minded tweeting the Liberals engage in. Mr. Trudeau does a very good job of showing he cares for the oppressed in society but seems less preoccupied with the concerns of blue-collar Canadians. This makes him popular among campus elites. But he comes off as a poseur down at the pub. 
...Prof. Attaran’s tweets suggest the 2019 Canadian election might be a lot like the 2016 U.S. one.
I think Yakabuski is missing an important point. Today's Tory base isn't a response to Liberal elitism. Its roots go back further than that. They trace back to the masterful campaign of fearmongering perfected by the Republican Party. They weaponize fear and insecurity to harness and mobilize their own base, their supporters. Whether in the US, Britain, Hungary, Poland, Italy or Turkey, they use that weapon against their own voters, boosting it as necessary with xenophobia, racism and every other base instinct they can whip up.

This is in stark contrast to real leaders such as FDR who, in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor, took to the airwaves to comfort and assure the American people that they had nothing to fear but fear itself.

The far right in Canada, the radical right of today's Conservatives and PCs, have no use for Roosevelt's call to courage. They don't need it. They know their target, their base, and that their base is not prone to critical thinking but very susceptible to fear-messaging.

Even though Canada has a highly-educated population, the Tories don't need it to win. Thanks to the first-past-the-post regime - that Trudeau chose to leave in place - the easily frightened and outraged can be enough to put the rightwing in position to achieve a false majority, hopelessly undemocratic government. Trudeau promised we would never have to endure this form of political perversion again.

He lied.

Now It's Britain That Needs a War of Independence

Between Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage it may be Britain that needs to slip the shackles of servitude to the United States. Surely the notion of Britain as an economically dependent colony of America must appeal enormously to a miscreant such as Donald Trump. Payback is a bitch.

It appears Johnson already has the votes to win the succession battle over his last rival, Jeremy Hunt. As such, Johnson stands to become Britain's next prime minister.

Johnson has pledged his fealty to Trump by turning on Britain's former ambassador to the US, Sir Kim Darroch, for which he has been widely rebuked by the opposition and some Tories. Labour foreign office critic, Liz McInnes, called it

"the most craven and despicable act of cowardice I have seen from any candidate for public office, let alone from someone running to be prime minister."

Johnson, born in New York, left the US at age 5. He renounced his American citizenship in 2006, ostensibly to escape US taxation but as consul to Trump he may wish to reinstate his former affiliation.

Meanwhile, the eminently creepy and hypocrite sans pareil, Nigel Farage continues to press for a hard Brexit and a strategic (i.e. lucrative) post for himself in the new American colony as Britain grovels for a trans-Atlantic trade lifeline.

Trump, meanwhile, is said to be busy looking at options for a new presidential headquarters in London. He's said to be leaning toward taking Buckingham Palace once it's been suitably updated with the TRUMP logo.

I just took a second look at the graphic above. What's that mushroom-shaped thing protruding into the Union Jack?

Tuesday, July 09, 2019

They're Calling It the "Lolita Express"

That's the new name for billionaire, registered sex offender Jeffrey Epstein's private plane and federal investigators want a word for anyone who went along for a ride.

U.S. prosecutors on Monday encouraged anyone with information about Epstein’s conduct to come forward, not just potential victims. To the socialites, celebrities and politicians who attended lavish parties at Epstein’s homes in Manhattan or Palm Beach in the early 2000s -- or hitched rides on his private jet nicknamed the “Lolita Express” by the tabloids -- the request carried a clear message: Come talk to us before we seek you out. 
You would much rather be visiting the Department of Justice and engaging a conversation about what you saw rather than making the DoJ find you,” said Jacob Frenkel, a former federal prosecutor now at Dickinson-Wright. “There’s a much greater potential for influencing the parameters of an interview and the scope of cooperation by going in voluntarily than becoming a compulsory guest” of the government, he said.
This scandal is about as salacious as they come. Pretty much everybody who partied with Epstein is now tainted - Bill Clinton, Randy Andy, Alan Dershowitz, even Donald Trump.

As for the Lolita Express it is reported that Epstein's Gulfstream might have been co-piloted by one Nadia Marcinkova.

Nadia attended flight school in - wait for it - Palm Beach, Florida. New York magazine tied her to Epstein.
In an 2007 article in New York Magazine, Philip Weiss writes that Epstein had brought 14 year old Nada Marcinkova to Palm Beach from the Balkans to be his “sex slave”. In the article, the reporter states that Marcinkova became part of the Epstein household and over the course of a decade eventually started participating in the sexual abuse of underage girls.
Nadia holds FAA licenses as a single and multi engine, instrument-rated pilot and ground and flight instructor. She has told us and we know – because her lovely face adorns every channel of the many she maintains – that she was a fashion model herself. Runway to runway, she likes to say. Nadia is also posed somewhat provocatively and
certainly when she was much younger, as one of her company’s deal attendants.
Here's a photo of a Gulfstream similar to Epstein's Lolita Express.

Another Setback for Trump

The Trump regime has lost another round in its blatant attempt to use the US census as a vote-rigging tool.

For months the government's team has told hearing after hearing that the proposed citizenship question had to be resolved by June 30th after which it would be too late to add it to the census form for this year.

It seems that wasn't true.

The supposed deadline has come and gone and now the White House still wants to get that citizenship question into the census.

This poses an awful problem for the justice department lawyers representing the Trump regime. The supposed urgency on which their argument was based was false. The lawyers misled the court, a very serious issue.

The justice department tried a clumsy work-around. Why not just put in a fresh team of lawyers, one not tainted by the misrepresentation? They applied - and they got hammered for their efforts.

U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman in Manhattan called the government’s request “patently deficient,” adding that the U.S. had provided “no reasons, let alone ’satisfactory reasons,’ for the substitution of counsel."
Of course there are no satisfactory reasons. What are they going to say, "we lied"?  The court has already bent over backwards for the White House. After finding that the grounds given for the first application were "contrived" it allowed the government side to see if it could come up with a better story. That's something you might expect from Groucho Marx ("Those are my principles. If you don't like them, I have others.")

Barring an appeal, Team Trump will have to pursue the application with the original lawyers who could have to explain why, time and again, they misled the court. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.

Before It Wrecks the Climate It Wrecks Democracy

You won't hear this from Jason or from Moe and certainly not from Justin but pipelines aren't about strength and prosperity. No, they're about petro-statehood. They're about fiscal and economic instability. They're about the erosion of democracy.

It's an addiction. Ottawa has it. Alberta has it. Saskatchewan has it. Even British Columbia is succumbing to the contagion.

This came to mind when I stumbled across Andrew Nikiforuk's Ted Talk given to an audience of his fellow Albertans in 2013. Nikiforuk lays bare the dark underside of the petro-economy, ordinary people who no longer have voices, and a political caste indentured to the energy industry.

Is This the End of Trump's Twitter Rampage?

Has Donald Trump met his Twitterloo?

America's Buffoon in Chief loves his Twitter. He's become defined by his middle of the night/early morning tweets that he mainly uses to attack his critics. It's the way Trump chooses to speak directly to his base.

A chump as divisive as Trump will inevitably attract critics and those just out to mock him, the very thing Trump hates most. His answer has been to have his staff block anyone who  is less than loyal to his largeness.

No more.

A federal appeals court says blocking those who take the piss out of Trump is a violation of the US Constitution. A three-judge panel ruled unanimously that Trump can neither block those who criticize or mock him nor can he stop them from commenting on his Twitter feed.

Monday, July 08, 2019

What Really Went On Between Epstein and His Girls

The story of Jeffrey Epstein and his collection of underage girls takes a bit of reading. The Miami Herald did an amazing job of digging into Epstein, the girls and Epstein's well heeled pals. You can find the entire series here.

The Burden They Bear - The Life and Times of Climate Scientists

"I have to walk away..."

Maybe you feel stressed out about climate change. Maybe you don't. There are many ways to unplug - denialism, unfounded optimism, even indifference. That is unless you're a climate scientist. They don't get to look the other way. They don't get to turn the channel.

David Corn explores what's happening to climate scientists today, the burden they bear and how it's wearing them down.
“Scientists are talking about an intense mix of emotions right now,” says Christine Arena, executive producer of the docuseries Let Science Speak, which featured climate researchers speaking out against efforts to silence or ignore science. “There’s deep grief and anxiety for what’s being lost, followed by rage at continued political inaction, and finally hope that we can indeed solve this challenge. There are definitely tears and trembling voices. They know this deep truth: They are on the front lines of contending with the fear, anger, and perhaps even panic the rest of us will have to deal with.”
While Americans feel “an increasing alarm” about climate change, according to a survey conducted by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, scientists have been coping with this troubling data for decades—and the grinding emotional effects from that research are another cost of global warming that the public has yet to fully confront. Before you ask, there is no scientific consensus regarding the impact of climate research on the scientists performing it. It hasn’t been studied in a systematic way.
...Are scientists, then, canaries in a psychological coal mine? Is understanding their grief important because their anxiety could become more widespread within the general population?  
Put another way, climate scientists often resemble Sarah Connor of the Terminator franchise, who knows of a looming catastrophe but must struggle to function in a world that does not comprehend what is coming and, worse, largely ignores the warnings of those who do. “An accurate representation” of the Connor comparison, one scientist darkly notes, “would have more crying and wine.”
...So what is it like to be cursed with foreknowledge that others ignore? Peter Kalmus, who received his B.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard and Columbia, respectively, spent about a decade working in astrophysics. He then moved to ecological forecasting based on satellite data, and something shifted for him. “Studying earth science and thinking about climate change is a totally different ballgame than thinking about astrophysics,” he says. “Astrophysics was pure science. I was looking for gravitational waves. It had no implication for the possible collapse of human civilization.” But the unrelenting momentum of climate change does. “I’m always thinking about it,” he says. “That can be a burden. Whenever friends talk about flying off to vacation, I feel compelled to point out the large carbon cost to flying. I’d like to take a vacation from thinking about it. I’m not sure that is psychologically possible.”

During the recent wildfires in California, where he lives, Kalmus became irritable because the link between natural disasters and climate change was not front and center in media coverage. Like many climate scientists, he is often hit by waves of grief. Kalmus once called his congressional representative to support a piece of climate change legislation. “I was explaining to the staffer why it was urgent, and I started crying,” he says. “For me, the grief comes up unexpectedly.”
Sarah Myhre, a former senior research associate at the University of Washington’s School of Oceanography, experiences “a profound level of grief on a daily basis because of the scale of the crisis that is coming, and I feel I’m doing all I can but it’s not enough,” she says. “I don’t have clinical depression. I have anxiety exacerbated by the constant background of doom and gloom of science. It’s not stopping me from doing my work, but it’s an impediment.” She tried anti-anxiety medication, which didn’t improve things, so she cut back on caffeine. She tries not to think too much about the future that awaits her five-year-old son
When she was a graduate student in 2010, Myhre recalls, she attended a summer program that included the world’s top scientists on climate modeling. One presented research on how increased CO2 levels posed frightening scenarios. She asked him how he was able to talk to nonscientists and communicate the implications of this work, which can be hard to understand. “I don’t talk to those people anymore,” she remembers him replying. “Fuck those people.” After that, Myhre went to her hotel room and wept.
The political disease - Bystanderism
...Katharine Wilkinson, who has a Ph.D. in geography and the environment, is vice president for communication and engagement at Project Drawdown, a group of scientists and activists that assembles proposed climate change solutions. She makes a distinction between denialism and bystanderism, which takes the form of people saying “they care about it” but not engaging in meaningful action: “That’s when I want to shake people and say, ‘You know how little time we have?’” She has noticed that almost everyone in her line of work seems “to have one dark emotion that is dominant. For some, it’s anger or rage. For me, it’s deep grief—having eyes wide open to what is playing out in our world, and we have a lukewarm response to it. There is no way for me not to have a broken heart most days.”

...Some climate researchers speak of experiencing stark alienation, even as they try to have faith that what they and their colleagues are doing can make a difference. Myhre describes it “like I’m looking at the world through a looking glass, like I’ve fallen down a rabbit hole.” The joys of adult life—new cars, trips on planes, even having children—become fraught with implications for increased emissions. She finds it painful to watch “scientific colleagues standing on the sidelines being silent” and not participating in the political fray over climate change. With her expertise undervalued generally, she observes, “I feel like I’m walking around in an isolation chamber.” Kalmus notes that when he moved into climate change science, “I felt totally alienated from the people around me. My parents didn’t get it. My friends didn’t want to talk about it. Other graduate students didn’t want to talk about it…It was a very weird disconnected feeling.”
...Katharine Wilkinson points out, “Right now, we prioritize technical training in science and policy. But the tools of the trade will become increasingly emotional and psychological.” At a recent panel discussion, she recalls, she blurted out, “I have no child and I have one dog, and thank god he’ll be dead in 10 years.” Afterward, people asked Wilkinson if she truly believed that. “The truth is, I do,” she says. “And it’s only going to get more intense—the emotional nature of this work—as climate change happens and the necessary actions become more urgent.”
Here are a few links to earlier posts dealing with burnout among climate scientists and the mental health risks of climate change:

Sunday, July 07, 2019

The New "Weekly"

You probably have a sense of a quickening of climate change. Severe weather events are becoming more severe, more frequent, more intense, longer-lasting.

The UN reports that the world is now averaging one climate disaster per week.
Catastrophes such as cyclones Idai and Kenneth in Mozambique and the drought afflicting India make headlines around the world. But large numbers of “lower impact events” that are causing death, displacement and suffering are occurring much faster than predicted, said Mami Mizutori, the UN secretary-general’s special representative on disaster risk reduction. “This is not about the future, this is about today.”

This means that adapting to the climate crisis could no longer be seen as a long-term problem, but one that needed investment now, she said. “People need to talk more about adaptation and resilience.” 
...Until now, most of the focus of work on the climate crisis has been on “mitigation” – jargon for cutting greenhouse gas emissions, and not to be confused with mitigating the effects of the climate crisis. The question of adapting to its effects has taken a distant second place, in part because activists and scientists were concerned for years that people would gain a false complacency that we need not cut emissions as we could adapt to the effects instead, and also because while cutting emissions could be clearly measured, the question of adapting or increasing resilience was harder to pin down.  
Mizutori said the time for such arguments had ran out. “We talk about a climate emergency and a climate crisis, but if we cannot confront this [issue of adapting to the effects] we will not survive,” she told the Guardian. “We need to look at the risks of not investing in resilience.”
Many of the lower-impact disasters would be preventable if people had early warnings of severe weather, better infrastructure such as flood defences or access to water in case of drought, and governments had more awareness of which areas were most vulnerable.

What If Only the Rich Got Air?

What if there was no end of air for the rich but the poor had to scramble about to scrounge a few cubic metres here and there, never sure where they might find the next source?

That sounds preposterous but substitute water for air and that's the situation today in the Indian capital, Delhi, home to nearly 20 million, most of them poor and vulnerable.
The politicians, civil servants and corporate lobbyists who live in substantial houses and apartments in central Delhi pay very little to get limitless supplies of piped water – whether for their bathrooms, kitchens or to wash the car, dog, or spray a manicured lawn. They can do all that for as little as $10-$15 a month. 
But step into one of the slum areas in the inner city, or a giant disorganized housing estate on the outskirts and there is a daily struggle to get and pay for very limited supplies of water, which is delivered by tanker rather than pipe. And the price is soaring as supplies are fast depleting. 
India’s water crisis is far from even-handed – the elite in Delhi and most other parts of the country remain unaffected while the poor scramble for supplies every day. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s official residence and those of his cabinet are in central Delhi, as are those of most lawmakers. 
That may help to explain why it took until this week for Modi to call for a massive water conservation program, the first big initiative by the government despite years of warnings about dry reservoirs and depleted water tables, policy makers and water industry experts said.
Where there's short supply there's crime.
Delhi’s main government district and the army cantonment areas get about 375 liters of water per person per day but residents of Sangam Vihar on average receive only 40 liters for each resident per day. The water comes from boreholes and tankers under the jurisdiction of the Delhi water board, run by the city government. 
But residents say some of the boreholes have been taken over by private operators associated with criminal gangs and local politicians. These gangs also have a major role in providing private tankers, which are all illegal, making people liable to price gouging. 
And all this when temperatures, and demand, are soaring. Delhi was the second driest it has been in 26 years in June, and recorded its highest ever temperature for the month at 48 degrees Celsius on June 10. 
Monsoon rains reached the capital on Thursday, more than a week later than usual, with only a light drizzle. 
Most private tanker operators in Delhi either illegally pump out fast depleting ground water or steal the water from government supplies, various government studies show. 
In Delhi, nearly half of the supply from the Delhi water board either gets stolen with the connivance of lowly officials or simply seeps out via leaky pipes, several studies show.

"Dysfunctional ...Unpredictable ...Clumsy and Inept" - And Don't Count on Improvement

A leaked British diplomatic cable from the UK ambassador to the US sums up the Trump White House as a dumpster fire that won't be put out anytime soon.

"We don't really believe this administration is going to become substantially more normal; less dysfunctional; less unpredictable; less faction riven; less diplomatically clumsy and inept," [ambassador Kim] Darroch wrote in one of a series of leaked documents covering the period from 2017 to the present.
The British government responded in a un-Trumplike manner. It didn't throw its ambassador under the bus. No, it did the Tammy Wynette thing, it stood by its man.
Britain's Foreign Office did not challenge the authenticity of the leaked documents. It called the leak "mischievous behaviour" and said the public expects diplomats to provide honest assessments of the politics in the countries where they are posted. 
Justice Secretary David Gauke called the leak "disgraceful" but said Britain "should expect our ambassadors to tell the truth, as they see it."
The lights must have been burning late into the night in Washington embassies last night as diplomatic staff scurried around to make sure their own candid assessments were safely under lock and key.

Meanwhile, Trump's short game won't be helped by word that the president's ex-play pal, Jeffrey Epstein, has been arrested on new juvenile sex trafficking charges. This time the charges weren't brought by the Miami office but by the Manhattan federal prosecutor's office, the Southern District of New York and it involves staff from the public corruption unit.

These events raise plenty of questions. Why the SDNY? Epstein's reputed sex ring operated in Florida and on his private Caribbean island. How did SDNY get the file? Was this one of the prosecutions farmed out to local justice department offices by Robert Mueller? Did he choose to get the file out of Florida?

In a wry twist, one of the several prosecutors working for the SDNY is James Comey's daughter, Maurene Comey. There's not a chance she'll be allowed anywhere near this file, especially not with the political corruption aspect in play, but that won't stop Trump from calling the whole thing a witch hunt.

Saturday, July 06, 2019

First Time Ever - 90F in Anchorage

The people of Anchorage, Alaska got to spend their 4th of July celebrating in sweltering heat. The city recorded an all time record high of 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

The city of 300,000 people also had its hottest June ever, according to the National Weather Service. Average temperature for the month was 60.5 degrees, 5.3 degrees above normal. It was the 16th consecutive month with above-average temperatures.

Then there's the smoke. Crews have been battling wildfires across the state, and on Monday authorities issued an air quality advisory for south-central Alaska.

With the hot, dry conditions and limited firefighting resources, the Alaska State Fire Marshal's Office suspended sale and use of fireworks in many areas.

Friday, July 05, 2019

How the Brits Lost the Revolutionary War

That explains it. The Brits under Cornwallis made a huge strategic blunder. They forgot to defend the airports that were promptly seized by the forces of George Washington.

Worse yet, the Brits failed to take Fort McHenry, leaving Washington's people in control of Baltimore harbour in 1814.

That, at least, is how Trump's addled mind recalls events. Airports in 1776? That sounds a bit unlikely. So does a battle from the war of 1812, time shifted to the war of independence.

During his tribute to the army, Trump said: “In June of 1775, the Continental Congress created a unified army out of the revolutionary forces encamped around Boston and New York … The Continental Army suffered a bitter winter of Valley Forge, found glory across the waters of the Delaware, and seized victory from Cornwallis of Yorktown. 
“Our army manned the air, it rammed the ramparts, it took over the airports, it did everything it had to do, and at Fort McHenry, under the rockets’ red glare, it had nothing but victory.”
As for the "nothing but victory" line. Trump obviously doesn't know that Washington was repeatedly trashed in several engagements, nearly brought to defeat. And "ramming" the ramparts? What in hell is that?

If another president, any other president, especially a black president, had so botched American history - the stuff kids learn in grade school - it would send the media in an uproar questioning that president's mental health and fitness for office. This, however, is Donald Trump and America is pretty much accustomed to this president acting like a profoundly ignorant buffoon.

Thursday, July 04, 2019

The Tar Sands - Massively Dirtier Than You Imagine

When the debate turns to Canada's bitumen trafficking the focus is usually on the greenhouse gas and other toxic emissions released when that sludge is burned. We don't tend to consider the GHG emissions from the Tar Sands site in Athabasca.

Most of us know that the United States military with its permawars in the Middle East and South Asia and all the aircraft and ships and armoured vehicles deployed around the world is a major source of GHG emissions. All those aircraft carriers and those jets and those tanks go through a massive amount of fossil fuels.  But the American military's emissions pale when compared to the emissions from the Athabasca Tar Sands. In fact there are 160 nations that have lower overall emissions than that tarry patch of northern Alberta.

And they're just getting started. When Justin Trudeau cuts the ribbon on the massively expanded Trans Mountain pipeline, operations in Athabasaca will ramp up significantly.

The United States military is one of the world's largest climate polluters — emitting more than entire European countries like Sweden or Norway. That's according to a new report that estimates the U.S. Department of Defence's worldwide emissions at nearly 60 million tonnes (MtCO2). 
Here in Canada, Alberta's oilsands industry emits even more climate pollution than that.

As you can see, that is one third more than the emissions from the entire U.S. military. In fact, there are more than 160 countries that emit less climate pollution than Alberta's oilsands industry. 
The oilsands emissions data comes from Canada's most recent National Inventory Report (NIR). The NIR shows that roughly half of these emissions came from burning fossil methane (aka “natural”) gas to generate the heat needed to extract bitumen via the "in situ" process. The other half of emissions was split between mining bitumen and upgrading it.
The federal government, yes Justin Trudeau's Liberal government, likes to pretend that Canada is just a bit player. That's a lie. They pretend that bitumen is oil. Another lie.

There is a line and you're either on one side of it or the other. The Conservatives and the Liberals are on the other side of that line and there's nothing unfair in condemning them both for it. Scheer would be worse than Trudeau. Maybe, but does it matter? They're still both on the same side of that line. They're both chasing an illusion of easy wealth even at the cost of wrecking the climate. Nitpick if you like.

What side of that line are you on?

Five Years or We Lose

Harvard professor, James Anderson, says we have just five years left to change course or it's over.

Anderson, a professor of atmospheric chemistry, says that once the permanent ice in the Arctic is gone our window of opportunity to act goes with it.
People have the misapprehension that we can recover from this state just by reducing carbon emissions, Anderson said in an appearance at the University of Chicago. Recovery is all but impossible, he argued, without a World War II-style transformation of industry-an acceleration of the effort to halt carbon pollution and remove it from the atmosphere, and a new effort to reflect sunlight away from the earth's poles.

This has do be done, Anderson added, within the next five years. "The chance that there will be any permanent ice left in the Arctic after 2022 is essentially zero," Anderson said, with 75 to 80 percent of permanent ice having melted already in the last 35 years.
"Can we lose 75-80 percent of permanent ice and recover? The answer is no." The answer is no in part because of what scientists call feedbacks, some of the ways the earth responds to warming. Among those feedbacks is the release of methane currently trapped in permafrost and under the sea, which will intensify warming. Another is the pending collapse of the Greenland ice sheet, which Anderson said will raise sea level by seven meters, or about 23 feet. 
"People at this point haven't come to grips with the irreversibility of this sea-level rise problem," Anderson said, displaying a map that shows the site of Harvard's new $10 billion Allston campus immersed after 3 meters of sea-level rise. He followed that map with images of Manhattan shrunken by encroaching waters and Florida missing its southern tip
"When you look at the irreversibility and you study the numbers, this along with the moral issue is what keeps you up at night," Anderson said.
I don't know. Maybe this fancy Harvard professor is just blowing smoke. Maybe Justin Trudeau and Cathy McKenna know better. Who would you bet on?

Science versus Politics, Your Future Hangs In the Balance

David Suzuki versus Justin Trudeau. Science versus Parliament. The stakes couldn't be higher. Who do you think is on your side?

We have two choices. We can either have a viable future or we can have a nightmarish future.

Here are excerpts from an interview with Suzuki that appeared at yesterday. In it Suzuki addresses the hypocrisy of declaring a climate emergency and, in the next breath, green-lighting a climate wrecking bitumen pipeline; and the pursuit of perpetual exponential growth, an economy that is the engine of our destruction.

On declaring a climate emergency one day and less than 24-hours later approving a bitumen pipeline: just shows what a joke the whole declaration of a climate emergency is. I mean, if it’s a climate emergency, first of all, when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, I don’t think the Republicans said, “Oh, that damn Democratic president wants to take us to war and is going to destroy the economy.” Everybody joins together in that emergency. It’s got one purpose, which is to win the battle. The battle here is in terms of the amount of carbon that’s accumulating in the atmosphere. We’re way beyond and heading to a total by the end of this century that really puts into question whether human beings, as a species, will be able to survive.
...And when Mr. Trudeau was elected, he said “Canada’s back,” went to Paris, and not only signed the Paris agreement, but said we should aspire to keeping temperature rising above 1.5 degrees by the end of the century. That’s a tough ask. I emailed Mr. Trudeau after that and said, “That’s a hard target, are you serious?” And he emailed back and said, “Yes, I’m serious.”
The Bitumen Scam
... He told us right from the beginning that he was going to build the pipeline. So you can’t do that and then say, “Oh, we’ve got a climate emergency, we’ve got to deal with this” The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in October of last year said that we–if we’re going to meet this crisis and try to keep temperature rising above 1.5 degrees since pre-industrial times by the by the year 2100–in order to do that, we have to reduce our emissions, that is our use of fossil fuels, by 45 percent 2030 and 100 percent by 2050.

In order to meet that target, Bill Reese, who is the scientist that coined the expression “the ecological footprint,” Bill Reese says we have to reduce energy use by 6 percent a year starting last year. Well, I don’t see any sign of reducing our emissions. And the idea that we’re going to allow expansion of the Alberta tar sands but then use the profit that we’re going to make on that venture to invest in clean technology strikes me as absolutely stupid.
... Mr. Trudeau said this before or after he approved the pipeline–I can’t remember when–but he said, “No country would leave that amount of oil in the ground.” And yet, if we take the science seriously and we say that we have to reduce energy use by 6 percent a year, we have to be off fossil fuels by 2050, it doesn’t make sense then that we’re still looking for more, that we’re still saying, “Oh, the Arctic ice is going away, we can look for oil up there.” We’ve got to shut it down. 80 to 85 percent of our known reserves have to be left in the ground. And I would think the first thing you do is leave the most carbon intensive source of oil in the ground first. That’s where we’ve got to start.
...We’ve known, and Canadians know, that whether or not Canadians are ready to embrace the really hard decisions is the question, because it’s going to cost money. And indications are yes, people understand we’re going to have to make big cuts, and yes, we’re going to have to pay for that. But if it’s going to come to more than 100 bucks, no, not really willing to do that.
We're chasing economic growth, an economy that we cannot survive
...The economy is already the driving force of our destructiveness. It is way too big. We’re going to have to live much more lightly on the planet. And that means every year we’re not going to be able to find new editions of our iPhones or our iPads or our laptop computers. It means that we’re not going to be able to buy clothing that’s in fashion every month. The clothing industry and fashion is one of the most destructive activities. We’re simply–we’ve got too heavy a footprint on the planet, and that’s got to be met. When I say we can’t go on living the way we’re living now, people immediately say, “Oh, are we going to have to go back to living in caves? Are we going to have to grow all our own food and make our own clothes? And I say, “No, but how about 1945? When the war was over and we were going into a period of prosperity, I was a child in 1945 or 1950, how about that? We had telephones, we had cars, television was coming in.”
...You know, I like to tell people, my family was impoverished after the Second World War. We lost everything because we were Canadians of Japanese origin. We lost all our stuff, shipped to a camp, and kicked out of British Columbia at the end of the war. And all my life, I’ve worn blue jeans. Why? Because denim wears like iron. And now I look at kids buying blue jeans costing hundreds of dollars that are already ripped. I don’t think it looks good, but I guess they think it’s fashionable and looks good. But what is the message in that purchase? It’s saying, “I don’t really care about the planet. I just want to look a certain way. I’m buying this stuff, but it doesn’t matter to me that it wears like iron, that it’s durable, because I’m going to toss it out when I’m done with it or when the fashions change.” That’s the kind of species we have become.
To anyone familiar with the science, familiar with the mountain of studies, analysis and reports, the path this government, like all previous governments have had us on for decades is madness. It's lethal. There is no good ending, no soft landing.

Still Stuck on 88

I can't quite get past this idea of 88.

When I read that a survey of Canadian voters found that 88 per cent had lost faith in their government, Parliament, to serve the public interest I was floored.

...Canadians don't seem to believe that the political parties vying for their votes in October have their best interests at heart — and those who are worried about the future report greater disillusionment with politics. 
Fully 88 per cent of those polled said they feel that politicians care more about staying in power than doing what's right, while 47 per cent said that no party represents what they care about most.
I knew that this fracture between the public and their political caste was near inevitable. I just thought it would take longer to manifest. I had thought it would take some seismic event to trigger this breakdown. It didn't. What is going to happen then if/when we are hit with great change not of our making or wish?

If the relationship between the pols and the plebs is so strained, what does this portend for the simultaneous weakening of social cohesion. Canada isn't alone in this social division business. We trail well behind many other countries - Turkey, Hungary, Poland, Italy and, of course, the United States. America, some claim, hasn't been so divided since the Civil War.

Governments, labouring under the burden of neoliberalism, seem incapable of uniting their people. We come to distrust each other. We stop listening to each other. What began as indifference grows darker.

As Canada has shifted right we have become less tolerant, more suspicious of each other. The conservatives have gone well beyond the bounds of conservatism. The Liberals are the modern conservative party. The NDP has ceased to be a political force since it abandoned the left in a desperate but failed bid for power.

88 per cent and that news came and went almost without notice. When 88 per cent are disaffected, no longer willing to trust their elected representatives to do the right thing, to put country ahead of their personal partisan interests. When 88 per cent think the pols are just in it for themselves, government, the state loses legitimacy. Then again, when more than three out of five voters are rendered irrelevant by our undemocratic first-past-the-post electoral system, what emerges, the false majority government with an equally hollow mandate, is not to be trusted. Those three out of five have not prevailed but they have surely spoken and there can be no "informed consent" of the people to be governed by the winning party. They haven't consented to be governed. They haven't affirmed the victor's mandate, those solemn promises that last barely longer than the bunting. They become a people ruled, not a people governed. Perhaps the question should be rephrased - how could 88 per cent not lose trust in their government on both sides of the aisle?

Trudeau promised electoral reform, a new system of governance in which all voices might be heard. I don't believe for a second that, once elected with a majority, he had any intention of honouring that promise, the one that garnered enough votes to deliver the Liberal victory.

88 per cent. That didn't come out of nowhere. It was created. Something of a gradual process that spanned a number of inadequate, dishonest and undemocratic governments.

88 per cent. The state is ailing. We have seen how this very disaffection has been exploited by rightwing populists elsewhere to displace liberal democracy with authoritarian rule. We're not there yet but are we that far off?

Tuesday, July 02, 2019

Hoist On His Own Climate Petard

If I was a Liberal I would have been upset, if not furious, when Justin Trudeau, taking a page out of Christy Clark's playbook, claimed that Canada should receive credit for selling liquid natural gas to Asia.  Trudeau's thinking, like that of BC's thoroughly discredited Liberal premier, is that every tanker load of LNG represents its caloric content in coal that China won't be burning.

What's wrong with that? Plenty. It ties you to your fossil fuel exports right up to the point they're used. If they result in lower emissions by the end user, you, as exporter, should get credit for that. After all, haven't you done a wonderful thing for the world?

But if you're going to claim credit for the emission results of one fossil fuel export you're on the hook for all fossil fuel exports. You can't claim credit for A, LNG, and then shirk liability for B, bitumen.  No, no, no.

But wait, there's more. LNG is dirtier than coal. That's right, it creates more greenhouse gas emissions than even coal. That's because of "fugitive emissions," methane that leaks out to the atmosphere at several points stretching all the way from the wellhead to the end user overseas.

Apparently Mr. Trudeau is in the dark about fugitive emissions, not sure why, but it has been documented for years. And that's ignoring completely the environmental and seismic havoc caused by fracking for natural gas. It even triggers earthquakes.

Just yesterday a new report came out from Global Energy Monitor. It found that, while we knew the gas leak problem and the role methane played as a greenhouse gas, we misjudged both by a country mile. Far more gas is being lost in the natural gas extraction and transportation chain and that escaped gas is far more damaging to the environment.
The report, released on Canada Day, says there are projects in development globally that by 2030 would increase natural gas supply to 806 million tonnes above what they are now. 
Just over one-third of that development, 35 per cent, is in Canada. Only the United States, at 39 per cent, has more new natural gas exports in the works, the report says.
The good news for Liberals is that Andrew Scheer won't be calling them out on this. The Tories are backing Justin this time.

Don't They Come in Gold?

Maybe it's for the Fourth of July festivities. Maybe it's a dress rehearsal in case he loses the presidency next year. Either way, Donald Trump has brought the big guns to Washington.

At his "Salute to America" on Thursday, Mr Trump will address the nation from the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC amid a parade of military tanks. 
But city officials have expressed dismay at the possible damage to roads at the 4 July event. 
"We're going to have planes going overhead - the best fighter jets in the world and other planes too," the Republican president told reporters at the White House on Monday. 
"And we're going to have some tanks stationed outside." 
He said the event will "be like no other, it'll be special".

God Save Amerika

What's With New Brunswick?

Is New Brunswick Canada's Louisiana?

Anyone who regularly reads Graeme Decarie's excellent blog, The Decarie Report, is regaled at how that province operates as the feifdom of a few powerful families that control commerce, industry and the province's media.

Yesterday there was the matter of political cartoonist, Michael de Adder, who was abruptly dropped from all four New Brunswick papers after posting to social media a cartoon that was scathing of Donald Trump.  The president of the cartoonists' association saw straight through it.
Wes Tyrell, President of the Association of Canadian Cartoonists, claimed de Adder was fired after 17 years with Brunswick News Inc. because Donald Trump was a "taboo subject" for the company. 
"Although he has stated there was no reason given for his firing, the timing was no coincidence," Tyrell said in a lengthy statement on Facebook. "Michael de Adder has drawn many well-documented cartoons on Trump, they have however, systematically never been seen in the NB papers."
Then there's the notorious Irving family.  Ottawa loves feeding them shipyard contracts. They've got a lock on an awful lot of New Brunswick industry and commerce. In June, 2016, the National Observer asked "What have the Irvings done to New Brunswick?"  A year earlier, Atlantic Business, featured a corruption crusader who, it said, had returned, "to the Maritimes only to discover how much Tajikistan looks uncomfortably like home."

Macleans found that New Brunswick is "testament to the well-worn adage that the story of Atlantic Canada is of leaving for other places."

Okay, it's a corrupt, dead-end province. Now this. Senior Liberal MP, Dominic Leblanc, is being fingered for his family, friends, even his neighbour being awarded five of six recent federal judicial appointments.
Five of the last six federal appointments announced in New Brunswick include Leblanc's neighbour, a LeBlanc family relation and three lawyers who helped retire debts from his unsuccessful 2008 leadership bid. LeBlanc is currently minister of intergovernmental affairs, northern affairs and internal trade. 
Erin Crandall, a professor at Acadia University who has written extensively on the politics of judicial appointments in Canada, said patronage is still a significant force in provinces like New Brunswick, despite reforms to curb its use in the selection of judges. 
"It's more prominent in smaller provinces," Crandall said.
...Several academic studies have shown New Brunswick has traditionally owned one of Canada's most patronage-tinged judiciaries and little has changed in recent years, despite Liberal promises to inject more merit into the selection system. 
A 2010 study that looked at 856 judicial appointments in Canada over a 15-year period found "major" political connections were involved in New Brunswick appointments nearly 77 per cent of the time — double the national average and more than five times the rate politically connected people won federal judgeships in provinces such as British Columbia and Ontario.
New Brunswick may not be Louisiana North but the ghost of Huey Long would probably find it pretty comfortable.

Environment Update

Today is, predictably, worse than yesterday. That is becoming the now customary reality as we steadily drift ever further from a stable, inhabitable planet. Don't worry, we've still got years left, anywhere from five to fifty depending on your expert of choice. However, as we get ever more removed from a stable climate, research, analysis and even news reports are coming in faster and faster - to be expected.

My sense is that we're past being alarmed about these things. We're becoming inured to them as we are with so many other things. To me it has hints of Andean fatalism but you may see it differently.

So, what's on today's roundup?

They've run the numbers and Europe's recent record heatwave is said to have been five times more likely thanks to climate change. That's an awkward phrase but there's no other way to put it. Sort of how once-a-century weather catastrophes have now shifted to an every three, five or ten year cycle, mainly due to climate change.

We all know about the vanishing Arctic sea ice and the retreat of Greenland's ice sheet. At the other pole, a new report finds Antarctic sea ice has declined "precipitously" since 2014 and may drive even more global warming.

Mankind, being the greedy little bastards that we are, is ripping up the Amazon rain forest to clear land for livestock grazing.

In the world's northernmost town, Norway's Longyearbyen, temperatures have risen 4 degrees Celsius. That's more than any other community on Earth. 4C. It's causing all sorts of havoc for the residents. Best not tell them there's worse to come.

In California they've got a special on mussels. They're pre-cooked, thanks to a heatwave.

If you're down Texas way, you had better be on your best behaviour. A majority of the state's prisons have no air-conditioning and its becoming pretty ugly for the inmates. Sucks to be you, hombre.

Closer to home, our southern resident orcas are missing from their home waters, the Salish Sea. Fingers are being pointed - yet again - at the dwindling numbers of their essential prey, salmon. Is there anything the Department of Fisheries and Oceans cannot and will not fuck up? Thanks, Ottawa, thanks so much. I suppose if the orca have been driven off that's great news for Justin's pipeline.

Up in Alaska, meanwhile, Trump's EPA is working to screw over America's largest wild salmon run.

Oh yeah, that natural gas thing, Trudeau's latest fancy. He thinks Canada should receive greenhouse gas emissions credits for supplying LNG to Asia. Curious that he doesn't think Canada has any responsibility for the greenhouse gas emissions associated with bitumen he wants to ship to that same destination. Hypocrisy? Ya think?

Only a new report finds what earlier reports have found. Natural gas isn't cleaner than coal.
The Global Energy Monitor says an international boom in liquefied natural gas exports is undermining global efforts to stop climate change and Canada is one of the industry's biggest players. 
The report, released on Canada Day, says there are projects in development globally that by 2030 would increase natural gas supply to 806 million tonnes above what they are now. 
Just over one-third of that development, 35 per cent, is in Canada. Only the United States, at 39 per cent, has more new natural gas exports in the works, the report says.
The report focuses on "fugitive emissions," methane leaked into the atmosphere at various points from the well head to the end user. We've known for years that these fugitive emissions make natural gas dirtier than coal. We didn't know the full story.
"New studies have shown there is significantly more fugitive gas than studies showed five years ago, and the gas is also a bigger contributor to climate change than was understood," said James Browning, one of the report's authors.
Now I don't agree with some of the "piling on" criticism Justin has endured recently. Plastic forks on a table? Please. However this guy is screwing up and, just because he looks good standing along side Andrew Scheer, doesn't mean that he deserves to be prime minister. No, for so many reasons, he doesn't.