This blog will look at environmental and political issues that will affect the quality of life for future generations of all species. Including; sustainability, media labels of "environmental issues," and different kinds of resistance to environmental oppression. I will also post on anything I think someone interested in the aforementioned would be interested in...
Monday, November 10, 2008
Friday, June 20, 2008
Say "NO THANKS" politely HERE (petition)
Say it less politely in person to your elected representatives, notably; Brad Wall, Lorne Calvert, Ken Chevaldayoff, and Billy Boyd
The Last Question...
A texas oil tycoon just launched construction of the world's biggest wind turbine farm. It will cost 12 billion dollars and provide clean, renewable, sustainable, affordable energy for 1.3 million homes.
Monday, April 14, 2008
but look for updates on this issue in this post or another...
Thanks Dad for calling me at 8:30 this morning with the good news (I'm more stoked that it excited you so much actually)
Sunday, March 2, 2008
3:58pm Monday, Feb 25
Ouch, ouch. I thought there were rules against piling on, or was that just for sports? I've always thought it was unfair to beat up an old man, especially one wearing glasses!
I have been astonished at the response of columnists and letter writers to remarks I made in Montreal that were reported in the McGill student paper and then quoted and misquoted extensively, thereby fostering an impression of my remarks that bear little resemblance to what I remember saying.
Hey, I've been a journalist a long time and I know that controversy sells and that what I say is open fodder for those who disagree. We all see the world through the lenses of our own values, beliefs and biases, and I understand that. I happen to believe that the back-and-forth debate about ideas is what moves us along. I don't expect responses to me to be fair or unbiased, but at least let's start with what I actually said. For what it's worth, here's the context for my talk and ideas.
Human beings are animals, biological beings that are as dependent on clean air, clean water, clean soil, clean energy and biodiversity as any other living organism. In fact, all life on Earth inhabits that thin layer of air, water and soil that is called the biosphere. If the planet were reduced to the size of a basketball, the biosphere would be as thin as a layer of varnish. That's it, it's finite and fixed.
Ecology and economics are based on the same root, eco, from the Greek word oikos, meaning home. Ecology is the study of home while economics is its management. Ecologists try to define the conditions and principles that govern life's ability to flourish. It makes sense that to ensure long-term sustainability, we should not interfere with or degrade those conditions and principles.
When some of our governments inform us that action to combat climate change must not slow down or disrupt the economy, that reflects the elevation of economics above ecology, and that is dangerous. In a finite world, steady growth forever is not only impossible, it is suicidal. Such a goal blinds us from asking important questions like what is an economy for, are we happier with all of the consumptive goods generated by that economy and how much is enough? Canada is one of the wealthiest countries in the world and Alberta is its wealthiest province. If we can't ask questions about growth and the purpose of the economy, how can we expect poorer developing nations to consider them as they strive to emulate us?
Humanity has undergone a sudden shift in our presence on the planet, and because it has happened so suddenly, we haven't been able to fully recognize the responsibility that comes with it. Human beings now outnumber all other mammals on the planet and just the basics of life for each of us - air, water, food, energy, clothing, shelter - lead to a heavy ecological footprint. But of course, we are not like other mammals; we have a huge amount of technology to generate the things we use in modern society, and that amplifies our footprint enormously. Add to that our rising consumptive demands and a global economy, and human beings have become a new kind of force on Earth. No other species has been able to alter the biological, chemical and physical features of the planet as we are doing now, and that makes our need to find a sustainable path even more urgent.
For 20 years, leading scientists have warned us that the climate is changing and that human beings are a major part of it. Around the world in 1988, the public ranked the environment as its top concern, and when George H.W. Bush ran for office, he promised to "be an environmental president." Once ensconced, he showed how little campaign promises meant, and his son appears to have inherited the trait. In 1988, participants at a major conference of atmosphere scientists in Toronto were so alarmed by the evidence that global warming was happening that they signed a news release calling global warming a threat to human survival second only to nuclear war and recommended a 20 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions below 1988 levels in 15 years. If we had followed their recommendations, we would be far beyond the Kyoto target and well on our way to the deep reductions called for now.
Brian Mulroney was re-elected prime minister in 1988, and to show his concern for the environment, he appointed his brightest star, Lucien Bouchard, as environment minister. I interviewed Bouchard two months after he was appointed and asked him what he felt was the most pressing environmental issue. He immediately responded, "Global warming." I asked him how serious it was. He said, "It threatens the survival of our species," and called for immediate action.
So scientists had issued an urgent call and politicians seemed to hear it, but nothing was done. Why? I don't know, but I can speculate on one problem. To achieve the reductions called for would have cost Canadians tens of billions of dollars, but studies done in several countries at that time indicated there would be net savings far beyond the dollars invested. Unfortunately, any politician making the commitment would take a tremendous beating for spending so heavily (as we are seeing in the Gordon Campbell government's green budget) while someone else would take the kudos for achieving it and saving the money 15 years later. In other words, it doesn't make political sense.
The Nature of Things did the first special on global warming in 1989. Back then, I said that we had to act now but that climate change represented a "slow-motion catastrophe," because I thought at the time that we wouldn't see any effects for decades. To our surprise, every year since then, the evidence has come in that even with a 0.7 C rise, nature is showing unmistakable signs of responding, while in the Arctic, Inuit have been telling us for years their environment is changing. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), set up to examine the scientific evidence on climate change, has been very cautious in examining tens of thousands of scientific reports and in concluding that human beings are the major cause of climate change and that it is an urgent challenge to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by large amounts.
The eminent economist Sir Nicholas Stern, former senior economist with the World Bank, was asked by then-finance minister (now U.K. Prime Minister) Gordon Brown to calculate the cost of acting on climate change. He told me when he began that he didn't know much about the subject and had no opinion on it. He sought information from the scientific community and concluded that every effort should be made to reduce emissions so that temperature does not rise by more than two degrees this century. To achieve this would require heroic effort at a cost of one per cent of annual GDPs for decades. But when he considered the cost of dealing with runaway climate change by not taking steps to reduce emissions, he found up to 20 per cent of the global economy could disappear -- more than the cost of World Wars I and II combined! Faced with a one per cent cost versus an unprecedented depression, it seems to me there is no choice: We have to make the effort and pay the price.
National organizations of leading scientists, from the National Academy of Sciences (U.S.) to the Royal Society of London (U.K.), Royal Society of Canada and the academies of France, Germany, Japan, China and India, have all called for urgent action to meet the challenge of climate change. The science is in, the leading scientists have issued a call to action and each day that goes by without acting ensures that the problems for our children and grandchildren will become ever greater.
In a democracy, we elect people to look out for our interests and to lead us into the future. Many of the decisions made in forestry, fisheries, agriculture and mining have repercussions that reverberate for years to come. Of course, the electorate can register its approval or disapproval of those politicians during an election. But what mechanism do we have to ensure accountability of those people for actions whose effects we will only see decades or generations away? Of course, they do the best they can with the information at hand, but when top scientists and their societies cite overwhelming scientific evidence and issue calls to action, only to find their advice ignored or even, in some cases, deliberately tampered with by politicians, what are we to do? What other authorities do we accept as guides for action or inaction: the Bible or the Koran, the Dow-Jones average or any economist who fails to acknowledge limits and nature's importance?
That's the background behind my suggestion that by ignoring the best scientific advice, politicians and governments are leaving huge problems for our children and grandchildren, and that could be seen as an intergenerational crime. My suggestion is that we explore this issue of intergenerational accountability where ignorance is not an excuse.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
... a US satellite was going to crash into the earth and contained 10 million dollars worth of extremely dangorous chemicals (possibly nuclear, details classified)...
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Sunday, February 10, 2008
Check out this blogger's view of the issue... (added Feb.21)
A very important email from ZENN.
On December 22, 2007, only 50 days after granting the ZENN the National Safety Mark (clearing the way for ZENN to sell in the provinces that enact low-speed vehicle legislation) Transport Canada announced plans to REVISE THE DEFINITION OF LOW-SPEED VEHICLES.
The (paraphrased) existing Low-Speed Vehicle (LSV) definition is as follows:
“Low Speed Vehicles are designed for on road use, have a regulated top speed of 40 KPH and are restricted to roads with a posted speed limit of 50KPH.”
This type of vehicle is legal in more than 40 of the 50 States and throughout Europe, Asia and South America in mixed-use environments and has an exemplary safety record when operated in its defined operating environments!
The proposed revision to definition of Low-Speed Vehicles (LSVs) is as follows:
“low-speed vehicle” means a vehicle, other than a restricted-use motorcycle or a vehicle imported temporarily for special purposes, that is designed for use primarily on streets and roads where access and the use of other classes of vehicles are controlled by law or agreement”
There are other recommendations, including the addition of small trucks to the definition and improvements for increased visibility of LSVs that ZENN Motor Company agrees are reasonable and we support.
Reference: Canada Gazette Vol. 141, No. 51 — December 22, 2007, Regulations Amending the Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations (Low-speed Vehicles)
What does this mean?
Essentially, the ZENN would be UNABLE to operate on 50 KPH and slower public roads such as downtown Victoria, Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto. The ZENN, and vehicles like it would be forced to only operate on closed, private roads such as parks, university campuses and military bases.
What are the consequences to such a revision?
§ The ZENN, and green vehicles like it will not enter the Canadian market
§ Consumer choice for alternative, zero emission green vehicles will remain limited to bicycles
§ Those provinces who wish to promote alternative forms of transportation (such as a Low-Speed Vehicle) will have to legislate in direct opposition to Transport Canada’s revised definition of limited on road use
Concerned? Outraged? Here’s what you can do:
All comments regarding the proposed changes must be submitted by February 20, 2008 to:
Matthew Coons, Senior Regulatory Development
Engineer, Road Safety and Motor Vehicle Regulation
Directorate, Department of Transport, Place de Ville, Tower C,
8th Floor, 330 Sparks Street, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0N5
tel.:613-998-1961; e-mail: email@example.com
Thursday, January 31, 2008
Friday, January 25, 2008
The Corporate Climate Coup
By: David Noble
this article pushed my climate change research into an entirely different perspective... it is so far the most hard-hitting publication regarding climate change action obstacles I've come across... (I am a student researcher for climate change)
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
This is why the University of Saskatchewan's 300,000 TalismanOil-sponsored research into attempting to delay ACTION currently being done by Dr.William Patterson (my arch-nemisis?) is CRIMINAL!
Also, this is why we ourselves, at the university of regina, need to switch to sustainability research that isnt trying to make fossil fuels slightly less toxic... we need to research what is blocking the switch to renewable, sustainable solutions is CONTINUALLY DELAYED!
The only thing I'd like to add to the video... is that individual consumption-lowering will not work if big corporations are allowed to fill the carbon-void (like under the current carbon-trading system)
Monday, January 7, 2008
We head into 2008 with an unprecedented level of environmental awareness and an increasing public demand for action on major environmental issues (such as anthropocentric climate change.) Lets look at some major events in 2007 that inspired this growing trend.
As increasingly intense weather patterns continued battering coastline communities (like BC and Newfoundland), the environment arose as the number one voting issue for the majority of Canadians. This meant that the majority-elected democratic leaders began to take notice of the environment as a leading issue.
The most influential global environmental conference of our generation took place in Bali in December. After much public outcry, including an online petition attracting over 100,000 signatures in just 4 days, our Conservative government (representing Canada to the world and fearing the loss of ‘votes’) begrudgingly agreed to binding limits on Greenhouse Gas Emissions. Symbolically favouring longterm environmental protection over short-term economic gains.
The US Supreme Court and a bipartisan investigative committee found the Bush administration GUILTY of illegally blocking information and action on human-caused climate change. Not many people were surprised by this ruling given the new wave of environmental awareness spreading rapidly. But not enough attention is being focused on the implications of what these rulings meen. If you like incredibly scary real-life horror scenarios (like in the movies), just look at some of the least-worst predictions that have been made by climate scientists (and until very recently, ignored)
The UN Inter-governmental panel on climate (IPCC) and Al Gore won the Nobel Peace prize for their role in creating awareness on how our capitalist global society’s way of living is killing the planet.
Also in 2007, a broad survey of 22,000 Canadian “intelligent, education, and connected” individuals found that 74% believe corporations have too much influence over governments, and 69% agreed large corporations are more powerful than the governments themselves. More and more concerned citizen’s are seeing corporate power (and binding trade agreements) as the root causes for many globally inter-connected environmental problems.
This exponentially increasing environmental awareness is being spread by a growing independent media and technological innovlations in social networking (like facebook or the internet in general).
On our own campus, students and faculty began networking and organizing to create a new transdisciplinary environmental studies degree (tentatively set to come out in 2009). Our university is also hosting a student’s for sustainability world conference and a United Nations Education for Sustainable Development Regional Center for Expertise symposium (both in May 2008).
Not surprisingly, the environment was on the minds of the majority of Canadians when making their new years resolutions as well. According to one national poll, the top new year’s resolution of 2008 is to be more environmentally conscious when shopping and making resource-usage decisions. Specifically, people seem to believe that ‘direct personal action can make a difference in protecting the planet for future generations.’
So as you head into 2008, fellow students, citizens, and passengers on spaceship earth… Consider the ecological consequences of the way you live. It’s no longer about looking your grandchildren in the eyes as you tell them what a rainforest used to look like. It’s about how you will apply your privileged agency and preparing our families and communities to survive the upcoming apex of an unsustainable society’s revolutionary transition, or apocalyptic demise.