Monday, September 30, 2019

An Uplifting Way to Look at Fighting Climate Change

Too often we see meaningful action to thwart climate catastrophe as a threat to the economy, a job killer, a meme that is so readily distorted, overblown.

Duke University professor, Alex Rosenberg, writes we should see the challenge differently, from a philosophical viewpoint.
To recognize the problems facing any attempt to mitigate climate change, we need to start with a technical term from economics: “public good.” 
Put aside the ordinary meaning of these two words. In economic theory, a public good is not a commodity like schools or roads provided to the public by the government. It’s a good with two properties absent in other commodities, including schools and roads. First, a public good is consumed non-rivalrously: No matter how much of it one person consumes, there’s always just as much left for others.

Street lighting is an example: When I consume as much as I want of the nighttime safety it provides, there is still as much left for you. We are not rivals in consumption of a public good. Public schools aren’t public goods in this sense. The more attention your child gets, the less time the teacher has for mine. 
Second, a public good is not excludable: There is no way I can consume street lighting without its being available to you at the same time. The only way to exclude you from consumption is to turn it off. But then I can’t consume it. Public schools are excludable goods. Your child can be expelled. So schools are not public goods. 
The Paris climate accord set a target of keeping global temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius. That outcome would be a public good. I can’t consume any of this good unless it’s there for you too, and no matter how much of it I consume in personal benefit, that won’t reduce the amount you can consume. 
Of course, as with street lighting, some people will benefit more, maybe even much more from a public good, than others. It’s regrettably true that women’s lives are generally more improved by street lighting than men’s lives are. Mitigating climate change isn’t going to benefit everyone equally. But it can’t benefit anyone without benefiting everyone, and no matter how much I benefit, there will be some benefit left for you.
Rosenberg argues that the key to a concerted, truly global response to climate change may lie in PPE, the doctrine of politics, philosophy and economics. He focuses on a world trapped in the 'prisoner's dilemma.'
If the rest of the world’s major polluters get together to curb emissions, the United States doesn’t have to and will still benefit. On the other hand, if China, the European Union, India, Russia and South Korea do nothing, there’s no point in the United States even trying. It can’t solve the problem alone. It looks as if either way, the United States should do nothing to curb its own emissions. If leaders of these other governments reason the same way, the result is likely to be catastrophic weather extremes everywhere.
Even bad laws, weak treaties, are better than none at all.
The enforced rule of law, any law, at least gets us out of the state of nature, where “the life of man is solitary, mean, nasty, brutish and short.” Hobbes argued that the only way to provide this public good is for each of us to surrender all power to the state so that it can compel obedience to the law. Hobbes’s recipe for escaping the prisoner’s dilemma of anarchy never attracted much support. The history of political philosophy from Locke to Rawls is a sequence of proposed alternatives to Hobbes’s strategy. Each sought a basis on which people can credibly bind themselves voluntarily to provide the public good of “law and order.”
Rosenberg turns to Elinor Ostrom, the political scientist who won the Nobel Prize in economics.
She spent a career identifying the conditions, all over the world, including the developing world, under which groups manage to solve the prisoner’s dilemma by voluntarily creating institutions — rules, norms, practices — that every member benefits from, non-rivalrously and non-excludably. In doing so, Ostrom provided a recipe for how to avoid the prisoner’s dilemma that a public good presents. 
The ingredients needed are clear: The participants have to agree on who’s in the group; there’s a single set of rules all participants can actually obey; compliance is monitored effectively, with graduated punishments for violation; enforcement and adjudication is affordable; and outside authorities have to allow the participants to obey the rules. Finally, in the long term, the group providing the public good to its members has to be nested in, authorized by higher-level groups. These in turn persist when they can provide themselves a different set of nonexcludable, nonrivalrously consumed, mutually beneficial rules, norms, laws and institutions.
...Countries and corporations convinced that their gains from mitigating climate change can outweigh the costs to them will provide the public good to everyone as a byproduct, a side effect, of what they buy for themselves. The catch is that the costs to the individual country or corporation will have to be low enough to be swamped by its benefit to that country or company. 
This is where science and its technological spinoff comes in. Solar panels, wind turbines, safe nuclear energy, geoengineering the atmosphere or the oceans or the rain forests — any of these, all of them or something no one has thought of yet might become cost effective for one or more countries or corporations. The public good of climate change mitigation would become so valuable for at least one consumer — a country or corporation — that it would buy it for itself. The rest of us could free ride.

No, You Must Be Thinking About "The Ghost of Canada Past"

A sobering op-ed from The Globe's Gary Mason on why hopes that Canada will take "meaningful climate action" are wishful thinking.

It's not so much that he's saying something shocking. It's more that he's just saying it - out loud.
Once, this country led the global conversation that helped save the ozone layer. Now, in a climate crisis, we can’t even have an honest conversation among ourselves about what must be done to save us all.
...The idea that a hole in the sky now exposed us to the merciless impact of the sun captured the public’s imagination in a way few other environmental crises ever had. People imagined humankind literally withering into extinction as crushing temperatures became unbearable. A genuine panic set in.

Two years after the ozone’s gaping wound was detected, leaders from around the world gathered in Canada to sign the landmark Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer. (It has now been ratified by 196 countries and the European Union). The treaty radically reduced the amount of these materials – commonly known as Freons – being released into the atmosphere. Among other achievements, the accord has, over three decades, reduced the use of nearly 100 ozone-draining chemicals by nearly 100 per cent. It has helped cut the equivalent of 135 billion tonnes of carbon-dioxide emissions. The ozone hole, meantime, has shrunk considerably and is now about the size it was in 1988. 
Mulroney's Legacy
Canada’s role in the creation of one of the most powerful, and successful, environmental conventions ever undertaken is worth considering in the context of the federal election campaign and the current debate around climate change. This country was responsible for a mere fraction of the chemicals that had produced the hole in the ozone. But that didn’t stop us from playing a lead role in the creation of a manifesto that has done so much good for the world. 
It’s also worth noting that the prime minister at the time was a staunch conservative, one who was also responsible for pushing Republican presidents Ronald Reagan and later George H.W. Bush on the issue of acid rain. His efforts would be rewarded in 1991 with an important treaty between the two countries that dealt with the issue. In fact, it can reasonably be argued that Mr. Mulroney did more for the environment than any other PM in our history.
An Election That May Be Our Last Best Chance to Act on Climate Change.
And yet here we are, more than a third of the way through the campaign, and there is nary a courageous, groundbreaking climate initiative in sight. Instead, the Liberals ended the week announcing measures to help make homes more energy efficient. While the time we have to mitigate the widespread damage a warming planet will cause evaporates before our eyes, we argue about the need for new pipelines. The debate around energy and the environment has become so caustic, so toxic, that our political leaders can’t even be honest with us. 
There is no better example of this than when Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau said at a town hall event in Peterborough in January, 2017, that while he couldn’t shut down the oil sands immediately, “we need to phase them out, we need to manage the transition off of our dependence on fossil fuels.” It should not have been a controversial statement because it’s true. And yet, politicians in Alberta (and many citizens, too) lost their minds, accusing the Mr. Trudeau of betraying them, of forging a plan to rob thousands of people of their livelihoods. A few days later, Mr. Trudeau tried to undo the damage, saying that he “misspoke” – the oil sands would not be going anywhere soon, he assured Canadians.
I think that may have been the moment I decided meaningful climate policy in Canada was doomed. If a federal leader couldn’t even say what we know to be true – that we need to transition off of fossil fuels soon – then what hope was there of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to the level we must, in the limited time we have?
Trudeau fanboys won't like to hear that. No, it's just another effort by the "Con media" to undermine the Dauphin. Heresy. Treachery. Only it's not. It's true, every bit of it.

Why is Gary Mason so convinced Canada is and will remain a "no show" on the fight to avert climate catastrophe? For starters he writes that neither of the two men who will elected (sort of, in a way) prime minister in October has anything resembling a plan to slash Canadian greenhouse gas emissions. A minuscule carbon tax is a nice gesture and the idea of perhaps planting trees is also a nice gesture but that's not going to put us on the right path.
This is all wonderful, but the thrust of their latest plan remains aspirational. Targets don’t reduce emissions by themselves; enforcement does. “Trust me” is not a climate policy. 
Audits that have been conducted on the Liberals’ climate plan to date have suggested they are going to fall well short of their goals. Since the government introduced its first climate plan in 2016, it has purchased a pipeline and approved a massive liquefied natural gas project in B.C. It says it has put a cap on oil sands emissions of 100 megatonnes annually, but has refused to impose or insist on regulations to ensure that happens. There is also no schedule in place in which the cap begins to decline – a necessity. 
By some estimates, at the current trajectory, emissions just from oil and gas production will be 80 per cent of Canada’s total emissions by 2050. Even by 2030, they are forecast to be 47 per cent off our total emissions output.
When it comes to meeting our Paris obligations, we are having a completely dishonest conversation.
Mason's second argument is about the refusal of ordinary Canadians to back action on climate change.
The “new climate denialism,” a term coined by Seth Klein and Shannon Daub of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, doesn’t dispute that the Earth has a problem with greenhouse gases. What the new deniers refuse to accept are the measures necessary to reverse the effects of climate change before it’s too late. 
It’s not just members of the public who are in denial, but politicians and the oil and gas industry as well. Everyone agrees there is a problem, but few are willing to accept the sour medicine it will take to do something about it. So, for instance, you have an NDP government in B.C. It talks a wonderful game when it comes to climate, but then green-lights a $40-billion LNG expansion that will make meeting its climate targets all but impossible.
Next is the refusal of the fossil energy giants to accept their fate, the price that has to be paid if there is to be a future.
 ...there is another form of denialism going on that is also responsible for the lack of progress we’re witnessing around greenhouse-gas reduction: a refusal by oil and gas companies to acknowledge that their industry’s days are numbered. A recent piece in The New York Times by Christiana Figueres laid it out in stark detail. The life of many of the world’s oil and gas companies, in their current form, could be as little as five years in some cases, but no more than 30 even in the most optimistic scenarios, predicted Ms. Figueres, who was the executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Markets have started to abandon many of these companies. Exxon Mobil was the last big oil giant remaining in the top 10 of the world’s most valuable companies – until it dropped out earlier this month for the first time.
Norway’s massive sovereign wealth fund recently decided to get rid of nearly US$6-billion in oil and gas investments. The European Investment Bank, the world’s largest multilateral financier of climate-related investment, has proposed ending the underwriting of fossil-fuel infrastructure by 2020, including for gas. And the Danish pension fund is removing the top 10 major oil companies from its portfolio because their business models are incompatible with the Paris accord. 
But you would never know any of this living in Canada. Here, talk of transitioning off oil, or the industry not having a bright future, is verboten in places such as Alberta and Saskatchewan. This denialism only serves to delay the implementation of measures critical to climate success.
Last is the vitriol that makes an honest conversation about climate change difficult if not impossible.
Some of this is certainly the result of the times in which we live. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, for one, has relied on often incendiary oratory to get supporters riled up against the Liberal government in Ottawa, which he blames for trying to kill the oil industry. (Even though it bought a pipeline.) But a phalanx of conservative premiers has railed against the dangers of climate measures that will “kill the economy.” The doubt these politicians have sowed in the minds of the public may be having an effect. A recent survey by the firm Ipsos found nearly half of those polled thought scientists were elitists whose findings they discounted because they don’t align with their personal beliefs. Other polls have shown that people believe climate change is real but don’t want to sacrifice much to reverse its effects – a result no doubt influenced by the words of politicians who have convinced many Canadians that measures such as a carbon tax are a mere money grab that will have no measurable impact on GHG emissions.
If you can't accept this because it all sounds so nihilistic and, after all, we're Canadians and we don't do this sort of thing, it's time to step off that pedestal. Yes, we're among the best educated people anywhere. Yes we're prosperous and relatively free of the worst cultural and political blights now besetting other nations. We wouldn't choose to burn it all down, not us. Only history offers several examples of civilizations that did knowingly choose their own ruin. Usually it's greed-driven. Choices are taken to benefit the current generation knowing that a future generation will pay a horrible price. Warning signs are ignored, dismissed as they worsen. Then, eventually, that final straw breaks the camel's back. And, whether you're voting for Justin or for Andrew, that's what you're buying with your ballot.

BTW, that photo of Thunberg and Trudeau. Is it just me or does Greta look like she's heard his bullshit before?

Globe and Mail in the Pot Business?

I have access to the Globe & Mail as part of a family membership (not mine). Personally I don't find enough in it to justify the cost of a separate subscription.

I did find something a bit curious today. The Globe seems to have found a niche in the cannabis business. It's called "The Report on Business, Cannabis" and you have to shell out more cash if you want it.

No, not hardly. Thanks.

Not being a "Cannabis Professional" I won't get the insider skinny on why Canada's industrial pot growers are down to just 6-months of cash reserves or why Gene Simmons weed venture is on the verge of failing. Who knew? Who cares?

Then again, if the industrial weed machine is wobbling, there's not much point in shelling out for a subscription, is there?

Sunday, September 29, 2019

How Much Damage Can Trump Still Inflict? Ask Chris Hedges.

Chris Hedges, quite predictably, looks at the impeachment drama underway in Washington with a "pox on both their houses" attitude. When it comes to corruption he considers Democrats and Republicans of a piece. That sentiment, however, isn't the interesting part of his latest essay. The intriguing bit is Hedges' assessment of the chaos Trump could trigger on his way out.

Trump ...will not go quietly into this good night. He will attempt to bring the whole rotten edifice down with him. And he may succeed. 
“The Democrats thrive on silencing and intimidating his supporters, like YOU, Friend,” reads a fundraising appeal for Trump that was sent out immediately after the impeachment inquiry was announced this week. “They want to take YOUR VOTE away. President Trump wants to know who stood with him when it mattered most.”
...Trump’s rhetoric, as the pressure mounts, will become ever more incendiary. He will, as he has in the past, openly incite violence against the Democratic leadership and a press he brands as “the enemy of the people.” 
There is no shortage of working-class Americans who feel, with justification, deeply betrayed and manipulated by ruling elites. Their ability to make a sustainable income has been destroyed. They are trapped in decaying and dead-end communities. They see no future for themselves or their children. They view the ruling elites who sold them out with deep hostility.
Trump, however incompetent, at least expresses this rage. And he does so with a vulgarity that delights his base. I suspect they are not blind to his narcissism or even his corruption and incompetence. But he is the middle finger they flip up at all those oily politicians like the Clintons who lied to them in far more damaging ways than Trump.  
...“People no longer voted for candidates they liked or were excited by,” Matt Taibbi writes in “Insane Clown President: Dispatches From the 2016 Circus.” “They voted against the candidates they hated. At protests and marches, the ruling emotions were disgust and rage. The lack of idealism, and especially the lack of any sense of brotherhood or common purpose with the other side (i.e., liberals and conservatives unable to imagine a productive future with each other, or even to see themselves as citizens of the same country), was striking.” 
Impeaching Trump would be seen by his supporters as an effort to take away this primal, if ineffectual, form of defiance. It is yet another message to the disenfranchised, especially those in the white working class, that their lives, their concerns, their hopes and their voices do not matter. This huge segment of the population, as Trump is aware, is heavily armed. There are more than 300 million firearms in the hands of U.S. civilians, including 114 million handguns, 110 million rifles and 86 million shotguns.
...Trump, fighting for his political life, will use rhetorical gasoline to set it alight. He will demonize his opponents as the embodiment of evil. He will seek to widen the divisions and antagonisms, especially around race. He will brand his political opponents as irredeemable enemies and traitors. He will demand omnipotence, the power of a dictator. Many of those for whom he is a cult leader will seek to give it to him. For when the magical aura of Trump’s power is attacked, those in the Trump cult feel attacked. He is an extension of them. Trump embodies the yearning by millions of Americans, especially those in the Christian right, for a cult leader.
Hedges' culprit, as ever, the forces of corporatism.
Our social, cultural, economic and political crisis created a demagogue like Trump. These forces will grow more virulent if Trump is impeached. The longer we fail to confront and name the corporate forces responsible for the misery of over half the U.S. population and our broken democracy, the more the disease of cultism will spread. It was the seizure of power by corporations that vomited up Trump.

If we do not succeed in overthrowing corporate power, the explosive devices mailed to Trump critics and leaders of the Democratic Party, including Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden, along with George Soros, James Clapper and CNN, allegedly by Cesar Sayoc Jr., an ex-stripper and fanatic Trump supporter who was living out of his van, will become an acceptable form of political expression. Such assassination attempts will, if left unchecked, eventually succeed. Anarchic lawlessness and tit-for-tat forms of political murder will swiftly turn the United States into a failed and terrifying state.

Eureka! An Idea Whose Time Has Come.

Canadian scientists may have come up with a solution to the perils of the Tar Sands - turn that hazmat sludge, a.k.a. bitumen, into hydrogen, on site.

Hydrogen, even if a bit volatile, is a terrific transport fuel. It's full of energy and, when burned, produces only heat and water (in theory) instead of climate-killing CO2.
Often called the fuel of the future, the gas can be used to generate electricity and power vehicles. It produces water — not carbon — when burned. 
Now, engineers in Alberta believe they could have an answer — a method capable of extracting hydrogen from underground resources like oilsands deposits while leaving the carbon emissions it produces below the surface.

"That's been an industrial technology for over 80 [years]," said Grant Strem, CEO of Proton Technologies, the private company commercializing the new process for creating hydrogen. 
"What we're doing is very similar, but the big difference is, we're using the ground as a reaction vessel, so our capital cost is a lot lower, and instead of buying natural gas to fuel it, we use the unswept oil in the reservoir as our fuel."

Through lab work and small-scale field testing, the researchers say they found injecting oxygen into the fields raises the temperature and creates a reaction that frees the hydrogen.
"You can envision that the reservoir is simply a hot, bubbling mix of oil, which some fraction of it is now combusting," said professor Ian Gates, from his lab at the University of Calgary's Schulich School of Engineering.

"And as it is doing so, it simply keeps producing more and more hydrogen as a consequence of its reactions."
What's just as great as transforming the Tar Pits into a hydrogen gas resource is what doesn't have to come out of the ground - the tar and its toxic contents such as pet coke, heavy metals, acids and other carcinogens.

Wondering Why This Is Such a Dreary, Dull Election?

I've spoken with several people who wish "none of the above" was an option on this year's ballot. They know that, come October 24th, Canada will be in the hands of some guy completely unfit to lead the country.

The Tory faithful and the Liberal faithful won't like to hear that but it's true. You've got Justin who came to politics a school marm versus Andrew who has spent most of his adult career as a political water boy. What's not to like there?

It may strike you that these are a pair of very limited intellect and even less vision.

Those of us who have been around a bit longer remember when we had leaders of real stature who make the current crop look like dwarfs. Let's look at one example of the leadership we once had, Lester Bowles Pearson. Check out Mike Pearson's biography (just read it, it's not long)  and then use it to take the measure of Scheer and Trudeau. BTW, there's no shame in weeping.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Kurt Volker Gets Out of Dodge

That was quick. Trump's envoy to Ukraine, Kurt Volker, has quit.
His departure came just days after Mr. Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine’s president to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and other Democrats came to light and triggered a full-blown House impeachment inquiry. House leaders announced on Friday that they would interview Mr. Volker in a deposition next week.

Joe Wilson, Dead at 69

His wife, Valerie Plame, recently announced her bid for a seat in the Senate. Sadly, Joe Wilson won't be around to see how that turns out.

Joseph C. Wilson, the long-serving American diplomat whose clash with the administration of President George W. Bush in 2003 led to the unmasking of his wife at the time, Valerie Plame, as a C.I.A. agent, resulting in accusations that the revelation was political payback, died on Friday at his home in Santa Fe, N.M. He was 69. 
Ms. Plame said the cause was organ failure. 2002, by then a private citizen, he was asked by the C.I.A. to travel to that country to try to verify reports that Niger had sold a nuclear material, uranium yellowcake, to Iraq in the 1990s. At the time, the Bush administration was building to a crisis point with Iraq and its leader, Saddam Hussein, and among the issues was whether Iraq had or was developing nuclear weapons. 
Ambassador Wilson concluded from his trip that the reports of a Niger-Iraq deal were false. After President Bush, in his State of the Union Message in January 2003, said that “the British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa,” and then ordered an invasion of Iraq seven weeks later, Mr. Wilson felt the record needed to be corrected. 
On July 6, 2003, he wrote an Op-Ed article in The New York Times titled, “What I Didn’t Find in Africa.”
It was just a couple of weeks ago that Valerie Plame released her first campaign ad.

Jean C. to Warren K. - "Get Over It"

Our friend, Warren, never seems to pass up an opportunity to extol Jean Chretien as one of Canada's greatest prime ministers (he wasn't) or to remind us that way back in that bygone era he worked in Chretien's war room. He tells us that they're fast friends, nearly joined at the hip.

All of that came to mind as I read the former prime minister's remarks to the press while he travels through BC campaigning for the current Liberal prime minister, the target of Warren's ceaseless attacks.

On the 'blackface scandal', Chretien dismissed questions. "I think that it is over. He explained himself and we don’t have to comment forever." Doesn't sound as though Jean sees it as a hanging offence.

How 'bout what Warren calls "LavScam"? Chretien's response - “It was handled in the House of Commons for weeks so we’re in September now so don’t come with this problem.”

How can two guys, so tightly bonded, be so incredibly disparate?

These guys aren't on the same page at all. I'm not even sure they're from the same planet.

Warren, listen. That's your Master's voice.

The New York Times' Full Court Press

I count about 14 impeachment-related stories/op-eds in today's New York Times. Not much doubt that the Gray Lady wants el Bloato gone, PDQ.

Today's NYT editorial explains why the impeachment inquiry is the only option.

There's a story about how Trump aides, gathered in the 'listening room,' heard Trump's call with the Ukrainian president and went immediately into damage control mode to try to keep the conversation from ever getting out even as others got on the phone to the whistle blower.

A report of Nancy Pelosi accusing Attorney General, Bill Barr, of "going rogue."
Meanhile columnist Michelle Goldberg asks "Just how corrupt is Bill Barr?" Answer: plenty.

Conservative columnist, David Brooks, write that Trump is guilty as hell but impeachment is still a mistake.

Not so, says Paul Krugman who writes that impeaching Trump would be good for the economy.

Harvard law professor and author of a book on impeachment, Cass Sunstein, offers a guide to how to assess if Trump deserves to be impeached. (Spoiler alert - yes)

If you were an alien picking up today's NYT you could easily think that impeachment was akin to a world war. Who knows, maybe it will be.

The Changing Tack of Climate Change Denial

Everybody has to adapt to the times, I suppose. Those who study climate change denialism report that the movement to thwart efforts to not destroy Earth's biosphere has shifted.

John Cook at the Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University recently completed a study tracking climate misinformation in internet articles. He discovered an increase in rhetoric denying that warming is happening — but he also saw evidence of an uptick in misinformation about climate change solutions over the last few years. 
Other climate communication researchers say they've noticed a similar trend.

"In some ways, the face of climate denial in political rhetoric has shifted," said Matto Mildenberger, a Canadian climate policy researcher currently working at the University of California, Santa Barbara. 
"It tends to be much more either, 'We can't do anything about it' or 'It's not important enough to do right away.'" 
The researchers have also found evidence that climate misinformation is affecting public opinion about the nature of climate change and the efficacy of solutions.
Deny, distract, deflect - does that sound like anyone we know? What about that guy down at 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue?
Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, said some of these skeptics use "Chicken Little catastrophic arguments," such as "maybe we ought to do something but we don't want to destroy the economy and cause millions of jobs and send the entire world into a great depression."

Leiserowitz calls these people climate policy "delayers." 
"They've always been sophisticated, arguing there's large-scale uncertainty, that we don't need to act drastically, and that we need to look at this very carefully — and if there's a need to act, we can do it through innovation and non-regulatory things," said Brulle. 
"This is 21st-century mass marketing and public relations technology being applied to this issue." 
In a recent paper, Cook organized climate misinformation into five categories: "it's not real, it's not us, it's not bad, the experts are unreliable and climate solutions won't work."
Even Liberals have to admit that the current administration loves that "we mustn't harm the (petro) economy" excuse. It's only a matter of time, even for the major petro-economies. This 2018 report from The Guardian contends that even the oil giants will succumb to their handiwork before long.

We Don't Like to Think of What We're Doing, What It Will Mean In Just a Few Decades.

On this, Canada's day to lead the global climate strike protests, a look at what's at stake if we remain a petro-state. If you support either of the main parties you likely imagine "they'll think of something." That's top-drawer, first-grade "magical thinking." It's nonsense. Why? Because even if we do "think of something" it's not going to be nearly enough, not even if we do defy current trends and really cut greenhouse gas emissions. A paper by Camilo Mora's University of Hawaii climate lab, published in the journal Nature Climate Change should knock those sugar plum dreams right out of your head.

Imagine a world in which half of the planet was incompatible with human life. Now imagine a world in which three-quarters of the planet would be lethal to human life. The first is the world in 2100 if we implement drastic reductions of greenhouse gas emissions. The second is what we're left with if we don't.

Incompatible with human life refers to 'wet bulb 35.' That's where temperatures exceed 35 degrees Celsius and humidity approaches 100 per cent. Where excessive heat and humidity combine the body overheats. Sweat no longer evaporates and you basically cook yourself alive until you're not. It's a matter of hours if you're young and healthy and resting in the shade.
At that point, even the fittest young adult is unlikely to survive more than a few hours before fatally overheating. But lower wet-bulb temperatures can still claim the lives of the elderly or infirm. Deadly heat waves in India and Pakistan that killed 5,000 people in 2015 only produced wet-bulb temperatures in the range of 29-31 °C.
Mora's team of researchers crunched the data from more than 900 papers and the end result was pretty grim. If we slash greenhouse gas emissions, half of the world will be incompatible with human life by 2100. That goes for plenty of other species too, both terrestrial and marine, plant and animal. That's first prize, the grand prize. If we fail we get hyper-dystopia - three quarters of the Earth will be lethal to human life.

I've linked to the paper. It's only a 7-page summary, complete with all the charts and data you'll need.

I Heard It Through the Grapevine

Not a grapevine, exactly. My Amazon Echo Dot to be honest. I said the magic words "Alexa, play the latest episode of NPR News Now" and out it came.

A PBS/NPR poll found American attitudes on impeachment are shifting. Americans are typically averse to the notion of impeaching a president. They strongly opposed the Republicans' attempt to impeach Bill Clinton. Not that long ago polls showed that some 60 per cent had no appetite for impeaching Donald Trump.

The PBS/NPR poll shows a big shift. It's now 49 to 46 per cent in favour of giving Trump the boot. The hook is that the poll was conducted before details of the Ukraine scandal came out. It's pretty hard to imagine this scandal doing  Trump any good in the hearts and minds of the American public.

House majority leader Nancy Pelosi accuses the Justice department of attempting to cover-up a cover-up. She says that, under Barr, the Justice department has "gone rogue."

Meanwhile, the Globe's Lawrence Martin figures Trump may have finally gone too far.

But What About JWR?

Sure it's just gossip, but...

I know a bit about Vancouver-Granville. I used to live there. I still have several friends in that decidedly toney riding, almost all of them longtime Liberals.

What they're telling me is that JWR appears to be on a roll. Her lawn signs, they say, are everywhere. Her Liberal opponent, not so much.

It never was a problem for the Liberals to drum up an A-List candidate to run in Vancouver-Granville at least back when it was called Vancouver-Quadra. John Turner took it in 1984. Then lawyer and academic, Ted McWhinney held it for seven years followed by UBC vice-pres., Steven Owen, before Joyce Murray won it. That's a pretty good string. Then Vancouver was redistricted.

This time the Libs are represented by Taleeb Noormohamed, a fellow with an unfortunate batting record in politics. He was acclaimed the Liberal candidate which suggests the A-List crowd decided to sit this one out. From Global News:
Noormohamed is no political rookie. He dropped out of the race to be Vision Vancouver’s candidate in the 2018 municipal election and in 2011, he ran for the federal Liberals in North Vancouver, losing to Conservative Andrew Saxton.

When asked directly about Wilson-Raybould and what he would tell voters about why she is not running for the party, Noormohamed pivoted to attack Conservative leader Andrew Scheer.

Although Noormohamed has the Liberal team around him, many of the people who helped get Wilson-Raybould elected are working for her again. This experience in the community could serve as an advantage.
The Liberal mojo that swept JWR into Parliament in 2015 may not work this time. My once-reliable Liberal friends aren't particularly happy with this prime minister and his damned pipeline. They're not too happy with his peccadilloes either. As for Noormohamed, if he can't hold this once-safe Liberal riding he may want to consider hanging up his political spurs. He held a thin lead over JWR in August but recent events haven't helped the Justin Trudeau brand. The good news is that the Tory candidate is a distant third.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

The Monsters' Ball

While Greta Thunberg and others rallied at the UN this week to demand that nations finally get serious about climate change, another group calling itself the Southern State Energy Board was gathering to defend fossil fuels, including coal, while Trump was still in the White House busy undoing every environmental regulation he possibly can.

The energy board is comprised of governors and lawmakers from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia and Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The meeting's agenda largely reflected the sentiments of its host, Bevin, a businessman-turned-politician who is up for reelection as Kentucky's governor in November. He has a confrontational style like President Donald Trump, who has campaigned for him.

"What we grew up with as weather is now climate change, and a cause for alarm," the Kentucky governor said Tuesday.

...Only one other southern governor attended, Oklahoma's Kevin Stitt, another businessman-turned-politician. 
"Weather changes, yes," Stitt said. "It doesn't mean it's an existential threat. What does that even mean?" 
Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon came as a guest. His state tops the nation in coal production, and he called for policies to "reinvigorate old coal plants to be part of the climate solution," without elaborating. 
Kentucky lawmaker Jim Gooch, a Republican, talked about cracking down on pipeline protesters. He defended a bill he filed that would make acts of civil disobedience against pipeline operations in Kentucky a felony. It would be like a wave of similar laws passed by other states that critics say block free speech. 
"So much of the people who are protesting are so emotional," Gooch said. "It can get violent. We can't have that."

Trump's Own Ratted Him Out

Business Insider reports that the whistleblower who turned Trump in over the Ukraine shakedown is a CIA officer who once worked in Trump's White House.

But wait, there's more. The whistleblower's complaint is based on information funneled to him by current White House insiders.

Donald Trump is weathering the biggest firestorm of his presidency thanks largely to his own staff. 
At the center of the controversy is a whistleblower complaint that a US intelligence official filed against Trump in August. The complaint, which was released to the public on Thursday, focuses primarily on Trump's July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in which Trump repeatedly pressured Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden ahead of the 2020 election and to help discredit the Russia investigation.
Notably, the whistleblower said they were not a direct witness to the conduct described in the complaint or to Trump's conversation with Zelensky but learned of it from "multiple White House officials with direct knowledge of the call." 
The whistleblower said they heard "various facts related to" it from more than half a dozen US officials. "Multiple officials recounted fact patterns that were consistent with one another," the complaint said. 
The complaint said White House officials who informed the whistleblower of Trump's call were "deeply disturbed" by what they had heard. They also told the whistleblower that White House lawyers were already discussing how to handle the call because they believed they'd witnessed Trump "abuse his office for personal gain."
Trump, who values loyalty above all else (yet never returns it) expects it in the form of "omerta" the Mafia's code of silence. The idea that he's been ratted out from the inside should be enough to give Mar-a-Lardo a giant brown hemorrhage.

Somehow I just got this mental image of flensing knives.

Is "Degrowth" Our Future?

How do we shake our political leadership out of the delusion of perpetual, exponential growth? Three per cent doesn't sound like much. That's what most Western leaders strive for, a seemingly modest annual growth of three per cent. If it's modest it must be okay, right? No, it's dangerous. It's crazy. It has led us to where we are today with one foot still on the cliff edge, the other hanging perilously over the abyss.

Now, for the purpose of our discussion, let's pretend our planet, Earth, is finite. It is, as the kids say, what it is. No more. Let's imagine the economy in Year 1 is one dollar but it's growing by a modest 3% per year.  At the end of Year 100, the first century, the economy has grown to $19.22 per annum. The economy is nearly 20 times bigger than it was when the century began. After two centuries it has grown to 369 times bigger than it was at Year 1. Three centuries and it is now 7,098 bigger than the entire economy of Year 1. Even Adam Smith in his 1776 classic, "The Wealth of Nations," knew that growth couldn't last.

So, you see, you've got to be just a bit mental to believe in what our politicians clamour for - perpetual, exponential growth.

We can't pretend any more. Our planet Earth is finite. There is only so much to support so many of us. There are limits. Adam Smith was right.

Now most people see a wall ahead and they wisely stop. Not us. We smash headlong into it and we've been doing that for a while. That is not a good thing. It's not good for us and it's not doing the walls any favours either.

But surely we can find ways to keep this going. How about that Green New Deal, green growth?  From
Green growth also has its limits. 
“Sure, we can produce cars, iPhones and skyscrapers more efficiently, but we can’t produce them from thin air,” Jason Hickel wrote in the American news publication Foreign Policy
According to the Guardian’s George Monbiot, trust in revolutionary technologies is misleading. 
“In an attempt to avoid climate collapse, what counts is not what we do, but what we stop doing. It doesn’t matter how many solar panels we build if we don’t turn off coal and gas burners at the same time,” Monbiot said. 
This is already true because greater efficiency also leads to more consumption, wrote Jaume Freire-Gonzáles in a research paper on rebound effects in the EU. His research concluded that European energy policy needs to be rethought and must aim at reducing energy consumption.
Even clean, renewable energy can't solve our problems. It's absolutely necessary but we consume way too much stuff. We have to go on a diet, what James Lovelock more than a decade ago called "sustainable retreat."  We're consuming the planet's resources at nearly 1.8 times its carrying capacity, slaking our wants by gobbling our way through its reserves. It's like coming home with 1,000 dollars a month and spending 1,800. That doesn't lead to a bright future.
Developments in the sustainable financial sector could also have very positive results, according to Marula Tsagkari. Tsagkari is writing her PhD at the University of Barcelona on renewable energies and degrowth – a concept that calls for a departure from the growth paradigm. 
For example, sustainable investments make sense if the supported projects promote local communities and suggest alternatives. 
“Degrowth is not only about equating the quality of life to consumption but mainly about coexistence,” Tsagkari told EURACTIV, adding that “society is starting to understand the situation slowly”.
So, what's holding us back? Why aren't we getting on with it? 
“We are not yet ready to reorganise ourselves. For this, we probably need a drastic event, a collapse – and that will certainly come if we continue on our current path of growth,” Tsagkari added. 
Currently, the gap between international climate targets and actual efforts is growing, according to the results of the UN’s United in Science study, published ahead of the UN climate summit currently taking place in New York. 
CO2 emissions from the use of fossil fuels continue to grow – by as much as 2% in 2018, a record. And according to current forecasts, global emissions will continue to rise until 2030 – the target of reversing this trend as early as 2020 is likely to be missed by a wide margin.
One idea being considered is Green Finance. To some that involves restricting access to capital to support degrowth. "Steady State" economists have tossed this idea around for years - an economy in which access to resources is used to reform economic activity. Some call it Green Keynesianism. A good place to start is Herman Daly's 1996 classic "Beyond Growth."

If we're smart we'll ditch this nonsense about growth as the answer to all our problems and the politicians who pitch this snake oil. If we don't, Tsagkari is probably right. We'll just keep going until we trigger a drastic event, a collapse.

I Had My Doubts - Yesterday. Today, It Might Be On.

Those Whom the Gods Would Destroy
They First Make Mad

Imagine sweeping up Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani and Bill Barr in one web of corruption.

Upwards of a dozen spooks were listening in as Donald Trump asked Ukranian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, for a favour - dig up dirt on Joe Biden's kid. A dozen.
A key claim showed how Trump’s attempts to apply pressure on Zelenskiy extended beyond just withholding nearly $400m in military and other aid to Ukraine. According to the report, Trump also directed vice-president Mike Pence to cancel travel to Ukraine to attend Zelenskiy’s inauguration in May and “made clear” to other officials he did not want to meet with Zelenskiy until he saw how the Ukrainian president chose to act in office. Zelenskiy has been eager to meet one-on-one with Trump and this week invited Trump to Ukraine for what would be the first visit by a US president to the country since 2008. 
US diplomats charged with aiding Ukraine’s reform process and facilitating negotiations over the conflict with Russia were also sucked in. The whistleblower reported that Kurt Volker, a special envoy to Ukraine, as well as U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, met with Zelenskiy and other Ukrainian political figures the day after the call to help them “navigate” the demands made by Trump. Volker has been a key intermediary between Ukraine and Russia in managing the conflict in eastern Ukraine and his work has largely risen above partisan politics to focus on peace and security issues. 
The report also sheds more light on Giuliani’s lobbying efforts in Ukraine, including his attempts to reach not only Zelenskiy and Ukrainian diplomats, but also officials like Chief of Staff Andiry Bohdan and Acting Chairman of the Security Service of Ukraine Ivan Bakanov, both of whom are longtime confidants of the Ukrainian president. In the whistleblower complaint, Giuiliani’s meeting with Zelenskiy aide Andriy Yermak was described as a “direct follow-up” to Trump’s call with Zelenskiy.
Testifying before the House Intelligence Committee, acting director of National Intelligence, Joseph McGuire, described the efforts of the White House to block the whistleblower's complaint from reaching Congress as "unprecedented." McGuire said the whistleblower will be available to testify before the House committee. The acting DNI also defended the whistleblower who Trump has dismissed as a 'political hack.'

I'm guessing that Donald Trump must be wondering why he ever fired John Bolton. I doubt the House Dems would be holding today's hearing if Bolton was still in that job.

Hubris, believed the ancient Greeks, often precedes Nemesis.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

This Was On the Side of the UN Building

Friedman Thinks He Knows How the Dems Can Topple Trump in 2020

Tom Friedman thinks the way to drive Trump out of the Oval Office is to go all environmental on his ass next year.

I know, it's Tom Friedman but he has an interesting idea. Just as Kennedy inspired Americans with the space race the Dems should proclaim an Earth Race and use it to club Trump like a baby Harp seal.

Yes, I know, mitigating climate change and saving the environment never poll well. But times change, and it depends how you frame the issue. Mother Nature is forcing herself onto the ballot, and Trump’s efforts to roll back more than 80 rules and standards protecting clean air, water, climate, parks and wilderness make him uniquely vulnerable. He can’t pivot away from what he’s doing. He owns it, and it’s villainous. This time is different.

...I’m all for strengthening Obamacare and even adding a public health insurance option. But if I were running for president against Trump, I’d be leading with the Earth Race as an economic opportunity, a national security necessity, a health emergency, an environmental urgency and a moral obligation. No other issue can combine those five.
I’d pound Trump every day with this message: “Trump says he cares about you. Well, that’s funny, because he clearly doesn’t care about the water you drink. He just revoked a rule that prohibited coal mining debris from being dumped into local streams — among other actions to weaken the Clean Water Act — so that pro-Trump coal companies can make more money while they make you sick. What kind of president does that?

“Trump says he cares about you. Well, that’s funny, because he clearly doesn’t care about the air you breathe. He’s weakening clean air rules so that power and coal companies can emit more pollutants, methane and carbon dioxide into the air — so they can make more money and give your kids more childhood asthma today and disruptive climate change tomorrow. What kind of father does that?

“Trump says he cares about making America great again. Well, that’s funny, because he clearly doesn’t care about American automakers and their supply chains. He’s trying to force California and other states to weaken their gas mileage and pollution standards so our companies — which don’t even want this change — can make gas guzzlers and no longer produce cars that get mileage as good as those in Japan or emit as little pollution as China’s expanding electric car fleets. Who the hell does that?
“The last time our auto industry indulged in a race to the bottom on mileage and pollution standards, it went bankrupt. That’s why automakers are resisting Trump’s effort to dumb them down. There are 42 Chinese companies actively manufacturing and selling electric cars in China right now — and they can’t wait to ship them here once Trump forces our manufacturers to make more polluting gas guzzlers.
“Trump says he’s pro-business. Well, that’s funny, because he’s trying to expand the use of polluting coal when both wind and solar are now cheaper in many locations, including red states. Even Texas is enjoying the cost, environmental and job-creating advantages of wind over coal, producing almost twice as much wind energy as California.
...How do you run against all these things Trump’s doing? With a simple message repeated over and over: “Trump is poisoning Americans and weakening America. Join the Earth Race. Make America healthier, wealthier, smarter and more secure.”

Food for thought.

Another Dire Climate Change Warning

Meh, who cares? If you do, you can read it here.

The New York Times has the story here.

Liberals Still Catering to 'Morneau-Class' Canadians

Unless you're very, very rich this isn't about you. It's about the HPPs, 'higher purpose persons,' Canadians at the top 1% of the income scale. It's about those who gross just shy of half a mill per year. Morneau-class Canadians.
The incomes of Canada’s top one per cent grew at a faster pace than everyone else in 2017 – and, overall, they saw their taxes edge down, says a new study. 
Statistics Canada has found that in 2017 the average total income of all tax-filers rose 2.5 per cent to $48,400 compared to the previous year. 
The average income growth of the bottom half of tax filers increased 2.4 per cent to $17,200. 
But those in the top one per cent saw average income growth that year of 8.5 per cent to $477,700. 
And biggest surge in income growth was seen by those who made even more money. 
Tax filers in Canada’s top 0.1 per cent, who made at least $740,300 in 2017, took home 17.2 per cent more income than in 2016. People in the top 0.01 per cent, who made $2.7 million or more, saw their incomes rise 27.2 per cent – making for the fourth-biggest annual increase in the last 35 years.
But what about the other end? Oh.
The overall effective tax rate, however, for those in the top one per cent declined to 30.9 per cent in 2017, down from 31.3 per cent the year before, the study says.
I know, I know. A drop from 31.3 to 30.9 sounds like peanuts but when you're in the top one per cent, every extra penny helps.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Scheer Slams Safe Injection Sites. Offers No Alternative.

Andrew Scheer seems to think that safe injection sites are Trudeau's dirty work. Anything but. You could call them Vancouver's dirty work or British Columbia's dirty work but not Ottawa's or even the Liberals'. In any case, if elected, a Scheer government would crack down on them.

It began with one site, Insite, that operated under a 3-year 'pilot project' exemption from the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act granted by the Chretien government.  Then along came Harper. Harper's weirdo health minister, Tony Clement, tried to shut it down by refusing an extension in 2008. Insite fought for its existence before the Supreme Court of British Columbia - and won.  The safe injection site, North America's first, survived.

Now Andrew Scheer is hinting that, given the chance, he might take another run at shutting down some of the 41 sites that now cover the country.
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said the Liberal government's approach to the opioid crisis — allowing for more safe injection sites nationwide — is "terrible," but he won't yet say how a Tory government led by him would tackle a drug problem that has claimed thousands of lives. 
The number of such sites — where people can inject intravenous drugs like heroin with clean needles — has soared under the Liberals, from just one in Vancouver to 41 across the country, according to Health Canada statistics. Applications are still pending for four more sites in Ontario, two in Alberta and one each in Saskatchewan and Manitoba' 
Proponents champion these places as a way to help people battling addiction issues safely consume drugs while a nurse is on hand to prevent overdoses. 
Experts say the sites are proven medical success stories because they keep drug users healthier and reduce costly hospital visits.
...the Supreme Court of Canada in 2011 blocked an attempt by the former Conservative government to shut down Insite.

The court found an attempt to close the site infringed on the charter rights of addicts under Section 7: the right to life, liberty and security of the person.
Scheer admits he wants to cut the number of existing sites and presumably make it harder for them to operate by reinstating Harper-era restrictions.
Former federal health minister Jane Philpott changed the former Conservative government's stringent regulations on safe injection sites, also known as safe consumption sites, after the Liberal government was elected in 2015. 
She did away with some of the more onerous restrictions that made it difficult for municipalities to apply for the necessary permissions to open such a site.

Daring to Speak the "E" Word

The American media won't use it but it's inescapable. Donald Trump isn't bad, he's evil.

America has an evil president, a man whose every instinct summons evil.

A thoughtful essay from by Chauncey DeVega explores the evil at the heart of this animal. It begins with Australian journalist Lenore Taylor's account of how the American media massage Trump's ramblings to present him as coherent, borderline normal.
"In most circumstances, presenting information in as intelligible a form as possible is what we are trained for. But the shock I felt hearing half an hour of unfiltered meanderings from the president of the United States made me wonder whether the editing does our readers a disservice … 
"I’d understood the dilemma of normalising Trump’s ideas and policies — the racism, misogyny and demonisation of the free press. But watching just one press conference from Otay Mesa helped me understand how the process of reporting about this president can mask and normalise his full and alarming incoherence."
DeVega concurs that the American media have been complicit in 'normalizing' Trump.
The American media has “massaged” the truth in Trump's favor by waiting almost three years into his presidency to finally describe him as a racist and a white supremacist.

...There is another word that can and should be used to describe Donald Trump. He is evil. By implication, Trump's policies and those who enact and support them are stained by his evil.

The cruelty, the violence, the greed, the selfishness, the racism, the sexism, the nativism, the bigotry, the destruction, the lying, the assault on reality, the contempt for human dignity and civil rights, rejection of the rule of law and democracy, the summoning and mainstreaming of chaos and nihilism and a panoply of other social pathologies are more than the absence of good. They are evil.
At this point DeVega turns to Susan Neiman, a professor of philosophy at Yale and Tel Aviv universities, now the director of the Einstein Forum in Potsdam, Germany.  Her most recent book is "Learning From the Germans, Race and the Memory of Evil."

Neiman also sees evil in this president and eerie parallels between how Trump wields power and the early practices of the National Socialists.
"Donald Trump meets every single criterion for using the word evil — and he keeps meeting it every day. Evil is a word that should be used with caution. ...Unfortunately, the description of “evil” has been so overused that many people just believe that it is a type of name-calling. I disagree. When we relinquish the use of language like “evil” we are leaving the strongest linguistic weapons that we have in the hands of the people who are least equipped to use them."
Neiman sees a parallel between Trump's refugee camps and the concentration camps of the initial Nazi era. Not extermination camps, concentration camps. There is a difference.
"What we need to examine and publicly discuss in much more detail and much more often in America, is the beginning. How the evils of the Holocaust came to be, the process. We need to look at the 1930s, that time before Hitler was elected. 
"Obviously, these are not one-to-one comparisons between America now with Donald Trump and Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. No two historical events are ever identical. Unfortunately, there are many parallels between Trumpism and the rise of the Nazis and Hitler. The demonizing of minorities, the demonizing of the Other, the telling a lie loud enough and often enough and people will stop caring whether or not it's true. These are fascist tactics."
The moral obligation to fight back, to resist.
"At this moment in time in America and other parts of the world it is incredibly important for all of us to not to feel overwhelmed. We must not surrender. This American nightmare under Donald Trump is going to come to an end in November 2020. However, for Trumpism and this nightmare to end we must act. 
"As far as the person who finds their father’s or grandfather’s MAGA hat or other Trump regalia feeling ashamed, one thing we must consider is, has that person ever traveled outside the United States? Because in most places outside the United States, Donald Trump personifies the caricature of the ugly American.
"Donald Trump is that thing which everyone was afraid that America really was and is. Trump is Incredibly stupid, incredibly arrogant and just mind-numbingly wrong about everything. Donald Trump has created a sense of enormous shame for Americans who live or travel abroad. In contrast to Barack Obama and his family who are loved abroad and were and are a source of great pride for America, Trump is the opposite."
If you want to explore pre-Nazi Germany, Wiemar, and pre-war Nazi Germany there are two excellent books I'm sure you can find in your library - "They Thought They Were Free, The Germans, 1933-45," by Milton Mayer, 1955 I think - and "Defying Hitler," Sebastian Haffner's memoir of coming of age during Wiemar and eventually getting his wife, a Jew, and their child to safety in Britain.  Reading them brings out parallels between the rise and early years of National Socialism and not just Donald Trump but a substantial segment of the American people also. It is chilling to discover how evil spreads across a country and its people, blankets them and eventually suffocates them.

The Biggest Difference Between Boris Johnson, 2019, and Stephen Harper, 2008.

Boris Johnson tried to prorogue Parliament and he got ingloriously shot down - first by the high court of Scotland and then by the entire 11 judge panel of the British Supreme Court.

Flash back to 2008.  Stephen Harper, facing a similarly unruly Parliament, hopped a ride over to Rideau Hall and sweet talked Michelle Jean, always a doubtful starter, into proroguing our Parliament.

What's the difference? That would be the Ignatieff Liberals, forerunners of the current Trudeau Liberals.

The Liberals failed Canada. They didn't raise a finger to defend parliamentary democracy. Iggy used the extra time off to finish a biography of his mother's family, the Grants.

Stephen Harper stymied Parliament and got away with it. BoJo tried to stymie Britain's Parliament but the opposition stood up for Britain and soundly defeated Johnson in the courts.

2008, that's when my 40-year allegiance to the Liberals ended. What had been was no longer. Still isn't.

Greta Sends Fox News Into Meltdown.

The jackals at Fox News went spinning out of control at Greta Thunberg's address to the United Nations.
Fox News has apologized after a guest criticized the teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg as a “mentally ill Swedish child”.

Appearing on Fox News on Monday, the rightwing commentator Michael Knowles launched an extraordinary attack on Thunberg, 16, who is campaigning in the US to urge action on the climate crisis. 
Knowles’s swipe at Thunberg followed one from Laura Ingraham, one of Fox News’s most prominent presenters, who compared Thunberg and other young climate activists to the characters in Stephen King’s horror story Children of the Corn.

Knowles may have lost Fox (we'll see) but Laura Ingraham could have lost her brother.
Ingraham used her show The Ingraham Angle to suggest, incorrectly, that Thunberg wanted people to “cede control of our economy, our way of life, our way of transport, how many children you want to have, and if we don’t go along, we will be punished by our own children. 
“Does anyone else find that chilling?” Ingraham said. 
Curtis Ingraham, Laura Ingraham’s brother, swiftly criticized his sister, suggesting that her rightwing pronouncements were motivated by financial gain. 
He said: “Clearly my sister’s paycheck is more important than the world her three adopted kids will inherit. 
“I can no longer apologize for a sibling who I no longer recognize. I can and will continue to call out the monstrous behavior and the bully commentary born out of anger.”

Zero by '50?

The Libs are about to make a major announcement on climate change. Canada will be carbon neutral by 2050 and they'll see to it.

Dare to dream but there's always the inescapable fact that this is a promise, a mighty promise, from the Trudeau Liberals and they have an extensive record of how they keep their promises. Hint: poorly.

Maybe a show of good faith to inspire a glimmer of confidence. Cancel the federal subsidies to the fossil energy giants.  The government admits around 2.5 billion in annual handouts. The International Monetary Fund says it's upwards of 46 billion per annum. But how can that be? Easy.

The difference between 2.5 billion and 46 billion depends on what costs you report and what you bury. The ones you omit are called 'externalities.' That's a term for costs and damage you foist on the public. Out of sight/out of mind. It includes not just direct subsidies, the tip of the iceberg, but the whole damned iceberg - taxes not collected, royalty deferrals, failure to price natural capital consumed by the fossil producers and a big one, unallocated reclamation costs.

A leaked Alberta government report suggests cleaning up the province's orphan wells and the more troublesome Tar Sands tailing ponds could cost upwards of $260 billion. That there is serious money. And what are these governments, federal and provincial, doing to protect the public? Sweet Fanny Adams, that's what.

The gross negligence shown in their dealings with the Alberta oil patch is mirrored in the government's plans for an armada of lumbering supertankers plying the BC coast with hazmat bitumen.

There are many petro-states - Russia, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, all pretty scuzzy regimes. One thing they have collectively established is, when they make grand environmental promises, they're lying. That's not the business they're in.

Does that mean Justin Trudeau is lying - again? Who knows? He may even believe it himself, for now. He might have believed in his promises when he spoke of electoral reform, First Nations reconciliation, and so many other failed commitments. It's not what he believes that counts. It's what he delivers and that's where he keeps coming up short. He even flouted the Supreme Court of Canada's per curiam decision on our Charter right to assisted dying, whittling it down and thereby condemning Canadians enduring 'intolerable suffering' from incurable conditions the right to die with dignity on their own terms.  Even to the most morally vacuous Liberal that ought to be inexcusable.

Why do I think of Canada as Charlie Brown and Justin as Lucy holding that football?

Monday, September 23, 2019

Canadians Losing Trust in Science

Nearly half of us consider scientists "elitists" and now one in three is skeptical about science, up from one in four just a year ago.
A survey suggests that the trust Canadians place in science may be eroding. 
The survey, by the polling firm Ipsos for the multinational 3M company, also found that nearly half of those surveyed thought scientists are elitist and that a significant number of respondents discounted findings that don't accord with their personal beliefs. 
...Of those who said they were skeptical of science, about one-third felt scientists were influenced by government agendas. Another third thought science has been swayed by corporate agendas. 
And 30 per cent said they only believed science that aligned with their personal beliefs. 
Other findings have echoed this survey.
..."It's depressing but not too surprising," said John Smol, an ecologist at Queen's University who has written about the issue. "There's a real disconnect between what scientists do and what is the perception in the public." 
Smol fears Canadians don't understand how science works — that data, not belief, is what counts and that science advances when old beliefs are upended, not shored up by unspoken consensus. 
"There are certainly misconceptions," he said. "You can't blame them. It's a jungle of misinformation out there."
This survey will come as music to the ears of the Conservative denialist community - Jason Kenney, Scott Moe, Andy Scheer and the fringe represented by Bernier.

In a nation with an electoral system so debased that winning less than two out of five votes on election day can translate into a powerful majority win, undermining fact and knowledge in the public's mind is a triumph. It reveals that their misinformation campaign (ever watched a Trans Mountain Pipeline ad?) works. Belief is far more malleable than knowledge-based science. It appeals to the lizard brain.

The Unflinching Darkness at the UN Climate Summit

The champions of coal will be among the first to speak at today's opening of the UN climate summit.
Among the first countries to appear at the summit meeting on Monday will be India. The vast majority of its electricity comes from burning coal, and it continues to develop new coal mines and new coal-fired power plants, often with state subsidies, even as it ramps up renewable energy.

Later in the morning comes Indonesia, the world’s biggest exporter of thermal coal. 
China, the world’s coal juggernaut, will follow later in the day. So, too, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Kenya — three countries where Chinese state-owned companies are building, or want to build, coal-fired power plants.
Coal is beginning to lose its luster in many countries, but not in the Asia-Pacific region. India, for instance, is eager to unearth the coal it has under the ground, and its government is seeking to privatize the coal-mining sector, including by inviting foreign bids for the first time, Reuters reported
Worldwide, the global coal plant pipeline has shrunk by half over the last three years, but there are lots of new coal-fired power plants still in the planning stages — and if they go forward, emissions would rise sharply, a report issued last week by the German advocacy group Urgewald found. 
...Notably absent from the Monday summit will be other champions of coal: Australia, which recently authorized the opening of a vast new coal basin, and Japan, which continues to fund coal projects around the world.