Friday, May 31, 2019

Jagmeet Channels Groucho

Groucho Marx once quipped, "Those are my principles and, if you don't like them, well, I have others."

That came to mind as I read the NDP's Environmental Election Epiphany announced today by leader, Jagmeet Singh. It's pretty pedestrian stuff just perfect for an election campaign.

A skeptic might say that Jagmeet, his party languishing in the polls, his own leadership in doubt, and an election looming, is desperate to staunch support bleeding away to the Greens. What better way than to follow the path charted by Layton and Mulcair and go 'full chameleon.' Those guys showed the NDP could abandon the left, shift to the centre and transform into Latter Day Liberals when it seemed they had a shot at the brass ring.

This time around no one has any illusion of the NDP forming government. Not a hope in Hell. So, best to try something else such as thwarting the Greens by aping the Greens. Nice one, Jag.

There's no way Jag is going to appeal to any eco-converts from the Conservative or Liberal ranks. Those votes, if there are any, will go to May's Greens. He won't be winning any Green converts either. What remains? That would be NDP votes defecting to the Greens.


The National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women will report that the thousands of indigenous women murdered and vanished in recent decades is a "Canadian genocide."

The report, obtained by CBC News and verified by sources, concludes that a genocide driven by the disproportionate level of violence faced by Indigenous women and girls occurred in Canada through "state actions and inactions rooted in colonialism and colonial ideologies." 
"We do know that thousands of Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA (two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, queer, questioning, intersex and asexual) have been lost to the Canadian genocide to date," said the report, titled Reclaiming Power and Place. 
"The fact that First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples are still here and that the population is growing should not discount the charge of genocide." 
The report states that "due to the gravity of this issue," the inquiry is preparing a "supplementary report on the Canadian genocide of Indigenous peoples according to the legal definition of genocide," which will be posted at a later date on the inquiry website.

To some, perhaps most, genocide is a deliberate policy of a group or government seeking to exterminate a race of people. We think of the Holocaust or the mass slaughter of the Tutsi minority in Rwanda. Does this tragedy rise to that definition? Not really but the Inquiry uses a different definition of the term.
"Genocide is the sum of the social practices, assumptions, and actions detailed within this report," the report says. "The national inquiry's findings support characterizing these acts, including violence against Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people, as genocide."
That we have failed indigenous women is inarguable. That there was an effort to exterminate them, that's a reach. I hope we don't get fixated on arguing that point.

"Just Another Scumbag"

That's how former Trump right-hand man, Steve Bannon, says Donald Trump will be remembered - "just another scumbag."
The former White House adviser Steve Bannon has described the Trump Organization as a criminal entity and predicted that investigations into the president’s finances will lead to his political downfall, when he is revealed to be “not the billionaire he said he was, just another scumbag”.

The startling remarks are contained in Siege: Trump Under Fire, the author Michael Wolff’s forthcoming account of the second year of the Trump administration. The book, published on 4 June, is a sequel to Fire and Fury: Trump in the White House, which was a bestseller in 2018. The Guardian obtained a copy. 
In a key passage, Bannon is reported as saying he believes investigations of Donald Trump’s financial history will provide proof of the underlying criminality of his eponymous company.

Just When You Thought They Couldn't Sink any Lower

The Trump regime is rebranding American LNG as "Freedom Gas."
Mark W Menezes, the US undersecretary of energy, bestowed a peculiar honorific on our continent’s natural resources, dubbing it “freedom gas” in a release touting the DoE’s approval of increased exports of natural gas produced by a Freeport LNG terminal off the coast of Texas. 
Increasing export capacity from the Freeport LNG project is critical to spreading freedom gas throughout the world by giving America’s allies a diverse and affordable source of clean energy,” he said.
...It’s unclear if members of the Trump administration attempting to assign patriotic intentions to natural gas are aware of the silliness of the concept, but Rick Perry seems to believe in it. 
“Seventy-five years after liberating Europe from Nazi Germany occupation, the United States is again delivering a form of freedom to the European continent,” the energy secretary said earlier this month, according to EURACTV
“And rather than in the form of young American soldiers, it’s in the form of liquefied natural gas.”

It's Not Hard to See Where This is Heading

A really good soup usually has three or four key ingredients, stand outs that define the texture and flavour.  The environment is like a soup and it is shaped by a handful of key ingredients - heat, humidity, ocean currents and air currents. Those Big Four are all in flux right now. They're no longer stable. They've shifted and that's changing the environment.

The atmosphere is hotter. Easiest thing in the world to prove. It's hotter pretty much everywhere but some areas, such as the Arctic, are even hotter than others.  Hot air - high pressure. As the atmosphere over the Arctic has heated, the pressure gradient between the Arctic and temperate zones has weakened. The difference between them has narrowed. This has caused changes in the polar jet stream. It's gone lethargic and all wobbly at times, forming these Rossby waves that plunge far into the south and back up into the north transferring cold air deep into the south and hot southern air far into the north. That leads to weird situations like that period in February a few years back when Atlanta, Georgia was icebound while Barrow, Alaska basked in mid-60s temperatures. Can't be helped.

The oceans are also heating up. Easy to prove. Just ask the marine life - fish, marine mammals, birds - that are migrating pole-ward to cooler waters. The Maine lobster, once a staple of the local fishing fleet, is moving to Canada at a rate of about 45 miles per decade so far.  The west coast has all sorts of newcomers from large populations of humpback whales, transient orca, dolphins, even pelicans.

The ocean is more than its creatures. All that heat it absorbs is circulated to keep regions, such as Europe, relatively mild in winter - or at least it used to. The Atlantic Conveyor is starting to turn less reliable. Oopsie.

The oceans absorb a good chunk of our man-made greenhouse gas emissions - or at least they used to. Just as we have a terrestrial or "surface carbon cycle" there's also an "oceanic carbon cycle" and it too is showing signs of profound change as this NASA article explains.

Hotter oceans also release more heat energy to the atmosphere and the hotter, moister air generates severe weather events of increasing frequency, duration and intensity.

So, what's the point? It's that, unless we give up on the carbon economy and transition rapidly to a clean energy regime, all of the things mentioned above are going to worsen. We've pretty much pushed this thing as far as she'll go. So, what are we doing about it? Not much at all.

OPEC, the International Energy Agency and other organizations forecast a steadily growing demand for fossil fuels for decades to come.

In Canada, our federal and many provincial governments are banking on it. There's a fossil fuel boom coming and they want in. But what about the heat and the humidity, the ocean currents and the jet streams and Rossby waves? That's where cognitive dissonance comes to the rescue and, boy, do they have that in spades.

But what about this looming mass extinction? Yeah, what about it? So what?  And what about all these severe floods and protracted droughts? Yeah, what about 'em? What about food insecurity, dislocation, death and mass migration? Sucks to be them, eh?

Aside from some gestural responses, i.e. carbon taxes, we're not showing much appetite for real change, just the opposite. If the market for fossil fuels is going to grow faster than all others, perhaps another 40 per cent in the coming decades, it's a big thumbs down on decarbonization. We don't have the will to stop and that means we don't have resilience to endure what is coming, the future we alone ordain. It's the old adage that, if you're struggling to get out of a hole, the first rule is to stop digging. Only we're not interested in stopping this dig.

You can't have clean energy without stopping the fossil energy regime and, so long as the world has enough Donald Trumps and Jason Kenneys and Justin Trudeaus, we're not stopping. By the time we've rid ourselves of them, in that fantasy world, it will probably be too late in any event.

Stopping the fossil energy regime is akin to stopping a heavily laden ocean freighter going at full speed. It takes miles and miles and miles to stop and the rocky shore we're heading to is not that far off.

It's that Right Wing/Climate Change Thing

The city of Madrid has made impressive strides in establishing an urban low-emissions zone.  The incoming, right wing government, wants to erase that progress to bring back the good old days of gridlock and vehicle exhausts.
Madrid may be about to become the first European city to scrap a major urban low-emissions zone after regional polls left a rightwing politician who views 3am traffic jams as part of the city’s cultural identity on the cusp of power
Isabel Díaz Ayuso, who is expected to become the new Popular party (PP) president of the Madrid region, believes night-time congestion makes the city special and has pledged to reverse a project known as Madrid Central, which has dramatically cut urban pollution.
...An estimated 30,000 Spaniards die each year due to air pollution, according to the European Environment Agency
Within a month of its launch last November, Madrid Central had cut urban traffic by up to 24% and nitrogen oxide (NOx) levels by 38%. CO2 emissions also fell by 14%. 
Pollution tests around the city’s central Plaza del Carmen station last month found that nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels had plunged by almost 50%compared to 2018.
...During the election campaign, Ayuso told El Pais: “I do not think [traffic jams] are a reason for enjoyment but it is a sign [of the] identity of our city, that the street is always alive.” 
Congestion is “part of the life in Madrid”, she said, adding that the city’s nightlife “goes hand in hand with traffic jams”.
Pollution, it's a cultural thing. Madre Folladora!

Scotland, An Early Victim of Climate Change?

The head of Scotland's nature conservancy warns the country faces an apocalypse of flooded towns, dead forests and polluted rivers if the world doesn't act quickly to slash greenhouse gas emissions.
Francesca Osowska, chief executive of Scottish Natural Heritage, said the world had barely a decade to shift to a low carbon economy before the effects of global heating were irreversible and catastrophic. She said there were very clear threats facing Scotland, and by implication the rest of the UK, unless radical action was taken by 2030. 
“Imagine an apocalypse – polluted waters; drained and eroding peatlands; coastal towns and villages deserted in the wake of rising sea level and coastal erosion; massive areas of forestry afflicted by disease; a dearth of people in rural areas; and no birdsong,” she told the Royal Society of Edinburgh on Thursday evening.
The fact is she's right. That is probably what's in store for Scotland and a lot of other nations if we don't meet our duty to cut greenhouse gas emissions by half by 2030 and establish net-carbon free economies and societies by 2050.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

What's Missing from the Liberal DNA?

I got a blast today for having the temerity to approve of the idea of Mark Carney as leader of the Liberals. Of course the criticism was from Simon so you take that for what it's worth. I had legitimate reasons to prefer Carney over the current prime minister and I laid them out but no matter.

Actually, Carney would not be my first choice if I could choose a leader for the party that almost two out of five voters chose in 2015. There is someone else I always thought would make a prime minister, perhaps of the stature of Pierre Trudeau. I'm thinking of a highly accomplished individual who has reached great heights and has never shirked from a battle, regularly winning even against tyrants and bullies.

To me, that ideal prime minister would be Louise Arbour. I'm not suggesting she would take the job if it was served up to her on a platter but she might be the leader that Canada so badly needs right now.

Louise Arbour - lawyer, prosecutor, jurist who rose to sit on the Supreme Court of Canada, Chief Prosecutor for the International Criminal Court, UN Commissioner for Human Rights, President of the International Crisis Group. She has proven herself and her abilities again and again and again. How does her resume stack up against the Dauphin's?

That got me thinking. In Canada there are slightly more women than men. That's a lot of women. A lot of capable women among them. Louise Arbour is one of them.

When you look at the history of Liberal leadership there's been a time honoured convention that the post should alternate between English and French Canadians. Let's look. Wilfred Laurier to MacKenzie-King to St. Laurent to Mike Pearson to Pierre Trudeau to John Turner to Jean Chretien to Paul Martin to Stephane Dion to Michael Ignatieff to Justin Trudeau. Like clockwork, eh? Tick-tock, tick-tock.

What's missing? Well what do they all have in common? They're all men. Not a woman among them.

The NDP have had female leaders. Even the Tories had Kim Campbell. Audrey McLachlin, Alexa McDonough, Elsie Wayne, Deborah Grey, Rona Ambrose, all held leadership posts.

What's missing? That would be the Liberal Party of Canada. The Liberals, it appears, like their feminism strictly masculine. Not one woman has risen to the Liberal leadership. Do you think there's something to that other than Liberal serendipity?

Half the country has been shut out of the leadership of one federal party, the Liberal Party of Canada. And don't give me any nonsense about picking the best possible candidate for leader, not after the last three.

And it may seem I'm being unfair comparing someone like Louise Arbour to an unproven school marm like the current prime minister. I'm not. The mediocrity that has set in to the Liberal leadership going back as far as Dion is profound. If you want to see what a Liberal leader once looked like, read this.

They don't make'em like they used to, eh?

Think of It as "The Smell of Prosperity in the Air."

The Edmonton Journal reports that wildfire smoke is blanketing the city.  The headline reads, "The Apocalypse is Back." Apparently Calgary is getting the same thing.

That really sucks, eh?

These Alberta cities need a PR makeover. Why not just call all that lung-rotting smoke 'The Smell of Prosperity.'  Surely it's a small price to be paid for Alberta's Petro-Pogrom, a.k.a. bitumen.  Besides it should be over well before Christmas - with any luck.

American air bases often have billboards outside that read, "Forgive the noise, it's the Sound of Freedom." That seems to work.

There's no better time to get Albertans to see this wildfire threat in a better light. After all, it's only going to get worse as climate change worsens. Worse as in a lot worse.

'Grossly Negligent.' What's Negligent About Tax Evasion by the Rich?

Never you mind, pleb. The CRA, a.k.a. Rev Can, has cut a 'secret settlement' deal with wealthy KPMG clients who bought into a tax scam deal in the Isle of Man.

The Canada Revenue Agency has once again made a secret out-of-court settlement with wealthy KPMG clients caught using what the CRA itself had alleged was a "grossly negligent" offshore "sham" set up to avoid detection by tax authorities, CBC's The Fifth Estate and Radio-Canada's Enquête have learned.

"Tax cheats can no longer hide," National Revenue Minister Diane Lebouthillier promised in 2017. 
Now, tax court documents obtained by CBC News/Radio-Canada show two members of the Cooper family in Victoria, as well as the estate of the late patriarch Peter Cooper, reached an out-of-court settlement on May 24 over their involvement in the scheme. 
Details of the settlement and even minutes of the meetings discussing it are under wraps. A CBC News/Radio-Canada reporter who showed up to one such meeting this spring was asked to leave.
CBC News/Radio-Canada first revealed four years ago that KPMG, one of the largest accounting firms in Canada, with tens of millions in federal contracts, had for years been running a massive offshore tax dodge for wealthy clients it had kept hidden from federal investigators. 
The Trudeau government's previous tough talk on the so-called KPMG sham had come after a document leaked to The Fifth Estate/Enquête showed the CRA itself had offered a secret "no penalties" amnesty in May 2015 to many of the other KPMG clients involved in the scheme. 
The CRA offered to have them simply pay the back taxes owed — but with the condition they not tell the public about the offer.
...In fact, it was concerns over future KPMG court cases that prompted the Liberal-dominated Commons finance committee to shut down its own investigation into the embattled accounting firm back in 2016. 
Documents had already began to emerge detailing the extent to which KPMG was helping clients not only dodge taxes but also hide money from potential creditors, including circumventing the Canadian Divorce Act by "protecting" assets from ex-spouses.
...For its part, the CRA said that the [secret] settlement was made in accordance with the law [we have their word on that] and is "supported by the facts of this particular case." The agency also said it "maximized revenue" by making a decision to settle out of court, instead of facing an uncertain ruling in tax court. 
"There is generally substantial savings to the public and a benefit to the justice system when cases are resolved through a settlement," a CRA spokesperson said in a statement.
Grossly negligent? Oh, I know, kids will be kids. Nonsense. This was not negligence. There was nothing remotely inadvertent about it. 

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

More on America's UFOs

This is the most amazing story that no one cares about.  Unidentified vehicles that engage in air combat maneuvering with US Navy F-18s. Multiple intrusions every month in American military airspace. Strange craft that have no wings, no control surfaces, no evidence of propulsion systems, that can vastly outperform anything man-made in the air. Pilots speaking out, their claims verified by the Pentagon where officials have been tracking these things since 2014.

The story first emerged from the Washington Post, then Politico, Canada's Global News, now it's the New York Times and CNN.

SAAB's "Made in Canada" Jet Fighter

It's an impressive little bird, the SAAB Gripen. Purchase price and operating costs put it around half the outlay of the higher priced competitors such as Lockheed's F-35 stealth light bomber.  It costs less to buy, it costs less to operate and it is supposedly far more reliable than the pricier options.

But way, there's more. SAAB is willing to sweeten the deal, offering to build RCAF Gripens right here in Canada. It's no idle boast. SAAB has a history of snagging international orders with 'home country' construction.

SAAB, by the way, has a history of building fine jet fighters including the legendary Viggen and Draken jets.

Mueller Speaks

Briefly. Former special counsel, Robert Mueller, says it would be "unfair" to recommend criminal prosecution of a president who cannot be charged while in office. "Charging the president with a crime... was not an option." In other words, there's nothing in the report that takes Donald Trump off the hook. Barr and Trump are merely using the report as a smokescreen.

And then, "If we had confidence the president did not commit a crime, we would have said so."

Short and sweet. No questions taken. "There were multiple, systematic, efforts to interfere with our investigation."

On the obstruction issue, Mueller highlighted how the "Constitution requires a process other than" the criminal justice system to hold officeholders accountable, a clear signal that his obstruction investigation into Trump may be picked up by Congress. In other words, the remedy for obstruction of justice by an officeholder is impeachment.

"When a subject of an investigation obstructs that investigation or lies to investigators, it strikes at the core of the government's effort to find the truth and hold wrongdoers accountable."

Julian Assange got a well-deserved shout out. Mueller described an elaborate Russian effort to hack Hillary Clinton's and other Democratic campaign officials' emails that they then funneled to Wikileaks for distribution.  So much for the laughable notion that Assange is some honest journalist especially after his dump of Hillary emails less than two hours after the Access Hollywood story broke.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Mark Carney Sounds Good to Me

Chantal Hebert writes that "Liberal insiders" are looking at Mark Carney to replace Justin Trudeau.

Carney is due to finish his current gig as governor of the Bank of England at the end of this year. There has long been speculation that he could one day land in the Canadian political arena and that if he did, he would cast his lot with the Liberals.

As the party’s fortunes have declined in the pre-election polls, that speculation has turned into active interest — if not on Carney’s part, at least on that of some of his many fans inside the party. 
On a recent conference call, a group of them discussed how Trudeau’s diminished prospects could result in an early opportunity for Carney to succeed him. 
According to one participant, the group is working on the assumption that Trudeau will be hard-pressed to win more than 140 seats in October.
After a string of duds, including the current leader, Carney sounds like the breath of fresh air the Liberal Party so desperately needs.

Why do I like Carney? Where to start? The governor of the Bank of England knows there's no future in bitumen. Like his predecessor, he's been warning everyone who'll listen that the world economy is resting on a giant IED, also known as the Carbon Bubble. That's a reality no Liberal leader has been able to accept.

Carney knows that climate change is an economy killer, something the current Liberal regime doesn't want to think about.  In a 2018 address, Carney showed that he understands the hurdles to clean energy  and the risks if we botch the effort.

Carney has earned high praise from climate activists. He's been dubbed "the unlikely climate champion."

Carney understands climate change in all its dimensions, especially the fossil energy sector and the risks of "stranded assets" a term for coal and bitumen. He would be a breath of fresh air after the endless litany of carbon stooges in our Parliament and provincial legislatures.

Put simply, Mark Carney has everything that Trudeau lacks and then some. It's time the Liberals ditched Justin, son of Margaret, and got a real leader.

At a moment when Canada, and the world, are at risk from threats unparalleled in the history of human civilization, this country could use somebody clear-headed.

11 Consecutive Days

The United States yesterday tied an all-time record - 11 consecutive days with more than 8 tornadoes per day.
Federal government weather forecasters logged preliminary reports of more than 500 tornadoes in a 30-day period — a rare figure, if the reports are ultimately verified — after the start of the year proved mercifully quiet.
“From mid-April on, it’s just been on a tear,” said Patrick Marsh, the warning coordination meteorologist at the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla. “What has really set us apart has been the last 10 days or so. The last 10 days took us from about normal to well above normal.”
Forecasters said that even the briefest of reprieves might not come until late this week, and another round of severe weather erupted on Tuesday afternoon.
Being American, officials are reluctant to tie this extreme weather to climate change, not without a signed confession.

The good news.

Most of America that has been hammered by droughts for the past decade or two are now drought-free.  A notable exception is southeast Alaska that is now in severe drought conditions. That's bound to be good for the permafrost, eh?

The bad news.

Many of the areas now drought free are now flooded. That includes a lot of America's prime agricultural land. Hard hit states include Oklahoma, Nebraska, Iowa, Arkansas, Canadian farmers who have been spared the severe weather to the south are expecting great prices for their crops this year. What's that line about the cure being worse than the disease?

This reminds me of a report several years ago of a pastoralist, a herder, from the sub-Saharan Sahel.  One year he lost half his herd to flash floods. Severe heat and drought claimed the surviving animals the following year. The herder and his family were forced to abandon their ancient herding lifestyle and head for the city to eke out a bare subsistence living.

Lauren Isringhausen Writes

A young American woman, mother to her own daughter, posted this on FaceBook. It's dripping with rage and, if you read it, you also might feel her rage.

Monday, May 27, 2019

The Liberals Double Down. Is There an Election Looming?

When it comes to climate change the Liberals take the cake for hypocrisy. Apparently some sinister force is thwarting their earnest efforts to  declare a climate state of emergency for Canada. That malevolent darkness, they would have you believe, is the Scheer Conservatives.


The people of Canada, perhaps imprudently, delivered Team Trudeau a powerful, albeit false, majority in 2015 in no small part based on their solemn electoral promise to fight climate change.

The wankers, yes 'wankers', instead jettisoned those promises to expedite the extraction, transmission and sale abroad of the most vile high-carbon, high-cost andf low-value fossil fuel of them all, bitumen.

Please, you unadulterated wankers, don't piss on my leg and then try to claim it's raining.

There is a climate emergency, no argument there. We have an mountains of research verifying that. We can see - right there before our very eyes - the early-onset impacts. We know what's coming from any continuation of Liberal carbon policy, especially if other nations take their cue from us.

Some dark force is what prevents the majority Liberal government from declaring a "climate emergency"? You would have to be as ignorant as a Liberal to swallow that crap.

Eleven years left to cut GHG emissions by half. And where is this 'thwarted' government? Hell, I've told you often enough, ask them.

Justin Trudeau's Liberals are exploiting this obviously existential threat to score political points while making the future that much worse.

I came to the Liberals half a lifetime ago inspired by Laurier, St. Laurent, Pearson and the only Trudeau that lived up to the name of 'Liberal.'
Each, by turn, made this a better, stronger and more democratic country. Those days are gone. Justin Trudeau is the living proof.

Eviscerating The Bitumen Bullshit

Give Jason Kenney, his predecessor, Rachel Notley, and our prime minister, Justin Trudeau, their due. When it comes to bitumen and bullshit they'll lay it on just as thick as they can every chance they get.

The Tyee's petro-scribe, Alberta's own Andrew Nikiforuk, systematically debunks every popular lie these characters like to spread about Trudeau's damned pipeline and bitumen's dismal future.

To most coastal British Columbians there's a real malice that emanates from the petro-state's campaign of deceit whether that's from Alberta, Saskatchewan or Ottawa.

I urge you to follow the link and read it in its entirety. For now, here are a few teasers:

According to some of the more ridiculous claims, environmentalists are to blame for bitumen price discounts, Vancouverites are being punished for their orca-loving ways with high gasoline prices, and climate change really doesn’t matter. 
Their politicians don’t dare admit the reality — that combined overproduction of bitumen and U.S. tight oil brought down the global price of oil with a thundering crash in 2014. In the world we inhabit now, oil business as usual has died.
The plot to thwart bitumen sales to China.
The facts are these: Over decades the U.S. has built more than half of the world’s heavy oil refining capacity in the Midwest and Gulf Coast for a variety of reasons. 
Asia owns but 23 per cent of global capacity to refine heavy oil. It’s not willing to pay more for bitumen than the U.S., because it costs more to ship it there.

Alberta’s low royalty policy encouraged the industry to strip and ship diluted bitumen instead of adding value by building more upgrading facilities and complex refineries. 
The province’s dependence on U.S. markets and pipelines is a direct product of what was billed in 2006 as Alberta’s “give-it-away” strategy. 
Obstruction of Trans-Mountain has left BC with a fuel shortage entirely of its own making.
Most of the gasoline consumed in B.C., the nation’s fourth largest market for refined fuels, is made by four Alberta refineries and moved along the existing 65-year-old Trans Mountain pipeline. Less than 10 per cent of the province’s gasoline comes from refineries in Washington State. 
(An historical note: when the Trans Mountain pipeline was built in the 1950s, Vancouver supported four refineries, but as the line exported more oil to U.S. refineries, local refining died off in the 1990s with the exception of Parkland, formerly Chevron, in Burnaby.) 
The Vancouver market has no ready access to refined products brought by sea, so it is a price taker. Economist Robyn Allan calculates that neither taxes, nor scarcity of supply, fully explain why the region has some of Canada’s highest gasoline prices. 
A study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives suggests Alberta refineries have been price gouging Vancouver consumers since 2010, because they can do so due to lack of local competition.
...To date, high prices have had a predictable effect: B.C.’s per capita consumption of refined petroleum goods is 11 per cent below the national average.
Bitumen is the "beating heart" of the Canadian economy.
That’s a big laugh. 
Despite 47 per cent growth in Canada’s oil and gas production since 2000 — largely from the tar sands — royalty payments to government have declined 59 per cent, notes respected energy analyst David Hughes. 
So, too, has the industry’s proportional contribution to GDP.
According to data from Natural Resources Canada, taxes paid by the oil and gas industry since 2006 have dropped from $12 billion to $6 billion*.
It's "Ethical Oil."
There is light oil and heavy oil, but no refinery has ever begged for ethical oil. 
That’s because it doesn’t exist. If Alberta has done such a “moral” job of regulating its resources, what happened to its rainy day fund? 
And if the industry has behaved so ethically, why will Alberta and Canadian taxpayers likely be on the hook for cleaning up and decommissioning $260-billion worth of abandoned wells, pipelines and gas plants?

How ethical is it to allow an industry to set aside funds of $1.6 billion to cover hundreds of billions of dollars in liabilities? 
New research says that “carbon dioxide emission intensities for oil sands facilities are 13 to 123 per cent larger than those estimated using publically available data.”

Is that an ethical development?
Let's do the math. A quarter trillion dollars of unfunded remediation costs versus six billion dollars a year* in royalties to the Alberta treasury. Imagine finding a bar that lets you run a tab for 43-years. That's 43-years worth of royalties.

Myth: Every day Canada loses 30 to 40 million dollars from a shortage of pipeline capacity. That's a lie, one of Junior's favourites.
To illustrate the grandiosity of the claim, just consider the finances of Suncor, one of Canada’s largest bitumen miners. If the industry were losing so much money every day, you’d expect Suncor to be bleeding, too.

But that’s not what its financial statements say.

In fact, Suncor has been recording tidy profits for years, because it mines, upgrades and refines bitumen into a variety of refined products.

The company also hedges against oil price volatility and heavy oil discounts. Even with mandated provincial cuts in production, the company produced396,000 barrels of bitumen in the first quarter of 2019, with net earnings of $1.4 billion compared to $789 million in 2018. 
Husky and Imperial Oil, the province’s other big producers, also reported healthy returns this year.
...So don’t try bullying British Columbians with fictional losses produced by fictional pipelines. 
Alberta’s three major bitumen producers make money regardless of pipeline politics, because they do everything Alberta failed to do: they hedge, add value and refine.
US-funded environmentalists are waging a campaign to block Canada's access to Asian markets. They're out to sabotage our economy.
No conspiracy existed. The campaign largely focused on bitumen’s distinct character. Such crude has higher energy costs and an extreme carbon footprint compared to conventional oils. 
Alberta’s remains one of the world’s dirtiest oils, with emissions 102 to 204 per cent higher than average U.S. refinery crude on a well-to-tank basis that includes all the emissions from mining, upgrading and refining.

That’s why Alberta’s oil was targeted. Period.

And given that oil sands production has increased 376 per cent since 2000, and overall oil and gas production has grown by 47 per cent in Canada, “the alleged foreign funded attack” has been damn ineffective, notes analyst Hughes.
Here on the coast we know these truths. We see the malicious lies, and they are malicious, spun by Ottawa and the oil provinces for what they are, an attack on us and on our coast.  The threats make their malice even more intolerable.

Jody is Independent. Jane is Independent.

Wilson-Raybould has announced she'll seek re-election in Vancouver-Granville as an independent. I expect her decision means that riding is lost to the Liberals even if she doesn't win in October.

So much for Jody. As for Jane, news crews are awaiting her arrival at some produce market in Markham-Stouffville.  It was interesting looking at all those former Liberal voters gathered to await her announcement. Ah, here's Jane.

Dr. Philpott is also running - as an independent.  Given the enthusiasm of the crowd it seems that Markham-Stouffville is also now lost to the Liberals.

When the campaign does begin it's hard to imagine what their Liberal opponents will have to say about them. How will they try to take them down? Attacking either of them could be suicidal.

Philpott praised Elizabeth May and the Greens, pledging to support their platform.

Do You Think We're Not in the Grip of Nihilists?

In his book, "Collapse, How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed," anthropologist Jared Diamond explores how societies past have repeatedly made absolutely rational, short-term choices that carried nihilistic consequences in the longer term. Societies have done things for their short-term benefit knowing full well that they would devastate future generations. Failure is often a choice.

We are one of those societies.

Among the crises we're facing - runaway climate change, overpopulation, rapid exhaustion of the planet's finite resources - is the Mother of them all, Earth's sixth mass extinction.

Now you might think that the prospect of mass extinction, in which complex life forms such as humans and other mammals are directly in the crosshairs, would trigger an appropriate response from our corporate and political leadership. If you did think that, you would be wrong.

Maybe you’ve read King Lear and remember this famous line: “‘Tis the time’s plague when madmen lead the blind.” The words were written more than 400 years ago as a comment on the deadly consequences of greed, delusion and political folly, but they could serve just as well as a Republican party slogan today. They’re a fitting description of the Republican party’s delusional campaign to deny the environmental crises that threaten our planet and our civilization. 
For decades now, Republican politicians and their patrons in the fossil fuel industry have used thinktanks, front groups and public relations operatives to promote faulty science and perpetuate the myth that the climate crisis is a hoax. This campaign of climate deception, which is elegantly documented in books like Merchants of Doubt, has exacted a huge toll on the planet and its people – it has sabotaged domestic and international efforts to combat greenhouse gas pollution and exacerbated a crisis that is acidifying oceans, melting polar ice caps, supercharging storms and making the Earth less hospitable to human and animal life. We have a name for the purveyors of this deceitful campaign: we call them “climate deniers”.
At least in the US the Republicans are open about it. They openly ridicule the prospect of mass extinction in Congress. Ain't gonna happen, that's an end of it, move on. Here in Canada we're more discrete. We prefer not to mention it at all, not after we've just grossly overpaid for a crazy pipeline with an election looming. Best if we just ignore it and hope no one notices.

Europe's Green Surge

The only good news out of the latest EU elections comes in the form of the impressive rise of the Green Party. The Guardian reports the Greens may have taken enough seats to hold the balance of power in the new European parliament.

“Thank you so much for your trust in us Greens,” a delighted Ska Keller, one of the European Greens’ two lead candidates for the post of European commission president, told a press conference in Brussels. 
“This is a mandate for real change: for climate protection, a social Europe, more democracy and stronger rule of law.” Above all, Keller said, the Greens “want to achieve climate action now – because if we wait any longer, it will be a disaster”. 
Any parliamentary group that wanted Green support would have to “deliver on our three key principles: climate action, civil liberties and social justice”, she said. “For us it’s clear: this is all about content.” 
With the European parliament’s main centre-right and centre-left groups both losing seats and their historic joint majority, and populist Eurosceptic parties returning in larger numbers than before, Green MEPs’ votes could well prove critical to a broad pro-EU alliance in the 751-seat assembly.
Not a tsunami, not yet. The next time, perhaps.
The Greens’ surge was strongest in Germany, where Die Grünen finished second behind Angela Merkel’s centre-right CDU with almost 21% of the vote, according to provisional estimates – nearly double their 2014 total. 
Finland’s Greens also came second with 16% of the vote, while in a major upset, Europe Écologie-Les Verts, led by a former senior Greenpeace figure, came third in France with 13.3%, up from 8.9%. 
Against all expectations, a Portuguese Green party won its first European parliamentary seat. 
Ireland’s Green party trebled its previous score to 15% from 5%, meaning it will be sending MEPs to the Strasbourg parliament for the first time in 20 years, while in the Netherlands, GreenLeft improved to garner nearly 10.5% of the vote.

It's Europe Calling, Justin. You Might Want to Take This. No? Okay.

The EU elections showed that voters are abandoning old school politics and the same old, same old. Small wonder. Right wing populists appear to be the big winners but also rising is the Green Party.

People are worried. They can see what's coming. They can feel what has already arrived.

In Canada we have two "same old" parties. The Conservatives are the Party of Darkness when it comes to climate change. They're the ultimate in Petro-Pimps and they're scrambling to staunch an exodus of radical rightwing populists to Bernier. However, not far behind, is the modern shell of the once great Liberal Party who have also chosen the petro-state over the future of Canada even as they pay unconvincing lip service to the climate crisis.

Make no mistake. Today's LPC is not the party of Laurier, St. Laurent, Pearson or the real Trudeau, Pierre, just as today's Republican Party has nothing to do with the 'party of Lincoln.'

People can sense weakness. They can smell fear. And there's plenty of both emanating from the Liberal leadership. Justin has made his bed and he's sharing it with the petro-economy. "No one would find 173 billion barrels of oil and just leave it there." Even if that was true it was an incredibly stupid thing to say and an even dumber mantra around which to forge a government.

We thought Trudeau had vision from his campaign rhetoric in 2015. He was positively inspirational coming off nearly a decade of the Harper government. Only he wasted no time in reneging on those grand promises much like a snake sheds its skin. The Liberal Party faithful have been straining to downplay that ever since but, today, the best thing they have going for themselves is Andrew Scheer and the grim prospect of another Tory government. That speaks to just how hollow the Liberals have become. "Vote for Us, We're Not Him." Well, in a lot of respects you're pretty close.

The world is changing - rapidly, dangerously and, those determined not to see it excepted, we all know it. We can see where we're headed and what that means for our young people, our grandkids and the children they will have. Greta Thunberg and her army of followers remind us that parties like Canada's Conservatives and Liberals are not on their side. You have to dig pretty deep to deny that.

The world has been given a very narrow time frame to try to avert catastrophic climate change. We have to cut carbon emissions by half by 2030. Andrew Scheer and Justin Trudeau will not even acknowledge that much less commit to the sort of changes we would need to meet that obligation. And, yes, it is an obligation. Any genuine progressive would understand that, Liberals not so much.

The current government has fallen further and further behind even meeting Stephen Harper's emissions cuts targets, even as climate change has worsened considerably.  That's not progress. That's a retreat, a capitulation. Please, don't give me any of that nonsense about minuscule, gestural carbon tax.

The great Liberal leaders of the past worked to make Canada a better place, a greater nation. That vision disappeared from the party well before Justin Trudeau showed up.

Donald Trump, Viktor Orban and many others show what happens when governments fail to respond to popular discontent. These people are right there in the wings just waiting to pounce. They take that discontent, the fuel, and put the match of fear and anger to it. It works. It won't last long. Climate change is worsening. It's now a climate crisis. Climate deniers like Trump and Orban can't outrun it.

You may have noticed that the American mid-west is entering its second week of continuous severe weather events - high winds, heavy flooding rains, tornadoes. In large swathes of America's bread basket this year's crop is in peril.  In the west, the wildfire season is here, perhaps fittingly hitting Alberta hardest. Meanwhile their newly minted premier dismisses climate change as the "flavour of the month." That is a man holding his province and his people hostage to a dead end ideology.  Well, they chose him, they deserve no better. Canada, however, does deserve better. 'Same old, same old' has run its course.

Two weeks ago the Washington Post reported that temperatures in the Russian Arctic had hit 84 degrees F.  while atmospheric carbon dioxide hit 415 ppm. for the first time in human history. The next four years are predicted to be unduly hot which takes on a strange context given that the past many years have been record setting. I think that means we're in for "really, really hot weather."

Climate departure, now sometimes called "climate catastrophe" is predicted to begin setting in around 2023.  Back in 2013 Camilo Mora's climate team at the University of Hawaii released a paper on this troubling phenomenon that will hammer economies in affected nations and likely trigger mass migrations.  In the ensuing three years other studies corroborated what's coming.

According to this study, the tropics, which are the near-equatorial region of this planet that’s almost 100% impoverished, and that has thus contributed virtually nothing to global warming, will begin the period of permanent catastrophe starting in approximately 2020; but the (cooler) moderate-latitude countries, such as in North America and Europe, will begin this catastrophic period in or around 2047.

This isn’t to say that things won’t continue to get worse after then; it’s only to say that this is, as the article will be titled, “The projected timing of climate departure from recent variability.”
This landmark article was co-authored by a team of 14 climate-scientists. It says: “Unprecedented climates will occur earliest in the tropics and among low-income countries.” It explains that the reason for this is that the countries near the equator have far less variability in their weather than do the moderate-climate countries, and so the species that constitute the ecosystems there cannot tolerate temperatures outside their narrow range, which has existed within that narrow range for thousands of years. Consequently, species-extinctions will soar there much faster and earlier than here. The existing impoverished economies, within around 2,500 miles of the equator (where average per-capita incomes are less than 10% of the average in the moderate-latitude countries such as ours), will become unlivable.

This study notes the “obvious disparity between those who benefit from the process leading to climate change and those who will have to pay for most of the environmental and social costs.” Of course, “those who benefit from the process leading to climate change” are the oil companies, and the coal companies, and the natural gas companies, and the pipeline and service companies, and ultimately their owners: especially the aristocratic families who control them. It would be false to assume that any poor people, even in countries such as the United States, will benefit from continuation of “the process leading to climate change.” However, some of the chief financial backers of the Republican Party and of other conservative political parties in the moderate-latitude countries benefit enormously from that “process.” Thus, many people who will not benefit from climate change end up voting for climate change; and, of course, their children and subsequent descendants will suffer greatly from their votes.
The Colombia-born Dr. Mora, in an interview with Yale360,  tried to make the people of the developed world, that's us, understand  what we're doing to the weakest and most vulnerable people.

I grew up in a country where there has been a long history of violence. We have been in war for 50 years, and one thing people don’t realize is what it means to be in a place where anyone can get shot at any moment, where people are starved to death, where there is not enough food to feed people. In the first world, people don’t know how rich they are, and they don’t realize what is happening in the rest of the world. And for me that’s a driving force. It’s scary to think about climate change because when we start damaging physical systems and the carrying capacity of physical systems to produce food, people will react to this in a terrible way. I’m telling you, I have seen it in my own country. It’s very negative the way in which people react to hunger. And that’s one of the things that’s most frightening to me with this large-scale analysis — the fact that I know we’re on our way to some very disturbing scenarios if we go down this pathway of damaging physical systems in the ways that we are today.
We need to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 50 per cent by 2030 for us, not for them. Those little brown people with their already precarious lives and their devastated homelands, they're hooped.  And yet Liberals and Tories alike think it's entirely reasonable to flood world markets with high-carbon, high-cost, low value bitumen. That's what it means to be a Liberal on the cusp of this next decade.

We're just a few months away from choosing our next government. It will pit Andrew Scheer, a man whose promises, odious as they are, can probably be trusted versus the current prime minister, Justin Trudeau, a man who has shown his solemn promises to be thoroughly unreliable. Great choice.

This year will be our last chance to make a difference. Four years from now, catastrophic climate change will be locked in.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

The Myth of Clean LNG

Liquid natural gas is regularly pitched as a "transition fuel" to help wean us off oil and gas as our economy moves to alternative clean energy.

That's a lie.  Green Party MLA and University of Victoria climate scientist, Andrew Weaver debunks the myth.

This myth has been espoused loudly by proponents of LNG, including corporate directors and the BC NDP. And it is just that – a myth.

...LNG Canada will be the largest single point of greenhouse gas emissions in B.C. It’s also sourced via hydraulic fracturing (fracking). Fracking causes earthquakes, leaks significant amounts of fugitive methane emissions, and contaminates water tables. The government’s own scientists have stated that we do not know the extent of the environmental implications, much less those for human health. 
Fracking is the primary suspect in a spike of extremely rare and lethal cancers in the very communities LNG claims to be benefiting. Doctors are actively advising pregnant women to leave these towns during their pregnancies. 
...Let’s also take a look at the business case of LNG Canada’s “$40 billion dollar” investment: LNG Canada itself estimates $25 billion to $40 billion for a two-phase project (only Phase 1 has been approved). Between $7 billion and $11 billion of this amount will be spent on foreign soil. And, the NDP government has given LNG Canada over $5.35 billion in tax breaks (they’ve also created a system where LNG Canada is able to avoid paying the complete carbon tax). Not to mention that the cost of worsening climate change for B.C. could be dragged into the trillions. 
The 10,000 jobs that LNG Canada purports to be creating? I asked the minister of finance if there is a guarantee that these jobs will be in B.C. Her answer? No. There has also been reporting on leaked internal documents, which estimated that only 35% to 55% of the construction workforce will be British Columbians. 
...Nowhere in this debate are the environmental and health impacts, let alone the true economic costs, being given the emphasis they deserve. Canada is warming at twice the global rate. Over a million species are facing imminent extinction. We are in a planetary crisis that requires immediate action. We don’t have time for a 60-year so-called “transition phase.” 
LNG might represent a path towards profits for a small group of corporations, but for British Columbians, the harm far outweighs the benefits. Millions of youth have been striking around the world this year – and it’s not because they simply fail to grasp something that a few adults “understand.” It’s because we are gambling with their futures. 

CNN Calls It - 2020, Team Oil versus Team Climate

The cable news network, CNN, contends that, when Americans go to the polls next year, there will be one winner and one loser, Team Oil or Team Climate Change.

Voters in 2020 can choose President Donald Trump, who brags about oil production -- the fact that the United States is now the largest producer of oil on Earth
Or voters can opt for the Democratic presidential candidate, whoever it ends up being. All of them agree that humans contribute to climate change -- which is nearly universally described as an existential threat -- and that the US must do something about carbon emissions immediately. 
Partisan split 
Nearly every Democrat or Democratic-leaning voter -- 96% in a CNN poll in April -- wants a candidate who will take aggressive action on climate change. 
It's a far less important issue for most Republicans. An NBC News poll in December found 71% of Democrats saying climate change required immediate action compared with 15% of Republicans.
That's an incredible split that suggests about half the country believes that the world is on pace for a climate reckoning and the other half is basically meh.

David Suzuki: True leaders work for us, not the fossil-fuel industry

David Suzuki takes a look at Canada's petro-pols in an op-ed in the Georgia Strait.
Politicians often justify their undying support for the fossil-fuel industry by claiming they're looking out for jobs and the economy—but those claims don't hold up. 
Despite assertions of some political representatives in Australia and the U.S., coal doesn't have a bright future, and "clean coal" doesn't exist. In Canada, pipeline opponents, Indigenous communities, and environmental groups aren't putting bitumen jobs at risk; automation, market forces, and change in the face of the climate crisis are behind the declines.

Suncor Energy recently switched to automated haulage systems at its North Steepbank bitumen mine, and expects to increase to 150 driverless haul trucks in its oilsands operations over the next five years—affecting hundreds of jobs. Other companies are following suit. Industry is also switching to automated technologies like drones for work ranging from surveying to pipeline inspections. In 2017, Kieron McFadyen, then Cenovus Energy's executive vice president, told investors that his company's long-term vision was to "de-man oilsands" operations.
...Calculations of "energy return on energy invested"—the amount of energy output over the amount required to produce it—show one reason for bitumen's lower price compared to conventional oil. The latter historically delivered 30 units or more for each unit invested, although that is declining as easily accessed sources become depleted. Recent research shows wind energy can also reach this level, while solar is closer to 9:1 or higher. Oilsands bitumen is 5:1 or lower, because large amounts of energy are required to extract, process, and refine it, which makes it costly, inefficient, and much more emissions-intensive than conventional oil. 
Transporting bitumen through pipelines is also expensive, as every 10 barrels of bitumen must be diluted with three barrels of condensate, which costs more than light crude. Costs and inefficiency make oilsands products less desirable on world markets.
...But instead of a rational debate about how to shift from fossil fuels to cleaner energy with minimal disruption to workers and society, media and shortsighted politicians inundate us with logical fallacies and absurd conspiracy theories about who's funding the people and organizations that want a prosperous future with clean air, water, and soil and a stable climate.

Decision makers who care about the people they represent and understand science, social trends, and technological potential know that a low-carbon future offers better health, livability, and economic resilience. The fossil-fuel industry is still the most profitable (and among the most destructive) in human history, but those days are coming to an end. True leaders understand this.
'Liberal, Tory - same old story.' There was a time that old NDP saw would get me angry. Those days are gone.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Why We'll Never Get Meaningful Action on Climate Change.

The facts are curious. We have come so far in the development of alternative, clean energy at costs far lower than fossil fuels that the developed world in particular could decarbonize rapidly. Even the Bank of Canada has come to recognize that the 'carbon economy' is actually an economy wrecker, a slow-motion train wreck.

So, what gives? Much of the answer can be found in the warnings given to us by the current and former governors of the Bank of England. They've been telling anyone who'll listen that the global economy is sitting on a potentially catastrophic 'carbon bubble.' What's that all about?

It's estimated that there is some 27 Trillion dollars in proven fossil fuel reserves subscribed on the stock markets and bourses of the world.  Banks, other institutional lenders, hedge funds, pension funds and such are all neck deep in fossil fuel investments. If that carbon bubble bursts, well, that could be an economy wrecker.

Now, in case you haven't heard, most of the global economy is in the grip of neoliberalism. Our own government is decidedly neoliberal as petro-states routinely are.  Petro-states have much to fear from anything that threatens to pop the global carbon bubble. They have the most to lose from a global depression triggered by the implosion of the carbon economy.

There is a reason the Liberals, in their first term in office, have fallen behind in meeting Stephen Harper's modest targets for greenhouse gas emissions cuts. Neither the Liberals nor the Conservatives have the slightest intention of honouring the IPCC call for a 50 per cent reduction in GHG emissions by 2030 and a carbon-neutral position by 2050.  Liberals, like the Conservatives, have chosen to back the carbon economy over providing some sort of viable future for our grandchildren. Think of it as their 'Sophie's Choice' only without all the angst. Tragically neither Trudeau nor Scheer understands that they're propping up something that cannot be saved.

While on the matter of neoliberalism, one of its proponents favourite arguments, is that it has lifted the world out of poverty. That's a con. Anthropologist, Jason Hickel, demolished this nonsense so popular with Bill Gates and the Davos crowd.
Last week, as world leaders and business elites arrived in Davos for the World Economic Forum, Bill Gates tweeted an infographic to his 46 million followers showing that the world has been getting better and better. “This is one of my favourite infographics,” he wrote. “A lot of people underestimate just how much life has improved over the past two centuries.” 
Of the six graphs – developed by Max Roser of Our World in Data – the first has attracted the most attention by far. It shows that the proportion of people living in poverty has declined from 94% in 1820 to only 10% today. The claim is simple and compelling.
...It’s a powerful narrative. And it’s completely wrong.

There are a number of problems with this graph, though. First of all, real data on poverty has only been collected since 1981. Anything before that is extremely sketchy, and to go back as far as 1820 is meaningless. Roser draws on a dataset that was never intended to describe poverty, but rather inequality in the distribution of world GDP – and that for only a limited range of countries. There is no actual research to bolster the claims about long-term poverty. It’s not science; it’s social media.

What Roser’s numbers actually reveal is that the world went from a situation where most of humanity had no need of money at all to one where today most of humanity struggles to survive on extremely small amounts of money. 
...Prior to colonisation, most people lived in subsistence economies where they enjoyed access to abundant commons – land, water, forests, livestock and robust systems of sharing and reciprocity. They had little if any money, but then they didn’t need it in order to live well – so it makes little sense to claim that they were poor. This way of life was violently destroyed by colonisers who forced people off the land and into European-owned mines, factories and plantations, where they were paid paltry wages for work they never wanted to do in the first place.
...Scholars have been calling for a more reasonable poverty line for many years. Most agree that people need a minimum of about $7.40 per day to achieve basic nutrition and normal human life expectancy, plus a half-decent chance of seeing their kids survive their fifth birthday. And many scholars, including Harvard economist Lant Pritchett, insist that the poverty line should be set even higher, at $10 to $15 per day. 
So what happens if we measure global poverty at the low end of this more realistic spectrum – $7.40 per day, to be extra conservative? Well, we see that the number of people living under this line has increased dramatically since measurements began in 1981, reaching some 4.2 billion people today. Suddenly the happy Davos narrative melts away.

Moreover, the few gains that have been made have virtually all happened in one place: China. It is disingenuous, then, for the likes of Gates and Pinker to claim these gains as victories for Washington-consensus neoliberalism. Take China out of the equation, and the numbers look even worse.
Another comment on the corrosive impacts of neoliberalism is provided by Michael Gallant, a graduate of the Harvard Kennedy School of Governance.
“No one leaves home unless / home is the mouth of a shark.” 
Immigration is perhaps the defining political issue of the Trump era. The political left, right, and center, each offer their own vision for the proper treatment of those who arrive on American borders in search of a better life. However, as Poet Warsan Shire’s words remind us, migration does not begin at the border, it begins in homes and communities that are rarely abandoned without necessity. 
Though the dynamics of migration are complex, at least one of Shire’s sharks has a name: neoliberal globalization. Since the era of Reagan and Thatcher, powerful states and the wealthy interests that they represent have built a global economic order that places the market above all else. This has resulted in the systematic uprooting of the poor, the working class, and the subaltern of the Global South. Acting through trade deals and international financial institutions, neoliberal globalization causes displacement by creating conditions of poverty, imposing corporate agricultural policies, and fueling environmental destruction.
...The migration crisis is, more accurately, a crisis of displacement. It is the product of a model of globalization that prioritizes the profits of a few over the lives of the many. To solve it requires more than just humane border policy; it requires an alternative globalization. 
An alternative system of trade would build global protections for workers and the environment while limiting the power of capital. A new agricultural policy would encourage, not deter, protections for peasants and indigenous communities. Democratizing international financial institutions like the World Bank would empower those most impacted by their policies. A binding global treaty would hold transnational corporations accountable for their human rights violations and a New Bretton Woods and Global Green New Deal would make major strides against global inequality and climate change. Though such systemic change will not come easily, it is necessary to address displacement at its root.
Of course, we're Canadians and Canada doesn't harm the weak and vulnerable in distant lands except that we do. We just don't pay any attention to it. When was the last time you read a report in a Canadian newspaper about the damage - displacement, suffering, death - being inflicted on the poorest and most vulnerable nations by the petro-states? When was the last time you heard a Canadian prime minister candidly discuss the role the petro-states are playing in fueling the next mass extinction of life on Earth? We don't do that because linking the two might make us look like monsters.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Ready for Prime Minister Boris?

I've been listening to LBC Radio London to get the latest after Theresa May's announcement that she'll step down as prime minister in just two weeks. It's believed her successor will move into 10 Downing St. by mid-July.

Among the Tory ranks are several who've been positioning themselves to run for the top job and, foremost among them, seems to be Boris Johnson, May's nemesis in recent months.

Johnson is a rank opportunist and a chronic liar. That seems to be a spreading problem these days. He's also on record as supporting a "hard Brexit," Britain's departure from the EU without an agreement, something that many experts think could deeply harm the UK economy.

Some, such as Stephen Fry, are pushing back.  In this first video, Fry explores why people such as Johnson and Nigel Farage are so keen on a "no deal" Brexit and what they have in mind for the British public.

In this video Fry looks at how the High Priests of Brexit have inculcated fear in their own supporters, fear that wanders freely into xenophobia and the gamut of racism.

Finally, if you can handle one more, Stephen Fry explores how the Leave camp has flat out lied about what the British public actually wants.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

The Moral Capitulation of the News Media

Bill Moyers asks, "What if we covered the climate crisis like we did the start of the second world war?"

Moyers addressed young journalists to mark the launch of Covering Climate Now:
Covering Climate Now, a project co-sponsored by The Columbia Journalism Review and The Nation. Joined by The Guardian and others partners to be announced, Covering Climate Now will bring journalists and news outlets together to dramatically improve how the media as a whole covers the climate crisis and its solutions.
Moyers hearkens back to the days of Edward R. Murrow and the outbreak of war in Europe.
Their names, hardly known when they started, became hallowed in the annals of journalism. Murrow of course, Eric Sevareid, William L Shirer, Larry LeSeuer, Charles Collingwood, Howard K Smith, William Randall Downs, Richard C. Hottelet, Winston Burdett, Cecil Brown, Thomas Grandin, and the one woman among them, Mary Marvin Breckinridge. You can read about them in The Murrow Boys: Pioneers on the Front Lines of Broadcast Journalism, a superb book by Stanley Cloud and Lynne Olson. 
These reporters spread across Europe as the “phony war” of 1939–40 played out, much like the slow-motion catastrophe of global warming plays out in our time. They saw the threat posed by the Nazis, and they struggled to get the attention of an American public back home exhausted and drained by the Great Depression. 
In September of 1939, with Europe hours away from going up in flames, the powers at CBS in New York ordered Murrow and Shirer to feature an entertainment broadcast spotlighting dance music from nightspots in London, Paris, and Hamburg. Here’s the account from Cloud and Olson:
“‘They say there’s so much bad news out of Europe, they want some good news,’ Murrow [in London] snapped to Shirer [in Berlin] over the phone. The show, scheduled to be broadcast just as Germany was about to rape Poland, would be called ‘Europe Dances’ … Finally, Murrow decreed, ‘The hell with those bastards in New York. It may cost us our jobs, but we’re just not going to do it’.” 
And they didn’t. They defied the bosses—and gave CBS one of the biggest stories of the 20th century, the invasion of Poland.

And still the powers in New York resisted. Through the rest of 1939 and into the spring of 1940, Hitler hunched on the borders of France and the Low Countries, his Panzers idling, poised to strike. Shirer fumed, “My God! Here was the old continent on the brink of war…and the network was most reluctant to provide five minutes a day from here to report it.” Just as the networks and cable channels provide practically no coverage today of global warming.
...Never in my own long career have I been as tested as they were. Or as you will be. Our own global warming “phony war” is over. The hot war is here. 
My colleague and co-writer, Glenn Scherer, compares global disruption to a repeat hit-and-run driver: anonymous, deadly, and requiring tireless investigation to identify the perpetrator. There are long stretches of nothing, then suddenly Houston is inundated and Paradise burns. San Juan blows away and salt water creeps into the subways of New York. The networks put their reporters out in raincoats or standing behind police barriers as flames consume far hills. Yet we rarely hear the words “global warming” or “climate disruption” in their reports. The big backstory of rising CO2 levels, escalating drought, collateral damage, cause and effect, and politicians on the take from fossil-fuel companies? Forget all that. Not good for ratings, say network executives. 
But last October, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a scientifically conservative body, gave us 12 years to make massive changes to reduce global greenhouse-gas emissions 45 percent below 2010 levels and to net zero by 2050. On his indispensable site,, Tom Engelhardt writes that humanity is now on a suicide watch.
...Can we get this story right? Can we tell it whole? Can we connect the dots and inspire people with the possibility of change?

What’s journalism for? Really, in the war, what was journalism for, except to awaken the world to the catastrophe looming ahead of it? 
Here’s the good news: While describing David Wallace-Wells’s stunning new book The Uninhabitable Earth as a remorseless, near-unbearable account of what we are doing to our planet, The New York Times reports it also offers hope. Wallace-Wells says that “We have all the tools we need…to aggressively phase out dirty energy…”; [cut] global emissions…[and] scrub carbon from the atmosphere…. [There are] ‘obvious’ and ‘available,’ [if costly,] solutions.” 
What we need, he adds, is the “acceptance of responsibility.” 
Our responsibility as journalists is to tell the story so people get it.
The Canadian media are somewhat less derelict in their coverage of the climate crisis. Some, such as The Tyee, or The National Observer, do give considerable coverage to this threat to our very civilization. The networks are bad to merely mediocre. The Sun papers and PostMedia are a disgrace to journalism as it was in Murrow's day. And look at the scribes themselves. How many of the elite accept paying gigs to deliver speeches to the Fossil Fuelers? Then there's that asshole incarnate, Rex Murphy, the English-literature grad who so freely denounces science. We have no reason to point fingers at FOX News, not with the mangy gang in our own media.

Scheer versus Trudeau - the Lesser of Two Weasels

Michael Harris has penned, "An Early Voting Guide to Trudeau (Bad) and Scheer (Worse)."

Before Liberal hearts soar, Harris says they're both lousy choices - Trudeau slightly less lousy. His choice?
Could it be time for change with risk? Could it be time to elect a government committed to saving the planet, rather than four bucks on a fill-up of gas?

If You Can't Believe the World Is Massively Overcrowded

Get an eyeful of this:

These are climbers queuing to summit the world's highest mountain, Mount Everest.
Hundreds of climbers hoping to make it to the summit of the world’s tallest mountain were forced to queue for hours in freezing temperatures at high altitude this week as congestion built up on Mount Everest
The delays have been linked to the deaths of at least three people on the mountain, according to local media. An American man and an Indian man and a woman all died as they descended, various sources said.

Another Bad Day for Justin

It wasn't the first time Trudeau's security officers have thrown a woman to the ground but, this time, it was a 74-year old granny, part of a group of Trans-Mountain pipeline protesters who turned up at a Trudeau speaking engagement.

Watch as Trudeau's burly muscle slams the old dear to the sidewalk. And Justin? He was already inside the venue.

 British Columbia is just not a good place for Justin these days. A lot of people out here have had their fill of Trudeau, his empty promises and that damned pipeline.