Tuesday, April 30, 2019
The time for dithering is gone. We need a government more committed to the fight against climate change than any we've ever known. We need an "induced implosion" of the petro-economy and that's just for starters.
Read more here.
Hardly a day passes without some mass shooting in America. The memorable shootings tend to involve mass mayhem - bodies everywhere. Schools get our attention whether a university, high school or elementary but especially elementary schools. Virginia Tech (33 dead/23 wounded, Stoneman Douglas High, Parkland (17/17), Sandy Hook elementary (28/2) stand out along with the University of Texas tower shooting (18/31) and Columbine (15/21) but, beyond that, few are remembered except locally.
Today it's the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, with two dead and four wounded, two critically. That, I suppose, will last a news cycle, maybe two and then - whoosh - straight down that indispensable Memory Hole.
The fact is it's impossible to remember them all. I suspect most of them pass with a shrug. Not the Las Vegas massacre (58 dead/422 wounded) the record holder, or the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando (49/53) plus the shooter.
In Canada the worst in the modern era was the Ecole Polythechnique massacre of 1989 where the gunman attacked women, killing 14 and wounding another 14 before killing himself. Then there was the 2014 Edmonton killings where Phu Lam killed 8 before taking his own life the following day. We've had our share but nothing that rises to the level of the American experience.
These mass killings, through the promiscuity of their repetition, seem to dull our emotions. Whereas there once might have been outrage or at least shock, most of these things are becoming Page 3 stories.
Tell me, do you even bother reading these reports any longer? Do they still have a terrible impact on you or are you too numbed to them?
I just realized that, from British Columbia's eastern border, the barbarians are in control all the way to Quebec. Scheer and Kenney, Moe, Pallister and Ford. Two thousand miles of knuckle-draggin' mouth breathers. We don't need pipelines. We need a wall.
Quebec, come in Quebec.
Public intellectual and McMaster prof, Henry Giroux, has a few ideas on how to drive back this tide of velvet-glove fascism.
Something sinister and horrifying is happening to liberal democracies all over the globe. Democratic institutions, such as the independent media, schools, the legal system, certain financial institutions, and higher education are under siege worldwide.
...Two worlds are colliding: First, as a number of scholars have observed, there is the harsh and crumbling world of neoliberal globalization and its mobilizing passions that fuel different strands of fascism across the globe, including the United States. Power is now enamored with amassing profits and capital and is increasingly addicted to a politics of white nationalism and racial cleansing. Second, as Charles Derber argues in Welcome to the Revolution, there is the world of counter movements, which is growing especially among young people, with their search for a new politics that can rethink, reclaim and invent a new understanding of democratic socialism, untainted by capitalism.
...Education, both in its symbolic and institutional forms, has a central role to play in fighting the resurgence of fascist cultures, mythic historical narratives and the emerging ideologies of white supremacy and white nationalism. Moreover, at a time when fascists across the globe are disseminating toxic racist and ultra-nationalist images of the past, it is essential to reclaim education as a form of historical consciousness and moral witnessing. This is especially true at a time when historical and social amnesia have become a national pastime, particularly in the United States, matched only by the masculinization of the public sphere and the increasing normalization of a fascist politics that thrives on ignorance, fear, hatred, social cleansing, the suppression of dissent and white supremacy. Education as a form of cultural work extends far beyond the classroom, and its pedagogical influence, while often imperceptible, is crucial to challenging and resisting the rise of fascist pedagogical formations and their rehabilitation of fascist principles and ideas.
Against a numbing indifference, despair or withdrawal into the private orbits of the isolated self, there is a need to create those cultural apparatuses and formative cultures that do the pedagogical work of promoting civic courage, fostering the capacity to listen to others, sustaining complex thoughts and engaging social problems. We have no other choice if we are to resist the increasing destabilization of democratic institutions such as those regulatory institutions that provide for people’s basic needs and their personal and political rights. In addition, there is also the need to resist the increasing assault on reason, the collapse of the distinction between fact and fiction, and the taste for brutality that now spreads like a plague across a number of countries, including the U.S.
What could we do with fifty billion dollars? Oh, I know. We could use it to adapt to climate change. It might help Canada transition from fossil fuels to alternative clean energy. There is no end of good uses for that sort of money.
British Labour MP, Clive Lewis, is asking the same question. "Why are taxpayers subsidising the oil and gas companies that are jeopardizing our future?"
Does this sound familiar?
Last October, the world’s most renowned climate scientists warned governments that humanity has just 12 years to prevent climate catastrophe. The UK government faces three choices to deal with carbon-heavy fossil fuels: force people to stop using them immediately; facilitate a rapid transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy; or hope business-as-usual market forces solve our problem for us. Strip away the rhetoric, and the Tory government is still relying on the latter option.
... British taxpayers will now subsidise multi-billion-pound companies in accelerating the collapse of our natural world. Extinction Rebellion recognises this threat, and is protesting outside the Treasury today. It questions why we continue to subsidise the very companies that jeopardise our future. I stand in complete solidarity with it.Deja Vu, anyone?
These tax reliefs have not brought any tangible benefit in protecting and creating jobs. They simply subsidise big business and facilitate and encourage further North Sea exploitation. As John McDonnell outlined when speaking in Scotland recently, any government intervention must be to secure the creation of new, green, sustainable jobs. The public accounts committee asked the government whether its “support for oil and gas may become incompatible with its long-term climate change objectives”. “No” would be the honest answer.
Right out of the gate, Justin Trudeau is balking at serious action on climate change.
Speaking on Sunday night, Justin Trudeau, the prime minister, suggested that using federal money to help relocate communities affected by flooding was a possibility. “Once we secure the situation through this spring flooding season, we will have to have significant reflections and conversations on how we move forward,” he said, according to the Canadian Press.
Jesus, that's the same crap we heard after the last devastating Calgary floods in 2013, the area's second "once in a century" flood in eight years. First there was the "no one could have known" dollop of horse shit, quickly followed by the "we're going to get on top of this just as soon as we get this mess sorted out."
Politicians are liars and that includes the current boss. The more pressure they face the harder they lie. They also know how to use their "get out of jail free" card. It's called "creeping normalcy." Give the people a little time and they'll simply accept their "new normal" and complacently go about their business. It's what we do. It's part of human nature. It lets them sell us down the river.
Alberta's Tory government, as we now know, commissioned a flood mitigation study in 2006, right after the First Great Flood, and then sat on it until last year, just in time for the Second Great Flood. The report identified flood plain risks and recommended a ban on development there. "What? No development? Are you out of your frackin' mind? This is ALBERTA for f--k sakes. Ditch that report."
Well that 2006 study is probably useless now anyway. It was based on the 2005 flooding, back when they thought that really was a once-a-century event. By some estimates the 2013 floods could be three times worse and so "flood plain" has taken on a much larger dimension. And that once-a-century business is now pretty much debunked.
Will the Alberta government do a new flood mitigation study? That would involve thinking the unthinkable, the great conundrum that climate change forces on us. How do we persuade people to prepare for things far outside of our experience? Today's political classes don't work that way. They don't have the political vision or the moral courage.You see the soggy people of Alberta never menaced the Tories. They never threatened the conservatives' hold on power. They signaled they would settle for whatever they were given and, when the cost of remedial measures was figured out, they weren't going to be getting much.
Trudeau is going to emulate the Tories in Alberta. Why? Because this grave threat is way above his pay grade. He's not smart enough. He's not courageous enough. His credibility is in tatters. He's not even popular enough to implement what, to many, would be unpopular measures. No, it'll be "significant reflections and conversations" from this prime minister, words and hollow words at that, not deeds.
Sorry, Canada, but until you're ready to put the fear of God into these political hustlers you're on your own.
Good. It seems the British people have done what their political caste has so far refused to do. They have concluded that the world is in a state of climate emergency.
Two-thirds of people in the UK recognise there is a climate emergency and 76% say that they would cast their vote differently to protect the planet.
The findings, in a poll commissioned by Greenpeace, come as the group unveiled a detailed “climate manifesto”, listing 134 key actions they say the government should take immediately to ensure the UK hits zero carbon emissions as soon as possible.
The manifesto – which will be sent to MPs, policymakers, thinktanks and other experts for feedback – was released on Tuesday, a day before a parliamentary vote on whether to declare a national climate emergency.In Canada, the great petro-state of Canada, we've been groomed, both domestically and by the nonsense relentlessly spewed south of the border, to believe there is no emergency. Just go to a story on climate change in any Canadian news site and read the comments. But, if you really want to get down in the sewer you'll have to rub elbows with the likes of Scheer, Kenney, Pallister, Moe and Ford, paid patsies of the fossil energy giants. And before you Liberals get smug, your guy is a little better but not all that much.
The measures outlined in the manifesto include:
A tripling of wind and solar power from current levels to ensure 80% of electricity comes from renewables by 2030.
Ambitious targets to phase out the internal combustion engine in cars and vans with all new vehicles to be electric by 2030.
Huge insulation drive on all existing and new buildings, and the installation of renewable generation on site as far as possible.
A commitment to protect all high-carbon natural habitats and bold targets for habitat restoration/rewilding on land and at sea – including planting at least 700m trees over the next decade.
The manifesto was released alongside polling carried out by Opinium in the midst of the Extinction Rebellion protests. It found:The Brits have it figured out. If you want real action on climate change from your government, you have to make them afraid of you, very afraid. It's time we did the same here.
63% of British public think they are in a climate emergency.
76% say they would vote differently to protect the planet and climate.
64% say government is responsible for taking action on climate change.
Monday, April 29, 2019
So much for "it's the economy, stupid." No, stupid, not any more.
The main focus of the next European Parliament should be on protecting the environment, according to a survey of more than 100,000 people conducted by Change.org.
Seventy-two per cent of respondents said the health of the planet was the most important issue, higher than the 68% who called for a fairer economic and tax system.
Migration and employment were far behind, attracting support from 38% and 33% respectively.
Change.org, which is a platform hosting online campaigns, surveyed 135,431 of its users in Poland, Spain, Italy, France and Germany. The results were not weighted to represent the mix of demographic and social groups across the European Union.
The survey found that younger people were more passionate about environmental questions than their older counterparts but also less likely to vote. Around 70% of those aged 18-24 said they would vote, while 90% of over 55s intend to.
"The responses are consistent with the most important European campaigns on Change.org in the past few years. Campaigns aiming to protect the environment such as the campaign to ban disposable plastic bottles or to end food waste gathered millions of signatures," said Paula Peters, Change.org’s Vice-President for Europe.
Gee, who knew?
Despite a White House and Congress chock full of climate change deniers, the US Environmental Protection Agency has issued a stark warning to American municipalities. Get ready. Get ready now. It's here and what's coming is going to be worse.
The Environmental Protection Agency published a 150-page document this past week with a straightforward message for coping with the fallout from natural disasters across the country: Start planning for the fact that climate change is going to make these catastrophes worse.
The language, included in guidance on how to address the debris left in the wake of floods, hurricanes and wildfires, is at odds with the rhetoric of the EPA’s own leader, Andrew Wheeler. Just last month, Wheeler said in an interview with CBS that “most of the threats from climate change are 50 to 75 years out.”
Multiple recent studies have identified how climate change is already affecting the United States and the globe. In the western United States, for example, regional temperatures have increased by almost 2 degrees Fahrenheit since the 1970s, and snowmelt is occurring a month earlier in areas, extending the fire season by three months and quintupling the number of large fires. Another scientific paper, co-authored by EPA researchers, found that unless the United States slashes carbon emissions, climate change will probably cost the United States hundreds of billions of dollars annually by 2100.
...“This EPA guidance is clearly telling the public you need to start dealing now with disasters that are being made worse by climate change and will be made even worse due to climate change,” said Amit Narang, regulatory policy advocate at the group Public Citizen. “It’s pretty troubling to me to see the head of EPA saying the exact opposite thing.”
To some extent, the new document reflects the advances scientists have made attributing extreme events to climate change since a landmark analysis was published in 2004 looking at a deadly European heat wave the year before.Of course the American government, like Canada's is deeply in the embrace of the fossil energy giants, a massive and potentially deadly conflict of interest. On one side is money, sort of. On the other side is life. You can't have both. When they pretend otherwise, they're lying.
The EPA document focuses on debris from severe climate change impacts and "debris streams" as well as how communities should deal with them. It's pretty damn dystopian. Topics such as what to do with all that asbestos when those old buildings collapse, that sort of thing.
Cue the dreaded "War of the Worlds" mass panic. What? It didn't happen? No, it didn't. The American public seem decidedly nonplussed at the acknowledgement, by a fairly senior Pentagon spokesman, that American airspace and especially its military airspace is receiving strange and unwelcome intrusions, several times a month, by unidentified flying craft. These vehicles vastly outperform American frontline fighters. Yet they appear to have no flight surfaces and no sign of any propulsion systems and they leave no telltale heat signatures or exhaust.
They also fly circles around top pilots sent to intercept them before flying away at rates of acceleration that would probably kill a human being.
The Pentagon has even released video taken from a Raytheon tracking pod aboard a US Navy F-18.
Yawn. The story has run in the Washington Post, Politico, Global News and, naturally, FOX and just about nobody much cares. I suppose with Donald Trump in the White House the national security apparatus has greater threats to worry about. Who knows?
it's no longer acceptable for our political leaders and some media outlets to play under-the-table footsie with white nationalists and white supremacists. It's time to recognize those groups are as dangerous to civil society, more dangerous, than any threat we face from Islamic terrorists.
However, before Trudeau acolytes mount their high horses, they should pay attention to this earlier Tyee article, "How Trudeau is Helping Canada's Radical Right Flourish."
The cycle of hatred is endless and now global. Extremism flows across the Internet to all corners of the world, providing demented individuals an excuse for snuffing out the lives of others. We know this; that is why we have been fighting a war on terrorism since Sept. 11, 2001. But our focus has been one-sided: We fight Islamist terrorism while slighting the dangers of white-supremacist terrorism. The Anti-Defamation League reports that between 2009 and 2018, 73 percent of extremist killings in America were carried out by white supremacists. Yet, only 900 out of 5,000 open FBI investigations into terrorism are focused on domestic terrorists and the Department of Homeland Security office charged with countering domestic extremism has been “gutted.”
...There are people in positions of power and influence in this country who sympathize with white nationalists and share their concerns. Anti-Semitism pervades both the left and right. President Trump condemned the Poway attack, but the day before, he again defended the white supremacists who marched in Charlottesville chanting “Jews will not replace us.” Trump’s mendacious claim was that the protesters were simply defending a statue of Robert E. Lee — as if it’s commendable to pay tribute to a general who fought to preserve slavery.
Trump’s hate-mongering is powerfully amplified by America’s most watched cable network. Last year, Laura Ingraham said on Fox News Channel: “The America we know and love doesn’t exist anymore. Massive demographic changes have been foisted on the American people, and they are changes that none us ever voted for, and most of us don’t like.” Her colleague Tucker Carlson complained that immigrants make “our own country poor and dirtier and more divided.” Such sentiments are disturbingly similar to those posted on the Internet by the Christchurch shooter and shared by the attackers in Pittsburgh and Poway. Indeed, a Fox News reporter, in an internal email, called out two colleagues for “sounding like a White Supremacist chat room” in defending Trump’s praise of the Charlottesville protesters.
...It’s impossible to imagine television stars being given a prime-time platform in America to spread Islamist ideology. But it’s considered perfectly acceptable at Fox to provide a platform for white-supremacist ideology. That double standard needs to end if we are to prevent more white-supremacist attacks in the future.As for Andrew Scheer, the Tyee says he's playing both sides. Like Bernier, he's never far from his dog whistle.
Two leaders of federal parties vying in the fall election, for example, have attempted to insulate themselves with public statements that fail to match their actions. Conservative Party of Canada leader Andrew Scheer denouncedthis April anybody who “promotes white nationalism, promotes any type of extremism.” He did so, however, after speaking at events with white nationalists and pushing an anti-immigrant motion that furthers their cause.
People’s Party of Canada leader Maxime Bernier declared that “racists are not welcome in this party.” Meanwhile, he’s criticized “extreme multiculturalism” and tweets other xenophobic statements that makes far-right extremists eager to sign up.
Many media reports assume hate-tinged populism is an offshoot of a grassroots movement angry about job losses and “politically correct” elites. If unwelcome racists find common cause with that movement, it’s unfortunate, goes the narrative, and politicians understandably sometimes react belatedly or clumsily.
Indeed, the Yellow Vests movement portrayed itself as a populist revolt led by laid-off Albertans while attracting people who stockpile weapons and draw firearms on police. And the United We Roll convoy organized by Glen Carritt this February brought frustrated oil workers and members of anti-Muslim hate groups like Northern Guard to the front lawns of Parliament.
Many of the nearly dozen experts The Tyee interviewed for this piece argue that in fact the opposite is likely true: the rhetoric and actions of prominent conservative politicians and media members are helping to create and embolden such a movement by inflaming racial and cultural resentments.The Tyee article explores the common threads that run through this rogues' gallery from Harper to Kellie Leitch to Scheer, Bernier and Kenney, to the Yellow Vests, Ezra Levant and Faith Goldie.
However, before Trudeau acolytes mount their high horses, they should pay attention to this earlier Tyee article, "How Trudeau is Helping Canada's Radical Right Flourish."
It's funny, with the October elections nearing, how concerned the Conservatives and Liberals are becoming about climate change or, at least, the flooding that has ravaged eastern Canada and the maritimes. Oh they're all eco-warriors now. So precious.
It might be inspirational if they weren't such petro-pimps, eager to flood world markets with high-carbon, high-cost, low-value sludge bitumen. It doesn't matter where that garbage is burned. It's all going up into our shared atmosphere and it's our warming and more moisture-laden atmosphere that's delivering all those floods.
Hell, even PostMedia's Montreal Gazette is getting wise. Today the paper warns that this flooding could be Quebec's "new normal." Not really. Give it another ten years, twenty to be sure, and Quebeckers might be remembering this as the good old days. This is just "early onset" stuff. There's no stasis. The climate is worsening. There'll be plenty of new normal to come, sort of like the "oldest person on Earth" contest.
In today's Globe, Ibbitson writes that even the Tories are now getting onside about climate change. Why does Greenwash smell so much like horse shit? Ibbitson begins with the mandatory disclaimer that no weather event can absolutely be linked to global warming and then follows up with this whopper:
Although the United States, China and India are far more responsible for climate change than Canada, that does does not relieve this country of its moral obligation to do its part.We're really not the problem. Until you consider that Canada consistently ranks in the Top Ten countries for overall emissions and an impressive Top Three standing for per capita emissions. And that's before we get an honest accounting for the emissions from Alberta and Saskatchewan's bitumen producers (don't hold your breath waiting).
There may not be another issue that has prompted so much blatant dishonest from governments as climate change. Pity it's also an existential threat, the gravest in the history of human civilization. Scheer is about to pull some sort of eco-bunny out of his backside. Singh will go tut-tut, tut-tut. Trudeau will fill a sandbag, maybe flash his abs.
Who to trust, who to believe? The one that produces a convincing policy to meet the immediate baseline requirement for averting catastrophic, runaway global warming - a 50 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 leading to a near total decarbonization by 2050.
You'll know they're lying if they don't identify how they'll fund such a Herculean effort. Where's the money coming from? What will we have to sacrifice? Who loses so that we all might survive? Something has to give. What'll it be? How about those billions in subsidies and benefits you're lavishing on the Oil Patch? That would be a start.
No rush. The Three Stooges might just get solutions from the motion Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party will table in Britain's HoC this Wednesday. Harnessing the energy of the Extinction Rebellion and the Greta Thunberg-inspired student climate strikers, Corbyn will demand that the government declare a national climate emergency. It's expected that part of that deal will require a firm commitment to meet the 50 per cent by 2030 and near total elimination of GHG emissions by 2050, something our government hasn't even acknowledged much less accepted.
Sunday, April 28, 2019
They come from all walks of life: tradesmen, soldiers, a student teacher, a financial analyst, an aspiring lawyer, among others. And they are in every province, in communities large and small.
They gather on the internet to strategize and seek pathways into mainstream politics. They are anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, Islamophobic, sexist and racist. They are young and radicalized. They are the new far right in Canada.
The Globe and Mail has obtained a trove of 150,000 messages posted between February, 2017, and early 2018 that reveal the private communications of a loosely aligned node of Canadian right-wing extremists. The record of their continuing conversations reveals a movement, energized by the rise of white ethnonationalism in the United States, that aims to upend a decades-old multicultural consensus in this country.
The discussions reviewed by The Globe and Mail originally took place on a text-and-voice application called Discord, an app meant for gamers that is also popular with the far right. The group called itself the Canadian Super Players, apparently to disguise themselves as video gamers.
The discussions celebrate Nazism and joke about the Holocaust. They contain boasts of racist, sexist and homophobic behaviour on the part of participants. Many of the in-jokes and memes the members share resemble those propagated by the far right in the United States and Europe.Our "friend" may run cover for Andrew Scheer and his dog-whistle messaging but the Tories and their leader are not on the side of the angels.
The threat of white nationalism, and the failure to denounce it, has become an increasingly pressing political issue. Conservative Party Leader Andrew Scheer has been criticized for attending the same United We Roll rally as Ms. Goldy, and for failing to specifically mention, in his initial statement, that the Christchurch attack targeted Muslims. Mr. Scheer has called the criticism baseless and said that he condemns all hateful ideologies, but the criticism continues. Earlier this month, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau accused Mr. Scheer of not doing enough to condemn racism and extremism, a signal that the Liberals may seek to make this a ballot-box issue in the upcoming election.
EXPLORING CONSERVATIVE PARTY INROADS
In early 2017, members of the Canadian Super Players chat group set out to make their mark on mainstream politics. Their vehicle for doing so: the leadership race of the Conservative Party of Canada.
The first candidate they rallied behind was Kellie Leitch, who was proposing screening immigrants for cultural values. When her leadership campaign stalled, they moved en masse to support Maxime Bernier.
One person in the chat room, who went by the name of Cyrus online and who described himself as a law student, said he attended a Bernier event in March, 2017, and described the politician “dog whistling pretty hard. He mentioned western values and western civilization a lot.” But Cyrus was less persuaded by Mr. Bernier’s libertarian policies and was unhappy that he did not take a stronger stance against asylum seekers crossing the border on foot.
A few other chat-room participants praised Andrew Scheer, but the consensus was that Mr. Bernier was the better bet. Dank, the student teacher, even expressed dismay that he couldn’t cast more than one ballot for Mr. Bernier.It's a pretty dark look into these groups and it's pretty obvious they're not supporting the Liberals or the New Dems or the Greens. It deserves to be read in its entirety. Check out the link at the top.
Okay, This Might Sting a Little Bit. Time for Ottawa to Declare Climate Change a National Emergency.
Imagine the nerve - debating climate change as a national emergency. Britain's Labour Party intends to force a debate on the issue this week in Parliament.
Labour will this week force a vote in parliament to declare a national environmental and climate change emergency...
Jeremy Corbyn’s party will demand on Wednesday that the country wakes up to the threat and acts with urgency to avoid more than 1.5°C of warming, which will require global emissions to fall by about 45% from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching “net zero” before 2050.
The move will place Conservative MPs under pressure to back the plan, or explain why they refuse to do so, now fears over the combined problems of air pollution and climate change have risen to the top of the political agenda.
On Saturday night Corbyn said the recent wave of protests were “a massive and necessary wake-up call” that demanded “rapid and dramatic action, which only concerted government action and a green industrial revolution can deliver.” He said that if parliament backed the move and became the first national legislature to declare a climate emergency it would “trigger a wave of action from governments around the world”.Why not bring the Extinction Rebellion right to the floor of the House of Commons? How many nations are not already experiencing climate change emergencies? Certainly not Canada. Definitely not the United States either.
Governments, especially in petro-states like our own, have resisted recognizing reality but we do exist in a state of climate change emergency, a national emergency that manifests in a variety of ways - droughts, floods, severe weather events, sea level rise, species and pest migrations, on and on and on.
Canada lives in a state of climate emergency and it's not going away. Every national academy of sciences will tell you that. NASA, NOAA, NCAR and others carry the same message, even spelling it all out very bluntly in the recent National Climate Assessment that Trump dismissed with a profoundly ignorant, "I don't believe it." Environment Canada will tell you that. The British Met Office tells you that. The governor of the Bank of England and his predecessor have been telling us that for years.
Trump may have the ignorance to say, "I don't believe it." We do the same thing only not so directly. Instead of treating climate change as a national emergency we fall back on sops such as a minuscule carbon tax to give the public false hope and then we build pipelines and subsidize the fossil energy giants to the tune of billions of dollars every year.
The motion was welcomed by Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish climate activist who has criticised the inaction of the world’s politicians. “It is a great first step because it sends a clear signal that we are in a crisis and that the ongoing climate and ecological crises must be our first priority,” she said. “We can not solve an emergency without treating it like an emergency. “I hope the other UK political parties join in and together pass this motion in parliament – and that political parties in other countries will follow their example.”
Saturday, April 27, 2019
Pilots of the United States Navy are logging unidentified flying objects, UFOs, in American airspace several times a month. Now the navy brass are taking their reports seriously.
As first reported by POLITICO, these intrusions have been happening on a regular basis since 2014. Recently, unidentified aircraft have entered military-designated airspace as often as multiple times per month, Joseph Gradisher, spokesman for office of the deputy chief of naval operations for information warfare, told The Washington Post on Wednesday.
Citing safety and security concerns, Gradisher vowed to “investigate each and every report.”
He said, “We want to get to the bottom of this. We need to determine who’s doing it, where it’s coming from and what their intent is. We need to try to find ways to prevent it from happening again.”
Luis Elizondo, a former senior intelligence officer, told The Post that the new Navy guidelines formalized the reporting process, facilitating data-driven analysis while removing the stigma from talking about UFOs, calling it “the single greatest decision the Navy has made in decades.”
Chris Mellon, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense for intelligence and staffer on the Senate Intelligence Committee, was less laudatory.
“I don’t believe in safety through ignorance,” he said, scolding the intelligence community for a lack of “curiosity and courage” and a “failure to react” to a strong pattern of sightings.
In some cases, pilots — many of whom are engineers and academy graduates — claimed to observe small spherical objects flying in formation. Others say they’ve seen white, Tic Tac-shaped vehicles. Aside from drones, all engines rely on burning fuel to generate power, but these vehicles all had no air intake, no wind and no exhaust.
Elizondo, who ran the AATIP, [Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program], said the newly drafted guidelines were a culmination of many things, most notably that the Navy had enough credible evidence — including eyewitness accounts and corroborating radar information — to “know this is occurring.”
“If I came to you and said, ‘There are these things that can fly over our country with impunity, defying the laws of physics, and within moments could deploy a nuclear device at will,’ that would be a matter of national security,” Elizondo said.
With the number of U.S. military personnel in the Air Force and Navy who described the same observations, the noise level could not be ignored.
“This type of activity is very alarming,” Elizondo said, “and people are recognizing there are things in our aerospace that lie beyond our understanding.”
This is straight out of the National Rifle Association playbook.
Whenever America suffers another mass shooting (several times weekly of late), the NRA and the gun lobby along with their political gun bearers respond predictably - "this is no time for debating gun control." No, let everybody grieve and then later, much later, when this has largely faded from memory, then you can whinge about gun control, you damned pinko. In the meantime, STFU snowflake.
Now let's turn to the Toronto Sun. This time it's not a mass shooting but climate change and the flooding in Eastern Canada. Here's the Sun's take on it.
Now is the time to come together and help people. We can have other conversations later, when the waters recede.
But apparently not everyone is willing to abide by that common sense rule. Not politicians. Not Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
While visiting a flood centre, the PM just couldn’t help himself and had to get in a dig about his pet issue, climate change.
Speaking in French, Trudeau called such floods a “new reality” then added, in English, “we also have to reflect that with climate change we’re going to see more and more of these extreme weather events more regularly. It means we have to think about adaptation, mitigation and how we’re going to move forward together.”
There is of course no way to link a weather event to climate change right as it is happening.
It’s unbelievably crass for the PM to make these comments while in the presence of people forced out of their homes.
Let’s focus on helping people. Hold the lectures for later.
It's not "crass for the PM" to make those remarks. It's entirely appropriate and I only wish he would acknowledge how the petro-state, all the petro-states including ours, do so much to contribute to this loss and suffering.
What's crass is for the Sun to ape the NRA in its greasy respose.
At some point we're going to have to write off conservatives, Tories and Blue Liberals alike, when it comes to climate change. They're either outright, dyed in the wool, deniers or they're "not just yet" delayers. Unfortunately we're at a critical point where the distinction between them is becoming nebulous.
A report in Vox looks at American conservatives and how, despite all the mounting evidence of the worsening danger of catastrophic climate change, their position is unmovable no matter how dire the evidence or impacts.
Here we have Ford, Pallister, Moe, Kenney and Scheer - a gang of far-right thugs resolved to thwart even the most gestural attempts to thwart climate change. Evidence will not persuade them.
Let's call it what it is. These people will not raise a finger to stop climate cataclysm. They are agents of disaster.
The Liberals say some of the right things, make good-sounding promises, but they're several dollars short and several days late.
Here's the thing about climate change, particularly runaway global warming - there is no prize for "close" not that even the Liberal promises would qualify as close. Our overall emissions have gone up, not down, in the past year and we're still in the top three nations for per capita greenhouse gas emissions. We are not, as some have suggested, a sterling example for the rest of the world.
We have fewer than a dozen years remaining to reduce our carbon emissions by half, fifty per cent. That's a task that can barely be met within that time frame if we really put our collective shoulder into it - and we're not. Our government hasn't even accepted that challenge and it's not going to. We're a petro-state so forget it even if that means future generations will be left to pay dearly for our perfidy.
Those to whom we have entrusted the reins of power have failed us and that's not going to change. When it comes right down to it, most of us would rather look the other way especially if the alternative demands real sacrifice and changes to our high-carbon lifestyle.
Conservatives in both mainstream parties have made their choice and it's a waste of time hoping they'll see the light. That's not going to happen. This October they'll still split something upwards of 70 per cent of the vote and they know it so what incentive do they have to abruptly change? None.
Know this. The next chance we'll get to have our say will be toward the end of 2023. The climate will be a lot worse by then. The next four years are going to see record temperatures. Gonna be hot, hot, hot. If the climate team at the University of Hawaii are right, by 2023 our planet should be slipping into the beginning of "climate departure." By 2023 we'll have barely six years left to meet the 50 by 30 warning and there won't be remotely enough time.
We've got too many conservatives in both parties and they're not going to change, not in time. If you want action on climate change you'll have to look elsewhere. This may be a "self-help" crisis.
I've recently had some interesting conversations with friends in Vancouver and Ontario. In each case the other side brought up the issue of climate change and, specifically, how it might be a factor in the October elections.
These are highly-educated, politically active, individuals even if not always scientifically inclined. They mentioned that, in their circles, people who might not have been particularly concerned about climate change before are now becoming quite worried about what's happening and may happen in the next decade or two.
Too little, too late? I don't know. How much change does there have to be in public opinion to shift our political caste?
When you look at what's already happening and what's building for the 2020s it's insane, utter madness, to be pimping fossil fuels. Yet both of our conservative parties, the far-right Conservatives and the centre-right Liberals, are still firmly in the pocket of the fossil fuelers. And, in keeping with the now customary pattern, they expect to take, between them, about three quarters of the votes cast this October.
What I want to know is whether there's anything to what I'm hearing. Are our fellow Canadians becoming discernibly worried? Is climate change an increasing priority?
What are you hearing?
Eastern Canada is reeling from flooding that even Doug Ford admits is the result of climate change - and, hard as this is to say, he's right.
The hydrologic cycle tells no lies. Water is transformed into water vapour through evaporation and transpiration and released into the atmosphere. As it reaches cooler air it condenses into clouds. When the moisture levels are high enough it returns to the Earth as rain. Where it rains is largely a function of air currents.
Warmer surface temperatures mean more evaporation, more transpiration. Warmer atmospheric temperatures mean the skies can hold more moisture, somewhere between 7 and 14 per cent at the moment. Warmer, moister air provides additional energy that can trigger severe storm events - hurricanes, tornadoes, floods.
Compounding that is a change in air current patterns partly the result of a warming, and hence more powerful, Arctic atmosphere. Now, instead of a gently undulating snake pattern that distributes rain predictably on its west to east course, the jet stream meanders far to the south and far to the north. Hot air gets dragged into the north while cold air plunges deep into the south. These patterns, called Rossby Waves, sometimes stall as the did over Calgary a few years ago.
A warmer surface also causes earlier and more sudden melting of ice and snowpacks, adding to surface flooding.
Think of this worsening flooding as nature's kick in the ass to climate deniers and climate delayers, those supporting our fossil fuel economy (exaggerated as it is). Some provinces are taking greenhouse gas emission seriously, some aren't. Their successes, however, are to a considerable degree defeated by the fossil fuel giants and their political acolytes and you know who I mean.
Despite everything that's happening, how these impacts are worsening, and the predictions for climate change just in the decade ahead, the 2020s, these leaders think expanding our fossil fuel production is just fine. Oh well, come October three out of four of you will vote for them but, in the meantime, you do have my thoughts and prayers for these rising waters.
Friday, April 26, 2019
Kinsella is hinting he has some new strategy to attack Justin Trudeau and the Liberals as the election nears.
He tweeted this to someone who objected to his relentless attacks on the prime minister:
"I'm just getting warmed up, sonny. Wait'll you see what I've got planned for closer to the writ"Now it's not my place to tell Liberals to cut the self-proclaimed "law prof" loose but, honestly, how much of this can they abide? Maybe it's time his "former boss," Jean Chretien put a stop to it or maybe he's fine with it.
Is Canada back in black? CTV reports that the federal government is now running a surplus.
A preliminary estimate of the federal books says the government posted a surplus of $3.1 billion through the first 11 months of the fiscal year.
The number in the Finance Department's latest fiscal monitor suggests that with one month to go in the 2018-19 fiscal year, the government's balance sheet is on track to be far better than the Liberals' $14.9-billion deficit projection.
The April-to-February surplus is an improvement compared to the same period in 2017-18, when the government ran a shortfall $6 billion.
With the path we're on today this probably shouldn't come as much of a surprise but a study finds that we are becoming more anxious and angrier than in the past.
Sometimes, when the “happy mood” playlist you put on abruptly ends, that poses the question: Is it just me, or is the world around me really getting angrier?
Rest assured: It’s not just you.
Last year, 22 percent of respondents across 142 countries polled by Gallup globally said they felt angry, which was two percentage points higher than in 2017 and set a record since the first such survey was conducted in 2006.
Globally, 39 percent of respondents said they faced “a lot of worry” — up one percentage point — and 31 percent even stated they “experienced a lot of physical pain.” Stress levels, however, slightly dropped from 37 percent two years ago to 35 percent last year, which is why the world stayed at its record-high level on the “World Negative Experience Index,” instead of getting even worse. The index is based on five measured negative emotions: anger, worry, sadness, stress and physical pain. Chad topped the list, while Taiwan had the fewest negative sentiments.
U.S. census data released last week showed that Mexico’s trade with the United States rose to $97.4 billion for the first two months of the year — enabling it to leapfrog ahead of Canada ($92.4 billion) and China ($90.4 billion).
“The fact that this surprises a lot of people is a reflection of the ignorance in the United States about this theme,” said Luis de la Calle, a former undersecretary of the economy here. “Mexico is a very important market for the United States, and it’s going to become the biggest market for the United States in the world.”
It’s not quite there yet. For the first two months of the year, Mexico was the second-biggest export market for the United States, trailing Canada $45.8 billion to $42.1 billion. Exports to America’s southern neighbor were flat compared with the same period in 2018.
Much of the U.S.-Mexico commerce involves multinational firms that send products back and forth across the border as part of a giant, integrated manufacturing process that has flourished since the North American Free Trade Agreement took effect in 1994.
“For the rest of the world, the U.S. is a market — that’s true for China, Korea, et cetera,” De la Calle said. “With Mexico and Canada and the United States, we trade in order to produce things together.”
Let's drop the farcical notion that we haven't screwed our youngest generation and those that will follow them. Let's stop pretending.
Listen to naturalist, David Attenborough who says their plight, already dire, is very much our doing.
“[Young people] understand the simple discoveries of science about our dependence upon the natural world,” he said. “My generation is no great example for understanding – we have done terrible things.”
The protests by young people were enormously encouraging, Attenborough said. “That is the one big reason I have for feeling we are making progress. If we were not making progress with young people, we are done.”
However, asked about the world his great-grandchildren will live in, he said: “I don’t spend time thinking about that because I can’t bear it. I’m just coming up to 93, and so I don’t have many more years around here. I find it difficult to think beyond that because the signs aren’t good.”
On Friday, the youth strikes will continue with protests expected in 485 towns and cities in 72 countries, according to the Fridays for Future website. Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teenager whose solo strike sparked the worldwide action, told politicians this week: “You lied to us. You gave us false hope.”
“There will be cynics who try to dismiss [the school strikers] and say they don’t understand the world and how it works,” Attenborough said in the interview, released in a podcast on Friday by Figueres’s Global Optimismgroup. “Young people may lack experience but they also have clear sight.”
“They can see perhaps more clearly than the rest of us who have been around for some time,’” he said. “We older ones should take notice of what they say.”
Attenborough recently presented a primetime BBC documentary, Climate Change - The Facts, which was watched live by almost 3 million people in the UK. “The scientific evidence is that if we have not taken dramatic action within the next decade, we could face irreversible damage to the natural world and the collapse of our societies,” he said in the show.
Attenborough told Figueres action to stop climate change and the destruction of the wildlife was essential: “We have no option, if we want to survive. We have a [moral] obligation on our shoulders and it would be to our deep eternal shame if we fail to acknowledge that.”What's at stake? Irreversible damage to the natural world and the collapse of our societies. Just try to get your head around that. Utter dystopia and nothing less. And we have barely a decade to implement the dramatic measures to perhaps avert that.
No leader who wants to promote the export of bitumen is on the side of those kids and their future. That puts Justin Trudeau where he belongs, in the same boat with Andrew Scheer. They're both climate wreckers. Given the NDP's track record on climate change I don't trust them either.
It's said there are 195 countries today, 193 of them members of the United Nations. Of all those countries Canada ranks in the top 10 for total greenhouse gas emissions. Canada ranks in the top three for per capita greenhouse gas emissions and we don't count the additional emissions by those foreign customers who process and burn our high-carbon bitumen. Now our governments, federal and provincial, want to ramp up the sale of bitumen.
"The scientific evidence is that if we have not taken dramatic action within the next decade, we could face irreversible damage to the natural world and the collapse of our societies."We need to be throttling down our fossil fuel sector, not expanding it. Yet we're buying them 60-year pipelines from the public purse and we're still rewarding them with massive subsidies although Mr. Trudeau says that will end in 2025 - supposedly. Mr. Trudeau has shown us the folly of taking him at his word.
Thursday, April 25, 2019
This is one we're not going to be able to duck. We can't kick this can down the road. It's already underway, one of the knock-on effects of existing global warming. It is the thawing of the permafrost across the far north. And it's going to cost us dearly.
Dmitry Yumashev and a team of researchers at Lancaster University have studied the effects of melting ice sheets in the Arctic and concluded that an increase in the amount of carbon dioxide and methane from melting permafrost, coupled with added absorption of heat from the sun due to a lack of sea ice reflecting sunlight away from the surface of the Earth, will lead to an increase in the cost of global warming by a staggering $70 trillion. That is ten times the amount of economic benefit that might be derived by easier access to mineral resources in the Arctic and lower shipping costs across the top of the world.
The study, entitled “Climate policy implications of nonlinear decline of Arctic land permafrost and other cryosphere elements,” was published on April 23 in the journal Nature Communications.
...“It’s disheartening that we have this in front of us,” says Yumashev. “Even at 1.5 C to 2 C, there are impacts and costs due to thawing permafrost. But they are considerably lower for these scenarios compared to business as usual. We have the technology and policy instruments to limit the warming but we are not moving fast enough.” That lack of urgency is precisely what the Extinction Rebellion protesters, Greta Thunberg, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Bernie Sanders are talking about.
...The studies continue to pile up, but most countries are still pursuing a business as usual path, risking the very existence of the human race and every living thing on Earth to preserve the hegemony of fossil fuel companies. If there is any record of humanity’s all too brief time on Earth left after we die off, perhaps whatever species comes to inhabit the Earth in a few million years from now will shrug and look to William Shakespeare to explain the insanity that lead to our demise. “Lord, what fools these mortals be,” wrote the bard.Coincidentally, Captain Pipeline was discussing climate change today and yesterday. One was on Twitter where the prime minister observed, quite righteously, that, without a healthy environment, there would not be a healthy environment. I think he stole that line from David Suzuki who later called JT a 'twerp.' Then there was this epiphany from yesterday.
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau warned that cities across Canada will experience more frequent flooding because of climate change and governments need to adapt to this new reality.
"We're going to see more and more of these extreme weather events more regularly," he said during a visit to an evacuation centre in the city of Gatineau.
"It means we have to think about adaptation, mitigation and how we are going to move forward together."What he has to think about is how we are going to cut our greenhouse gas emissions by half by 2030. Everything else is bullshit.
We know that little Canada with just 0.5 per cent of the world's population is in the top 10 nations for total greenhouse gas emissions and in the top three for per capita greenhouse gas emissions. Top ten, top three. Despite that we've got a Liberal prime minister and his would-be Conservative successor both hellbent on ramming through a mega-pipeline to flood world markets with high-cost, high-carbon, low-value bitumen.
He's dead wrong when he preaches we must think about adaptation and mitigation when we need to be thinking about how a succession of political leaders, Libs and Tories, have betrayed us on climate change and the cost future generations will have to pay for their cowardice and neglect.
Doug Ford's government in Ontario is now insisting the province should not be expected to do more than its "fair share" to meet Canada's national commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
But Ford's definition of "fair" might present a significant challenge to the rest of the country — particularly Ford's conservative allies in Alberta and Saskatchewan.
Under Kathleen Wynne's Liberal government, Ontario was committed to reducing its emissions by 37 per cent below 1990 levels by 2030. While tearing down large portions of that government's climate agenda, Ford's Progressive Conservatives settled on a less-ambitious target: a cut of 30 per cent below 2005 by 2030.
That new provincial target matches the national target. It's also (conveniently enough) within reach already. As the Ford government now loudly notes, Ontario's emissions have declined by 22 per cent below 2005 levels.
"Today's report confirms Ontario has decreased emissions by 22 per cent since 2005, while the rest of Canada's input continues to increase," Rod Phillips, Ontario's environment minister, said last week when the federal government released the latest inventory of Canada's emissions. "Families in Ontario have already paid a significant cost for these efforts, yet the federal government continues to ask us to pay more than our fair share."But what is the real picture? It's pretty grim. A recent report from the University of Western Ontario's Ivey School of Business shows Canada's greenhouse gas emissions by province, both overall and per capita.
Ford says Ontario has done enough and it's now up to the "rest of Canada" to do their share.
Here are some of the findings from the summary to the Ivey report:
• Canada’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions currently represent about 1.6 percent of the global total. Canada is among the top 10 global emitters and one of the largest developed world per capita emitter of GHGs.
• Canadian federal governments have committed to reduce annual GHG emissions from the current level of 726 megatonnes (Mt) to 622 Mt in 2020 and 525 Mt in 2030. • Within Canada, GHG emissions vary widely across provinces ranging from 267 Mt in Alberta to 1.8 Mt in PEI in 2013.
• In per capita terms, Saskatchewan and Alberta are among the developed world’s largest emitters at 68 and 67 tonnes respectively.* Per capita emissions in BC, Ontario, and Quebec are in the 10-14 tonne range, comparable to best performers in Western Europe.
• For provinces with announced GHG emission targets, the level of ambition varies widely. Alberta plans to increase emissions towards 2020, and then return to today’s levels by 2030, while Ontario Quebec and Manitoba plan to reduce emissions by 56, 27 and 8 Mt respectively.
• Even if all provincial targets were fully achieved, Canada would still need to reduce GHG emissions by an additional 45 Mt in 2020 and 55 Mt in 2030 to meet its international commitments.* The Ivey analysis was before the federal government's report this week showing that the Tar Sanders massively understated their GHG emissions from bitumen extraction.
So, since Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia have the lowest, per capital emissions, "comparable the best performers in Western Europe," while Saskatchewan and Alberta, by contrast, are off the chart even using their dodgy numbers, Ford must be referring to his comrades in arms, Kenney and Moe. They're the dirty buggers, the climate wreckers, and they should be easy pickings for Justin Trudeau. Wait, I'm sorry, when it comes to bitumen Trudeau is in their canoe.
No matter how much they shuck and jive, the petro-provinces and the petro-state simply cannot get past this:
According to the latest statistics, Canada emits about 1.6 percent of the world’s GHG emissions. Despite this relatively low share, Canada is among the top 10 global emitters on an absolute basis, and stands firmly in the top 3 for emissions per capita. By way of comparison, Canada’s population makes up about 0.5 percent of the world total so that our emissions’ share is about 3 times our population share.Trudeau acolytes at this point tend to drag out SFU economist Mark Jaccard's recent comment that, thanks to the Dauphin, Canada is the climate change envy of the world. It's not. We are among the top 10 overall global emitters even though we're just half a per cent of the world by population and, yes, we are "firmly in the top 3 for emissions per capita." That might make us the envy of Saudi Arabia or Venezuela but the rest of the world, really?
You might not like his ideas but they're well worth airing.
Guardian enviro-scribe, George Monbiot, writes that it's time to ditch capitalism before it puts us in the grave.
Capitalism’s failures arise from two of its defining elements. The first is perpetual growth. Economic growth is the aggregate effect of the quest to accumulate capital and extract profit. Capitalism collapses without growth, yet perpetual growth on a finite planet leads inexorably to environmental calamity.
Those who defend capitalism argue that, as consumption switches from goods to services, economic growth can be decoupled from the use of material resources. Last week a paper in the journal New Political Economy, by Jason Hickel and Giorgos Kallis, examined this premise. They found that while some relative decoupling took place in the 20th century (material resource consumption grew, but not as quickly as economic growth), in the 21st century there has been a recoupling: rising resource consumption has so far matched or exceeded the rate of economic growth. The absolute decoupling needed to avert environmental catastrophe (a reduction in material resource use) has never been achieved, and appears impossible while economic growth continues. Green growth is an illusion.
A system based on perpetual growth cannot function without peripheries and externalities. There must always be an extraction zone – from which materials are taken without full payment – and a disposal zone, where costs are dumped in the form of waste and pollution. As the scale of economic activity increases until capitalism affects everything, from the atmosphere to the deep ocean floor, the entire planet becomes a sacrifice zone: we all inhabit the periphery of the profit-making machine.
This drives us towards cataclysm on such a scale that most people have no means of imagining it. The threatened collapse of our life-support systems is bigger by far than war, famine, pestilence or economic crisis, though it is likely to incorporate all four. Societies can recover from these apocalyptic events, but not from the loss of soil, an abundant biosphere and a habitable climate.
The second defining element is the bizarre assumption that a person is entitled to as great a share of the world’s natural wealth as their money can buy. This seizure of common goods causes three further dislocations. First, the scramble for exclusive control of non-reproducible assets, which implies either violence or legislative truncations of other people’s rights. Second, the immiseration of other people by an economy based on looting across both space and time. Third, the translation of economic power into political power, as control over essential resources leads to control over the social relations that surround them.Monbiot has no "magic bullet" prescription. At best he tries to winkle out answers from the writings of others:
So what does a better system look like? I don’t have a complete answer, and I don’t believe any one person does. But I think I see a rough framework emerging. Part of it is provided by the ecological civilisation proposed by Jeremy Lent, one of the greatest thinkers of our age. Other elements come from Kate Raworth’s doughnut economics and the environmental thinking of Naomi Klein, Amitav Ghosh, Angaangaq Angakkorsuaq, Raj Patel and Bill McKibben. Part of the answer lies in the notion of “private sufficiency, public luxury”. Another part arises from the creation of a new conception of justice based on this simple principle: every generation, everywhere, shall have an equal right to the enjoyment of natural wealth.One word in Monbiot's essay stuck with me - "decoupling." Isn't that how we live today, decoupled? Have our politics not become decoupled from reality?
Is the modern petro-state not a decoupling from the reality of climate change? Is the neoliberal quest for perpetual exponential growth in a very finite planet already overburdened with rapid depletion and exhaustion of its resources not a decoupling from reality?
Very soon we'll be barraged by hollow promises of a better future from the very people bent on wrecking the future. Isn't voting for that sort of nonsense itself a decoupling from reality?
"...every generation, everywhere, shall have an equal right to the enjoyment of natural wealth." Can you even imagine something so audacious? Equal right to the enjoyment of natural wealth? The neoliberal order, our current malignancy, didn't get where it is by entertaining consideration of future generations or people who can't afford to compete with us for their own resources.
There are times when politicians have to treat voters like grown-ups. This is one of those moments.
Like it or not, we live in perilous times. It is in such difficult times that we need candour and clarity from those who seek to lead us. That's part of progressive democracy.
You might disagree but I believe we need a direct explanation of what our political parties, the lot of them, propose to do about climate change. The warning we've been given is that we have somewhat less than 12 years to slash our greenhouse gas emissions by half if we're to have a reasonable chance - yes, chance, not certainty, not even probability - of averting catastrophic runaway global warming.
That's like a doctor warning you must choose - quit smoking right now or die.
Remember, this warning comes from the IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, that, since its inception, has established a dangerous pattern of understating - sugar coating, if you will - its predictions on climate change. Even the boys and girls with the rose-coloured glasses are saying if we don't give up our carbon-ways and rapidly, we're screwed.
When you're up against a threat like that, you need some answers. You need honesty.
Politicians aren't very good at honesty. That's especially true for the Conservative and Liberal parties that, between them, have shared the reins of power in our country. They'll say pretty much anything and everything they calculate you want to hear, whatever it takes to get your vote, and then, the winner will go about breaking an awful lot of those once solemn promises.
Remember Harper came to power promising two things: accountability and transparency. When those tricks worked, he set about building a Hermit Kingdom, in which government was walled off from the public, their own public service. Harper then set about to implement change by incrementalism, slowly enough you would have to be pretty sharp to notice, its path greased with lies and darkness.
Justin brought a happy face to the scene but his promises of wisdom and light were almost as meaningless as what we endured with Harper. Lots of inspirational talk about electoral reform, social licence, First Nations reconciliation and more. It was all just a bag of shiny things and it worked.
We can't have that sort of blather again. Our children's lives are at risk. Our grandchildren's lives are in real peril. There's no more time for politics of the past, including the immediate past.
We need answers. How does the petro-state intend to address climate change? Do the candidates accept the IPCC warning? Are they willing to pick up that gauntlet? Do they intend to meet the "50 by 30" challenge or not? If yes, then how? If no, then what?
Carbon taxes - carbon bullshit. There is nothing in a minuscule carbon tax that would remotely meet the "50 by 30" baseline target. One has little to do with the other. Carbon taxes are gestural, nothing more.
We spent a decade in Afghanistan playing the gestural game. We pumped a lot of money and too many lives into that "mission" and we left the place pretty much as we found it. We never had a chance to tame Kandahar province, not with a paltry force of 2,000 for a job that required 15,000 to 20,000. That was a gestural response. Now the Americans are desperately negotiating for a "peace with honour" deal with the Taliban, much like the deal they cut with North Viet Nam to cover their retreat there in the 70s.
There are deep parallels between how we approached Afghanistan and how we're approaching climate change. The big difference is that climate change is something we just cannot walk away from. It won't let us. Hiking a mile uphill is not the same as summiting Everest.
For me the question is going to be whether the candidate accepts the IPCC "50 by 30" warning and has a credible plan to meet it. A credible plan, not just carbon taxes.
Credible as in understandable and believable. You have to see how they intend to get from here to there and you have to consider whether they're believable. On both scores, Andrew Scheer is a write-off. He won't pretend that he'll make changes of the required magnitude. He's all for going the other way. His "executive prime minister," Jason Kenney would see to that.
As for Justin Trudeau, we've seen how he meets his promises. He apologizes. He's an ardent neoliberal and he believes in the petro-state. "50 by 30"? How do you figure the chances of Trudeau even promising to meet that target?
Our very survival as a civilization is at stake. It will take a truly Herculean effort and there's precious little time remaining to us. It would be costly and immensely disruptive to meet the target.
One won't. He's the honest one. The other will say he will but won't. Neither of them is worth a tinker's dam. Then again they don't have to be one whit better than they are. When the ballots are counted this October, the two of them will have, between them, about 70 per cent of the vote. With that near certainty, honesty doesn't have much relevance.
Wednesday, April 24, 2019
Just as protesting pipelines has become a proxy for climate action in environmental circles, so building them is viewed as an antidote to the economic anxiety felt by Albertans. The focus groups vented their frustration at the damage done to the Albertan economy by the lack of support from other Canadian jurisdictions.
They projected a sense that the downturn is structural, rather than cyclical, with participants portraying Calgary as a ghost town. “It felt like an Old West town and there’s tumbleweeds,” said one young woman.
When the federal Liberal government and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau were discussed, frustration turned to rage and bewilderment. “I don’t understand why he hates us,” said one female millennial primary school teacher.
It’s this sense of grievance that is likely to persuade Kenney to take a hard line.
While many voters want the premier-designate to attempt diplomacy before turning off the taps that supply British Columbia, the study suggests voters are prepared to “take meaningful action to bring the B.C. government to heel.” There is substantially less patience and more anger with the federal and Quebec governments.Nothing like cheap threats to warm the heart, eh?
Tuesday, April 23, 2019
For the first time in a long while Prince Edward Island will have a minority government. The Progressive Conservatives dispatched the Liberals to third place. The Tories are expected to win 12 seats with 9 for the Greens and 5 for the Liberals. In other words, the Tories will have to play ball with the Greens if they expect to govern.
Next up, Ottawa.
Petro-states exhibit certain common traits. A willingness to freely and repeatedly lie and deceive is one of them.
This, however, isn't about lying. This is about a mistake, an honest mistake, many absolutely honest mistakes. This is about coincidence on an industry-wide scale.
The mistake concerns Tar Sands emissions reported by the energy giants to the federal government. It concerns emissions that were, gasp, under-reported, again and again. An honest mistake, repeated across the board.
A number of major oilsands operations in northern Alberta seem to be emitting significantly more carbon pollution than companies have been reporting, newly published research from federal scientists suggests, which could have profound consequences for government climate-change strategies.
The researchers, mainly from Environment Canada, calculated emissions rates for four major oilsands surface mining operations using air samples collected in 2013 on 17 airplane flights over the area.
In results published today in the journal Nature Communications, the scientists say the air samples from just those surface mining operations suggest their carbon dioxide emissions are 64 per cent higher, on average, than what the companies themselves report to the federal government using the standard United Nations reporting framework for greenhouse gases.
It means that Canada's total greenhouse gas emissions would be around 2.3 per cent higher than previously thought. And if research eventually shows that other oilsands sites are subject to similar underreporting issues, Canada's overall greenhouse gas emissions could be as much as six per cent more than thought — throwing a wrench into the calculations that underpin government emissions strategies.Of all the "honest mistakes" not one was for over-reporting emissions. They were all under-reported emissions, just a wild coincidence. Besides, anyone can be out a titch or two here or there. There's a 13 per cent titch and a 36 per cent titch, a titch at 38 per cent and even a 123 per cent titch for Syncrude.
The gap between the facilities' reported carbon dioxide emissions and the levels calculated by researchers was 13 per cent for the Suncor site, 36 per cent for the Horizon mine, 38 per cent for Jackpine and 123 per cent for Syncrude.
Left out of the study, notably, are emissions from all oilsands operations that use in-situ extraction, pumping steam into the ground to get the petroleum out. About 80 per cent of oilsands reserves, and the majority of current production, require in-situ extraction.
That means the overall amount of underreported greenhouse gas emissions could be significantly higher.The Oil Patch may be blowing smoke up Justin's backside but others aren't so conveniently fooled.
"Increases in emissions from the tarsands are undoing all the progress being made in other sectors," said Keith Stewart, senior energy strategist with Greenpeace Canada, in a statement.
"If we are serious about protecting communities from climate-fueled floods, wildfires and other extreme weather, the last thing Canada should be doing is building new pipelines to expand oil production and exports. Either we act like this truly is a crisis that threatens our health and survival, or we sleepwalk towards disaster. It's as simple as that and our politicians are currently choosing the second option."