Showing posts from November, 2021

What Are They Playing At?

  It's new fighter time for the RCAF. There were three contenders short-listed: the latest F-18, the SAAB Gripen and Lockheed's F-35. The F-18 was rejected. Apparently it doesn't meet the RCAF requirements but how is unclear. In any case don't shed a tear for the manufacturer, Boeing, after that company did a dirty on Bombardier's promising C-series jetliners. Screw Boeing. That, however, leaves us with two aircraft that supposedly do meet the RCAF requirements and it's an odd couple to be sure. It's hard to imagine how two aircraft so different could both fit the bill. There's probably a logical answer to that - they don't.  The costly and often unreliable F-35 is the favourite of the RCAF brass. It's American after all and Canada's generals put a premium on all things American. I wonder if they've noticed how many wars our bellicose neighbours to the south have won with all their high-tech wizardry? Despite 20 years of development, the

No Vaccine, No Airplane Ride.

  As of today you'll need proof of vaccination to board a train or jetliner in Canada. Perhaps spurred on by the Omicron variant, Ottawa has slammed shut the door to the unvaccinated. While many airlines have so far been doing random spot checks to ensure travellers are vaccinated, Air Canada and West Jet have confirmed they will ask for proof from everyone boarding in Canada as of today. Other measures, like masks and health screenings, will still be mandatory. “If you indicate to your airline or railway company that you’re eligible to board, but fail to provide proof of vaccination or valid COVID-19 test result, you won’t be allowed to travel and could face penalties or fines,” the government’s website states.

A Ray of Hope?

The Fraser Valley could receive another 50 mm of rain today but the mayor of Abbotsford seems confident his city is ready for it.   Henry Braun told CBC that repairs to local earthworks and a weekend release of flood waters into the Sumas River have left Abbotsford in good shape to handle anything shy of a 200 mm deluge. I sure hope mayor Henry isn't whistling past the graveyard but we'll know soon enough as la Nina, el Nino's ugly stepsister, sends another atmospheric river into the Fraser Valley. There is some confusion about what the day will bring. The Weather Network has rainfall at 50-55 mm. The CBC claims this could be the biggest rain day of the past two weeks, upwards of 100 mm. Environment Canada is splitting the difference at somewhere between 50 and 80 mm.

Christ On a Crutch!!

  You might remember Rep. Ronny Jackson of Texas from his former job as White House physician to president Donald Trump.  Now Ronny is weighing in on the new Covid variant, Omicron. "Here comes the MEV - the Midterm Election Variant," tweeted Jackson , who, not for nothing, is also a physician. "They NEED a reason to push unsolicited nationwide mail-in ballots. Democrats will do anything to CHEAT during an election - but we're not going to let them!" And then there was this from Fox News personality Pete Hegseth: "Count on a variant about every October, every two years." Is it just me or does Rear Admiral Ronny have a bad case of Stepford Wives eyes? The lights are on but there's nobody home.

Is Nature Adding Insult to Injury or Is Santa Bringing Coals to Newcastle?

  British Columbia is known for having reliably unpredictable weather. I recall a meteorologist from Environment Canada saying that the accuracy of forecasts more than three days hence was somewhat worse that random chance.  Throwing darts would be better. With that said I had a look at the Weather Network's 30-day projections for Abbotsford.  The good news - atmospheric rivers won't be arriving every other day.  The other good news - there isn't any. It looks like there could be a major flood event on December 15th but the one that pisses me off comes 10 days later, Christmas Day, the 25th.  Merry Christmas, Abbotsford. I so hope the weather boffins have it wrong.

Have I Got a Read For You

  If you're wondering why everything has gone haywire you might be interested in this, the October 2020  MIT Technology Review, The Long-Term Issue . Editor-in-Chief Gideon Lichfield offers a hell of a teaser in the forward: "If our descendants were to diagnose the ills of 21st-century civilization,” writes Richard Fisher in our opening essay on page 8, “they would observe a dangerous short-termism: a collective failure to escape the present moment and look further ahead.” This condition is neither permanent nor new, Fisher says: human thinking becomes more blinkered in times of turmoil and more expansive in periods of prosperity and calm. But it’s particularly extreme right now, especially for Americans, thanks to the covid-19 pandemic and the bitterly contested US election. This issue of MIT Technology Review is meant as an antidote. It looks at things that may happen in the years, decades, centuries, and even millennia hence, and what needs to change now to make the future

Canada's Biggest Port All Backed Up

A port is really just a dock. It's a place where cargo is transferred from a ship to a rail car or a flatbed truck for delivery to a waiting customer at some inland destination. Right now the Port of Vancouver is a mess.  With both rail and road systems down or sharply constricted, cargo is backing up. The port has experienced blockages before - usually due to labour action by dock workers or truckers.  Ships gather in English Bay. Others wait it out in sheltered areas on Vancouver Island. On Sunday morning, there was a backlog of 54 ships at anchorage, up from 40 on Nov. 19, according to data from the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority. The vessels included nine container ships in and around the Port of Vancouver, another 13 waiting to fill up with coal and 16 with grain. The transportation chaos that has ensued serves as a cautionary tale, with industry experts saying Canada’s supply chain is tenuous and that it will likely take months, not weeks, to recover from the lingering effe

Nathan Cullen Gets the Bums Rush

  NDP MLA Nathan Cullen has been given his marching orders by the Gitxsan and Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs. Members of the Gitxsan Huwilp Government posted the notice of eviction outside the NDP MLA’s office in Hazelton and said they were evicting him under Gitxsan law, Section 35 of the Canadian constitution and the 1997 Delgamuukw decision of the Supreme Court of Canada. The Stikine MLA’s Hazelton office is one of the two constituency offices he has in the northwest with the other situated in Smithers. Cullen’s eviction comes a week after 29 Coastal GasLink (CGL) pipeline opponents were arrested by the RCMP near Houston between Nov. 18-19. All those arrested were subsequently released with conditions in court last week. “You failed to ensure the safety of your constituents, including Gitxsan and Wet’suwet’en people from the violence and excessive force used by overly armed RCMP at or near Houston B.C. and New Hazelton B.C. during the months of October to November 2021,” re

But What About the Cattle?

  It will be a while before we have an accurate figure but the flooding in southwest British Columbia has taken a toll of livestock in the Fraser Valley. Some cattle were rescued, taken to higher ground but many, we're told, were lost. On the prairies ranchers are culling their herds.  Not enough water. Not enough fodder. The cattle are wasting away. This reminds me of a story I read a few years ago about a pastoralist (nomad) and his family from the Sahel in Africa. He made his living as his family had for many generations, perhaps centuries, by herding cattle from one area of pasture to the next. Then, one year, his range was swept by flash floods. He lost half his herd. The next year brought intensive heat and drought. He lost the other half. The herder and his family had to migrate to the slums of Dakar to eke out a subsistence living through scavenging. I know next to nothing about livestock, dairy or beef cattle, but I know the industry is vulnerable to flooding and to drough

What Do You Want for Christmas, Johnny?

Well it sure as hell ain't water up to my arse and a new virus. 

Little Did We Know. Maybe We Just Didn't Want to Know.

  Back when the science types introduced global warming to we plebs they began with a few basic predictions.  The first one was that the world was going to get warmer. Has it ever, in spades. Something like 18 of the  hottest years on record have occurred in the last 20 years. They were sure on the money there. They told us that dry regions of the world would get drier and, by and large, they got that one right too.  Ask any farmer or rancher from the prairie provinces. Then they told us that the wettest regions would get wetter, a lot wetter.  Look no further than the Fraser Valley or British Columbia's washed out mountain highways or rail lines.  British Columbians are no strangers to rain, lots of rain, but this is ridiculous. Were I to grade them, I'd give them an A-. I'd like to make that an A+ but, overall, their predictions were understated. Climate breakdown has happened more rapidly than they foresaw 30 years ago. Their forecasts were overtaken by events. Where do

The Aerial Ballet

  I just watched clips of people being airlifted by helicopter to safety from torrential floodwaters. Some of those helicopters were British. Scotland is being hammered by rains and floods. It's flooding in parts of Australia where the folks down under are putting their choppers to good use.  With another deluge hitting the Lower Mainland/Fraser Valley today and tomorrow our crews will be busy refueling.  But wait, there's more. How about dry as a bone Malta, the rock? It's flooding. They're also deploying helicopters to lift folks to safety. Malta. The island got hit with a month's worth of rain in 24 hours or, as we like to call it, the "new normal." In Australia, 100 mm rains have created flooding in Queensland and NSW that could cause something called the Warragamba Dam to burst. In Scotland, Storm Arwen saw 80 mph winds create storm surges that flooded coastal areas.  Britain's environment ministry has warned that three months of unusually wet

This Is Rich. Insurance Companies Want Ottawa to Fund Flood/Fire Insurance.

  It's the old "privatize profit, socialize risk" scam and, if he runs true to form, it probably has some appeal to the prime minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau or, as I sometimes call him, Pipeline Pete. The Insurance Bureau of Canada figures Ottawa should shoulder the cost of providing flood (and presumably fire) insurance coverage to homeowners impacted by the climate emergency. "As the risk from climate change increases, yes, more Canadians could become uninsurable," said Craig Stewart, vice-president, federal affairs with the IBC. The solution the IBC proposes is a national high-risk residential flood insurance program, which would provide insurance to residents in the most flood-prone areas, funded by the federal government. It's one idea the Liberal government is studying as part of it's National Task Force on Flood Insurance and Relocation , which was formed last year. The group is also studying options to relocate people who live in areas with

Here's the Problem. What Do You Do With an Uninsurable House?

  For most plebs their house is their home and their most valuable asset. It's their retirement nest egg. It's where they sink most of their disposable cash on improvements, redecorating, etc. So, what happens when they discover that their house has become uninsurable? I guess "nothing good" isn't an adequate answer even if it is accurate. Most home buyers depend on mortgage financing to fund the purchase price.  Mortgage lenders come in several varieties but they have something in common - they want proof of insurance. They want to know that their loan is safe. One of the insurers I follow is Munich Re. They're actually a re-insurer. Insurance companies use re-insurers to offload some of their risk. Who knows, maybe they've got a piece of your action. In 2018, Munich Re dropped a bombshell. Climate change could push insurance premiums beyond the reach of some homeowners. Ernest Rauch, Munich Re's chief climatologist put it bluntly: “If the risk from

Michael Harris on How to Destroy the Conservative Brand

Stephen Harper, Jason Kenney and Erin O'Toole. To Michael Harris they're the unforced errors of the Conservative Party. The Conservative Party of Canada’s slide into irrelevance has turned into a bobsled run. Alberta United Conservative Party Premier Jason Kenney made two epic messes. Dealing with the pandemic by whistling past the graveyard. And pissing away millions of dollars trying to paint critics of the fossil fuel sector as enemies of Alberta (demonizing prophets in the name of profits). When all was said and done, instead of being seen as the champion of Alberta, he’s come off looking like an uninformed clown on climate change and COVID-19. It’s just a question of who will get this former Stephen Harper cabinet star first: voters in the next election, or his own party. The stubborn stain that just will not come out - Stephen Harper. And then there are the comments and activities of former prime minister Stephen Harper, who clings to the public limelight like a fading m

Environment Canada's Weekend Outlook for BC's Southern Mainland

  Here it is, straight from Environment Canada's presses: Another front will approach the south coast on Saturday. Rain will begin for most areas Saturday morning but the heaviest rain will be Saturday night as the front nears. Rainfall amounts from Saturday to Sunday evening. will vary from about 50 mm from Richmond to 80 mm in Abbotsford to 100 mm closer to the mountains. Squamish may see up to 120 mm. Gibsons will also receive 50 to 80 mm of rain. Strong warming will accompany this system causing snow levels to rise well above the mountain tops Saturday afternoon. Snowmelt will contribute to run off, increasing the risk of flooding and possibly impacting vulnerable landscapes and infrastructure. There you have it. For a region, parts of it already heavily flooded, other spots washed out, it sounds a tad ominous, especially the part about "100 mm closer to the mountains." The problem is that water runs downhill. Places such as Abbotsford might get 80 mm of rain directl

Climate Change is a Lot Like Prize Fighting

Most boxers can take a punch. The champions can take a lot of punches and keep fighting to the end. The climate emergency is not for rookies. Today, the punches come in bunches. This year, British Columbia has dealt with killer heatwaves, wildfires and, now, heavy flooding.  Last Wednesday an atmospheric river dropped massive amounts of rain that swelled gorges and waterways, knocking out all four mountain highways and both rail lines, flooding the lowlands of the Fraser Valley. The damage was extensive. Some of it won't be repaired until 2022, perhaps into 2023. We should have a better idea once we see how much additional damage is inflicted by the coming severe rain events. There are three more of these atmospheric rivers to contend with. One is overhead right now. A big one is due Saturday and the biggest of them all may hit on Tuesday.  After Tuesday, who knows? Imagine a six pack of "once a century" storms showing up in the span of less than two weeks.   This caught

"From Failure to Failure"

"Sold Out" Indeed - The federal climate commissioner has passed judgment on our governments' efforts to fight climate change. It's a well-deserved "F." Despite three decades of effort, Canada's carbon emissions have risen 20 per cent since 1990, the country remains unprepared for climate disasters and recent subsidies for the oil and gas sector have not delivered promised emission reductions, according to new reports from the federal government's chief environmental watchdog. That damning verdict applies not only to past Liberal and Conservative governments but to the current government led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. "Canada was once a leader in the fight against climate change. However, after a series of missed opportunities, it has become the worst performer of all G7 nations since the landmark Paris Agreement on climate change was adopted in 2015," said Environment and Sustainable Development Commissioner Jerry V. DeMarco in a med

UCLA Study, Worsening Western Wildfires Man-Made

  Western North America's rapidly worsening wildfire problem is anthropogenic, i.e. man-made. A study out of UCLA confirms that VPD , or "vapor pressure deficit," is to blame. Climate change — and not natural climate variability — is now the primary driver of wildfire risk and will likely continue to plague California and other western states in the future. “This change,” the authors conclude, “requires urgent and effective societal adaption and mitigation responses.” The researchers focused their study on “vapor pressure deficit,” the leading meterological variable that controls wildfires. In layman’s terms, vapor pressure deficit “basically describes how thirsty the atmosphere is,” Rong Fu, one of the study’s authors, told the Los Angeles Times. Fu, a UCLA climate researcher, studied the variation in atmospheric circulation from 1979 to 2020. The mechanism is fairly simple. A hotter atmosphere draws more moisture out of soils and forests. These dessicated forests are 66

Oh Yeah, We'll Be Back to Normal In No Time.

When the only thing holding up the rails are - the rails - this fix will take a while. You not only have to replace what was there but you have to build it to meet the even greater demands of the future.  When all four of your mountain highways and both of your rail beds are wiped out in one day, your engineering standards are plainly obsolete. That goes in spades for the federal government's Trans Mountain pipeline. These pipelines cross several water courses where the torrents swept away those rail and road bridges.  When those waters reach pipelines they can rupture, spilling their toxic sludge into pristine waterways.

Nikiforuk - 7 Rules for Surviving Natural Disasters and Our Boneheaded Politicians

Climate catastrophes are coming on fast and furious these days spurring on our politicians to truly great achievements in platitudes. There's nothing they won't do for us, "nothing" being the operative word. Andrew Nikiforuk rides to the rescue with 7 Rules for Surviving climate calamities and political dereliction. Last week Mother Nature taught British Columbia another ugly lesson about the consequences of blah, blah, blah on climate change, unchecked energy use and globalization. But denial is our society’s most politically powerful drug after fentanyl and Netflix. Apparently, heat domes and an extended fire season followed by a predicted atmospheric river just didn’t make much of an impression on our woodenheaded political class. These folks just don’t understand that Normal, the name of our collective boat, now lies wrecked at the bottom of an acidifying and warming ocean brimming with more plastic than fish. 1. Complexity delivers diminishing returns. Civilizati

Why It May Be Back to Square One for Justin Trudeau's Bitumen Pipeline

  The severe storms and floods that hit British Columbia last week, like the storms that are hammering Nova Scotia and Newfoundland today, are bringing into question the engineering standards being used for major infrastructure in Canada - pipelines in particular. In a nutshell, heavy flooding plays Hell with oil and gas pipelines .  To nature, a pipeline is about as robust as a wet noodle. Romilly Cavanaugh stood at the edge of the Coquihalla River north of Hope, watching big trees snap off the bank like blades of grass in a lawn mower. Some of those not swept away held dead fish in their branches three metres off the ground — a reminder of what came before. Cavanaugh and her fellow engineers had been sent into the chaos for a sole purpose: to watch the Trans Mountain pipeline through the flood of 1995 . Over that week they held vigil in torrential rain because the pipe, usually buried in a thick blanket of soil and rock, was bare and moving up and down in the river “like a piece of c

About that "Coast to Coast" Thing

This time last week the Trans-Canada highway was washed out in British Columbia.  Every mountain route was washed out, along with both railways. Now it's the east coast's turn. The Trans-Canada is down in Newfoundland and Labrador and there's plenty more rain on the way.  The Department of Transportation is reporting multiple washed out roads in the Codroy Valley area, including two parts of the Trans-Canada Highway near Doyles, after a rainstorm pummelled Newfoundland's southwest coast overnight. Rodney Barney, a meteorologist with Environment Canada's weather officer in Gander, said the rain should intensify early Wednesday morning, as meteorologists expect the system to bring 150 to 200 millimetres of rain to the area in total. "We're still looking at another 12 to 18 hours of rain," he said. "It looks like through the morning hours is probably when the heaviest part of the shower activity will be occurring for today, then gradually winding do

Retreat from Glasgow - Or Is It a Rout?

  The five bad boys of fossil fuels are pretty much ignoring some of the most important things nations need to do to avert climate catastrophe. These countries are called the Fossil Fueled Five .  They are, in no particular order, the UK, the US, Norway, Australia and, brace yourselves, Canada . Catherine Abreu, founder of climate advocacy group Destination Zero and member of Canada’s net-zero advisory body, highlighted the irony that after three decades, climate summits still aren’t structured to tackle the biggest problem. “This process that we designed … to take collective action on the climate crisis, has had almost nothing to say about the predominant cause of the climate crisis — the production and combustion of fossil fuels,” Abreu said. “It's as if we built an entire multilateral system to address a global pandemic and never let it be said that the virus causing the pandemic was COVID-19.” Abreu noted the number of fossil fuel lobbyists at COP26 outnumbers even the largest

Well, That's a Relief

The Trudeau government will end the pandemic, fight climate change and rebuild the economy. It's right there in today's Throne Speech . And if this prime minister is known for anything, it's keeping his word.  A solemn promise given is a solemn promise. It literally oozes solemnity. It even has that yeasty smell of a freshly baked baguette. The Liberal government is promising to bring the pandemic to an end while building the economy, fighting climate change, rolling out new child care deals with the provinces and pursuing reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples. Gov. Gen. Mary May Simon, Canada's first Indigenous head of state, unveiled those priorities today in a speech from the throne that pointed to progress in the relationship between the federal government and Indigenous peoples. "Priority number one remains getting the pandemic under control. The best way to do that is vaccination." Simon said the Liberal government is committing to supporting and promot

No Matter Where You Turn, You Run Face First Into Walls. What Would a Progressive Do?

  Maybe you doubt that Canada is in the throes of a climate emergency. Then you're an idiot. Maybe you cling to blind hope that "they'll think of something." Then you're an idiot. Maybe you figure if you were just more careful with your recycling a lot of this would go away. Yep, you're an idiot. Maybe you want to believe that Mr. Trudeau will sort it all out and keep us snug and safe. Definitely an idiot. Maybe you just don't want to think about it. Then you're a coward. If one or more of these exist in your life, don't even call yourself progressive. Cowardice is not progressive. Idiocy is not progressive. The CBC has a story this morning about how the Fraser Valley flooding is a warning to us all . A warning? What about all the warnings we've had and ignored for the past two, three decades? Didn't Canada get the memo that climate breakdown would bring severe storm events of increasing frequency, intensity and duration? Why were we left o

Next Week - "A Parade of Storms"

On the heels of last week's storm disaster, much of British Columbia is now facing a second atmospheric river. The storm has come ashore at Haida Gwaii and is expected to veer south, perhaps reaching the already flooded Fraser Valley by Thursday. Things don't look better for next week either. Environment Canada warns that the Lower Mainland can expect a " parade of storms " next week. “The forecast going forward for the south coast (of B.C.) is very wet. That’s the short and the long of it,” said Environment and Climate Change Canada’s warning preparedness meteorologist Armel Castellan during a technical briefing with media on Monday. “We’ve had obviously a very wet fall and we are going to continue with a parade of storms.” Of most concern currently for Environment Canada is a warm “atmospheric river” (also known as a “tropical punch” or a “pineapple express”) that will bring in both rain and higher temperatures, meaning that water from snow melt in the mountains wi

Suzuki Predicts Pipelines Will Be Attacked

  It's a matter of life or death to David Suzuki . The government has a choice, end these climate killing pipelines or see them destroyed. "We think dinosaurs were losers because they suddenly disappeared, but they ruled the planet for 190 million years. We've been here, as I say, for 200 thousand." After the speech, which called for action from the government on climate change, he spoke to CHEK News , and said: "There are going to be pipelines blown up if our leaders don't pay attention to what's going on." The environmentalist's warning echoes a recent opinion piece in The Guardian making the moral case for destroying fossil fuel infrastructure . Parts of the earth are becoming unliveable . Facts like that, however, are in no real need of repetition. By now everyone knows, at some level of their consciousness, what is at stake. And still our governments allow fossil fuel companies to expand their installations for taking oil and gas and coal ou

How to Re-Invent Roads

  Building highways in British Columbia can bring challenges not always faced in other provinces.  Mountains and snowpack and raging rivers can do that sort of thing. When, last Wednesday, a massive atmospheric river took down all four of BC's mountain highways and both rail lines it was obvious that engineering standards of the past were no longer acceptable. This is no longer the Holocene. This is the Anthropocene. You may have head that some of these roads are re-opening. That doesn't mean they're repaired. Temporary, limited traffic routes have been established but fixing the highways will take until 2022, perhaps longer. The old roads won't return. The new roads will be designed by highway engineers but, this time, the road-builders will be guided by climate scientists. The Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium (PCIC), a climate analysis group based at the University of Victoria, projects a nearly fourfold increase in atmospheric rivers hitting western North America b

Why Settle for Jesus When You Really Want Mars?

Mars, the Roman god of war. Is that what Americans are referring to when they proclaim "in God we trust?" Ain't it odd that Americans call the Pentagon the "defense department" when it is so unconstituted for defense (or, as we call it, defence.)? Wouldn't it be better to go back to the old standby, the War Department? Retired US Air Force Lt.-Col. turned historian, William Astore, writes of America's real god, the PentaGod . Who is America’s god? The Christian god of the beatitudes, the one who healed the sick, helped the poor, and preached love of neighbor? Not in these (dis)United States. In the Pledge of Allegiance, we speak proudly of One Nation under God, but in the aggregate, this country doesn’t serve or worship Jesus Christ, or Allah, or any other god of justice and mercy. In truth, the deity America believes in is the five-sided one headquartered in Arlington, Virginia. America’s true god is a deity of wrath, whose keenest followers profit migh

What They Wrought on this Fine Province

  The Liberal Party of British Columbia left a disastrous legacy that reverberates today even after they've been run out of office. Among other things, during the reign of Gordon Campbell and his successor, Christie Clark, the provincial Libs offloaded responsibility for disaster management onto municipalities. In 2003 (the Campbell years), the government transferred responsibility for flood management to municipalities. The offloading has resulted in a hodgepodge of regimes across the province. In Metro Vancouver alone, for example, there are 21 municipal authorities with varying capacity to deal with the growing threats of extreme weather. During Christie Clark's tenure as premier, the provincial Libs sloughed off responsibility for managing sea level rise, again onto municipalities. I discussed the situation with our town's engineer. It was a bit shocking to learn that each municipality was responsible for hiring its own consultants to estimate sea level rise in the deca