Thursday, January 31, 2019

Trudeau's Empty Promises

He sure talks a good game but, time after time, Justin Trudeau's promises prove empty.
The numbers come from the latest climate pollution projections report,"Canada's Greenhouse Gas and Air Pollutant Emissions Projections 2018." Each year, the government tallies up its projections, and each year the picture has gotten worse.

Back in 2016, the Canadian government projected that all current and proposed policies (plus emissions credits they hope to be able to count) would get Canada to within 44 million tonnes of CO2 (MtCO2) of the 2030 target. 
The next year the projected "emissions gap" widened to 66 MtCO2.
And now, the government's newest projections show the gap has widened even further. They now project a gap of 78 MtCO2.
Unfortunately, that's the good news.

According to the new report, Canada's actual emissions are projected to be even higher than that: 115 MtCO2 above their 2030 Paris target, or less than halfway to the target.
But what about the recent warning that the world has until 2030 to slash greenhouse gas emissions by half or lose the battle to avert catastrophic climate change. No Canadian government was ever in the running to meet that existential challenge. Christ, we can't even meet Harper's supposed targets.

But wait, there's more. Canada's parliamentary watchdog reports that Trudeau and Morneau probably grossly overpaid in buying the Trans Mountain pipeline from those Texas sharks, Kinder Morgan. Quelle surprise!

The F-35 - Way Less Bang for the Buck Than Promised.

Aviation Week reports that the oldest F-35B could be put out to pasture in 2026. There's a problem with the too-good-to-be true Joint Strike Fighter. Structural defects may leave the Lightning II with a paltry service life of just 2,100 hours of flight time.

To put that in context, Lockheed, which bought the F-16 jet from General Dynamics, can upgrade the F-16 to increase its service life from 8,000 hours to 12,000 hours. That would be almost six times the service life operators can expect from Lockheed's F-35.

Back in the Harper era the F-35 was pitched as an airplane with a 50-year service life. I suppose if you chose to operate it for 40 hours a year, around 50 minutes every week, you might be able to stretch that out for 50 years. That still leaves you stuck with a hyper-costly hangar queen.


This, from National Interest:

The egregiously expensive and notoriously unreliable F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is even more of a disappointment than you previously thought, according to a new Department of Defense assessment obtained by Bloomberg News. 
The 2018 report from the Pentagon's operational testing and evaluation arm, set for public release this week and obtained early by Bloomberg's Tony Capaccio, indicates that ongoing reliability issues have drastically shortened the service life far below expectations, so far that there's "no improving trend in" available aircraft for training and combat missions — a dangerous combination for a perpetually buggy aircraft.
The only surprise is that any of this should come as a surprise. The F-35 was never going to be more than prototypical, a "stealth Beta."  What Lockheed designers set out to build was a "first off." The F-22 rolled out years earlier but it was a much different creature.

The F-35 is a flying bundle of compromises, shortcomings all stuffed within an already overstuffed fuselage.  If it's going to be stealthy at all, everything that could give it away to an enemy's radar has to be housed inside.  No bombs or missiles or fuel tanks hung beneath the wings, that sort of thing. Everything has to vie for space inside. That means small weapons bays, i.e. a limited payload. Fuel takes up a lot of space and, within the F-35, that dictated fuel bladders draped like blankets over the jet engine. What could possibly go wrong with that arrangement.

The stocky, wide-profile F-35 not only looks fat, like most fat things it has a weight problem. That quickly showed that the F-35 could not meet the military's requirement for take off and landing distances. That led to a brilliant idea. Change the specifications to suit the F-35 could do. At one point, Lockheed's efforts to trim weight led to the removal of the inboard fire extinguisher system. Think of that fuel bladder draped over the engine. Fuel bladder, engine, no fire extinguisher.

The wide profile, seen in the photo above, creates a lot of drag. Excess drag comes at the cost of speed and greater fuel consumption. One of the compromises or sacrifices was the Holy Grail of fighter aircraft, supercruise, the ability to achieve supersonic speeds without relying on the fuel-guzzling afterburner. That's particularly important for a strike fighter that needs to exit hostile airspace before enemy interceptors can catch up to it. When you're already limited in speed and onboard fuel limitations the typical adversary, the Su-33 with great range and twice the speed of sound can pretty quickly run down an F-35 trying to escape. That problem is made worse because the F-35 is not particularly stealthy from the rear aspect and it has one of the worst heat profiles from its exhaust, just ripe for an infrared missile.

Then there's age. Twenty years ago, when Lockheed engineers put pencil to paper, stealth was a revolutionary technology. The F-35 was going to be a 5th generation warbird. They used what they could from the F-22 but had to wing it from there. They set out to make three different warplanes out of one common design a chore bound to impose otherwise avoidable compromises. It was later determined it would have been less costly simply to design three distinct warplanes from the outset.

Twenty years that the F-35's intended adversaries, Russia and China, did not waste. They developed stealth aircraft of their own, assisted immeasurably by the capture of an American RQ-170 stealth drone, electronically commandeered and force landed in Iran, and repeated theft of data and code from manufacturers by Chinese hackers. The bad guys also upped their game on air defences with improved radars, sensor fusion, and better surface to air missile systems.

The worst part about the F-35 is that it revived the idea of a survivable war on China and Russia. It is a first strike warplane. One US general called it his "kick in the front door" weapon. The problem with that idea is that it assumes the adversary won't retaliate especially with missiles targeting the US mainland.

My guess is that, in another 20 years, when the truncated service life of the F-35 is coming to an end, we'll think it was one of the most boneheaded and wasteful military projects of all time.

In any event, between the US Air Force, the US Navy, the US Marines, Britain, Japan, a gaggle of European air forces and the Israelis, there'll probably be no shortage of warplanes for that "kick in the front door" moment should it ever arise. Canada won't be consequential to that.

We simply don't have money to waste on the F-35 just to keep the Pentagon and Lockheed happy. Best we sit this one out. This time, Trudeau called it right.

Indigenous Groups Want the Truth About Shipping Impacts on the Salish Sea

The question is how degraded has the Salish Sea already become from shipping traffic out of Canada's largest port, Vancouver. Indigenous groups from Canada and the US want hard answers before Trudeau even thinks about launching an armada of bitumen laden supertankers through those same waters

Indigenous groups in Canada and the United States are calling for a study of how human activity has degraded the waters off British Columbia's coast before any new vessel traffic is allowed in the area, where port and pipeline activities are on the rise. 
Members of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation in B.C. and the Tulalip Tribes and Lummi Nation in Washington state say they want a halt to any more marine traffic in the Salish Sea until the impact study is complete.
"We're Coast Salish nations that have come together from both sides of the border with the United States and Canada to address this urgent issue that's happening to our Salish Sea," Raynell Morris of the Lummi Nation said Wednesday. 
They say the proposed Trans Mountain pipeline expansion and a new shipping terminal at Roberts Bank, 35 kilometres south of Vancouver, would increase pressure on sea life. 
The Federal Court of Appeal quashed the Trans Mountain project's approval in August in part due to the National Energy Board's failure to consider marine shipping impacts. 

Rueben George of the Tsleil-Waututh said the decline of salmon stocks and, in turn, the endangered southern resident killer whales should be a wake up call to politicians on both sides of the border. 
"To me it's like the canary in mines. The animals are going and it's happening and it's not going to be too long before it's affecting all of us," George said. 
The groups said fisheries, sacred sites and traditional economies are all threatened by new and expanding port facilities and they want the study to consider change over time, not just the impacts of a single project.

Paris Cops Jailed for Raping Canadian Tourist

Two elite Paris police officers have been convicted of raping a Canadian woman who had been invited to tour their police headquarters. They each won a 7-year stretch in the Greybar Hotel.
Emily Spanton, 39, waived her right to anonymity to pursue the case. 
She told the trial she had been invited to tour the police HQ after meeting a group of officers in a bar, but when she went there she was gang-raped. 
The headquarters, based at 36 Quai des Orfèvres in Paris, is legendary for its role in French crime literature and film. 
The two men, Nicolas Redouane and Antoine Quirin - former members of France's elite BRI anti-gang force - had always maintained their innocence. They argued Ms Spanton had consented to sex.

Desalination is a Bad Answer to Water Insecurity

Today there are 16,000 desalination plants in operation converting sea water into fresh water for countries beset by water insecurity.  Finally the United Nations is reporting what critics have known for years - these plants are an ecological nightmare.

In addition to the energy they consume, often generated from fossil fuels, it's the waste product, the brine, that is devastating.
Desalination plants release 142 million cubic meters of salty brine every day, 50 percent more brine than formerly estimated. Brine is water containing large amounts of salt and often includes chemicals such as chlorine and copper used in desalination. The salty brine is mostly released into the sea. 
Edward Jones is the lead writer of the report. He explains that brine can cut oxygen levels in seawater and cause serious harm to sea animals, including shellfish. This harm leads to observable damage throughout the food chain.


The Supreme Court of Canada Comes to the Rescue, Again.

It's the law. Canadian energy companies must clean up old wells and cannot rely on bankruptcy as a mechanism to pillage the public.

The top court's ruling released Thursday overturns two [Alberta] lower court decisions that said bankruptcy law has paramountcy over provincial environmental responsibilities in the case of Redwater Energy, which became insolvent in 2015. That meant energy companies could first pay back creditors before cleaning up old wells. In practical terms, that means energy companies could walk away from old oil and gas wells, leaving them someone else's responsibility. 
The top court ruled 5-2 to overturn the earlier ruling. In doing that, it said bankruptcy is not a licence to ignore environmental regulations, and there is no inherent conflict between federal bankruptcy laws and provincial environmental regulations.
In its decision brief, the top court said the trustee "couldn't walk away from the disowned sites. It said that the BIA [Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act] was meant to protect trustees from having to pay for a bankrupt estate's environmental claims with its own money. It didn't mean Redwater's estate could avoid its environmental obligations."
This will send a chill through the fossil energy industry or other industrial polluters and the banks and institutional lenders that fund them. Those lenders once smugly believed they had priority over everybody and the environmental fallout would be the public's problem.  Today, the SCC pushed their "reset" button.

I think of this and the first thing that comes to mind is the financial time bomb of the Athabasca tailing ponds. The Alberta regulator has tagged that clean up at around $260 billion.

The impact of today's SCC decision will take a while to work its way through the energy sector, especially the banks and institutional investors such as pension funds that fund these projects. For the money guys the investment risks have changed biggly. Their money is now at much greater risk than they experienced in the past. For the Bitumen Barons of the Calgary Petroleum Club, borrowing just got a lot more expensive even as environmental liabilities shrink the value of their assets.  What will they do? What they always do. They'll try to coerce the provincial and federal governments into kissing their boo-boo.

As Bruce Willis might put it, yippee ki yay, mother f#@ker.

Roger Stone and the Geezer Factor

The simple fact is that we live in an age of rapid technological change that is largely alien to older people. Think back to when you had to set the flashing clock on your grandfather's VCR.  Same, same only a generation later and vastly more complex.

I watched a seasoned US federal attorney discuss how easy it can be to investigate con men such as Paul Manafort or Roger Stone by going for the jugular - their emails, their smart phones, their computer hard drives. Oldsters, it seems, fail to grasp how easily those electronic communications from yesterday can turn into today's confession.

When the FBI raids a guy's home and comes away with multiple computer drives and five or ten cell phones and emails in the cloud that the suspect may have no idea that are still around, it's like a kid in a candy shop. It turned out to be a treasure trove that was indispensable in the multiple convictions for which Manafort awaits sentencing.

And now investigators are meticulously working their way through Roger Stone's electronic bounty.

When Stone boasted he would never testify against Donald Trump and the president praised Stone's courage, neither of them realized that Stone already has ratted out the Trump campaign. It's all there in the electronic records, the emails, the phone records, the social media.

Donald Trump and Roger Stone are geezers. They might have imagined themselves Masters of the Universe in their day but that was decades ago. The next generation of villains is going to be a lot more tech savvy but technology is the ultimate double edged sword.

If You're Huddled Inside Trying to Escape the Cold...

Most of Canada is in a deep freeze as the Polar Vortex sweeps down from the Arctic. It's cold. It's killer cold. It's also your new normal or at least the early-onset start of what will become your new normal.

My experience suggests that a lot of Canadians still don't understand the geophysics of what is happening to Earth and to them. Fortunately there are sites that explain it quite well including Inside Climate News.

To over-simplify it, as the ice retreats from the Arctic it creates a warmer, more powerful atmosphere. That warmer Arctic atmosphere begins to push the polar jet stream off its west to east pattern into a more north to south flow. This brings really cold Arctic air further down into the south and warmer southern air north into the Arctic. These waves that alternately plunge north and south sometimes lose their west to east momentum. In summer they can stall over a region causing flooding in one place and drought in another.

Why does the Polar Vortex like to hammer most of Canada just not British Columbia?  Hey, back off. Some winters out here on the coast we get a snowy/snowish day, sometimes two, every year. Some winters.

Wriggling like a garden hose, each southward kink in the wind tends to be balanced out by a northward bend somewhere else. That can lead to the western states, even Alaska, being unusually warm and dry while the middle of the country and the eastern states freeze.
Rutgers climate scientist, Jennifer Francis explains:
"We think it takes two ingredients to make this pattern so robust. A lot of warm water off the West Coast, and warm conditions and declining sea ice in the western Arctic around Alaska. Both pump a big ridge in the jet stream along the West Coast," she said. Then, a few thousand miles east, the jet stream dives south, bringing polar air to the East Coast.
In recent years we've been getting this offshore warming phenomenon commonly called "the Blob." That's the warm water off the coast that Dr. Francis is referring to. It seems the Blob is helping to pump a ridge of high pressure that sends the Polar Jet wobbling more north and south. It looks like this.

What causes the Blob is unclear. It comes and goes and we always seem surprised when it returns. It's a relatively new phenomenon. It's been claimed that it materialized in 2014. Before the science types could get a good handle on it, the Blob receded. Some thought it was gone for good. Then it came back and then it left again. Now it's back again. There's one theory that the Blob is caused by the warming Arctic atmosphere. Dr. Francis thinks the extra heat of the Blob, around 2 degrees Celsius, then pumps additional heat that sends the polar jet stream into its north to south pattern.  I'm guessing it's becoming our own "new normal."

We may not have all the answers but we know that this is real and, quite probably, something we'll see recurrently. The winter manifestation of this wobbly jet stream is bad but not nearly as destructive and deadly as the droughts and floods it brings over the rest of the year.

Meanwhile, if you are suffering, you're not alone. Britain is also getting a proper thrashing. It's the coldest day in the UK for seven years.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Greenhouse Gas Was Never So Beautiful

This is methane gas trapped in the ice of Abraham Lake, Alberta.

Across the north, methane gas and CO2 are being released from the thawing permafrost and from lake beds and sea beds.  Here's an example.

Russia Attacks Mueller Investigation

Russia, why would Russia want to undermine special counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Trump and the fixing of the 2016 presidential election?

US Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office said on Wednesday that self-proclaimed hackers in Russia stole evidence prosecutors had turned over confidentially to a Russian firm accused of funding a propaganda campaign to interfere in the 2016 US election.
Some non-sensitive data was posted online in October by a Twitter account that took credit for stealing the information, Mueller's office said in a court filing. 
"We’ve got access to the Special Counsel Mueller’s probe database as we hacked Russian server with info from the Russian troll case," the court document quoted the Twitter post as saying. 
The data that appeared online was "altered and disseminated as part of a disinformation campaign aimed (apparently) at discrediting ongoing investigations into Russian interference in the U.S. political system," prosecutors wrote.
The documents in question were discovery materials the Mueller prosecutors delivered to defence attorneys in the course of criminal litigation.

A reader (not Jay) sent a link to Empty Wheel's fascinating backgrounder on this Russian attack. It's well worth reading.

Climate Wars

In his 2008 book, Climate Wars: The Fight for Survival as the World Overheats, author Gwynne Dyer wrote of a brutally militarized border between the United States and Mexico. This was not Dyer's imagination at work. It came from his considerable sources at the Pentagon where securing the US from a mass migration out of Central America was, and probably still is, a focal point of planning.  Sort of like those atrocities in WWII where a former enemy sometimes herded civilians into barns, churches, etc., set the buildings afire and then gunned down anyone who dared to flee.

Why would any advanced, modern democracy do that? It's complex.

We all have some awareness that climate change is real, it's here and it is beginning to affect our lives in various ways.  Some countries are just getting a taste of it while others are already reeling. As I've written several times, we'll all see this much more starkly in the coming decade, the 2020s. That's when we'll learn that what happens hundreds, even thousands of miles distant, will be felt here.

Camilo Mora leads a team of climate scientists at the University of Hawaii. In 2013 they released a paper predicting a new phenomenon, "climate departure," would set in starting in the early 2020s and spreading, region by region, to most of the populated parts of the world by 2047. 

Climate departure isn't about conditions getting hotter. It is about the absence of cold years. It is a new climate in which every year after departure will be hotter than the hottest year before the shift.  No more cold years only steadily hot, extremely hot years. Mora phrased it rather eloquently: "The coldest year in the future will be warmer than the hottest year in the past."

Climate departure will be experienced differently in different regions.  The cooler your existing climate the easier it will be to endure. However if you're from a warm/hot climate, it promises to be hellish. Climate departure may devastate agriculture, make working in fields difficult even dangerous, and claim the lives of those that typically succumb in heat waves - the very young and the elderly.

Among the places identified as the first to experience climate departure are the Caribbean and Central America. That could be upon them in less than five years. What climate change is already inflicting on Central America is well chronicled. Crop failures have triggered famine. Nicaragua is the most recent country to urge its people to find sustenance from the local critters, iguana.  Unfortunately it's a stop-gap measure at best. Honduras promoted the iguana diet four or five years earlier. The locals have grown so fond of iguana and especially iguana eggs that the creatures are nearing extinction levels.

So if this is the plight of today's Central America, what will happen when climate departure hits? I suppose it's safe to say "nothing good."

Climate departure may bring ruin to Central America but what will it mean to the United States? Parts of the American south are sub-tropical:

Wikipedia provides a handy guide to the subtropical parts of the world which this map illustrates in yellow. As you can see that includes a good swathe of the southern US.

One feature common to subtropical regions is aridity in the form of deserts. That leaves them in a freshwater crunch. That's already a contentious issue across the southern states, Mexico, Spain, and Australia.

In 1950, Phoenix, Arizona supported a population of 106,000. Today it has to meet the water needs of more than 1.6 million. There's been similar growth patterns in cities across the southwest as Americans from northern states chose to retire in the snow free climes of the desert.  The seven states that comprise the Colorado River basin are squabbling over which should take how much of a hit to its water supply. To the east, there's an endless battle with Florida, Georgia and Alabama each suing the US Army Corps of Engineers, each complaining that the Corps isn't giving them their fair share of its limited freshwater supply, primarily the Everglades that is itself in danger of salination from sea level rise.

Absent water security and facing climate departure, the southern US may not be capable of accommodating a mass migration of climate refugees out of Central America. But where else can they go? The treacherous Darien Gap in southern Panama is impassable by rail or motor vehicle. No mass migration could transit its treacherous jungle.  It has been attempted by many trained adventurers. Many have tried, some have died.

So, if there's no exit to the south, you have two options. You either die in place or you take whatever risks must be accepted to seek survival in the north. That reality is not lost on Pentagon planners.

Dyer writes of ideas to militarize the border up to and including robotic gun towers that will open fire on those who try to get in, hoping a few deaths will deter the many who might otherwise flood in. The nice thing is that no American has to pull a trigger to gun down defenceless Central Americans. The robots will handle the dirty work - out of sight/out of mind.

I thought of this today after stumbling across a report in The New York Times about a plan to deploy an additional 2,000 US troops to the Mexican border.
The acting defense secretary, Patrick Shanahan, told reporters that the United States would be sending “several thousand” additional troops to provide more support for the Department of Homeland Security’s border patrol efforts. Defense Department officials later said that they expect that number to be around 2,000. 
That would come on top of the 2,400 troops who are there now, bringing the deployed number at the border close to the high of 5,900 that it reached in the weeks surrounding the midterm elections in November.
Most of us would like to imagine that this is a temporary measure to calm the fevered fantasies of the Mango Mussolini. What if it's not? What if it persists and the American people become inured to the notion of a militarized border?

A decade has passed since Dyer wrote "Climate Wars." The worsening conditions that he wrote Pentagon planners feared are coming to pass.  I expect we won't have to wait very long, a decade at the outside, for speculation to manifest as reality. 

The Madness of King Donald

It's hard to believe that Trump eschews alcohol because he governs like a drunken sailor.

In November, scientists from 13 US federal departments, acting on the directions of Congress, produced the 4th National Climate Assessment, a 1,600 page tome. Congress required it be delivered to and then released by the White House. Trump's reaction? He claimed he had looked at it and then told reporters, "No, no I don't believe it." And that, as they say, was that.

Yesterday the chiefs of America's labyrinth intelligence community appeared before Congress and literally gutted Trump's claims on everything from the supposed threat from Iran to the fanciful idea that Kim Jong Un would ever give up North Korea's nuclear arsenal.

Today, the Emperor Struck Back.
"The Intelligence people seem to be extremely passive and naive when it comes to the dangers of Iran. They are wrong!" Trump tweeted. "When I became President Iran was making trouble all over the Middle East, and beyond. Since ending the terrible Iran Nuclear Deal, they are MUCH different, but a source of potential danger and conflict. They are testing Rockets (last week) and more, and are coming very close to the edge. There economy is now crashing, which is the only thing holding them back. Be careful of Iran. Perhaps Intelligence should go back to school!" 
Trump made no mention of Russia, which was specifically mentioned by Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats on Tuesday as likely to target 2020 elections. Also left unmentioned was a response to intelligence officials' warnings about the threat of climate change.
There was a day when a lunatic would be removed from high office for the good of the nation. Trump is in a bad way. His government shut down didn't work. His poll numbers are in the tank. There is a real likelihood of another deep recession before Americans go to the polls in 2020. The special prosecutor is closing in and DJT Jr., along with son-in-law Kushner could soon be indicted. Trump has created for himself not merely "alternative facts" but an alternate reality utterly detached from science, knowledge and intelligence. Reality is whatever he declares it to be. He is mad as a hatter.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Revisiting Posterity

In a post yesterday I drew upon the words of the patron saint of conservatism, Edmund Burke, and the powerful progressive voice of Theodore Roosevelt in 1910.  Without expressly using the word "posterity" both of these men extolled the concept and the role it played in maintaining a healthy democracy.

Burke, the 18th century political philosopher, wrote of posterity as the glue that connects future generations to the past but also the present:
All persons possessing any portion of power ought to be strongly and awfully impressed with an idea that they act in trust of the first and most leading principles on which the commonwealth and the laws are consecrated, is lest the temporary possessors and life-renters in it, unmindful of what they have received from their ancestors, or of what is due to their posterity, should act as if they were the entire masters; that they should not think it among their rights to cut off the entail, or commit waste on the inheritance, by destroying at their pleasure the whole original fabric of their society; hazarding to leave to those who come after them a ruin instead of an habitation—and teaching these successors as little to respect their contrivances, as they had themselves respected the institutions of their forefathers. By this unprincipled facility of changing the state as often, and as much, and in as many ways, as there are floating fancies or fashions, the whole chain and continuity of the commonwealth would be broken. No one generation could link with the other. Men would become little better than the flies of a summer.
In Burke's view, each generation has a life estate in our land but no more and that life estate, bequeathed to us by our ancestors, is in the nature of a trust. We are trustees of the land for the generations that will follow us.  I would like to think he had the current neoliberal contagion or something like it in mind when he writes of "floating fancies or fashions" that undermine the continuity of the commonwealth and prevent one generation from linking with the other.

Roosevelt wrote of "skinning the land."
I recognize the right and duty of this generation to develop and use the natural resources of our land; but I do not recognize the right to waste them, or to rob, by wasteful use, the generations that come after us. I ask nothing of the nation except that it so behave as each farmer here behaves with reference to his own children. That farmer is a poor creature who skins the land and leaves it worthless to his children. The farmer is a good farmer who, having enabled the land to support himself and to provide for the education of his children, leaves it to them a little better than he found it himself. I believe the same thing of a nation.
I'm sure he was speaking plainly and pointedly when he spoke of one generation robbing future generations, skinning the land and leaving it worthless to those who will follow.  I wonder how he might have phrased that in this, the age of climate change and the threat of mass extinction?

It was an excellent series that Bill Moyers produced for PBS several years ago that focused my attention on posterity and the little appreciated role it played in maintaining a modern society.  Moyers consulted a variety of sage minds to explore how posterity had been discarded in the modern (neoliberal) mode of governance and whether and, if so, how it might return.  Again, that was before we understood the fact and ramifications of climate change.  I've tried to track down a copy of that series but, to date, with no luck. I shall not give up, not yet.

There is an interview that Moyers conducted in 1988 with the late American historian, Henry Steele Commager, that touches on the central themes of that elusive series.  I'll not add the weight of additional paragraphs to this post but instead present Commager's comments excerpted.

BILL MOYERS: You’ve written that “Great things were won by the generation that won independence and wrote the Constitution. Great things were accomplished by the generation that saved the Union and rid it of slavery. Great things were won by the generation that defeated the fascists in World War II and then organized the peace that followed, the Marshall Plan, the United Nations, the planting of democracy in Japan.” What are some of the issues, do you think, we can’t run from now as we approach the 21st century? 
HENRY STEELE COMMAGER: Well, there’s a great crowd of them. There’s a throng of them pressing on us. The first and most urgent and universal is the environment. Everybody talks about the environment, but we don’t do much about it. We talk about acid rain and sign this treaty with Canada, but we don’t enforce the treaty. We’re polluting the seas, we’re polluting the inland waters, we’re polluting the soil, we’re destroying the forests. We don’t think of our descendants to the thousandth and thousandth generation; we’ll be lucky if they have a country to live in in three or four generations. I think the failure to — the basic failure to think of posterity and to live for posterity the way the framers, the founding fathers, did, to always look a thousand years ahead and think what would be for the benefit of posterity, that has disappeared.
BILL MOYERS: What does it reveal about a president’s mind, when he asks us to think about posterity? 
HENRY STEELE COMMAGER: Well, the most elementary fact, of course, is to preserve the natural resources and to preserve the welfare and the health and the wisdom, take care of the health of human beings and children, and end poverty — all of these things, if we think of posterity. But I think the commonest attitude is, what has posterity ever done for us?
...BILL MOYERS: How much of this is attributed to the fact that we seem to expect less of our leadership today than we did, say, in the founding era? We have, you said — 
BILL MOYERS: The founding fathers, you said, had this idea of honor. 
HENRY STEELE COMMAGER: Our leadership today is business leadership, it’s financial leadership, it’s not political leadership. Our best people don’t go into politics, it’s too expensive for one thing, and we tolerate that. There’s no reason why we should tolerate these vast expenses for elections, no one tolerates it in European countries, but Americans think nothing of spending $50-100 million on an election.
...BILL MOYERS: If I can’t have a better life, my children will have a better life. 
HENRY STEELE COMMAGER: Yes, that’s true. This was the great thesis, of course, of the early fathers. Equality was a great word, and Tocqueville’s Democracy in America really was “Equality in America, ìthatís what he wrote about, this extraordinary phenomenon, the only country in the world that had equality. And he thought France would have it in time, England would have it in time, but he also saw the danger. What was the great danger that Tocqueville saw? It was what he called “the manufacturing aristocracy,” which was his phrase for a wealthy upper class that made a great deal of money. He said if that ever gets control, democracy may be the most tyrannical form of government ever known by man, and he feared that it might be true. What he called a manufacturing aristocracy, by which he embraced banking and so forth, he’d seen this in England and was afraid of it, and he thought it might destroy American democracy. 
BILL MOYERS: But in this country, it’s driven the economy that has enabled the boats to rise.

HENRY STEELE COMMAGER: So far it’s worked. It worked when we had enough land for the thousandth and thousandth generation, it worked when everybody had an opportunity. 
BILL MOYERS: And today? 
HENRY STEELE COMMAGER: It doesn’t seem to be working now.
In 2009, I lamented the extinction of posterity in our politics and civil society.
Posterity doesn't fit into our economic model of production and consumption because it creates a fetter on both. We have lost our understanding of the importance of posterity to our society, to our country. We no longer plan today for generations to come far in the future. We no longer look much beyond the next electoral cycle. 
Protecting posterity is an act of collective consciousness and will. It is acknowledging that we're entitled to our fair share and no more. We can't have it all without depriving future generations of their fair share. 
To try to understand the idea of "fair share" imagine if our great, great, great grandparents had followed our path. 
Imagine if our ancestors had two things - the ability to consume everything they could get their hands on and a blind indifference to the day when it was our turn to populate this country. Imagine if two or three generations had gone on a rapacious binge gobbling up the world's resources; going into serious deficit on renewables (emptying the oceans, logging off the forests, transforming farmland into desert) and fouling the environment. Then consider how their depredations might impact on your life today. I think that's beyond the imagination of all but the best science fiction writers but that's of no real matter. It's enough in any event to make the case for posterity and the concept of "fair share."
It was at this juncture, when developed nations were reeling from the Great Recession, that The New York Times looked at Norway, a nation that had never expunged posterity.
The global financial crisis has brought low the economies of just about every country on earth. But not Norway. 
With a quirky contrariness as deeply etched in the national character as the fjords carved into its rugged landscape, Norway has thrived by going its own way. When others splurged, it saved. When others sought to limit the role of government, Norway strengthened its cradle-to-grave welfare state. 
And in the midst of the worst global downturn since the Depression, Norway’s economy grew last year by just under 3 percent. The government enjoys a budget surplus of 11 percent and its ledger is entirely free of debt. 
Norway is a relatively small country with a largely homogeneous population of 4.6 million and the advantages of being a major oil exporter. It counted $68 billion in oil revenue last year as prices soared to record levels. Even though prices have sharply declined, the government is not particularly worried. That is because Norway avoided the usual trap that plagues many energy-rich countries.

Instead of spending its riches lavishly, it passed legislation ensuring that oil revenue went straight into its sovereign wealth fund, state money that is used to make investments around the world. Now its sovereign wealth fund is close to being the largest in the world, despite losing 23 percent last year because of investments that declined. 
The U.S. and the U.K. have no sense of guilt,” said Anders Aslund, an expert on Scandinavia at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington. “But in Norway, there is instead a sense of virtue. If you are given a lot, you have a responsibility.” 
Eirik Wekre, an economist who writes thrillers in his spare time, describes Norwegians’ feelings about debt this way: “We cannot spend this money now; it would be stealing from future generations.”
Norway powerfully demonstrates that posterity is prosperity because it binds us, from generation to generation, to the same common purpose, our collective welfare - past, present and future.

What would be the ultimate act of posterity today? What else could it be but to salvage as much as we can of the environment for future generations? We have, to use Roosevelt's term, "skinned" the land they will inherit. And we're going to continue to diminish their world, the world of the future, in our pursuit of comfort, ease and immediate gratification.  We are degenerate.

Can we restore posterity to Canada's politics and our society? That's extremely unlikely.  Our very model of governance is rigged. Getting the support of just shy of two out of five voters is enough to cement powerful majority rule over the majority of the voters whose democratic voice is nullified by this contrivance.  Imagine three out of five voters sidelined, shoved into a corner, their wishes without expression. The beneficiaries of this corrupt system, primarily Liberal and Conservative, shamelessly pretend that these false majorities are a great thing and contend, through some perverse notion of electoral Darwinism, that their rigged system ensures we are governed ruled by only the very best candidates or what Rafe Mair called the Higher Purpose Persons.

You'll get no posterity, not out of those two roving gangs of blackguards and reprobates. The thing they fear most is that all Canadians should have a voice in their Parliament. Who knows where that might lead?

Monday, January 28, 2019

"Wag the Dog" Time? Is America Planning to Send Troops Into Venezuela?

A gaggle of Trump aides showed up for a rare White House press conference Monday. Among them was John Bolton, note pad in hand. Bolton caused a stir when cameras revealed what was written on Bolton's note pad.

The Grifter-in-Chief Does It Again.

US Treasury Secretary, Sideshow-Steve Mnuchin is again looking to borrow a trillion dollars to cover government deficit and Trump's latest tax cuts.

Axios sums it up:
Treasury borrowing surpassed $1 trillion during President Obama's first term as government spending soared amid the stimulus to combat the 2008 financial crisis, but it has steadily declined in the years since, settling down to $519 billion in 2017 before nearly doubling last year.
Yeah, Obama had to borrow a trillion to fight the Great Recession of 2007/2008 he inherited from the profligate Republicans. Trump is forcing the US to borrow that same amount, for the second year in a row, in a boom economy. He's putting America in hock to pay for tax cuts for the rich and major corporations. Which means if the next big recession arrives next year, Washington will be tapped out and incapable of stimulus spending. And, true to form, Mitch McConnell is now talking about slashing Medicare and Social Security to ease Trump's deficits.

Gee, let me see. If I was the head of a hostile foreign power and I had control of that other nation's leader and I wanted to eliminate that country as a thorn in my side, what would be better than to create a boom economy on borrowed money and then use that to leverage considerably more indebtedness so that, when the rebound recession hits, my stooge's government is tapped out, unable to save itself through traditional stimulus spending. But, of course, that's conspiracy thinking and there's no reason to imagine Trump might be someone's useful idiot undermining the economic integrity of the United States and leaving it utterly defenceless to a devastating recession.


And who should come bearing praises of Trump this day but our very own Beelzebub, Shifty Steve Harper.  Ignoring what propelled Trump to the White House - the gerrymandering, the voter suppression, the Cambridge Analytica voter manipulation, Clinton's broad unpopularity, the Russians and the fact that Hillary, not Trump, won the popular vote - Harper put Trump's victory down to the power of populist conservatism.
In a new video posted online on Monday titled "Why Trump Won," Harper defends Trump voters as "not the ignorant and misguided deplorable depicted in mainstream media, they are our family, friends, and neighbours."

"Many Americans voted for Donald Trump because the global economy has not been working for them," Harper says in the video. 
"We can pretend that this is a false perception. We can keep trying to convince people that they misunderstand their own lives, or we can try to understand what they are saying and offer some solutions." 
He then posits that the way to serve these "ordinary people" is through "populist conservatism," that’s grounded in "tried and true conservative values." 
The four issues Harper says conservatives should focus on are: 
Market economics;
Globalization; and
What a total jackass.

First, We Throw Out the Monsters


It was hard not to be impressed when a 16-year old Swedish school girl, Greta Thunberg showed up to read the Riot Act to the delegates at, first, the Katowice climate summit and then at the World Economic Forum in Davos.  Her message is important and deserves our attention and that of our leaders because it cuts through the blather and gets straight to the point.
Our house is on fire. I am here to say, our house is on fire. 
According to the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), we are less than 12 years away from not being able to undo our mistakes. In that time, unprecedented changes in all aspects of society need to have taken place, including a reduction of our CO2 emissions by at least 50%. 
And please note that those numbers do not include the aspect of equity, which is absolutely necessary to make the Paris agreement work on a global scale. Nor does it include tipping points or feedback loops like the extremely powerful methane gas released from the thawing Arctic permafrost
...Yes, we are failing, but there is still time to turn everything around. We can still fix this. We still have everything in our own hands. But unless we recognise the overall failures of our current systems, we most probably don’t stand a chance.
We are facing a disaster of unspoken sufferings for enormous amounts of people. And now is not the time for speaking politely or focusing on what we can or cannot say. Now is the time to speak clearly. 
Solving the climate crisis is the greatest and most complex challenge that Homo sapiens have ever faced. The main solution, however, is so simple that even a small child can understand it. We have to stop our emissions of greenhouse gases. 
Either we do that or we don’t.
...Some say we should not engage in activism. Instead we should leave everything to our politicians and just vote for a change instead. But what do we do when there is no political will? What do we do when the politics needed are nowhere in sight? 
Here in Davos – just like everywhere else – everyone is talking about money. It seems money and growth are our only main concerns. 
And since the climate crisis has never once been treated as a crisis, people are simply not aware of the full consequences on our everyday life. People are not aware that there is such a thing as a carbon budget, and just how incredibly small that remaining carbon budget is. That needs to change today. 
No other current challenge can match the importance of establishing a wide, public awareness and understanding of our rapidly disappearing carbon budget, that should and must become our new global currency and the very heart of our future and present economics.
...We must change almost everything in our current societies. The bigger your carbon footprint, the bigger your moral duty. The bigger your platform, the bigger your responsibility. 
Adults keep saying: “We owe it to the young people to give them hope.” But I don’t want your hope. I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act.
From that commentary I wrote a couple of draft essays but they never led to the conclusion I needed. Then I responded to a post by Marie Snyder at A Puff of Absurdity where my thoughts seemed to flow a bit better:
Ms. Thunberg's powerful remarks inspired me to write a piece about what she was telling us about her generation and how they will depict us when it's their turn to write the history books. 
It quickly came to me that our leaders will be branded monsters. Stephen Harper, Justin Trudeau, and their contemporaries in the developed world will go down as monsters of a scale previously unknown to human civilization. 
They have full knowledge of what is happening and the enormity of the looming threats. They know how the worst catastrophe can be avoided and they have the power to do that. However, what makes them worse than the monsters of the past is that they're not driven by madness or xenophobia or paranoia or any of the other base instincts that have fueled the outrages of the past. What drives them is greed, the quest for ever more and a short-termer's willingness to kick even mortal threats down the road. 
Emissions had a substantial uptick in 2018. There'll be another this year. OPEC and the International Energy Agency see a great future for fossil fuels, including coal, into the 2040s. We're projected to go from 100 million barrels of oil per day to 112 million barrels per day by 2050. Cuts to coal consumption in the developed world will be eclipsed by the rise of coal in the developing world. We're supposed to be completely decarbonized by 2050 but we stand to be even worse than we've ever been in the past. 
We've known for more than thirty years of this existential threat and the gravity and pace of it has become increasingly well revealed with each passing year since James Hansen testified before Congress in 1988. And yet our leaders have done nothing to rein in the growth of cheap, fossil energy. Even today Canada's government of the self-proclaimed environmentalist, Trudeau, is determined to push through another massive pipeline to my coast in order to flood world markets with the most toxic, highest-carbon ersatz petroleum on the planet. 
What is that if not monstrous?
It was not always this way. The intellectual father of modern conservatism, Edmund Burke, was a strong believer in conservation, protection of the environment, leaving the world a better place for the following generation. He wrote:
All persons possessing any portion of power ought to be strongly and awfully impressed with an idea that they act in trust. of the first and most leading principles on which the commonwealth and the laws are consecrated, is lest the temporary possessors and life-renters in it, unmindful of what they have received from their ancestors, or of what is due to their posterity, should act as if they were the entire masters; that they should not think it among their rights to cut off the entail, or commit waste on the inheritance, by destroying at their pleasure the whole original fabric of their society; hazarding to leave to those who come after them a ruin instead of an habitation—and teaching these successors as little to respect their contrivances, as they had themselves respected the institutions of their forefathers. By this unprincipled facility of changing the state as often, and as much, and in as many ways, as there are floating fancies or fashions, the whole chain and continuity of the commonwealth would be broken. No one generation could link with the other. Men would become little better than the flies of a summer.
Burke wrote that in the 18th century. In the early 20th century, Theodore Roosevelt delivered this passage in his  "Square Deal" speech:
I recognize the right and duty of this generation to develop and use the natural resources of our land; but I do not recognize the right to waste them, or to rob, by wasteful use, the generations that come after us. I ask nothing of the nation except that it so behave as each farmer here behaves with reference to his own children. That farmer is a poor creature who skins the land and leaves it worthless to his children. The farmer is a good farmer who, having enabled the land to support himself and to provide for the education of his children, leaves it to them a little better than he found it himself. I believe the same thing of a nation.
The monsters of our day have no time for these ideas.  They are happy to "skin the land and leave it worthless" for future generations.

What passes for governance today is a betrayal of the future. You may have noticed that we wage wars today that transform into quagmires, permawar, war without end. These are not wars intended to achieve some resolution. They are not wars fought to achieve victory. They are wars of punishment, wars for which inconclusive but monstrously murderous results are pre-ordained. They are wars that end not in victory but exhaustion, boredom and obscene indifference.

We have adopted a similar myopia in our approach to governance. We're not in this to win, not in the long run, not for future generations.  We don't have that sort of leadership today and we, at least most of us, are either oblivious to it or, worse, fine with it.  We will go on and on and on until going on is no longer tenable. Then it's chaos. Most of us at least sense that this cannot end well but we would rather not dwell on it.

We are beset by monsters. They are the titans of industry, the pillars of finance and the charlatans we elect to high office. Collectively they pursue an agenda, entirely unlike our own, and their agenda leads to ruin, perhaps even a mass extinction event.

We know the science. It is massive and compelling and brutally clear. We know what must be done and we know what must not be allowed to transpire. We have the warnings. We are surrounded by the early-onset impacts. Yet we look away and instead put our shoulder into enabling the extraction and export of thermal coal, natural gas and the most toxic, highest-carbon ersatz petroleum of them all, bitumen.

Trump runs around searching for a fictitious 'national emergency' but what should trouble us all is not an emotionally unhinged president but that so few of his contemporaries are willing to see the true national - and global - emergency that is already overtaking us.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

And They Wonder Why Trump Skipped Dinner?

Washington's elite Alfalfa Club annual dinner was held tonight. Trump shuns the event but attendees were surprised when Pence and his wife along with Jared and Ivanka failed to take their places at the head table.

John Kerry, the outgoing president of the club, greeted his successor, Mitt Romney, and then proceeded to launch a few zingers:
"I got to tell you, you all look incredibly dapper tonight in your ball gowns, your tuxedos, your bow ties and your cummerbunds, or as we call it at our house: workout gear. Or as we call it at our other house: pajamas. Or as we call it at our other house: swimming costumes. But tonight it looks like I've done something Donald Trump can only dream of: finishing my term." 
"Donald Trump could be the first President to go to the inaugural of his successor in a limo with license plates made by his campaign manager." 
"I think we've all noticed, there's been a lot of turnover in this administration. Secretary (Ryan) Zinke was fired. Reince Priebus was fired. Rex Tillerson, Gen. McMaster, Jeff Sessions -- all fired. One thing you can say about the Trump people -- they're not quitters. Wilbur Ross is here. I want to thank him for taking care of dessert. He went to the kitchen and said, 'Let them eat cake.'"

Saturday, January 26, 2019

McCallum Axed

Canada's ambassador to China, John McCallum, is out. Justin Trudeau asked for and received McCallum's resignation last night.

The Liberal stalwart succumbed to a bout of foot in mouth disease over the Meng Wanzhou/Huawei extradition fiasco.

McCallum stepped out of line earlier when he told Chinese journalists that Wanzhou had a strong defence against the American extradition bid because the crime alleged is an extraterritorial matter, i.e. the offence alleged would not be a crime in Canada. Unlike the United States, Canada has not turned on Iran. And Trump's careless remark about how Wanzhou would make a useful bargaining chip in Washington's trade war with Beijing suggests the American prosecution is political, not criminal. All of his points are eminently reasonable.

Apparently McCallum went too far for this prime minister when he told a local paper in Vancouver that it would be "great for Canada" if Washington dropped the extradition case.

McCallum served in the governments of Chretien, Martin and Trudeau.

Will This Be the Final Nail in Trump's Coffin?

Donald Trump rode one signature phrase straight into the White House - "Make America Great Again." The TV show hustler convinced the Gullibillies, his base, that he was an unparalleled real estate tycoon, master of the 'art of the deal,' and, just like those other hucksters, the 'prosperity gospel' preachers, he would rain wealth down on his followers until they were sick of winning and the weight of all that windfall cash. He even plunged the US a trillion dollars deeper in debt to float a tax cut for the rich, reviving the 'trickle down' madness in the developed nation that has the worst inequality problem of them all. That money which Trump said would spark an economic Nirvana instead was diverted into share buybacks and executive compensation, not economic expansion.

A lot of Trump's first two years in office was marked by arm twisting, browbeating, even outright threats to not just Democrats but also congressional Republicans.  With the feckless House leader, Paul Ryan, and the utterly servile Senate leader, Mitch McConnell, Trump rode'em hard and put'em away wet.

Trump, however, is no master of the 'art of the deal.' He is master of the con. That's something many people have learned first-hand. People like the unpaid trades who constructed his buildings. People like the investors who poured their money into Trump's failed casinos. Even the saps who paid big bucks to enroll in the laughably named "Trump University."

Trump's administration has been the ultimate expression of a con artist and, like all cons, it cannot last. He's got a lot of weight bearing down on him. The House is now in the Democrat's control. The Mueller investigation is closing in, the latest to fall being Trump's longtime buddy and fixer, Roger Stone. Big as those threats may be, Trump's greatest problem could turn out to be the economy.

Business Insider reports a sharp decline in home sales in 2018 that could spell bad news for the American economy. It's the same phenomenon that presaged nine out of the eleven recessions in America in the postwar era.
As 2018 headed toward its close, Americans' appetites for buying homes fell off a cliff. 
In December, the rate of existing US home sales cratered to 4.99 million, 10.3% below the mark from the year-ago period, according to data released earlier this week by the National Association of Realtors. 
That's the steepest decline in more than seven years, and it followed year-over-year declines of 7.8% in November and 5.1% in October.
...At two of the largest bank mortgage originators and servicers in the US, the numbers were more pronounced. 
At Wells Fargo, mortgage banking revenues fell 50% to $467 million in the fourth quarter, while originations declined 28% to $38 billion. 
JPMorgan, meanwhile, saw mortgage income fall to $203 million, a 46% drop from the same period last year. Originations fell 30% to $17.2 billion.

Can We Not Stop Ourselves?

It's called AGW or anthropogenic global warming. It's warming that is anthropogenic, i.e. man-made, and it's global, just as humans now populate just about every corner of the Earth.

Nobody gets a pass. We're all in on this and we all bear the obligation to deal with it through mitigation, emissions cuts, and adaptation, bracing for the crash.

Nobody gets a pass but some are certainly more accountable than others.  We call this group the major emitters and, when you get into their ranks, you run into the real distraction machine.

When it comes to the major emitters club there are two kinds of memberships. There are countries that, by virtue of their enormous populations, emit far more than other nations. Then there are countries, like our own, where the population has a massive, per capita, emissions problem.

Countries like ours often resort to disgustingly greasy sophistry. That begins with the fairy tale that, because we're so small in numbers, we really don't make much difference so now, if you'll just step aside, we'll be on our way. We don't do that so overtly any more but you can still find oblique references on government web sites.  And, when we crunch our numbers, we take no responsibility for the future emissions from the highest-carbon, ersatz petroleum also known as bitumen that we sell abroad.  We'll flood the world markets with the stuff if we can get that pipeline up and running.  One thing I know is that Andrew Scheer's people and Justin Trudeau's people both think that flogging bitumen is a proper and principled thing for Canada.

We got a blunt warning recently. If we want a reasonable chance to avoid  catastrophic climate change, we must cut humanity's greenhouse gas emissions by half by 2030. We've now got less than a dozen years, the smallest of windows, to make this happen. A dozen years in which we may decide the future of human civilization if there even is to be one. So, as that old commercial asked, "where's the beef?"

There's that line about when you want to get yourself out of a hole the first thing you must do is stop digging. We're still digging and faster than ever.  Global emissions shot up in 2018, partly thanks to Trump's "burn the place down" energy policies. 2019 is going to be another record year for CO2 levels.

OPEC, the global oil cartel, sees a bright future for all forms of fossil energy, coal included.
Opec’s annual report significantly revised production estimates upwards. Most of the production increase will come from countries outside Opec, led by explosive growth from frackers in the United States, with China and India leading the increase in demand. 
Opec expects global oil demand to reach nearly 112m barrels per day by 2040, driven by transportation and petrochemicals. That is up from almost 100m today and higher than last year’s projection. 
Coal will continue to be be burned in record amounts, despite concerns about its impact on climate change. Opec estimates that coal usage in the OECD countries will plummet by a third by 2040, but it will increase by 20% in developing countries to reach five times the volumes burned in the west.
So, did you get that? We're supposed to cut emissions by half by 2030. We're now burning up 100 million barrels of oil per day. By 2040 we'll have ratcheted that up, not down but up, to 112 barrels per day. And, while the developed nations may have cut their coal consumption by a modest third by 2040 (I know, WTF!) developing countries will more than make up for it.

The OPEC numbers aren't wishful thinking. The International Energy Agency projections bear them out.

Meanwhile Earth, our one and only biosphere, the environment without which there is no life on this planet, is showing increasing signs of contagion.

We just learned that the Greenland ice sheet is melting four times faster than we had imagined. Globally, our oceans are heating at a record pace. We're told that, within the decade, the rich Barents Sea could transform from an Arctic marine environment to an Atlantic Ocean environment and eventually lose its bountiful cod stocks. Australia this summer isn't baking, it's on "high broil."

Meanwhile, a 16 year old girl goes to Davos to ask world leaders and the titans of commerce and industry to abruptly reverse course, to spare the world and humanity from their predations, even as she knows full well they won't.

I'll end this with a comment left on this blog by reader, Cap.

We have only one chance to get this right, and only a decade to do it in. Failure leads to human extinction. You'd think that would focus the mind. But no, it's business as usual.

As 16-year-old Greta Thunberg told the Masters of the Universe in Davos,

"Some people say that the climate crisis is something that we all have created. But that is not true because if everyone is guilty, then no one is to blame. And someone is to blame. 
"Some people, some companies and some decision-makers in particular have known exactly what priceless values they have been sacrificing to continue making unimaginable amounts of money. And I think many of you here today belong to that group of people. 
"I want to challenge those companies and those decision-makers into real and bold climate action. To set their economic goals aside and to safeguard the future living conditions for humankind. 
"I don't believe for one second that you will rise to that challenge. But I want to ask you all the same. I ask you to prove me wrong." 
Well, JT, what are you waiting for? 

Friday, January 25, 2019

Memo to the Oil-Heads

"Sold Out" There's An Understatement.

The Petro-Pimps of Parliament Hill, pose as stewards of the environment but they sure like to tell a lot of lies.  Trudeau says he's fighting climate change but then sweeps aside First Nations and other environmentalists obstructing his best efforts to flood world markets with toxin-rich, high-carbon bitumen. The guy is either schizophrenic or he's a manipulative liar. I don't think he has a disease of the mind.

Trudeau's petro-policies, like his predecessor's, need to be seen in the context of what's happening in the world and what's happening is not good.
The level of climate-warming carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere is forecast to rise by a near-record amount in 2019, according to the Met Office. 
The increase is being fuelled by the continued burning of fossil fuels and the destruction of forests, and will be particularly high in 2019 due to an expected return towards El Niño-like conditions. This natural climate variation causes warm and dry conditions in the tropics, meaning the plant growth that removes CO2 from the air is restricted. 
Levels of the greenhouse gas have not been as high as today for 3-5m years, when the global temperature was 2-3C warmer and the sea level was 10-20 metres higher. Climate action must be increased fivefold to limit warming to the 1.5C rise above pre-industrial levels that scientists advise, according to the UN. But the past four years have been the hottest on record and global emissions are rising again after a brief pause.
I detested how the Harper government made Canada a climate change "pariah," the subject of well-deserved ridicule and mockery in other countries. I detest how the Trudeau government has picked up the bitumen ball from the Tories, determined to run it into the end zone. We're still a pariah only one that is more determined than ever to do its bit to make everything that much worse.

No matter. Come this fall, some 70 to 80 percent of the voting public will cast ballots for the Liberals or the Conservatives who, thanks to first-past-the-post, have an electoral sinecure, their gnarled fingers firmly around the throat of this once proud country.  

Focus on the Barents, Pt. 2

Yesterday it was reported that global warming is transforming the Barents Sea from an Arctic sea into an Atlantic sea.

Now a paper published by the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme warns that the changes underway could wipe out the Barents' bountiful cod stocks.

The grim forecast is based on the most comprehensive study to date of the effects of climate change on cod, which – for the first time – takes into account ocean acidification as well as warming. 
It found larvae mortality rates were 75% higher when exposed to the combined pressures of the two factors – both of which are caused by emissions – than to heating alone. As a result, fish numbers, catches and revenues will decline faster than previously estimated. 
The Barents Sea, which is in the Arctic, is a major source of seafood nutrition for northern Europe. Along with Iceland, it is a key source of cod imports into the UK, which has over-fished its own waters. More Atlantic fish are migrating into this region as a result of global warming.
But this ocean has the highest level of acidification in the world because cold water absorbs more carbon dioxide, which changes its pH level. It is also the ocean that is experiencing the fastest rates of heating. While the global average is a rise of 1.1C since the start of the industrial revolution, the coastal breeding grounds of the cod in the Barents Sea have experienced a temperature increase of 3.5C. 
Unless the warming trend is controlled, the stocks will see a boom and then a bust.
This marine exodus is proof positive of the reality, even the severity, of global warming.  Fish and marine mammals and sea birds aren't interested in the sophistry of climate change deniers. The entire food chain is on the move in one direction - poleward.  In British Columbia's coastal waters these newcomers range from krill to sardines to transient orca to humpback whales and many more.  And, yes, ocean acidification is already having impacts especially on oyster and scallop beds.  The extra acid in the water makes it more difficult for these creatures to grow proper shells.

But petro-state governments nestled thousands of miles from the coast can't be too engaged with these impacts, not when they're aiming to flood world markets with toxin-laden, high-carbon bitumen that can only add to the warming and the acidification of our oceans.  This is Alberta's and Ottawa's giant "fuck you" to coastal British Columbians. And they claim we're the problem.