Showing posts from March, 2022

Ottawa's Splendid Greenwash

  The devil, as usual, is in the details. There was plenty of bombast today in Ottawa as the Trudeau government announced bold targets to cut Canadian CO2 emissions by 45 per cent by 2030.  Canada has a rich history of emissions targets that never seem to be met. Canada is a land of cognitive dissonance.  At the same time as we're promising to trim domestic emissions, we're gearing up to increase exports of  the dirtiest fossil fuels. Canada's chartered banks are pouring money into bitumen and gas at a furious rate. Back when the Harper government was in power the Big Lie was that Canada's emissions didn't matter. We were a tiny country, by population. That, of course, ignored the fact that we were in the top ten emitters on a per capita basis and also overall. There is, however, a far greater problem than whether you bite the bullet and get rid of your gas guzzler. It's our export habits. A report released last week out of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change

Dirty Oil, Dirty Money

  Canada's chartered banks love fossil fuels.  Despite all the dire warnings of climate catastrophe, our banks, like our federal government, are big on bitumen . Canada’s five biggest banks increased their fossil fuel financing by 70 per cent, or around $61 billion, last year, according to the annual Banking on Climate Chaos report, put together by several environmental organizations. In 2021, RBC, Scotiabank, CIBC, TD and the Bank of Montreal all increased their fossil fuel financing and provided a combined $165 billion to fossil fuel clients, the report said. At the same time, all of the banks pledged to be “net-zero ” by 2050. The Tyee is supported by readers like you Join us and grow independent media in Canada Over the same period, financing for Canada’s tarsands increased by 51 per cent to $23.3 billion, with RBC and TD facilitating the biggest increases. The fossil fuelers, political and corporate, are exploiting the situation in Ukraine to promote energy exports to Europe.

So It's the F-35 After All

  And the winner is the stealth bomb truck from Lockheed Martin. Canada wants to buy 88 F-35s for some reason. Maybe it has something to do with courting America's favour. If you think we're getting the latest and greatest, think again. Every airplane is a million compromises bolted together. Speed, range, payload, electronics, it's a balancing act whether it's an airliner or a jet fighter. Some work amazingly well, some don't. The F-35's focus is stealth and that demands a ton of compromises. Whatever you plan to unleash on your enemy has to be stowed inside.  Start hanging missiles or bombs or extra fuel tanks under the wings and there goes your stealth. You also compromise performance - speed and range. So all your fuel and your ordinance has to be stowed inside. That is the price of admission to Club Stealth. The F-35 is not new but it will be "new to us." It's been 20 years since its inception. 20 years and Lockheed still hasn't sorted ou

Are We Being Set Up? Your Insurer May Be Playing You For a Sucker.

  Munich Re, Swiss Re, Hanover Ruck - these outfits know a thing or two about risks and usually give you the straight goods. They're the giants that retail insurers rely upon to offload some of their policy obligations. The problem is that you don't get to deal with the reinsurers.  You have to deal with the retail-grade outfits to insure your house, your life, your car, even your holiday abroad. And they're not in the business of telling you the truth. At one time we imagined that the insurance industry would be our climate heroes. Turns out they had other ideas. The retail side of the industry continued to provide coverage for home and businesses at risk from climate-related fires and wind storms. Indeed, since the climate risks surfaced, millions of people have moved into wildfire zones in the US west and to coastal properties at risk of hurricanes, storm surges and sea level rise. That influx of people continues, even though the Florida coast has eight of the 20 citi

Czar Vladimir Changes Course, Accuses West of "Cancel Culture."

  By most accounts, Vlad Putin's blitzkrieg on Ukraine isn't the grand triumph he was counting on. It's an embarrassment to the former KGB colonel whose real enemies surround him within the Kremlin. With the caveat that it's rarely wise to take Putin's word on anything, he's now indicating that he may be content to take Donbas and declare victory. That's akin to dismantling Ukraine one bite at a time. First Crimea, then Donbas and then.... Meanwhile, to keep the home fires burning, Czar Vladimir, is now trying to stoke outrage by accusing the West of "cancel culture." Japan, he claimed, “cynically decided to ‘cancel’” the fact that it was the United States that dropped nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II. And now, he said, the West is busy “canceling” Russia, “an entire thousand-year-old country, our people.” That the Russian president delivered a disquisition on Western public discourse on Friday may seem odd at a ti

Antarctic Ice Sheet Collapses

  Relax, it's not the Thwaites ice sheet. You might have to wait a few years for that one. It's the Conger ice sheet , at 1,200 sq. kms. a good deal smaller. The science types suspect the recent Antarctic heat dome that saw temperatures reach an incredible 40 degrees Celsius above normal might have helped the Conger to break loose. Dr Catherine Colello Walker, an earth and planetary scientist at Nasa and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, said though the Conger ice shelf was relatively small, “it is one of the most significant collapse events anywhere in Antarctica since the early 2000s when the Larsen B ice shelf disintegrated”. “It won’t have huge effects, most likely, but it’s a sign of what might be coming,” Walker said. The Conger ice shelf had been shrinking since the mid-2000s, but only gradually until the beginning of 2020, Walker said. By 4 March this year, the ice shelf appeared to have lost more than half its surface area compared to January measurements of ar

Some Pictures Are Worth a Thousand Words

  Voila, courtesy of The Tyee.

Eliot Cohen "Why Can't We Admit Ukraine is Winning?"

Writing in The Atlantic, professor and author, Eliot Cohen, argues that we're selling the Ukrainians short in their battles with invading Russian forces. The West’s biggest obstacle to accepting success, though, is that we have become accustomed over the past 20 years to think of our side as being stymied, ineffective, or incompetent. It is time to get beyond that, and consider the facts that we can see. The evidence that Ukraine is winning this war is abundant, if one only looks closely at the available data. The absence of Russian progress on the front lines is just half the picture, obscured though it is by maps showing big red blobs, which reflect not what the Russians control but the areas through which they have driven. The failure of almost all of Russia’s airborne assaults, its inability to destroy the Ukrainian air force and air-defense system, and the weeks-long paralysis of the 40-mile supply column north of Kyiv are suggestive. Russian losses are staggering—between 7,0

The Dreaded "E" Word or Good Intentions On the Road to Hell

  Canada must stop producing fossil fuels by 2034. 12 more years if mankind is to have a break-even chance of arresting global warming at 1.5C. A study out of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change, University of Manchester, contends that rich countries must slash fossil energy production by 70 % by 2030 and entirely just four years later. Poor countries that may be heavily or almost totally dependent on fossil fuel revenues should be given until 2050 to end production. The report examines each country’s wealth and how dependent its economy is on fossil fuel production. It found that many poorer countries would be crippled economically and politically by a rapid move away from oil and gas, while wealthier nations could afford to end fossil fuel production while remaining relatively prosperous. The author, prof. Kevin Anderson, isn't optimistic. Anderson warned many wealthier nations still only paid “lip service” to the idea. “I don’t see any sense of equity being taken seriously by

Meanwhile, in Existential News

With people riveted to the outrage in Ukraine or the Covid rollercoaster or the pump price of gasoline, the existential threat facing humanity has become an orphan. It isn't that climate change isn't drawing us to the abyss, it is. It's just that we have other priorities. We always have other priorities. We'll get to it eventually or "they" will think of something. Here's the latest. A bi-polar heatwave. We've had them before when in the dark of Arctic night surface air temperatures got into the double digits. But heatwaves at both poles , at the same time? Oh dear. Startling heatwaves at both of Earth’s poles are causing alarm among climate scientists, who have warned the “unprecedented” events could signal faster and abrupt climate breakdown. Temperatures in Antarctica reached record levels at the weekend, an astonishing 40C above normal in places. At the same time, weather stations near the north pole also showed signs of melting, with some tempera

Krugman on Putin: "He Had No Idea What He Was Getting Himself Into."

 Fareed Zakaria's Sunday interview with Paul Krugman

Taibbi's Tough Talk

  Trust Matt Taibbi to re-open old wounds.  In his latest piece, Taibbi looks at the invasion of Ukraine through George Orwell's eyes.  No one is spared . In the last weeks, Russia took an already exacting speech environment to new extremes. A law was passed that would impose 15-year prison sentences for anyone spreading “fake news” about the Ukraine invasion; access was cut to Facebook and Twitter ; stations like Echo Moskvi and TV Rain as well as BBC Russia, Radio Liberty, the New Times , Deutsche Welle , Doxa, and Latvia-based Meduza were effectively shut down; Wikipedia was threatened with a block over its invasion page; and national authorities have appeared to step in to prevent coverage of soldiers killed in the war , requiring local outlets to use terms like “special operation” instead. The latter development is connected to the state media regulator, Roskomnadzor, issuing a remarkably desperate dictum requiring news outlets to “use information and data received by t

How Politics is Supposed to Work

  This photo shows how today's politics has broken.  1961. A new president, Democrat John F. Kennedy, takes a stroll with the former president, Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower, to discuss foreign policy.

How's That "50 by 30" Thing Going?

The International Energy Agency reports that CO2 emissions climbed a hefty six percent last year . The culprit? Energy prices. Higher costs for fossil fuels, especially natural gas, are said to have driven consumers back to coal. I don't want to harp but it's a terrible result. Barely a week ago the IPCC released another report, truly dire, about the possible collapse of human civilization. It's gotten to the point where some of the contributing scientists are talking about quitting because, after 26 years, these reports, these warnings aren't working. What's the point? We're living in an era that in some ways reminds me of an episode of the Twilight Zone. I can almost hear Rod Serling's voice. Remember that episode with Shatner as a passenger on an airliner who can see a gremlin outside tearing the wing apart?  No one else can see it. Everyone thinks Shatner is mad. It's something like that except we can all see the gremlin, we can all hear the warning

Now, More Than Ever

  With the world oil price said to be heading to $200 per barrel and beyond, with grocery prices skyrocketing, and with Earth on the cusp of runaway climate catastrophe, could there be a better time for our prime minister to get serious about weaning Canada off fossil fuels? One week ago today the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC, reported that climate breakdown is going terminal, past the point of no return .  If we don't sober up there is no viable future for our grandkids. As oil prices soar, the differential between clean energy and fossil fuels widens. It's past time to electrify our economy and our society.  All we need is a leader who puts the country and our youngest Canadians ahead of his party. Now, more than ever.

Putin, the Evil Emperor

  Vlad Putin is a malevolent little shit who learned what he knows of humanity in the dungeons of Lubyanka. His greatest achievement was to persuade Boris Yeltsin to take an immunity deal in exchange for handing over the Russian presidency. Once KGB, always KGB. " If it walks like a duck..." Putin has a peculiar gate. His left arm swings normally when he walks. His right arm, however, remains relatively motionless at his side. That's his pistol hand. It's said to be a quick-draw technique taught to KGB officers in training. Putin wasted no time when, as a freshly minted president, he displayed his murderous brutality in the second Battle of Grozny , slaughtering the Chechens and reducing their capital to rubble. In 2003 the UN declared Grozny "the most destroyed city on Earth." Does this sound familiar? The Russian tactic in 1999 was to hold back tanks and armored personnel carriers and subject the entrenched Chechens to an intensive heavy artillery barrage

Justin's White Elephant

  The Parliamentary Budget Officer says the Justin Trudeau Memorial Pipeline  Trans Mountain pipeline will be a big loser for the federal treasury .  With costs now at $21.4 billion and expected to rise further there's no profit to be had.  The government paid top dollar for the project when the private sector wouldn't touch it. The pipeline will, however, deliver a dandy subsidy to the energy giants that will benefit from the prime minister's largesse. They don't care if it costs 20 billion. They don't care if it costs 50 billion. Let the government eat the losses.

US Freedom Convoy Gets a Flat

  2,000 trucks were expected to make the first leg of the Los Angeles to Washington Freedom Convoy. By the time these protest truckers reach Las Vegas they had amassed a grand total of five trucks and just gave up. Plenty of hurt feelings but organizers are hoping two other convoys, from real redneck states, will make Washington quake.

Cold War II. It Won't Be Your Grandpa's Cold War

  Cold War II seems to be upon us. The bad news is that it has come on extremely rapidly. The good news - there isn't any.  Mary Elise Sarotte is an expert on my Cold War, Cold War I, and a professor at John Hopkins University. She considers Cold War II by far the more dangerous. That 20th-century conflict was characterized by avoidance of direct Western-Russian engagement, producing instead proxy wars in other countries. President Vladimir Putin’s brazenness calls this practice into question. If he is reckless enough to pulverize Ukrainian civilians and risk popular rebellion, he may be reckless enough to provoke NATO. Russia’s vastly larger military — along with its stifled domestic political opposition, free press and free speech — means that there will be few checks on Mr. Putin’s carnage beyond what the outgunned Ukrainians can bring to bear. And if his conduct in Chechnya — a territory Russia mauled militarily in the 1990s — is any example, a potential occupation of Ukraine w

Because Nobody Wants to Hear About Climate Change

  Guardian cartoonist, Martin Rowson, sums up the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

If Liquor Stores Nix Russian Vodka, Why Can't Netflix Ditch Steven Segal?

  Self-styled tough guy Steven Seagal is not only a terrible actor with a bad hairpiece but a fast friend of Vlad Putin. He's also, somehow, for some reason, still making the odd movie, straight to video stuff. Putin gave Seagal Russian citizenship in 2016.  Now Seagal is wading in to the Putin swamp to put the blame for the Ukraine invasion  where it belongs - on anyone except Vlad Putin. "Most of us have friends and family in Russia & Ukraine. I look at both as one family and really believe it is an outside entity spending huge sums of money on propaganda to provoke the two countries to be at odds with each other." Please, Netfix, do us all a long overdue favour.