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Showing posts from August, 2021

Just a Matter of Time

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  How Enbridge and its Tory handmaidens want Canadians to see the Northern Gateway/Kitimat supertanker route: That's it. Nothing to worry about. Wide open waters all the way to China. The Douglas Channel? No problem. Here's what that passage looks like on a marine chart: And here's what it looks like from the air: Now, imagine what that looks like when waves more than 30 metres tall driven by truly diabolical winds of 80 to 160 knots per hour sweep down the Hecate Strait, winds powerful enough to expose the seabed. By the way, the Hecate for whom the strait is named was the Greek goddess of magic, witchcraft, the night, ghosts and necromancy. As I once learned to my terror while fishing these waters, the sea can be calm as pee on a platter and, within 15 minutes, turn into an absolute nightmare. Those waters swallow small boats whole. One pipeline or two, it's treachery either way.

Because Drylanders Have Short Memories

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  The Conservative leader yesterday confirmed that, if he becomes prime minister, a priority will be to resuscitate the Northern Gateway pipeline bringing bitumen to the port of Kitimat on BC's north coast.  It's been a while since we had to deal with this nonsense so I thought I'd tweak your memories. In this first instalment I'll bring you the testimony of Sid Joma to the environmental review panel back in 2013. My name is Sid Jorna. I’m a retired commander of the Royal Canadian Navy with a bridge watchkeeping certificate, so I’ve had experience at sea. With a Master’s degree in engineering, I’ve had a second career as a Director of Engineering, General Dynamics Canada, overseeing the development of naval sonar equipment. Knowing something of the marine environment, I will therefore confine my comments to the issue of bulk oil carrier vessels in the Dixon Entrance, the Hecate Strait and the Douglas Channels . In my opinion, bulk oil carriers in these waters pose an

Home Truths and Hard Choices

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  What's it going to be? You decide. A terrific op-ed in The Globe & Mail (of all places) titled, " Tesla Owners Have No Reason to Gloat About Saving the Environment . " Cambridge political economist, John Rapely, gives Canadians something to mull over before we head for the polls. In my college days, I had a friend who could polish off a dozen doughnuts at a go. Afterward, he’d order a Diet Coke, whereupon the counter attendant invariably told him he was wasting his time; the caloric damage had already been done. Earlier this month, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a bombshell report that declared “warming of the climate system is unequivocal, human influence on the climate system is clear, and limiting climate change will require substantial and sustained reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.” The report comes at a time when governments are making bold pledges to create sustainable growth, investors are pushing firms to phase out fossil fuel

Erin O'Toole's Trojan Horse

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  If British Columbians were toying with the idea of supporting the Conservatives, Erin O'Toole has just given them all the reason they need to say 'no way.' Using the pretence of economic benefit for indigenous communities, O'Toole says his government would make reviving the Northern Gateway pipeline a priority. “Pipelines in the West like Trans Mountain and Northern Gateway are important. They are my priority. We need to re-establish the confidence of Western Canadians in our country. After six years of Mr. Trudeau, there is more division in our country, and we need to work together for an economic recovery,” he said. In May, the International Energy Association (IEA) said in order to reach net-zero emissions, investment in any new developments in the oil and gas sector must stop immediately . The new pipeline would pump oil-sands bitumen from Alberta to Kitimat, B.C. Asked how his support for Northern Gateway squares with the IEA’s assessment, Mr. O’Toole did not ad

The Taliban's Phyrric Victory

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  The Taliban are back in control of Afghanistan but they may soon regret their victories. Afghanistan is a mess .  The former government's coffers were heavily padded with foreign aid. 8 of every 11 dollars the previous government had to spend came from aid that is now at risk.  The Chinese realize the Talib's predicament. Beijing is already planning to drive a new highway directly to Kabul eventually extending it to create an overland route for the Belt and Road initiative. China is also looking to stitch up control of Afghanistan's mineral resources knowing that beggars can't be choosers. There has also been talk of a 35,000 strong Chinese "peacekeeping" force to protect the Taliban from rival Muslim forces that might also be a great way to provide its new ventures with security. The Taliban's problems, however, go far beyond where they'll find the sort of cash they need if the West walks. Climate change and the prospect of food insecurity could als

Britain's "Mid-Lifers" Rise to Meet Climate Breakdown

  A survey finds that Britain's Over-50s want tougher measures to fight the climate crisis even if it results in higher costs. A survey of more than 500 people aged 50 and over found that almost two-thirds want ministers to move faster on climate initiatives, regardless of whether it meant products and services would be more expensive over time, or more difficult to access. Stuart Lewis, the founder of Rest Less, which conducted the study, said: “Our research shows that midlifers feel a huge sense of responsibility for the health of the planet and their role in reducing climate change.” Rest Less , a website that supports and provides advice to older people, also found that only a minority of older people said they were unconcerned about the climate crisis, challenging assumptions about a generational divide on environmental issues . More than two in three people polled said they had bought fewer clothes to cut down on waste in recent years, while half reduced their vehicle use a

Barely Three Weeks to Election Day, What Does Trudeau Need to Do to Win?

Truth is there's not one of them I want to win. Not one of them has a compelling policy to fight our worsening climate breakdown and, yes, that goes for the Greens too. That said, I don't want the Conservatives to form the next government. Despite O'Toole's progressive facade, there remains too much Manning and too much Harper in the Tory ranks to trust the Conservatives. Blame Justin. Why not?  He couldn't resist the polls that showed him easily winning at least a minority and with almost even odds of bagging another majority.  Canada didn't need an election in the midst of 4th wave Covid. Trudeau already had one majority and did little with it.  He did, however, use his majority to renege on a couple of solemn campaign promises that, if he had implemented them, would have cemented his legacy and bolstered his party's fortunes. The Liberals, six years in power, still haven't released a campaign platform. That's not expected until just before the Sep

Winning Slowly is Losing - and We're Winning Very, Very Slowly

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Hot on the heels of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report on the rapidly worsening climate breakdown, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has released its State of the Climate Report, 2020 .   Spoiler alert: in many ways, Earth is in worse shape than it's been in human history.  That must come as a shock, eh? While humanity grappled with the deadliest pandemic in a century, many metrics of the planet’s health showed catastrophic decline in 2020. Average global temperatures rivaled the hottest . Mysterious sources of methane sent atmospheric concentrations of the gas spiking to unprecedented highs. Sea levels were the highest on record; fires ravaged the American West; and locusts swarmed across East Africa . “It’s a record that keeps playing over and over again,” said Jessica Blunden, a NOAA climate scientist who has co-led “State of the Climate” reports for 11 years. “Things are getting more and more intense every year because emiss

A Blast from the Not Too Distant Past

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  Tora Bora, 2001. I came across this photo of Northern Alliance fighters in 2001 watching American heavy bombers rain destruction on the hills of Tora Bora where Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda forces hunkered down in caves before slipping away to safety in Pakistan.

What a Way to Wake Up

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  Covid, Kabul and Ida. It's become a habit that every morning before I alight from bed I have my Alexa give me news summaries from CBC, NPR and BBC. Today those broadcasts were heavy with terrorism, pandemic and climate change. There was scarcely time for anything else. The Delta variant surging, more suicide attacks expected at Kabul airport and a hurricane to possibly rival Katrina just hours away from the Louisiana coast. It carried an apocalyptic foreboding that did nothing to encourage a person to put bare feet onto a cold floor. Then I came across this 1959 quote from Carl Jung: " We need more understanding of human nature because the only real danger that exists is man himself . He is the great danger and we are pitifully unaware of it. We know nothing of man ...far too little. His psyche should be studied  - because we are the origin of all coming evil ." I haven't unlocked the mystery of posting videos to "new" Blogger but check out this warning fr

What a Difference a Generation Can Make

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  Justin Trudeau skipped another campaign appearance today over security concerns , this time in Bolton, Ontario. Dozens of angry protesters, who outnumbered Liberal supporters, gathered near the Bolton rally and began chanting obscenities before Trudeau could make his address. Trudeau said the event was cancelled because they couldn't ensure people's safety at the event. He added that he has never seen this level of anger or intensity on a campaign trail, including his time as a kid when campaigning with his father, former prime minister Pierre Trudeau. "I think this is something that Canadians, all of us, need to reflect on, because it's not who we are," he said. This has to rekindle memories of another campaign event, 53 years earlier, when newly minted prime minister Pierre Trudeau was vowing to fight Quebec separatism.  Trudeau the Elder took a front row seat overlooking a St. Jean Baptiste parade in Montreal.  A riot ensued. Other officials fled as rioters t

New Zealand Gets a Blob

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  A "blob" in an area of unusual ocean heating, an oceanic heatwave.  We've come to associate it with the North Pacific where it was first detected in 2013.  Warmer conditions during “the Blob” left lesser-quality food available to young salmon entering the ocean. It also shifted predator distributions in ways that contributed to low returns of salmon. Other impacts linked to the earlier heatwave include: The largest harmful algal bloom recorded on the West Coast, which shut down crabbing and clamming for months. Thousands of young California sea lions stranding on beaches (and dying of starvation). Multiple declared fishery disasters. Now New Zealand has its own Blob and it's playing havoc with the climate across the Pacific in Chile. A vast patch of warming water off the coast of New Zealand – referred to as a “warming blob” – has contributed to a decade long drought affecting parts of South America, according to scientists. Researchers based in New Zealand and Ch

Afghanistan Reduced to Finger-Pointing

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  It's the political equivalent of musical chairs. When the music stops someone has to pay. Justin Trudeau was prime minister when the Taliban rolled up Afghanistan's central government so it's his fault that Afghanis who worked with/for Canada during the West's ill-fated adventure got left behind. Was it the prime minister's fault that he didn't realize the Afghan National Army, 20-years in the baking, would fold like a cheap suit, province by province, as the Taliban marched on Kabul?  Was the prime minister forewarned this collapse was a real possibility? Did he have reason to anticipate this fiasco? I don't know what Justin Trudeau knew or what he ought to have known. Do you? If you want to second guess, here's an idea. Canada was part of ISAF, an international (mainly NATO) force. Here, in alphabetic order, is the roster:  Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuani

Remembering Canada's Greenest Prime Minister. Hint: He's Not a Liberal.

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  We remember him as "Lyin' Brian" to the extent he's remembered at all but, for all his failings, Brian Mulroney was the greenest prime minister Canada ever had. I was reminded of the bright side of Mulroney thanks to an article in Yale360 about the 1987 Montreal Protocol to save the ozone layer. The startling news was that the protocol has not only worked but it has also spared the Earth an astonishing 2.5 degrees Celsius of global warming . On the 30th anniversary of the protocol Mulroney took a victory lap in the Globe & Mail. The Montreal Protocol was the result of prioritized and pro-active leadership by Canada, the United States, some Nordic countries and UN leadership of both the developed and developing world. From the perspective of our government, the environment was a priority from the day we took office. We knew we had to lead by example at home, and engage the international community on environmental issues that knew no borders. At home, we establis

Is There a Hail Mary in Your Future?

  Guardian columnist Moira Donegan poses an important question, "what if it's too late to save our planet without geoengineering?" What if? Donegan may be right. We may have allowed the man-made damage to our environment to reach a point where we do indeed need to resort to geoengineering. Sure, just as every country experiences the climate emergency differently according to their unique vulnerabilities, the most commonly discussed geoengineering options may work for some but cause nightmares for others. Still, if we go into our bag of climate change options and that's the last one left we may have no choice but to take it. Geoengineering isn't much of a long-term solution. It's a response to an otherwise unsurvivable emergency. There is no magic wand answer to this terrible predicament. A more helpful and long-ranging response is to accept that our species must live in harmony with the environment, our one and only biosphere. We live on a finite planet. Eart

How the Montreal Protocol Spared the World a Climate Catastrophe

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  In 1987 the nations of the world gathered in Montreal to reach a plan on salvaging the ozone layer.  Little was it known that the Montreal Protocol also averted 2.5 degrees Celsius of warming . The 1987 agreement limited the use of chlorofluorocarbons, chemicals commonly used in aerosol sprays, refrigerators, and air conditioners, which were shown to be tearing a hole in the ozone layer that shields the Earth from most of the Sun’s ultraviolet rays. By thinning the ozone layer, these chemicals would have allowed high levels of ultraviolet radiation to reach the planet’s surface, damaging plants and inhibiting their ability to soak up carbon dioxide, leading to further warming. These chemicals are also powerful heat-trapping gases, and would have fueled additional warming. “Thankfully, this is now a scenario that is science fiction,” Paul Young, a climate scientist at Lancaster University in the UK and lead author of the study, told CNN . “But as you can imagine, the consequences woul

Not While They're Holding Two Canadians Hostage.

  A Chinese state-owned shipyard has been given an order to build a 1,000 passenger ferry for an unspecified Crown agency. Has Trudeau lost his mind? Has he forgotten about Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig who have spent 989 days in rotten Chinese prisons on trumped up charges even our government calls "hostage diplomacy." The ferry is expected to sail a Nova Scotia to N & L route. It's outrageous that Trudeau would even consider this deal while these hostages remain behind Chinese bars. 

When It Comes to the Climate Crises, What Is the Role of Democracy?

  Is democracy a help or a hinderance in the fight to tame climate change? Kate Aronoff writes that authoritarians and technocrats don't have the answers we need. ...there’s a sort of folk wisdom emerging that liberal democracy might just be too slow to tackle a problem as urgent and massive as the climate crisis. It’s an enticing vision: that governments can forgo the messy, deliberative work of politics in favour of a benign dictatorship of green technocrats who will get emissions down by brute force. With a punishingly tiny budget of just 400 gigatonnes of CO2 left to make a decent shot of staying below 1.5C of warming, is it time to give something less democratic a try? It’s not just the right, however, that has considered a turn away from democracy for the planet’s sake. Back in 2010, the influential climate scientist James Lovelock suggested that it “may be necessary to put democracy on hold for a while” to curb emissions. More recently, centrists such as Michael Bloomberg

War in the Anthropocene - A Silver Lining?

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  What if governments become so overwhelmed with the demands of disaster relief that they couldn't contemplate military adventures, not even a Cold War? Author Michael Klare considers the West's current bete noire, China, and concludes that China won't be much of a threat contrary to the fearmongering coming out of America's defence establishment. “China has invested heavily in new technologies, with a stated intent to complete the modernization of its forces by 2035 and to field a ‘world-class military’ by 2049,” Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin testified in June. The United States, he assured the Senate Armed Services Committee, continues to possess “the best joint fighting force on Earth.” But only by spending countless additional billions of dollars annually, he added, can this country hope to “outpace” China’s projected advances in the decades to come. As it happens, however, there’s a significant flaw in such reasoning. In fact, consider this a guarantee: by 204

Could This Guy Become the Next Governor of California?

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  If this guy wants to be governor I can think of a few provinces in Afghanistan that might be a perfect fit. He's Larry Elder, a rightwing open mouth radio host and he wants Gavin Newsom's job. The outspoken libertarian radio talkshow host entered the recall campaign just days before the filing deadline. He has zoomed to the top of a long list of candidates running against the state’s Democratic governor – perhaps both despite and because of his divisive, contrarian politics. Elder opposes the minimum wage and gun control. He’s said he doesn’t believe that a gender wage gap exists, and has called the climate crisis a “crock”. He has suggested that fatherless families drive up crime rates in Black communities. In three decades on air, Elder has made a name disseminating controversy. In response to his inveighing against affirmative action, denials of systemic racism and claims that Black leaders exaggerate discrimination, a group of LA residents in the 1990s organized a two-and

Can We At Least Fix Our Infrastructure Deficit?

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  Last week saw a number of opinion pieces, in the Globe & Mail , the New York Times and the Washington Post , discussing the failure of political will across the West and what it portends.  Collectively they question whether Western civilization has entered irreversible decline (Hint, it sure looks like we have).  Canadian author and professor, Andrew Potter, summed up our malaise: What these looming crises have in common is that they are marked by a failure of some combination of political conviction, state capacity and collective action. We have lost the ability to solve big problems and meet big challenges, and there is every reason to think this is only going to get worse , thanks to the effects of a number of long-standing trends. These include the economic and technological stagnation that has been in place since at least the 1970s, the rise of highly polarized and tribalistic politics, and the high decadence of the internet-fuelled culture wars. Criminal Negligence Causing

Afghanistan. Seizing Power is Easy. Paying for It Is a Vexing Problem.

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  It's been estimated that the Taliban government has a revenue stream - drug trade included - of about $1.6 billion annually. The government the Talibs toppled had a budget of $11 billion.  Of that, 80 per cent came in the form of foreign aid.  Afghanistan's benefactors tend to be those countries that are near the top of the Taliban's enemies list.  The bottom line: unless the Talibs find a new source of foreign aid willing to cough up billions of dollars every year to prop up the new government, the Taliban have a liquidity problem.   Could China pick up the slack? Possibly but on terms highly advantageous to Beijing, which has long eyed Afghanistan's mineral resources.    All the Talibs need do is look next door to Pakistan, the Baloch homeland in the south to be exact, where the Pakistani's bartered away control of the resource-rich south to China on a 40-year lease.  The Balochs meanwhile are revolting, accusing China of hogging the limited fresh water reserves

NYT - Finding the Will to Survive

  Today's editorial in the New York Times  questions whether the will to avert climate catastrophe exists and where it might be found. We knew, three decades ago, about global warming and its consequences. We suspected, even then, that the potentially catastrophic future forecast in the I.P.C.C.’s latest report, released on Monday — a report the U.N. secretary general, António Guterres, called a “code red for humanity” — could well come to pass. What have we done with that knowledge? Very little, for lots of reasons. Timid leaders, feckless legislatures. Interminable arguments between rich and poor nations over who bears responsibility. Well-financed disinformation campaigns from big polluters like Exxon Mobil. On a purely human level, there’s the reluctance of people living worry-free in the here and now to make the investments and sacrifices necessary to protect future generations. All in all, the past 30 years have been a colossal series of missed opportunities. Good ideas squan