Category Archives: Climate Science

Rafe: Christy Clark’s LNG promises are nothing but hot air

Premier Christy Clark at her government’s LNG conference (Province of BC/Flickr)

We have all been screwed, blued and tattooed in the riding of West Vancouver-Sea-to-Sky, and let me tell you how this affects every British Columbian in every region of the province.

Just as Kinder Morgan would use the Salish Sea as the  sewage disposal and latrine for Tar Sands bitumen; just as the Pacific NorthWest LNG proposal for an export terminal on Lelu Island would kill BC fish; just as all proposed LNG plants in BC are ecological disgraces, Woodfibre LNG is in clear violation of Canada’s agreement on Climate in Paris in November, 2015. I’ll speak of other problems with Woodfibre LNG in a moment.

Christy’s LNG lies

Christy Clark, who seems pathologically incapable of telling the truth, constantly trills the mantra “the greatest single step British Columbia can take to fight climate change” is to export LNG.  This excessive verbal crap is so typical of this woman as you will see in this quote from a well known and mighty respected geologist and shale gas expert, David Hughes in an interview with the Squamish Chief last year. Dr. Hughes was asked this, point blank question:

[quote]Q: One argument is we are not being fair to the people in China who are suffering from coal production and that liquefied natural gas from here will save them from that.  [/quote]

Here was his answer:

[quote]A: “On a full-cycle emissions basis, the planet would be better off if China built state-of-the-art coal plants rather than burning B.C. LNG for at least the next 50 years. It is true that at the burner tip gas produces about half the CO2 of coal. But you have to consider full cycle emissions from the wellhead to the burner tip for gas. The hydraulic fracturing process and the supply chain – pipelines, processing plants – emit considerable amounts of methane, which is 73 times as potent as CO2 on a 20-year timeframe and 25 times as potent on a 100-year time frame (because methane leaves the atmosphere more quickly than CO2). Plus, about 20 per cent of the gas must be burned to provide power for the liquefaction and shipping process. [emphasis mine -RM]

If you compare full-cycle emissions from B.C. LNG burned in China to a state-of-the-art Chinese coal plant, which runs at 46 per cent efficiency (compared to 33 per cent efficiency for an old coal plant), B.C. LNG is 27 per cent worse than burning coal over a 20-year timeframe and seven per cent better on a 100-year timeframe. So, you’d need to wait more than 50 years until you break even, while suffering from the effects of increased greenhouse gases in the meantime.[/quote]

Christy Clark, I should explain, has a rule: never read on once the word “however” appears.

Trudeau’s no better

If, like me, you have wondered why Trudeau has steadily and, one might say, violently swerved away from the commitments Canada made re: Climate change at Paris in 2015, here is a multiple choice: 1.  Sunspots;  2. A mickey slipped into his ginger ale; 3. It was in French, an alien tongue; 4. The oil industry had him by the balls and started to squeeze.

This story of April 21 last in the National Observer may be used to help you answer:

[quote]The Trudeau government and the oil patch are in agreement: Canada needs to delay plans to reduce the heat-trapping pollution that causes climate change because those actions will cost too much.

It’s a stunning retreat from key promises and statements made by the government since its election in 2015. And it has left some environmentalists wondering whether Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is following the Trump administration’s race to the bottom on climate policy.

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna confirmed the news on Thursday during a conference call with reporters. She said that Canada would introduce plans that would delay tackling emissions of methane — a powerful heat-trapping gas — from the oil patch by two years, the CBC reported.[/quote]

Compare this with an earlier story by the National Observer noting:

• The amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere continues to accelerate upwards despite global efforts

• The last two years had “unprecedented” increases

• Canadian CO2 extraction is playing an oversized role

The primary driver of global warming, disruptive climate changes and ocean acidification is the ever-increasing amount of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere.

In the pocket of the oil lobby

The plain fact, shorn of the political double talk and statements of lofty motives is this: The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), who control the Postmedia newspapers with their notorious “mutual masturbation” agreement, needs only to whisper “jump” and Trudeau and Clark, in perfect harmony, cry back “how high, sir, and when?”

You may believe BC’s Premier Prevaricator, Christy Clark, that Woodfibre LNG is all about BC just trying to help China and the world solve climate change difficulties, but as the Duke of Wellington, at the height of his fame, said to the man who hailed him as “Mr. Robinson, I believe”, “Sir, if you believe that, you’ll believe anything”.

Howe Sound too dangerous for LNG tankers: leading scientist

Howe Sound is British Columbia’s most southern fjord and one of its justly famed beauty spots. Once polluted by a Squamish pulp mill and Britannia Mines, the treasures of my boyhood – the whales, salmon runs, the seals, sea lions, dolphins and porpoises had mostly left. The sea flora and shellfish were disappearing. It looked as if Howe Sound had lost much of its distinctiveness forever.

But ordinary people joined government with hard work and their own money and we know what happened! The herring returned and the salmon runs with them. Killer whales, humpback whales, seals, sea lions, dolphins and porpoises returned. Divers told of rejuvenated plants and the revived shellfish populations.

Courtesy of Eoin Finn

Before May 9, I and others will tell you more about the phoney environmental assessment which missed more than it covered. We’re left with unacceptable emissions in the atmosphere and ground level, hot, polluted emissions into the Sound into the habitat of the recovered sea life and dangerous LNG tankers which will be ever-increasing. And guess what folks? Howe Sound is too narrow for LNG tankers! And who says so is pretty interesting.

The leading global expert, Dr. Michael Hightower, of world-renowned Sandia Laboratories of New Mexico, the United States government and – get this – the tanker industry’s own professional organization, The Society of International Gas Tanker and Terminal Operators (SIGTTO). They all say too narrow and disagreeing with them are Sukanto Tanoto, the Indonesian jungle burner, bully landlord and convicted crook who owns WFLNG, Justin Trudeau, Christy Clark, John Horgan and to round out that gathering of experts, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.

And how are we all being screwed, blued and tattooed? 

Both parties with a chance of forming a government favour WFLNG and while Dr. Weaver, leader of the Greens, has spoken critically about WFLNG, worry beads are being fingered at the possibility of the Greens, holding a balance of power, might join Christy in coalition with WFLNG approval being a bargaining chip.

With uncertainty about Greens prevalent at the moment, that leaves an unknown Independent – a chap named Tristan Andrew Galbraith who owns “Critter Get Ritter,” a pest-control service in Whistler…and, who knows, a pest control expert may be just what voters will be looking for.

You’ll know more about him I suspect in the days to come.


Rafe: With LNG approval, Trudeau govt shows true colours…but we shouldn’t be suprised

Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna with BC Premier Christy Clark (right) announcing her government's approval of PNWLNG (Province of BC/Flickr)
Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna with Industry Minister Jim Carr (left) and BC Premier Christy Clark (right) announcing the federal government’s approval of PNWLNG (Province of BC/Flickr)
[quote]Developing a climate plan to meet Canada’s Paris Agreement commitments is a challenging but achievable task for the federal government. Doing so while meeting Alberta’s and BC’s oil and gas production growth aspirations, however, will be virtually impossible.
The oil and gas industry is certainly not going away any time soon, but if Canada is serious about meeting its climate commitments it is time for the prime minister and premiers to do the math and stop telling us we can have it all. – David Hughes, geoscientist, shale gas expert and 32-year retired veteran the Geological Survey of Canada.[/quote]
British Columbians have every reason to be fighting mad at Trudeau’s decision to approve the Pacific Northwest LNG project. Yes, every reason to be fighting mad but absolutely no reason to be surprised.
Philosopher George Santayana famously said, “Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it” and we just had that jammed up…er, shoved in our face.
Already early this year, people like Dr. David Suzuki, Norman Farrell of In-Sights and myself and colleagues at this publication were raising the issue that Trudeau’s emerging Liberal environmental policy was inconsistent with the commitments he had made at Paris.
Well, you will never find a clearer example of the dissembling and hypocrisy of this two-faced Trudeau bunch than in my constituency of West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country.

Woodfibre LNG approval was first clue

Liberal MP Pamela Goldsmith-Jones (Flickr/CreativeMornings Vancouver/Matthew Smith)
Liberal MP Pamela Goldsmith-Jones (Flickr/CreativeMornings Vancouver/Matthew Smith)

It’s no exaggeration to say that the only substantive issue in the 2015 election was the proposed Woodfibre LNG plant at Squamish (WLNG). People were enraged at the Harper government and MP John Weston on this issue, wanted to see the end of them, looked for a considerable period as if they would vote Green, panicked at the thought of a split vote and the Tories returned to ruin Howe Sound with WLNG, and so switched to the Liberal candidate – former West Vancouver mayor Pamela Goldsmith-Jones – who’d pledged she would support the wishes of her constituents.

In an election where the only substantive issue was WLNG, it was not surprising that Goldsmith-Jones won by a landslide. Having been assured that there would be consultation with them, voters felt confident that at worst they would have a fair opportunity to be heard.
Ha! Silly buggers trusted this new, attractive and sweet-talking Prime Minister and had forgotten Santayana entirely. Completely out of the blue, on March 18 last, environment minister Catherine McKenna quietly announced the Trudeau government approval of WLNG.

Environmental assessments still broken

Apart from all else, the so-called environmental assessment process was flawed unto fraudulent, such that Trudeau promises a review and fixes during the election. We’re not talking technicalities here but very substantial concerns about deadly, poisonous discharges – both into the atmosphere and directly into Howe Sound, putting all sea life at serious risk, including recently restored salmon and herring runs. There was no consideration given to the width of Howe Sound, considered grossly unsafe for LNG tanker traffic both by international rules and the industry’s own standards.
Not only were the people of the area not consulted, they were deliberately misled. Sandbagged is the better word. The esteemed, former mayor of West Vancouver, now Trudeau’s MP and parliamentary secretary to the foreign minister, was not even advised that this decision was pending, much less given notice that it had been made.
After it was released in such a shocking, high-handed manner, she clearly lacked the guts to speak out and hasn’t done so to this day.
In fact, the deception and hypocrisy didn’t end there by any means. On the orders of her government, Goldsmith-Jones held two sets of public hearings, after the decision,  neither of which dealt with the wisdom of the decision. Indeed, the second group was classic Liberal cynicism that should have been as familiar to us as Goldilocks and the Three Bears.
These meetings were held so that the government (the same one that had just approved WLNG) could explain it to the rabble, all aspects of climate change and how we could prevent it. There was just one niggling detail – we weren’t permitted to raise the issue of pollution from LNG, the most significant contributor to climate change! Nothing, of course, to do with the fact that the same Trudeau government had just approved the LNG plant in Squamish which would contribute dramatically to climate change!

Fox put in charge of the hen house

By now you must be begging for mercy, but there’s one more dollop of pure Liberal party policy, so typical that you can evaluate the rest of the process by it.
Now the damage has been done, Trudeau, to the accompanying of sucking from our MP,  has set up an  environmental review process.
Guess who the chair of this process will be?
Doug Horswill - LNG lobbyist and Trudeau-appointee to review environmental assessments
Doug Horswill – LNG lobbyist and Trudeau-appointee to review environmental assessments

Doug Horswill, Founding Chair of Resource Works, an industry advocacy group founded for the sole purpose of doing everything possible to get government approval for Woodfibre LNG!

My comment at the time was that this was the worst example of cynicism since Caligula made his horse a Consul. DeSmog Blog was bang on when they declared “the overarching message of Resource Works is that continued extraction of natural resources is essential to B.C.’s prosperity and anything that stands in the way of extraction — local opposition, regulations, taxes — is a threat to that prosperity. It’s a message they repeat over and over and over.”

What’s good for the Liberal Party

So now we have it. The tinpot dictator with the boyish smile arbitrarily approving a legally-contentious project, not approved by the First Nations involved, clearly a substantial threat to fish, a traditional part of First Nations existence, and without any concern whatever for the environmental and social consequences.
Will we ever learn the one fundamental principle that has always guided the Liberal party? “What’s Good For The Liberal Party Is Good For The Nation.”
I leave you with one question: Aren’t you glad we got rid of that soulless dictator Stephen Harper and his pals, the oil industry, so bent on destroying our natural resources, atmosphere, and principles of fair play?

Longtime Lions Bay Mayor: LNG is plain dirty, violates Canada’s climate commitments

Christy Clark promotes "Clean LNG" at Vancouver conference last year (David P. Ball)
Christy Clark promotes “Clean LNG” at Vancouver conference last year (David P. Ball)
By Brenda Broughton
It is vital to oppose the previous government’s disregard and denial of science.
However, this new government appears to be cherry-picking the science it uses and then hiding behind the science against the interests of citizens and against the science needing review to meet COP 21 commitments.
Justin Trudeau and Christy Clark (Province of BC/Flickr CC)
Both Justin Trudeau and Christy Clark are ignoring the climate science on LNG (Province of BC/Flickr CC)

No part of the word ‘clean’ should be used in association with LNG, as LNG is NOT clean energy. This is very clearly stated by the oil and gas industry. It is very curious that the Provincial and Federal governments are refusing to acknowledge this clear fact-based science that LNG is NOT clean energy. It is only government, not industry, that is attempting to erroneously and wrongly market LNG as clean or cleaner energy.

Governments are failing COP 21.

Courageous leadership is essential. Canadians were promised intelligent leadership and we are receiving dogmatic decisions not based upon intelligent leadership. This now must become a public discussion.

Woodfibre LNG is wrong, science and scientists report that it is wrong for the environment and acts against COP 21 goals.

The CEAA called for public  comment on the GHG emissions and upstream impacts on February 9th, 2016 without notice, and ending March 1st, 2016, thus providing only 3 weeks for public comment.

Squamish Council faces legal action from both sides in LNG pipeline dispute
Citizens line the Sea to Sky Highway to protest Woodfibre LNG (My Sea to Sky)

In this brief period the CEAA received 9, 980 public comments. In analyzing the comments including the just short of 100 verbal presentations, there were 11 neutral, 83 written letters of support, with only a handful addressing the science, and 99.1% opposed, that is, approximately 9,800 comments of opposition with most comments addressing the GHG emissions and the upstream impacts.

At the Liberal Convention ‘People, People, People’ was said to be important by several including the Prime Minister, and yet the Minister of Environment appears to not have even reviewed these CEAA responses and stated that they relied on the BCEAO analysis, which was not based upon science and was concluded prior to COP 21. Science and sustainability also includes people.

Woodfibre LNG will not produce any revenue for the following reasons:

1. PST forgiveness negotiated for LNG export in BC;
2. NEB allowance for an offshore Woodfibre company for retail sales;
3. Provincial carbon tax forgiveness of 5 million tonnes;
4. Total of 32 jobs which after payroll tax paid. Province of BC will pay net to Woodfibre LNG between $200,000 to $600,000 dollars annually;
5. No tax revenue will be realized and our economy, environment, fisheries, marine and human safety will be seriously compromised as Howe Sound and its beauty are an economic driver for Canada.

The Squamish First Nation has no jurisdiction over most of Howe Sound. The peoples of Howe Sound are very concerned, as their opposition is not being heard. The Minister of Environment appears to have not reviewed the science and also to be turning her back on, or avoiding speaking or meeting with the people expressing real and serious concerns.

 Supertanker Shipping does not meet the International SIGTTO Shipping lane standards, thus in the United States, Howe Sound would have automatically been rejected as a possible LNG Supertanker Shipping lane as it is too dangerous, with pre-existing population and pre-existing commerce.
Last day for public comments on Woodfibre LNG proposal
Rendering of proposed Woodfibre LNG project near Squamish, BC

Woodfibre LNG is the only single cycle water exchange design among the BC LNG proposals. This is outlawed in the United States and any LNG plants with the single cycle have changed them or are on notice for change. The single cycle water exchange will damage herring roe, and thus harm the health of Howe Sound. The herring roe is drawing dolphins, who are drawing whales to Howe Sound.

Howe Sound has been in an active recovery for decades and had a significant pink salmon catch of 300,000 recently. This renewal of the fish has taken decades to accomplish following a decades-long and amazing clean up. The single cycle will also warm the water further harming spawning grounds and potentially attracting warm water primitive sea life, such as sharks. Howe Sound is a regular swimming location at Lions Bay, Porteau Cove, Bowen Island, Gambier Island, Anvil Island, Camp Potlach and is the home of many children’s camps for the Metro Vancouver region.

Brenda Broughton (Twitter)
Brenda Broughton (Twitter)

I implore you to reverse the Woodfibre LNG decision, with the Minister of Transport and the Minister of Fisheries advisedly and unequivocally denying permits.

The growing addiction to minimization of the environmental damage that will occur if Woodfibre LNG goes ahead, must stop. Ministers who continue to minimize rather than make courageous leadership decisions on behalf of the environment and Canada’s COP 21 goals, for the economy now and in the future, should step aside from their Cabinet posts immediately.

Brenda Broughton, MA, RCC is the former 5 term mayor of the Village of Lions Bay and Envisioner and former Charter Chair of the Howe Sound Community Forum.

Large hydro dams aren't green - they actually drive climate change

Let’s quit pretending dams like Site C are good for the climate

Large hydro dams aren't green - they actually drive climate change
BC’s WAC Bennett Dam (Photo: Damien Gillis)

There are many good reasons not to build Site C Dam: destruction of farmland and wildlife habitat, the violation of First Nations’ rights, the likely $15 Billion tab for taxpayers, and the fact that we simply don’t need the power. But you can add one very important item to the list: CLIMATE.

Hydro full of hot air

I raise this now because we have climate on the brain with the Paris talks and because it’s the final fig leaf clung to by defenders of this bogus project. People like BC Hydro’s Siobhan Jackson – Environmental and Community Mitigation Manager for Site C – perpetuate the myth that hydro dams, while ecologically devastating, are somehow “clean”. In a recent op-ed in the Vancouver Sun, Jackson acknowledged, then quickly downplayed the GHGs that would be produced by the project.

“Site C, after an initial burst of expenditure, would lock in low rates for many decades, and would produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions per unit of energy than any source save nuclear,” she says. From a strictly GHG perspective dams may be better than coal. But there are two big problems with this argument.

Inflating demand to justify Site C

First, it’s a false dichotomy. Hydro’s own numbers, recently submitted to the BC Utilities Commission, show we won’t need the electricity from Site C until at least 2029 – unless we use it to power the cooling of gas into LNG, in which case the climate rationale just went right out the window, since even a few LNG plants would require a massive ramping up of fracked natural gas in northeast BC, which is a huge climate problem. Jackson contradicts her own people, repeating the old saw that we will simply need more power – 40% in 20 years – a figure pulled straight from between her butt cheeks.

The truth is Hydro has always and severely overestimated future power demands, as we have repeatedly demonstrated in these pages. The fact is we’re using essentially the same amount of electricity today in BC as we did at the turn of the millennium, despite population increases and new gadgetry (which is increasingly efficient).

So the choice between flooding another 80 km of the Peace Valley for a third hydro dam and relying on coal-fired energy is an absolutely false one. Here’s what is true: Site C is a lot worse for the environment than the very real alternative of continued conservation.

Ignoring the latest science

The other big problem with Jackson’s argument is it soft-pedals the serious climate impacts of Hydro dams. She claims the research and methodology relied on by Hydro to measure Site C’s GHG footprint is top-notch. I beg to differ. New research is showing that dams produce far more greenhouse gases than previously thought.

For instance, this peer-reviewed study in Science Daily notes:

[quote]Researchers have documented an underappreciated suite of players in global warming: dams, the water reservoirs behind them, and surges of greenhouse gases as water levels go up and down. In separate studies, researchers saw methane levels jump 20- and 36-fold during drawdowns.[/quote]

Methane is a far worse greenhouse gas than CO2 – 86 times worse, in fact, over a 20-year period, according to Dr. Robert Howarth from Cornell University, a globally acknowledged expert on the subject. This is the same reason fracking is so bad for the climate – pure “natural gas” is methane and far more of it leaks into the atmosphere during the extraction, treatment and piping processes than we once thought. We call these “fugitive methane emissions”. The unnatural water bodies we call dam reservoirs accumulate dead biomass from all those trees cut down and hillsides unearthed, which in turn rots and emits the same methane into the atmosphere, producing serious GHGs over the entire life of a project.

This explains why a study in the journal Water, Air and Soil Pollution determined that “one Amazonian dam, Tucurui, was once calculated to have greater emissions than Sao Paulo, Brazil’s largest city and among the 10 most populous in the world,” as this 2013 story on Brazil’s exploding carbon footprint explains.

A whole lot of concrete

This is, of course, on top of the enormous emissions associated with construction, from all that concrete poured and heavy machinery operating for a decade. Ms. Jackson acknowledges this as an “initial burst of expenditure” (if you can call ten years of construction “initial”, that is). In a particularly insightful article on the subject in EcoWatch, author Gary Wocker notes:

[quote]For one medium-sized dam project proposed for the Cache la Poudre River in Colorado, it is estimated that the construction would emit 218,000 metric tons CO2-equivalents which equals the emissions from almost 46,000 automobiles on the road for one year. Larger dams, such as Hoover Dam which contains 4.36 million cubic yards of concrete, would have exponentially higher climate change impacts from construction. The largest hydro-electric dam on the planet—the Three Gorges Dam in China—contains 27.15 million cubic meters of cement.[/quote]

Lesser of two evils

So Jackson and co. breeze by the ten-year construction phase, instead landing on the argument that Site C will have a smaller reservoir than the existing Williston, therefore fewer GHGs from dead biomass by comparison. Okay – but that’s a lesser of two evils argument. The important question is not how many GHGs Site C will produce compared to larger reservoirs, but rather how it would fare compared with other renewable technologies; and, even more importantly, do we even need it at all? Since the answer to that is “no”, the whole conversation is moot.

Even if we did need more power in 30 years, the technologies available will be exponentially better and cheaper, so what’s the rush to plunk down $15 billion of your scarce tax dollars now and destroy a whole valley in the process? Moreover, the climate crisis is such that adding a comparatively small degree of new emissions to existing ones is no longer an acceptable argument. We need to be going in the opposite direction – i.e. cutting emissions and total energy consumption. These are things that our new Prime Minister – as he jostles with provinces like ours over their climate plans and the loopholes they build into them – would do well to bear in mind as he’s petitioned to reconsider federal permits for the project issued by his predecessor. Site C has no place in Mr. Trudeau’s federal energy strategy.

Nothing “Clean” about Site C

Calling an 80 km-long dam that will flood or disturb 30,000 acres of some of the best farmland we have left in Canada, contaminate fish with absolutely toxic levels of mercury for decades to come, destroy some of the best remaining wildlife habitat in an already industrially-devastated region and produce massive greenhouse gas emissions hardly qualifies this as a “clean energy project.”

Make what arguments you will for Site C, Ms. Jackson, Premier Clark. Tell us it will produce construction jobs (many of which are already going to Albertans). Try to convince us that awarding mega-contracts to your construction pals and political backers will be good for the whole BC economy. But don’t try to dupe British Columbians into believing that Site C Dam is somehow a “climate solution”.

That’s just a whole lot of hot air.

Burning: A summer of fire, smoke, ash and change

Burning: A summer of fire, smoke, ash and change

Burning: A summer of fire, smoke, ash and change
Photo: Province of British Columbia/Flickr CC licence

Wildfires are ripping across California, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia and Alaska during this summer of 2015, the result of unprecedented droughts and record temperatures. Millions of hectares are being burned along with hundreds of homes. Fire-fighting costs are multiplying, the economic damage is soaring and the environmental consequences are foreboding.

The old ecologies of the Pacific Northwest are being reshaped as climate change begins the long and disruptive process of altering the weather and remaking the biological structure of the region.

Washington fires claim lives, threaten BC

Countless statistics tumble out of news reports as uncontrolled fires scorch California and dozens of active fires burn in Oregon and Washington. Bushfires explode because of unprecedented heat and wind, igniting whole neighbourhoods and even parts of downtowns, as was the case at the end of June in Wenatchee. Sometimes firefighters are the casualties.

Grass becomes tinder in the Pacific Northwest, waiting for any spark to set off a conflagration. Washington stopped counting and even fighting some its fires during parts of August, letting them burn to exhaustion, whenever that may occur. At least one has spread northward toward British Columbia.

BC’s firefighting costs exceed budget by 4 times

BC’s fire situation is similar to that in the American states to the south. Over 1,734 have been counted in the province since April and firefighting costs of more than $224 million have dwarfed a budget of $63 million. The focus of media attention shifts quickly from place to place depending on the size of the fire, the loss of property and the extent of human tragedy. Some people have barely escaped with their lives as walls of flames have roared toward them. The charred bodies of dead wildlife are commonly found in the ashen remains of the blackened landscapes. The danger in BC is exacerbated by the 18 million hectares of interior forest attacked by the mountain pine beetle.

Baked Alaska

Alaska, like BC, has undergone an average temperature increase of about 1.4°C, mostly during the last 50 years, and is at least as vulnerable to the effects of rising temperatures, droughts and wildfires. Record areas of the state have burned in 2015, 183 more than the 216 fires that burned during the scorching season of 2004.

From a climate perspective, Alaska’s fires are particularly serious because they burn off the deep layers of organic insulation that are protecting the permafrost from further melting and the subsequent release of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. “Everything is connected,” notes Bob Bolton, a University of Alaska hydrologist.

[quote]The climate, the permafrost, the water, the fires. You can’t look at one without looking at the other. Changes in one changes everything. It’s a really, really sensitive system.[/quote]

A scary forecast

Complex ecologies such as the Pacific Northwest are similarly sensitive. Increased levels of atmospheric of carbon dioxide from human sources are raising temperatures, changing weather and forcing the region into a protracted and traumatic transition. Altered precipitation patterns are lowering crucially important snowpacks, degrading the vitality of watersheds and transforming the character of West Coast forests as California’s climate shifts northward.

The summer fires are just part of a difficult and disruptive climate revolution we have set in motion. This change may be welcomed by those who like California’s climate, but the process is going to leave many others badly burned.


New book asks: Can civilization survive unprecedented climate crisis?

Water scarcity and resulting wars will be a key consequence of the climate crisis

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that human-caused climate change is already responsible for 150,000 deaths annually. If we continue our current trajectories of “business as usual” as our response to climate change, the WHO expects that between 2030 and 2050 climate change will cause approximately 250,000 additional deaths per year.

According to the WHO, the yearly death rate will include, “38 000 due to heat exposure in elderly people, 48 000 due to diarrhoea, 60 000 due to malaria, and 95 000 due to childhood under nutrition.”

Once “tipping points” occur, non-linear changes will emerge, and the death toll will be much higher.

As author David Ray Griffin demonstrates in his book, Unprecedented: Can Civilization Survive The CO2 Crisis?, we are facing a constellation of unprecedented, intersecting threats that are leading humanity to increasingly severe catastrophes, and possibly even extinction.

The unprecedented, lethal threats identified by Griffin are these:

  • Extreme weather
  • Heat waves
  • Droughts and wild fires
  • Storms
  • Sea level rise
  • Fresh water shortage
  • Climate refugees
  • Climate wars
  • Ecosystem collapse
  • Extinction
  • Food shortage

Reservoirs in the sky

Glacier National Park in BC's Kootenays has seen decreasing snowpacks in recent years (Sesivany/Jiri Eischmann/Wikipedia)
Glacier National Park in BC’s Kootenays has seen decreasing snowpacks in recent years (Sesivany/Jiri Eischmann/Wikipedia)

A closer examination of just one of these threats shows how they are inter-related:

Author Lester Brown explains in “Rising Temperatures Melting Away Global Food Security” that we are losing our “Reservoirs In The Sky” – glaciers and snowpack – and that these reservoirs are melting in all the world’s major mountain ranges.

Melting glaciers and snowpack deliver less water for drinking and agriculture. Once these “reservoirs in the sky” – also called “natural water towers” and “frozen water towers”- are degraded and disappear, food scarcity and drought impacts are amplified. In the winter of 2015, for example, California’s Sierra Nevada snowpack was measured at 25% of its average depth.

“Deglaciation” also contributes to sea level rise and regional hydrological changes. In Western Canada and elsewhere, for example, it impacts freshwater fisheries; once the glaciers are gone, the fisheries will become extinct.

Disappearing water drives instability

Since deglaciation impacts food and water security, it also contributes to desertification, and this in turn creates “climate refugees”, as people are forced to leave for more habitable locations. A report by the Environmental Justice Foundation claims that, “on average, 27 million people are displaced by climate and weather-related disasters each year.”

Increased scarcities of food and water, and the growing displacement of peoples due to climate change – and de-glaciation – will likely be casual factors of so-called “water wars” as well.

Radical change: our only hope

Canadian communities to rally for climate as BC, Alberta pen pipeline deal
Citizens rally against pipelines in Victoria (photo: TJ Watt)

Our collective response to catastrophic, human-caused climate change, is inadequate on many levels. Griffin argues that our failures and challenges are also “unprecedented”. He shows that the status quo/business-as-usual approach to climate change will accelerate catastrophic consequences, that a “wait and see” attitude would be even more cataclysmic, and that the only reasonable approach is radical change.

Radical change means full scale societal mobilization and the rapid decarbonisation of the economy, all with a view to reducing the global temperature increase by less than 2 degrees Celsius relative to pre-industrial levels.

The stakes couldn’t be higher, since we literally face the real prospect of human extinction if we do not radically change our approach now.

Critical failures that must be addressed

Griffin identifies the following unprecedented challenges and failures that are currently preventing radical change:

  • Climate change denial
  • Media failure
  • Political failure
  • Moral challenges
  • Religious challenges
  • Economic challenges

As with the iteration of unprecedented lethal threats, the aforementioned list of challenges and failures share intersecting trajectories as they meet, overlap, and create common ground. Consequently, a closer examination of one failure sheds light with others as well.

The industry of Climate Change/Global Warming Denial, for example, is closely linked to, and sometimes a causative element of, the other challenges and failures.

The denial industry

Despite the fact that the scientific debate is closed, and the scientific consensus is that humans cause global warming, the Climate Change Denial Industry spends vast quantities of money to promote unreasonable doubt about this scientific fact.

ExxonMobil, for example, launders money through organizations, foundations, think tanks etc. to create unreasonable doubt about human-caused global warming.

Increasingly, money is being laundered through Donors Trust. A Greenpeace analysis reveals that Donors Trust has laundered $146 million in climate denial funding from 2002 to 2011.

False Balance

Corporate media also amplifies disinformation. One particularly effective strategy is a technique called “false balance.” Editors will “balance” science-based global warming articles with articles that deny global warming, with the effect that readers become confused and doubt the scientific reality of human-caused global warming.

Politicians invariably exploit the fabricated confusion and endorse policies that serve the narrow interests of Big Oil. An extreme example of this is the Tea Party movement.

This seemingly grassroots movement endorses policies that align with Big Oil interests – low taxation, high profits, de-regulation. Evidence suggests, moreover, that it was created with a view to make it appear like a grassroots movement, when it was actually fabricated by Big Oil to serve Big Profits rather than the interests of those who support the party. The term used to describe the process is “Astroturfing” (i.e. fake grass roots).

In terms of morality and religious propriety, the use of deceit and subversion to advance a civilization-killing agenda is repulsive.

It’s also bad for the economy.

False economy

A 2011 article by Joe Romm,  IEA’s Bombshell Warning: We’re Headed Toward 11°F Global Warming and “Delaying Action Is a False Economy” cites the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) assessment of the economic cost of delaying action.

[quote]Delaying action is a false economy: for every $1 of investment in cleaner technology that is avoided in the power sector before 2020, an additional $4.30 would need to be spent after 2020 to compensate for the increased emissions.[/quote]

What is to be done

The complexities of “What is to be done?” to confront our dire circumstances can be reduced to three momentous actions.

First, we need a mass mobilization of people prepared to respond to the global warming emergency. Second, we need to transition immediately and completely to clean energy. And finally, we need to abolish dirty energy.

David Ray Griffin’s extraordinarily comprehensive and well-researched book, Unprecedented, should serve as a foundational guide for our needed mobilization.

This article first appeared on Whatsupic

The Grinch who stole Climate Christmas

The Grinch who stole Climate Christmas

The Grinch who stole Climate Christmas
Prime Minister Stephen Harper didn’t show much climate spirit in Lima

The heroic efforts of Who-ville to negotiate enough binding greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions to prevent Earth’s average global temperature from rising above a critical 2°C were held in Lima, Peru, this December. Whether the Climate Christmas event, called the 20th Conference of the Parties, would actually receive a real present was uncertain.

Saint Nick and his reindeer are no longer predictable. Global warming is melting the Arctic ice so the North Pole’s workshops, cozy cottage, reindeer barns and good-and-bad lists have been thrown into disarray. The elves and the entire Christmas gift operation may have sunk into the mush of last summer’s melt.

And even if a real present arrived, it might be stolen by a Grinch. As everyone knows, they do not like Christmas presents, especially the kind that reduce GHGs. And this is precisely what happened. No real present arrived. Each country’s binding reductions were stolen and replaced by vague promises of “intended nationally determined commitments”.

Public marches, leaders refuse to lead

Ban Ki-moon, the enthusiastic and ever-hopeful Secretary General of Who-ville, prepared for the Climate Christmas event by organizing a special September Climate Leaders’ Summit meeting in New York, hoping to excite enough enthusiasm for Lima that the real present would arrive even before the COP 21 meeting in Paris in 2015. Over 300,000 people marched in New York to support greenhouse gas reductions, and the leaders of about 125 countries attended the city’s UN negotiations. Canada’s Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, did not attend. Instead, he just went to its banquet.

Emissions controls for oil and gas sector “crazy”

Indeed, Canada’s Prime Minister is proving to be somewhat of a Climate Grinch. His government, having abandoned its legally binding Kyoto GHG obligations, will not even be able to meet its 2005 emission reduction commitments for 2020. Mr. Harper has been promising since 2006 to place emission regulations on Alberta’s oil and gas industry — the country’s fastest growing source of GHG — but has yet to do so. And now, since the price of oil has dropped below $60 per barrel, he says emission controls would be economic insanity — he hasn’t explained why he didn’t implement the controls during the previous 8 years.

Stephen Harper: Climate Grinch

Indeed, the Prime Minister says as little as possible about climate change. Jeffrey Simpson, writing in Who-ville’sGlobe and Mail (Nov. 15/14), gives a very credible argument for Mr. Harper to be designated a Climate Grinch:

• First, writes Simpson, the Prime Minister is “distinctly uncomfortable when forced to discuss [climate change].” This is one of the most obvious clinical characteristics of the Grinch Syndrome. Abject silence hides the repressed resentment, frustration and defiance seething within. Even the most oblique reference to climate change — merely a mention of carbon dioxide emissions, global warming, extreme weather or sea level rise — gives credibility to a scientific certainty that the Grinch believes to be a contrived fiction of the imagination.

• Second, the core of his Conservative Party is still filled with climate change deniers, so Mr. Harper maintains and entrenches his political support by cultivating and projecting his Climate Grinch personality. A man and a party heavily invested in the economics of an oil and gas industry will perceive any overt communication about climate change as a threat to be avoided at every opportunity.

• Third, “Mr. Harper doesn’t like being pressured.” And the world community — Ban Ki-moon in particular — is certainly pressuring Canada because of its appalling climate record. Like pushing a long and recalcitrant rope, a Climate Grinch just bunches into indignant and obstinate knots when pressured.

• Fourth, Mr. Harper doesn’t believe in climate deals; they haven’t worked in the past and they won’t work in the future, so participating in them is just a waste of time. He has his own messianic plans for Who-ville. A Climate Grinch believes in the unquestionable wisdom of the free-market economy, not in some vague and pagan illusion of humanity living in a state of sustainable harmony with nature.

• And fifth, the only good climate deal is one in which every nation in the world joins under equally ambitious conditions, a stipulation so extreme and disconnected from political realities as to be conspicuously obstructionist.

Visions of pipelines

A Climate Grinch is happiest when party loyalties are not violated, when political support is not threatened, when economic plans are not disturbed, when heated pipelines are humming a yuletide carol of flowing bitumen, and when fossil-fuelled lights are blazing atop every plastic Christmas tree in the whole world.

So the PM has sent his Minister of the Environment, Leona Aglukkaq, to the Lima Climate Christmas event with instructions to set no new targets and make no commitments. She is to make only a token request to reduce the emissions of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), those potent GHG chemicals that were supposed to replace the chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) that were wrecking the planet’s ozone layer. Since the HFC’s represent a mere 1 percent of Canada’s emissions, the symbolic gesture will neither disturb Canada’s oil and gas corporations, the generous funding they give to the Conservative Party, nor the visions of pipelines dancing in their heads.

Meanwhile, as the rising GHG emissions force global temperatures ever higher, as extreme weather becomes more common, and as the deadline for yet another hopeful climate agreement looms, Ban Ki-moon continues to press for Canada “to become ambitious and visionary for the global future of people and the planet.”

Grinches, however, are not dissuaded from their opinions or diverted from their objectives by the sentimental drivel of grandiose global hopes. They say what they mean and they mean what they say, all with a heart “that is two sizes too small.”

Carbon numbers keep rising, despite UN climate deals

Carbon numbers keep rising, despite UN climate deals

Carbon numbers keep rising, despite UN climate deals
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon at COP 20 in Lima

The carbon emission numbers are disquieting. Despite the 2009 pledge of multiple nations to reduce the release of their greenhouse gases so that global average temperatures do not rise by more that 2°C, the total tonnage of carbon dioxide keeps going up. The chief scientist for the United Nations Environment Program, Joseph Alcamo, issued a November 2014 climate report that calculated the emissions for all such gases, including methane, must peak by 2030 at 42 billion tonnes per year and then fall to zero by the end of the century if the 2°C target is to be met.

Long way to go

The likelihood of reaching this target is getting more and more remote. According to the UN report, all indications are that emissions will continue to rise until 2050, at which time they will be 15 to 19 billion tonnes per year above the 42 billion tonnes ceiling. This means that by 2050, 20 years after emissions should have peaked and started to decline, another 300 to 380 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases will have been added to the biosphere — plus, of course, the approximately 17 billion tonnes that should have been reduced from the 42 billion for the period between 2030 and 2050.

The prospects for keeping the global average temperature rise below 2°C is now looking bleak. Granger Morgan, a climate scientist from America’s Carnegie Mellon University, noted that keeping to this target given today’s circumstances “is akin to a 60-year old man who resolves to be 25 years old next year. It ain’t gonna happen, but it’s time to get really serious about achieving what we can.” As some scientists have already considered, this would mean abandoning the 2°C target.

2°C: a compromise from the get-go

But the 2°C target was chosen as a realistic balance between two uncomfortable alternatives, what Dr. John Holdren, former Science and Technology advisor to US President Obama, describes as “the best we can do, while being the worst we can tolerate.” Abandoning the target would offer only a temporary relief in the pressure to reduce emissions, thereby creating the opportunity for further procrastination, increasing the difficulty of meeting future reductions, and raising the threat of environmental damage.

BC, Canada on wrong track

Canada is not going to come close to meeting the reductions it promised in 2009. British Columbia, if it continues with its dream of an LNG industry, is going to shatter any prospect of containing its present level of greenhouse gas emissions.

Alberta now appears as an anachronistic petro-state enthusiastically drilling and digging toward the edge of ecological doom. Even the vague emission reductions recently agreed to in bi-lateral discussions between the United States and China are not going to change significantly the global carbon calculations. The US intends to reduce its 2005 emissions by 28% by 2025 (about 2 billion tonnes), while China has agreed to reach unspecified maximum emissions by 2030. But something is better than nothing, and the agreement by the world’s top two emitters is bringing hope that the December 2015 climate talks in Paris will be able to reach legally binding agreements on carbon reductions.

Mark Carney climate chorus

Hope, of course, comes coupled with pressure as impatience for action escalates through frustration toward desperation. Cracks are appearing in the facade of pretending. One of the most surprising examples came from Mark Carney, the former governor of the Bank of Canada who is now the governor of the Bank of England. At an October World Bank seminar, he repeated the brooding reality that first received publicity two years ago.

The world’s known fossil fuel reserves were then estimated to represent 2,795 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions if burned, of which only 565 billion tonnes could be burned if global temperatures were to be kept below the 2°C target. In Carney’s judgment:

[quote]The vast majority of [these] reserves are unburnable, [so will have to be considered as] “stranded assets”.[/quote]

Signs of hope

Other signs of hope mark the laborious struggle to control global greenhouse gas emissions as it becomes attached to local concerns. More carbon emissions accounts for one of the essential objections to the movement of Alberta’s tar sands bitumen through Enbridge’s Northern Gateway Pipeline to Kitimat.

Similarly, it’s one of the reasons why 126 people — including children, grandmothers and university professors — chose to be arrested in Burnaby for protesting Kinder-Morgan’s Trans Mountain Pipeline proposal. Concerns about greenhouse gas emissions are connected to the shipment of American coal through Vancouver and Texada Island. The global has become inseparable from the local.

Canada stands in way of climate progress

This is the context in which Canada’s government has been thwarting emission controls while promoting its oil and gas policies. Fossil fuels simply do not — and cannot — have a significant future in any equation that is going to provide an optimistic option for our unfolding energy needs. Continuing to disregard the nearly invincible wall of peer-reviewed climate science would almost certainly be disastrous.

Indeed, decades of delays in reducing our carbon dioxide emissions is already moving us into threatening circumstances.

At this very moment humanity is writing a crucial chapter in its history. What we and our politicians decide to do about carbon emissions will likely be the single largest determinant in defining our legacy, in shaping the lives of generations to come, and in regulating the health of our planet.

All the important evidence suggests that this is not rhetorical hyperbole. Each one of us, from our prime minister, our premiers and our elected governments to every citizen will be measured by the decisions that we make in the immediate future. The numbers are clear, the calculations are disquieting, and the opportunity for avoiding a colossal tragedy is rapidly closing.

Justin Trudeau continues Liberal greenwash legacy- Former govt insider

Justin Trudeau continues Liberal greenwash legacy: Ex-govt insider

Justin Trudeau continues Liberal greenwash legacy- Former govt insider
Justin Trudeau argues for Keystone XL at a think tank in Washington, DC (Photo: Chip Somodevllla/Getty)

The Liberal Party of Canada (LPC) has a history of big talk on the environment, but, once in power, failing to deliver.  Each climate change action plan has demonstrated this trend, accompanied by boastful press releases on how much money the LPC would be investing in sustainable development. Now, Justin Trudeau is showing every sign of repeating this pattern.

Liberal Party never serious about climate change

Stéphane Dion, as the former minister of the environment, introduced no comprehensive packages of legislation, fiscal measures, programs and policies to make much of a difference in addressing climate change.

As a former Government of Canada employee, I can attest, from a unique insider’s perspective, that various Dion/Liberal climate change action plans were all designed to fail, or lacking in substance to achieve stated GHG targets. Eddie Goldenberg, Chétien’s highest ranked government employee and key adviser, admitted as much in February 2007 when he revealed that the LPC had no idea how it would meet Kyoto objectives when it ratified the Kyoto Protocol.

The result was that carbon emissions spiked as much under Chrétien and Paul Martin’s governments as they have during the Harper regime. Michael Ignatieff got it right when he said to Dion, during one of the Liberal leadership debates, that Dion failed to get the job done.

Justin Trudeau represents a continuation of this LPC legacy, as I will demonstrate. What follows is an insider’s detailed view of LPC failures on climate change – leading up to Trudeau’s positions to-date and the choices Canadians face going into the 2015 election.

Subsidizing fossil fuels and paying the polluter

Prior to the Liberal defeat, Stéphane Dion, as environment minister, introduced yet another climate change action plan, this one with a $1B Climate Fund designed for the government to purchase emission reductions from Canada’s largest emitters, in particular the fossil fuel sectors.  In other words, the more one emits, the more government support one could get under the Dion plan, a pay the polluter formula — rather than the polluter pays.

And no rewards were offered for the small and medium size private firms that had already contributed, or would like to contribute, significantly to emission reductions.

Price on carbon, maybe – but it would have to be cheap

Further along the lines of subsidizing the fossil fuel sector, Chrétien made a sweetheart deal with the oil industry to the effect that in the event of a price on carbon, it would be cheap/symbolic.  My guess is that Trudeau’s “endorsement” of a price on carbon is the sequel to the Chrétien model.

Ambitious targets, ambitious cheating

In keeping with the LPC greenwash tradition, during the 1999 to 2000 period, a key element of the LPC plan to meet their ambitious GHG objectives was an attempt to get UN/international approval for crediting Canada for its forests – including reforestation efforts – which absorb CO2. The Liberals referred to their forest component of the climate change action plan of the time as “carbon sinks.”

In other words, the LPC wanted to get carbon credits for doing absolutely nothing, by creating a fairly tale to give the impression that they were making progress GHG targets. Fortunately, the UN rejected the carbon sink proposal.

This brilliant idea on carbon sinks has since been adopted by none other than Prime Minister Tony Abbott of Australia, known for being as ferociously anti-environment as Stephen Harper.

Carbon Capture and Storage: subsidizing greenwash

Yet another facet of the LPC subsidizing of the fossil fuel sector was a heavy investment in the carbon capture and storage technology (CCS) experiment in Weyburn, Saskatchewan.

The problem with CCS is that this technology 1) is so prohibitively expensive that no one would adopt CCS in the absence of major government subsidies 2) is very energy intensive consuming up to one third of total energy produced from a given generator facility and 3)  offers no assurance that the carbon sequestered in former and empty wells would in fact stay there.

It is worth noting here that, prior to the Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) elimination of all sustainable development innovation funds, the CPC continued the LPC tradition with more than one CPC sustainable development fund supporting CCS.

One of the CCS initiatives supported by the Conservatives, is the current Boundary Dam CCS project pertaining to one of the five coal-fired generation stations in Estevan SK, a project which received a $240M CCS subsidy from the Harper administration. For the generating station equipped with the CCS technologies, one third of the 165 MW of energy produced, or 55 MW, is dedicated to powering the CCS system, while only capturing 20% of the generator’s GHGs, falling well short of the objective to capture 90% of GHGs.

Recently, TransAlta abandoned its CCS project in Pioneer, AB after having received $800M in federal funding.

Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE)

The LPC record on the auto sector also reflects its tradition of putting the emphasis on appearances rather than getting the job done.

On this, there is the matter of the auto sector corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) – a  given manufacturer’s CAFE performance for a given year is weighted by the individual sales and fuel consumption of each model, aggregated over the total vehicle sales of the manufacturer in the year in question.

During the Pierre-Elliot Trudeau reign, CAFE was approved but wasn’t presented as a law before Parliament. In its place, the elder Trudeau’s Cabinet adopted a voluntary CAFE without a government verification system in place.

Justin continues Liberal Party’s record

Justin Trudeau has chosen to continue in the LPC tradition of appearing to be committed on action on climate change, with doses of window-dressing, while ceding to powerful interests.

To this end, Justin has: 1) defined Canada as a resource export economy; 2) claimed that cap and trade and opposition to Keystone are not based on science; 3) also used the line that opposition is not based on science with regard to the proposed largest volume pipeline, the 1.1M barrel/day TransCanada Energy East pipeline, with it’s Cacouna, Quebec port planned on the St-Lawrence River, precarious for tankers ; 4) blindly supported free trade agreements with China and Europe that would allow foreign enterprises, including state-owned ones, to sue Canada in the event our environmental laws or aboriginal rights impede the maximization of profits from their investments in Canada; and 5) praised former Alberta Premier Redford for boasting of Canada’s environmental record as a sales pitch to convince the US to approve Keystone.

Trudeau firmly in denial camp

Trudeau’s cavalier dismissal of opposition to tar sands exports as not being based on science puts him squarely in the same camp as Harper – the denial camp.

According to the International Energy Agency, to avoid catastrophic climate change, 80% of known reserves must be kept in the ground, which translates into a maximum tar sands production rate of 3.3M barrels/day.  But tar sands production projections, based on current and planned projects, are for 7.1M barrels/day.

Furthermore, the facts on the ground are affirming that Trudeau’s characterization of Canada as a resource export economy is dated.  The fossil fuel party is over.   Specifically,  it has become evident that non-conventional fossil fuel resources, such as the tar sands, cannot be supported by market prices.  Already, Big Oil has pulled out of many non-conventional resource projects around the globe and it is now clear that long-term energy and energy-related investments favour clean energy and clean transportation, and more generally a green economy.

China leading way on renewable energy

As for the FIPA trade agreement with China, Trudeau has gone so far as to proclaim that FIPA, provides a great opportunity for Canada to sell its resources to China.  However, contrary to Trudeau’s dated paradigm, China is moving with incredible speed towards a green economy with: 1) 28 GW of solar and wind capacity added in the single year of 2013;  2) its  coal consumption down in 2014; 3) aggressive policies on electric vehicles; and 4) a strong possibility for the introduction of  a national cap and trade system beginning in 2016.  China already has two cap and trade pilots, one in Shenzhen and the other in Beijing.

Of particular significance to Canada, the above-mentioned green economy initiatives of China will ultimately lead to greater energy independence, thus once again showing that Trudeau’s FIPA resource export opportunity paradigm is totally out of sync with emerging new realities.  Moreover, the gap between Trudeau’s tunnel vision and China’s new paradigm will surely widen as China accelerates its migration to a green economy under their 5 year plan for the 2016-20 period.

Trudeau wrong to pan cap and trade

With respect to Trudeau’s comments against cap and trade, the empirical evidence from the longest standing existing international cap and trade scheme, the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS), proves otherwise.  That is, the ETS has proven to be critical component of the EU success in meeting Kyoto Protocol objectives. More importantly, the ETS has put nearly all EU nations on track for meeting their respective 2020 targets

Yet  Justin referred to Australia’s abolition of a cap and trade system as proof that the cap and trade concept is not supported by science. This, despite the fact that Australia’s Prime Minister Abbott has views similar to those of Harper on environmental matters.

Corporate tax stance misguided

Lastly, though indirectly related to the green economy, another important Trudeau policy position that would have an adverse impact on Canada’s ability to go green is maintaining Canada’s corporate tax rate at 15%, the lowest in the G7.  While $630B lies dormant in corporate liquidity, the low corporate tax will limit a Trudeau government’s ability to assure adequate investments of financial resources in Canada’s own migration to a green economy.

Not only does Trudeau propose to maintain the low corporate tax rate, but he is also on record implying that he might go one step further than Harper by lowering the rate more in the future.

Suffice it to say that empirical evidence on the Liberals’ past, together with Justin Trudeau’s policy statements to date, clearly reveal that, for the LPC, environmental issues are primarily about political manipulation, rather than facing environmental challenges.

One cannot be serious about the environment and support the LPC.

Our choices for 2015 election

By contrast, the NDP is committed to a cap and trade system; ending subsidies to the fossil fuel sectors; and using the money saved on fossil sector subsidies to invest massively in the green economy – one of the highest growth and job creation sectors of our times.

As for subsidies for fossil fuels, at a cost of $110/tonne, they are one of the most significant barriers to our migration to a green economy.  On this matter, the International Monetary Fund has estimated that in 2011 US dollars, Canadian subsidies associated with fossil fuels – including indirect costs pertaining to climate change and health – amount to $26.4B/year.

In contrast to the Trudeau Liberals, the NDP would raise the ridiculously low federal corporate tax rate of 15%.

To conclude, the only barriers stopping Canada from catching up with our competitors in the global migration to a green economy are Harper and Trudeau.

We should all keep that in mind heading into the election of 2015.

Greenwash king Patrick Moore turns climate change denier

Greenwash King Patrick Moore sews seeds of climate change doubt

Greenwash king Patrick Moore turns climate change denier
Greenpeace co-founder-turned-greenwasher extraordinaire Patrick Moore

I hesitate to give the man any more publicity.

Patrick Moore, a former environmentalist and now a constant and consistent spokesman for right-wing causes, had an article on the op-ed page of the Vancouver Province, September 24th edition. In it, he denies the worldwide scientific opinion that global warming here, driven by humans, and a deadly serious problem. The Province, in my view, has become the leading journal of the right and regularly publishes the Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation and the Fraser Institute so Moore is a natural for them.

A long way from Greenpeace

Moore has been utterly inactive in environmental matters for years – in fact, being an unspoken foe of those who are. This particularly includes Captain Paul Watson who has, with unbelievable courage, done so much to save whales and other mammals in our oceans. Moore bills himself as an environmentalist, which is Orwellian in the extreme and makes true environmentalists want to retch.

Moore plays on claims that he was a founder of Greenpeace (though this is disputed), a director of Greenpeace Canada and of Greenpeace International. This is somewhat like Satan reminding us that before he was tossed out, he was once a colleague of the Saints in heaven.

In fact, Moore was made unwelcome both at the Canadian and the International level and has been persona non grata ever since.

Moore was last in the news for criticizing the president of Greenpeace International for using airplanes for travel while he, Moore, regularly uses cruise ships to make lectures, and money – cruise ships themselves being a major consumer of fossil fuels.

Downplaying human-caused climate change

The pith and substance of Moore’s article is that there is doubt that global warming is actually taking place. He trots down the usual path, referring to times before the Ice Age and that sort of thing.

What Moore ignores is that since the Industrial Revolution, and particularly for the last hundred years, humankind, both socially and industrially, has dumped ever-increasing amounts of waste into the atmosphere. This makes the situation today vastly different then it was in the years gone by to which Moore refers. One is tempted to think that, given Moore’s self-proclaimed expertise and glibness, this is a deliberate oversight.

Sewing seeds of doubt

Moore then moves into the area of the law in talking about “doubt”. He clearly assumes that if any sort of doubt is raised about a proposition, it must fail.

This is not what standards of proof are all about and the standard cannot be the mere raising of doubt.

We have two choices as to standard of proof required. In civil cases it is called “balance of probabilities”, whereas in criminal cases it is “reasonable doubt” – a much heavier onus.


The question of global warming has to be, of course, subject to standards of proof, as are all allegations that cannot be proved beyond any doubt whatsoever. But if mere doubt were the standard in criminal law, for example, there would be very few ever convicted of a crime. Any good criminal lawyer will tell you that he can raise a “doubt” in the most flagrant of circumstances.

It can even be raised about a man with a gun in his hand standing over a corpse. Even though the man with the gun is demonstrated to have been a bitter enemy of the deceased, a “doubt” can always be raised.

Criminal law sets the standard at “reasonable” doubt. This is surely the standard we must set with respect to global warming.

The science is clear

The scientific community has been investigating this issue very closely for decades. All the doubters, like Moore, have been heard and their arguments more than met. The result by 2014 is a very clear. Beyond a reasonable doubt, climate change is with us, with disastrous consequences for now and the future.

We, the general public, sit as a common jury assessing the evidence before us. We must decide whether or not the virtually unanimous opinion of the scientific community is to be preferred over the bleatings of Patrick Moore and his ilk.

What’s the harm in tackling climate change?

Another way of looking at this is: What if the scientific community is wrong? In that most unlikely event, we will have cleaned up our air and established a far healthier  atmosphere in the world. Surely that would be a very good thing, no matter what impact warming was having.

On the other hand, if we follow Moore, and he is wrong, we have exacerbated in the extreme the catastrophe which faces us.

Patrick Moore is entitled to his opinions and, of course, The Province is entitled to be a shill for neo-lib views – but in evaluating Moore’s opinions one must remember where he is coming from. This former environmentalist is now a proponent of nuclear, supports the tar sands, pipelines, and tanker traffic carrying bitumen.

As that juror, I have no trouble deciding for the scientific community and that Moore has no credibility.

Patrick Moore is likeable and glib but, on a balance of probabilities, dead wrong.