Showing posts from October, 2021

The Glasgow Follies or The Last-Chance Saloon?

  If you're looking for salvation from the Glasgow climate summit, COP26, don't hold your breath.  The idea of some climate epiphany reverberating through the capitals of the world is a bit far fetched. Never say never but that would be an extreme long shot. There is no "just add water and stir" solution. This global emergency does not lend itself to  "one size fits all" measures. I can't think of a nation that is not already dealing with the impacts of climate change. That doesn't mean it's being experienced uniformly. Some nations are harder hit than others. That's often a latitudinal issue. The closer you are to the equator, the worse off you're apt to be. Tropical countries tend to be less developed, poorer and, hence, more vulnerable.  Compared to the latitudinally-advantaged countries, the wealthier, developed countries, the Third World occupies a lower tier. Then there's the established, Industrial Revolution Club countries - E

So Many Lives Needlessly Lost

  Yesterday I lost a brother to cancer. I thought he was the cat with nine lives. Once he "died" of heart failure and even though the car he was in was in rush hour traffic and it took more than 15 minutes to reach a hospital they were able to restore a heartbeat but gave us no hope he would ever come back. With each passing day the doctors calls grew more dispiriting. After four days I was told that his organs were probably shutting down and to book my flight.  On day five his eyes opened, he sat up and demanded to be released. Two years later he was driving through Detroit en route to some museum that collected vintage Auburn cars and he came down with viral meningitis.  More of the same phone calls but, again, he defied the prognosis and was soon in an air ambulance to bring him home. He began to think he was immortal. Then about a year ago he started having intestinal problems that went misdiagnosed. Everything that was tried failed. His doctors wanted the full deal - ult

The More the Merrier - A World Overflowing

By 2100, India is expected to be the most populous country, predicted population 1.09 billion, down from today's 1.38 billion. Current leader, China, at 1.4 billion is expected to contract by almost half to 732 million, falling to third place.  So, if China, now first becomes third, while India, now second becomes first, who gets second place by 2100? That would be Nigeria that is expected to explode from today's 200 million to just shy of 800 million by the end of this century.  Nigeria may be looking at second place overall but it could double India's population density. In these scenarios, the global population, now closing in on 8 billion, will rise to about 10.3 billion before entering a population decline. The US will go from third today to fourth while Pakistan holds on to 5th overall.  Japan falls from 10th today at 128 million to 38th with a paltry 60 million. Canada, thankfully, does not make the charts but, if we heed Mulroney's urging , we could be way bigg

There's a new term for it, "Vapor Storms."

   Scientific American has a new term for it, " vapor storms ." The summer of 2021 was a glaring example of what disruptive weather will look like in a warming world. In mid-July, storms in western Germany and Belgium dropped up to eight inches of rain in two days. Floodwaters ripped buildings apart and propelled them through village streets. A week later a year’s worth of rain—more than two feet—fell in China’s Henan province in just three days. Hundreds of thousands of people fled rivers that had burst their banks. In the capital city of Zhengzhou, commuters posted videos showing passengers trapped inside flooding subway cars, straining their heads toward the ceiling to reach the last pocket of air above the quickly rising water. In mid-August a sharp kink in the jet stream brought torrential storms to Tennessee that dropped an incredible 17 inches of rain in just 24 hours; catastrophic flooding killed at least 20 people. None of these storm systems were hurricanes or tropi

Forget Trudeau's Greenwashing. Deeds, Not Words.

The Dauphin has his fanboys swooning over his choice of a climate activist, Steven Guilbeault, as environment minister.  Is Mr. Guilbeault the real deal or just window dressing for a prime minister expert in greenwashing, one who prefers words, not deeds . Trudeau, disingenuous? Who says? G20 leaders will be gathering in Rome this weekend, where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will arrive with a new record in hand: Canada has given more from the public coffers to the oil and gas industry than any of its peers. The new analysis from Oil Change International and Friends of the Earth U.S. found from 2018 to 2020, G20 countries provided at least US$63 billion per year to the fossil fuel industry. Over that same period, Canada was found to have given at least $11 billion (about C$13.6 billion) to the oil and gas sector, mostly through Export Development Canada, representing nearly 20 per cent of the G20 total. Canada “is clearly a huge laggard on this file, which does track with other ways to

Damned If You Do, Damned If You Don't. Andrew Weaver's Truth.

When it comes to the climate emergency and greenhouse gas emissions, truth can be hard to find . U. Vic. climate scientist and former head of the B.C. Green Party, Andrew Weaver, has incurred the wrath of some prominent environmental activists for some blunt comments. On the eve of the COP26 talks in Glasgow, the former leader of the BC Green Party — Andrew Weaver — caused a climate-community tempest when he tweeted, “1.5 degrees is not attainable. It never has been imho.” The 1.5 C cap on warming, proposed at the Paris climate summit in 2015 was not attainable and never has been. That's pretty clear. The fact that this year's gathering is COP 26 sort of gives it all away. 26 years and even a global pandemic can't curb our greenhouse gas emissions.  The climate activists aren't attacking Weaver for his conclusions. They're after him for what they perceive as his motives. To people like Bill McKibben, Weaver is building a smokescreen for the Tar Sands and bitumen'

Hey, Isn't This the Same Guy Who Sold Us Into Neoliberal Servitude?

   It's easy to remember Brian Mulroney for his environmentalism, his principled stand against Apartheid South Africa, the fight against acid rain and restoring the ozone layer. That has to be tempered with the rampant corruption within his administration, how he almost wrecked our nation with the Meech Lake and Charlatan Accords, and how he joined with Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher in selling us down the Rio Neoliberal that, over the span of 40 years, has launched the 'gig economy' and brought much of the world to near ruin. Taking the pluses and the minuses, I think he's better forgotten than revered, especially when he calls for ' fresh thinking and daring leadership .' “We have just gone through an election that has proved to be of little import or consequence,” Mulroney said in prepared remarks given at Montreal’s Mount Royal Club on Monday night. “We now live in a world where the events of the moment signal unrelenting pressures of instability, where

Damn, There's an Idea! Why Didn't We Think of That?

  You might remember when Sammy Yatim was put to death on a Toronto streetcar by a gun happy cop, James Forcillo.  Even though Yatim was alone, isolated on the streetcar and, while armed with a pocket knife, of no immediate threat to anyone, Forcillo fired half his magazine into the young man, dropping him to the vehicle floor, immobile.  Forcillo then paused for five seconds before emptying the remainder of his magazine, another six rounds, into Yatim's lifeless body. Just for good measure, I suppose. In his defence, Forcillo's lawyer argued that he was only following department guidelines in putting Yatim to death. Really? There are other approaches. Police chief Louis Dekmar of LaGrange, Georgia, has replaced 'shoot to kill' with a ' shoot to incapacitate ' policy. Louis Dekmar, who has run the LaGrange Police Department for 26 years, is training his officers to shoot for the legs, pelvis or abdomen in situations where they think it could stop a deadly threa

Chomsky - It's Time the Vaccine Hesitant Cleared Out.

  Noam Chomsky has had it with the anti-vax crowd. It's time for them to clear out . MIT professor emeritus and political activist Noam Chomsky said he believes that while unvaccinated people have the right to refuse a COVID jab, they should “have the decency to isolate” from the community for the safety of others. “People who refuse to accept vaccines, I think the right response for them is not to force them to, but rather to insist that they be isolated. If people decide, ‘I am willing to be a danger to the community by refusing to vaccinate,’ they should say then, ‘Well, I also have the decency to isolate myself. I don’t want a vaccine, but I don’t have the right to run around harming people.’ That should be a convention,” said Chomsky. “Enforcing is a different question. It should be understood, and we should try to get it to be understood. If it really reaches the point where they are severely endangering people, then of course you have to do something about it,” he added. “Su

So Many "Firsts"

The climate crisis has brought us a number of "firsts" and it's just getting started. We've seen wildfires that create their own weather. How about "firenadoes." Tornadoes of fire. We've always had flash floods in some places but now they're creating tsunamis in Tennessee and Kentucky or ripping up the main streets in medieval towns in Germany. We've also got something we call "flash droughts" which is a combination of  drought compounded by heatwaves, enough to kill off crops in the fields. We've got these poorly understood oceanic hot spots we call "blobs" that wreak havoc on fish stocks. Heat Domes, how about those? We got one here this summer. In a word - brutal. Then there's Wet Bulb 35, a combination of high heat and high humidity that will kill a healthy young person at rest in the shade in about two hours. You cook from the inside out. Nasty. What's next? How about this - hurricanes in the Mediterranean. Ti

Do We Really Need a Professor to State the Obvious?

  I laughed when I read the CBC's summary of Canada's 4-step climate policy over the last quarter century.     1. Set an ambitious goal     2. Largely maintain the status quo     3. Miss goal     4. Set new goal That's about it. Empty promises. So much hot air. I won't equate Justin Trudeau to Stephen Harper but, when it comes to results, are they really that different? After all, Trudeau not only made the new Trans Mountain pipeline a reality, he did it on the taxpayers' dime. Mother Corp also has the solution to Canada's backsliding, courtesy of Simon Fraser prof, Thomas Gunton .     1. Set binding targets for emissions cuts     2. End subsidies to the fossil fuel industry Nothing new there. The UK adopted binding targets years ago. That's given the credit for Britain's emissions record, one of the best in the developed world. Canada's record is near the bottom of the pack. Our emissions are the third highest per capita among developed countries a

United Nations Report - We Blew It

  Grim news from the United Nations that we've squandered our opportunity to avert climate catastrophe. From The Guardian . Tuesday’s publication warns that countries’ current pledges would reduce carbon by only about 7.5% by 2030, far less than the 45% cut scientists say is needed to limit global temperature rises to 1.5C , the aim of the Cop26 summit that opens in Glasgow this Sunday. Although more than 100 countries have promised to reach net zero emissions around mid-century, this would not be enough to stave off climate disaster, according to the UN emissions report, which examines the shortfall between countries’ intentions and actions needed on the climate. Many of the net zero pledges were found to be vague, and unless accompanied by stringent cuts in emissions this decade would allow global heating of a potentially catastrophic extent. In the run-up to Cop26 , countries were supposed to submit national plans on emissions cuts – called nationally determined contributions (

The Lies We Tell Ourselves

  As a bankruptcy lawyer I saw plenty of debtors. Those that bothered me most were people nearing retirement age with grim prospects of being able to re-establish themselves and young families who got caught in the grinder of our debt-driven economy and slipped between the cracks. In my day, Vancouver had a volatile real estate market. Boom and bust. It was the sort of market that panicked young couples to "take the plunge" fearing, if they didn't get into the market, they could be priced out and left to raise their family in rented digs. There were plenty of speculators who gamed the market, buying in a crash and cashing out as prices neared their peak. Those young families were their victims. The experience taught me a lesson. Value is notional. It's here today, gone tomorrow. Debt, on the other hand, is as brutally solid as concrete. I also learned the lengths people may go to ignore that, to look the other way and stake their future on a hope. What if an entire na

BoJo Hedging His Bets

  For a guy notorious for over-selling and under-delivering on everything from Brexit to the pandemic, Brit p.m., Boris Johnson, is hedging his bets on the upcoming Glasgow climate summit, COP 26. The prime minister appeared to lower expectations about whether the global summit of leaders that begins this week would be a success, after the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, confirmed for the first time that he would not attend “in the light of the coronavirus situation”, according to Downing Street. The move was expected by some UK government insiders, but it will still come as a blow to those who hoped the world leaders whose influence would be key to reducing emissions across the planet would gather around the negotiating table. ...He was also cautious about whether many breakthroughs will come when world leaders gather touch down in Scotland later this week. “I think it can be done,” Johnson said. “It’s going to be very, very tough, this summit, and I’m very worried because it migh

Is This Something We Just Can't Do?

  The latest greenhouse gas numbers are in, just a week before the opening of the COP 26 climate summit in Glasgow. It's not a pretty picture .  Levels of climate-heating gases in the atmosphere hit record levels in 2020, despite coronavirus-related lockdowns, the UN’s World Meteorological Organization has announced. The concentration of carbon dioxide, the most important greenhouse gas, is now 50% higher than before the Industrial Revolution sparked the mass burning of fossil fuels. Methane levels have more than doubled since 1750. All key greenhouse gases (GHG) rose faster in 2020 than the average for the previous decade and this trend has continued in 2021, the WMO report found. What do these numbers say about us? The road to hell is indeed paved with good intentions.  If, by this point, we can't curb our growing demands for fossil energy how will we meet the Herculean challenge of cutting emissions 50 per cent by 2030, some 8 years distant, and becoming carbon neutral just

White Power, White Privilege, White Nationalism - What About White Christianity?

We've heard of white power, white privilege and white nationalism. What about "white Christianity." I stumbled across a great website by Erna Kim Hackett , a Korean-American sometimes Christian pastor who left the church and now finds herself at the "junction of Christianity and social justice." As a contentedly lapsed Christian I still find it refreshing to read her essays. Especially on today, Sunday. White Christianity is discussed in Chuck Thompson's "Better Off Without'Em." The author looks at the role of megachurches in perpetuating segregation in the southern states. These churches are racially divided. Most are for whites. Blacks have their own. Whites, says Thompson, flock to white mega-churches.  The church also operates elementary and secondary schools for its members. White southerners often go to white megachurches and their white kids wind up in white church schools. Problems solved. It's difficult to imagine that a Christian

He Was Right Then. He's Right Today.

  Paris, 2015. The leaders of the community of nations agreed that we had to unite to avert climate catastrophe and that meant keeping global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius. It was a moment of celebration and hope. Among the delegates was an odd-looking German, the then head of the Potsdam Institute, Hans Joachim Schellnhuber.  A reporter asked him if we could really do it. Could we keep warming within the 1.5 C target?  He said we could indeed but it would require the "induced implosion" of the fossil energy industry. What Schellnhuber was saying was that the political caste were not just going to have to bite the hand that feeds them. They were going to have to amputate it. Blow it up. Put it down. That was the key to a transition to clean energy. The fossil fuelers were not going away on their own.  Earlier this week the BBC reported on a tranche of leaked documents that showed that countries such as Saudi Arabia, Japan and Australia were lobbying hard to slo

Another Reason to Defend the Salish Sea from these Petro-Pimps

  Mother and Calf There's terrific news out of the Salish Sea.  It's the waterway between southern Vancouver Island and the mainland, Washington State's Puget Sound, the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Strait of Georgia. It's the waterway that Trudeau wants to turn into a highway for the armada of supertankers that will ply these waters once he gets his damned pipeline up and running. It turns out the Salish Sea is getting crowded. Warming seas to the south have sent marine life on a poleward migration. Sea birds, marine mammals and fish stocks, the lot, are moving into cooler waters including the Salish Sea.   There's good news. We're witnessing the return of the humpback whale. They were hunted to extinction in decades past. 25 years ago they weren't seen in the area.  Today there is a population of 500 humpbacks and, even better, researchers have counted a record  21 humpback calves born this past year. This can't be good news for our eco-prime minist

"Weather Bomb" Headed for Vancouver Island

We're not strangers to powerful squalls and extreme winds but what's heading for Vancouver Island over the next few days could be biblical . Report authors note that the first storm is in the midst of an "explosive cyclogenesis, a drop in pressure of at least 24 millibars in 24 hours - qualifying it in popular parlance as a 'weather bomb." However, this system is expected to do "twice the amount of strengthening" needed to meet that definition. "While this is the wet season for the west coast, and they are no stranger to strong lows at this time of year, two back-to-back powerhouse systems like these are certainly something to take note of," says Nadine Powell, a meteorologist at The Weather Network. The storm will also be strengthened by the "remnants from a western Pacific typhoon," explain report authors, which will increase the amount of rainfall. Low #2 will be stronger, belongs in the Bering Sea, but instead, it'll be southw

The Road to Glasgow - Reading Between the Lines. American Pessimism on Climate Emergency

  It was just a few days ago when Guardian enviro-scribe, George Monbiot, wrote a stirring piece that, if only the world went on a wartime-type footing, putting the climate crisis as its one priority issue, we could still avert climate catastrophe . The scenario that Monbiot described was one where world leaders recognized this is an existential threat and united to defend life on Earth against extinction.  An agreement to do whatever was necessary to avert catastrophe, what Churchill spoke of when he said, "Sometimes we must do what is required." Earlier today, the BBC reported on the leak of some 32,000 documents revealing the effort  by some countries and corporations to undermine this essential consensus without which we have little hope of arresting climate change. And then came the US intelligence community's National Intelligence Estimate on Climate Change and National Security. If I had to use one word to summarize this 20 page report, it would be "ominous.

The Road to Glasgow - Cracks Emerge

What were you expecting, some global Kumbaya moment? Ten days and counting to the opening of the COP 26 climate summit and details about efforts to subvert the drive to thwart climate ruin are already being leaked. A huge leak of documents seen by BBC News shows how countries are trying to change a crucial scientific report on how to tackle climate change. The leak reveals Saudi Arabia, Japan and Australia are among countries asking the UN to play down the need to move rapidly away from fossil fuels. It also shows some wealthy nations are questioning paying more to poorer states to move to greener technologies. The leak reveals countries pushing back on UN recommendations for action and comes just days before they will be asked at the summit to make significant commitments to slow down climate change and keep global warming to 1.5 degrees. The leaked documents consist of more than 32,000 submissions made by governments, companies and other interested parties to the team of scientists

Alberta Running on Empty

Alberta, or at least the southern part of the province, is looking at a future of water insecurity . Climate change and the retreat of glaciers are the main culprits. Canada's Prairie provinces could be particularly hard hit, experts say, due to the fact they are among the highest industrial and commercial users of water in the country, partly because of the agricultural sector. In dry southern Alberta, the agricultural sector relies on irrigation — the process of watering crops artificially instead of relying on rainfall. "We're already in the climate catastrophe era," said James Byrne, a geography professor at the University of Lethbridge who has studied climate change for more than 30 years. The use of water in the southern part of Alberta is restricted. New licences for water can't be issued; they must be purchased from existing licence holders. But even the current allocation of water licences in southern Alberta could come under stress due to extreme weather