Thursday, August 31, 2006

Would-be Congressman Makes Play for Our Water

John Doll, a US Congress hopeful from Kansas, made a large and ugly splash with Canadians and American's alike in his posting to Daily Kos this week. In that piece, Mr. Doll outlined Kansas' current water crisis and proposed some interesting solutions:

Some questions may include, in that scenario - Where do we get an infinite fresh water supply? Second, how do we transport the water to the aquifer? Third, how do we finance such a project?

Perhaps a good source of water would come from our good neighbor to the North, Canada.

We are told that the Northern Rocky Mountains, in Canada, hold an abundant amount of fresh water that is replenished constantly. It has been suggested that we could develop an infrastructure to transport water from Canada, for example, by building a pipeline that originates in Canada, traveling through the coal mines of Wyoming. We are told that 80 percent of the cost of coal is transporting coal from the mines to the factories. Therefore, we further understand that such a water pipeline will pick up coal as it passes through Wyoming creating a coal slurry. Upon arrival, coal would be easily and inexpensively extracted from the water, benefitting tax-payers and the resulting water could be then plugged into the aquifer or another holding facility. Consequently, the cost of coal should be reduced while we have a constant flow of water. I like plans such as this one that are also environmentally sound. (bold added)

If there are any recent examples that better exemplify American ignorance, arrogance and ecological cluelessness than this proposal I haven't read it. It also typifies a far too common attitude held by some American policy makers - that the rest of the world is there primarily to prop-up the policies and practices of the most unsustainable nation in the history of the world.

In nobodies informed opinion is the diverting of massive quantities of water across a continent an "environmentally sound" plan. It becomes even more irresponsible when the purpose of the diversions is to prop up wasteful water usage. The would-be congressman is also oblivious to the fact that our own Rocky Mountain glaciers are also in retreat, thanks in no small part to the 1.133 billion tons of coal consumed by the US last year - a number Mr. Doll proposes to increase with the aid of our water.

Blackstar at The Next Agenda gave Mr. Doll a thorough lashing on behalf of Canadians and environmental progressives. Those with memberships at The Next Agenda or Daily Kos, please stop by to add your comments to the debate.

California's Climate Strategy Blow by Blow

Here are the specs on California's landmark global warming bill. Take notes Steve:

  • California, the world's 12th largest producer of greenhouse gases, will cap emissions at 1990 levels by 2020, approximately a 25 percent reduction.
  • By 2008, the California Air Resources Board will begin requiring reporting of greenhouse gas emissions by the biggest polluters.
  • By 2011, the state will set greenhouse gas emissions limits and reduction measures to go into effect in 2012. Failure to comply will lead to penalties.
  • The state board is allowed to draw up market mechanisms to achieve greenhouse gas emission reductions, including carbon credit trading.
  • The governor can halt implementation of regulations for up to one year in the event of "extraordinary circumstances" like a natural disaster or economic crisis.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Harper's Head in the Smog

About a week ago I wrote a prep-post predicting that the Tory PR machine was about to go into full swing in and effort to make Canadians forget about Kyoto, global warming, and carbon dioxide, and reposition the environmental debate - and swing voters - around the issue of smog. Well, here we go....

In a sneak preview of their upcoming "Made in Calgary"....i mean "Canada" environmental plan, environmentalists were shown the first details. As predicted, they represent a concerted effort to draw the connection between health and smog while making zero mention of global warming or Kyoto. They did say that the focus of the plant will be on pollution from smokestacks and tailpipes, as well as stating that the Conservative' environmental concerns over the next year (god knows what happens afterwards) will be:

....air quality; greenhouse gases; toxics and hazardous materials; conservation; environmental assessment; water quality and quantity plus monitoring; compliance and enforcement.

Given their stated concerns, here is a different approach, early though it may be.
Create mandatory vehicle emission standards and tackle coal fired power generation, a move that would:
  • Drastically improve air quality (smog)
  • Sharply reduce greenhouse gases
  • Limit polluting compounds that originate in vehicle exhaust from entering the air
  • Stop mercury from coal burning power plants from entering our air, water and children, and
  • Reduce the need for expensive and bureaucratic enforcement, monitoring and compliance.
If you're going to state objective environmental concerns Steve, you should propose the best solutions to address them rather than burying your head in the tar sands....or the smog.

Schwarzenegger Makes California Solar Leader

Update: 5:44pm - Schwarzenegger has reached a deal with the Democrats to impose a cap on expulsion of carbon dioxide and other gases, defying the opposition of his fellow Republicans.

The Green-inator just keeps rolling. Following up on strong action forging international partnerships and in setting carbon emissions targets, Arnie has now signed into law an new initiative that would see the installation of 1 million rooftop solar panels by 2018 and make California a world leader in solar power production.

Only Japan and Germany do better.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Mines Threaten World Heritage Parks

The world's top agency for cultural stewardship and awareness is condemning Canada for bowing to industry interests in two designated World Heritage sites - the Northwest Territories Nahanni National Park and the parks of the Canadian Rockies.

UNESCO, the United Nations organization that oversees 830 World Heritage sites including 13 of this country's most significant historic attractions and wild spaces has red-flagged its concerns about mining and other potentially disruptive activities near the two western parks.

Despite the efforts of numerous environmental groups - including CPAWS, Sierra Legal and the Pembina Institute - the door continues to be held open for mining developments that threaten the ecological integrity of Nahanni and the Rockies.

Toss in our collective failure in protecting the non-UNESCO Clayoquot Sound and you can credit Canada with an anti green hat-trick.

Click here to sign the Nahanni petition.

Monday, August 28, 2006

George W - Two Strikes and No Balls

George W. received a pair of defeats last week in his ongoing effort to rollback environmental safeguards throughout the US. On August 23rd a federal judge blocked the Administrations plan to allow commercial logging in Giant Sequoia National Monument, and on August 25th Judge Coughenour shot down their attempt to weaken the rules governing pesticide use.

Although Bush has been successful in rolling back countless environmental protections at the expense of air, water, species, and public health, the courts have remained his biggest obstacle in moving forward with more aggressive pro-industry policies. Enter the proposed Ninth Circuit U.S. split.

Through this initiative, the Senate Republicans are pushing to change the pool of judges that decide the fate of environmental laws in the western states into a mix that would favour industry over the protection of the natural world.

Earthjustice is running an ongoing petition against the proposed changes. Visit to add your name and help protect the integrity of the judicial system and the environment....because it's time to retire this batter.

Survivorman Goes Off the Grid

Canada's most loved outdoors man is going off the grid. Lee Stroud of OLN's Survivorman has a new program to show us all how important living on the grid really is(n't).

While renegotiating doing another season of “Survivorman™”, Les Stroud is producing two one-hour specials for Canada's OLN (Outdoor Life Network) called “Stroud... Off The Grid”. This new and captivating show will highlight Les’ family's move to their 150 acre bush lot with solar power, rain harvesting systems, and many new technologies for living an energy-conscious and self-sustaining life. “Stroud…Off the Grid” episode 1 will premiere in Fall 2006.

Given Stroud's usual adventures, this latest project should be like going on vacation.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Wind Power Comes Home

Cross Posted at: Off the Grid

Mag-Wind has developed a residential rooftop wind generator that has the potential to make domestic wind power readily available and affordable. The unit promises an output of 1,100 kWh per month given an average windspeed of 13mph through a turbine that measures just 4 ft in diameter. The technology is similar to the recent advance made by Chinese scientists that will boost efficiency in large scale wind farms by 20% by harnessing the low friction generation capacity of magnetically levitated turbine.

Installed throught communities in large quantities, a domestic wind generator combined with solar has the potential to revolutionize the electricity business by making the domestic consumer a significant generator of energy - while doing so with a zero carbon footprint. However, despite the appeal of these innovations, the major barrier facing widespread adoption is still cost. Even with an attractive return on investment, the consumer remains on the financial hook in order to convert their home (for Mag-Wind about $7,000 and upwards of $10,000 - $20,000 for solar). Here is an opportunity for governments at all levels to demonstrate true leadership in tackling global warming and promoting renewable energy.

What is required from here are 1) meaningful tax incentives for both purchasing and installing units in existing homes 2) municipal by-laws to push for inclusion of these technologies in new developments and 3) government negotiated contracts for large scale purchasing and supply to help drive down costs. With a concerted green taxation and policy regime such as this, real progress in bringing renewables to domestic consumers could begin, while simultaneously addressing global warming.

Odiyya Goes "Off the Grid"

Beginning today, I'll be posting to Off the Grid. Hosted by our friend 1337haxOr, the site delivers news, engineering, science and experimentation on technologies and advancements in renewables to keep your domestic life (and paycheque) off of the utilities grid. Stop by often for the latest innovations on the market.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Ozone Hole's Lessons for Global Warming

Scientists are reporting that the hole in the ozone layer will take about 15 years longer to heal than originally projected, with full recovery expected in 2065.

The eventual recovery is good news for both the planet and the our political will as we move forward towards addressing global warming. It demonstrates the ability of international agreements to overcome global environmental catastrophe's, and the power of our combined will to make the environment a core concern in our shared society.

The delayed recovery also shows the fragility of the planet, and the uncertain time frames for its recovery from abuse at human hands - an important warning to politicians stalling on taking immediate action on climate change.

Nuclear No Solution To Global Warming

Those who think that nuclear energy is going to solve the planet's climate woes have had a summer of hard knocks.

Radioactive contamination of groundwater beneath California's San Onofre nuclear power plant last week came on the heels of a major leak at a nuclear disposal facility in France earlier this year. In recent years, the story has been little better as the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission has formed a task force to investigate more than a dozen leaks over that time.

In all of these cases the culprit was tritium, a radioactive form of hydrogen implicated in cancer, miscarriages and birth defects. At San Onofre tritium levels were between 2 and 16 times the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's safety limit.

Meanwhile, world leaders continue to pump up the nuclear option as a solution to global warming. This despite the fact that nuclear plants throughout Europe were forced to shut down during this summers heat wave because the river meant to keep them cool, was too warm to do the job.

If the health, security, reliability and cost problems with nuclear are not enough to convince policy makers to dump it as a global warming solution, then the shear volume of lobbying and propaganda dollars it takes for the nuclear industry to sell their product should be.

This is a 'solution' that is dangerous, unhealthy and unwanted. Just as importantly, the more we tie jobs and our economy to nuclear power and radioactive materials, we increase the risk to both our health and our ability to embrace better solutions.

Sweden is going oil free without adding any nuclear capacity. What's our problem?

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

VoW: Wal-Mart's Greening & Lee Scott Interview

The buzz continues over Wal-Mart's green plans. Given the company's past transgressions, skeptics will remain rightfully vigilant regarding the companies actions; however, this is a move that makes sense on more than a public relations front.

As the world's largest global company and retailer, Wal-Mart's prices, revenue and most importantly margin, rely on the global acquisition and transportation of goods. Which means that their bottom line is intimately influenced by the world's energy prices. Unlike Exxon and BP, higher energy prices take away from Wal-Mart's bottom line, leading to a real business incentive for them to cut transport costs and go green.

Whether they credit their new green leaf to company values, consumer demands, or the bottom line is largely irrelevant. What does matter is their commitment to action, and so long as both parts of that equation - commitment and action - remain strong, the progressive community is best advised to throw their voice in support of Wal-Mart's environmental efforts. The fight for labor rights can come next.

Here's the Video of the Week. Wal-Mart's CEO Lee Scott interviewed by Charlie Rose.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Gore Cracks the Conservative's Lies

The Conservative blogoshpere continues to rampantly spread the distorted and misleading lies of Peter Schweizer and his USA Today editorial Gore isn't quite as green as he's led the world to believe. In that piece, Mr. Schweizer, an employee of the ExxonMobil funded Hoover Institution, attempts to divert attention away from global warming and discredit Al Gore through a poorly crafted series of lies:

Lie #1: "Gore receives $20,000 a year in royalties from Pasminco Zinc, which operates a zinc concession on his property."

Gore receives no royalties from this mine, which was shut down in 2003. A correction has already run in the USA Today.

Lie #2: "So why, then, didn't Gore dump his family's large stock holdings in Occidental (Oxy) Petroleum? As executor of his family's trust, over the years Gore has controlled hundreds of thousands of dollars in Oxy stock."
Al Gore has never owned stock in Occidental. However, his late father did, all of which was sold nearly 6 years ago. His mother also had a small number of shares which were also disposed by the trustee of her estate. Mr. Gore is not the trustee.

Lie #3: "Then there is the troubling matter of his energy use. In the Washington, D.C., area, utility companies offer wind energy as an alternative to traditional energy. In Nashville, similar programs exist."

Al Gore has signed up for every green power option made available by his utility suppliers and had already begun adding photovoltaic solar panels to his home before Schweizer's baseless attack.

Lie #4: "And he claims he uses renewable energy credits to offset the pollution he produces when using a private jet to promote his film. (In reality, Paramount Classics, the film's distributor, pays this.)"

False again. The Gore's achieve their personal offsets independently through their own means, while the makers of An Inconvenient Truth provide leadership in neutralizing the carbon impact of the film.

In addition to these lies, the article utterly ignores the front line leadership demonstrated by both Mr. Gore and his business partners. An Inconvenient Truth, in both its film and book format, are the world's first carbon neutral projects in their respective genres. Gore's independent media company Current TV is committed to going carbon neutral, and the Gore co-founded Generation Investment Management offsets the carbon impact of their business operations and the travel and domestic emissions of all employees.

If there was ever a leader in climate and environmental issues it is Al Gore. Schweizer's piece, and the unquestioning support of it by conservative pundits, nakedly demonstrates their shared agenda - to mislead the public about global warming and vandalize the reputation of anyone who demonstrates the courage and integrity to speak the truth about climate change. This time they won't succeed.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Feds Climate Change Website Disappears

The Conservatives are continuing in their Orwellian campaign of rewriting history and removing all mentions of Kyoto and global warming from federal websites.

The latest victim is the federal climate change website itself, which has been offline since August 16th. In all likelihood, the website will be up and running with lights blazing in September - completely rewritten and in full endorsement of the Harpers so called "Made in Canada" plan to tackle Kyoto, set to be released after Labour Day.

Unfortunately, Harpers plan stands to do nothing to tackle climate change. Instead, it will attempt to spin the issue into one of smog and air quality, and paint the Conservatives as environmental heroes while largely ignoring Canada's Kyoto commitments for C02 reduction.

In layman's terms, Harpers "Made in Canada" solution to addressing Kyoto commitments will be to do nothing to meet them.

As with past initiatives, he will attempt to hijack the issue to further his party's own interest. Much like the Conservative's "daycare plan" that largely benefits wealthy couples over poverty stricken single parents, their "environment plan" is sure to benefit polluting energy industries at the expense of the Earth's climate.

Something to remember during his next string of promises at election time.

Conscious Earth on

The Conscious Earth's article debunking Peter Schweizer's smearing of Al Gore was cited today at Treehugger in Lloyd Alters post on sinful second homes. You can read it here.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Hunters Join Fight Against Development in BC Parks

Protest is growing over the BC Government's plan to allow commercial development inside provincial park boundaries. To date, 13 conservation groups including the The B.C. Wildlife Federation, which represents about 30,000 hunters and anglers in the province, have joined in condemning the Liberals policy.

"The government's proposal to locate lodges or resorts within the boundaries of B.C.'s wilderness parks should bring concern if not outrage to all British Columbians," says a statement issued jointly by BCWF parks committee chair Ed Mankelow and executive director Tony Toth.

Mr. Mankelow, who in 1998 toured British Columbia as part of a provincial panel to measure public attitudes on parks, said he learned then that the No. 1 concern is that "parks be maintained in perpetuity and that they not be sold, commercialized or privatized."

Develop plans extend far beyond the fixed roofed structures in Environment Minister Barry Penner talking points. The Western Canada Wilderness Committee is reporting that freedom of information documents they have obtained indicate the BC Park Lodge Strategy includes provisions for major resorts, tennis courts, ski hills and golf courses.

Freedom of information documents obtained from the BC government by the Wilderness Committee show that the BC Park Lodge Strategy also includes provisions for “major resorts” within park boundaries. According to the government documents resorts of this scale typically “include pools, tennis courts, ski hills and/or golf courses.” The documents also refer to “high end” facilities with up to 100 beds and staff housing.

Why the Green Party Loses

I attended a Green Party of BC event on Tuesday night here in Vancouver featuring a speech by Monica Frassoni, leader of the European Green Party and representative of Belgium to the European Parliament. What a difference between her and our local talent. Where Canadian Greens often sound grasping, Ms. Frassoni spoke with the focused confidence of both an environmental leader and a powerful elected representative.

Granted, Green Parties in Canada do not have the seasoned experience of the their European counterparts, but too often the Green Party comes across as the underprivileged brother of the NDP, scrounging for left leaning votes and anyone else who is simply sick of the status quo. By honing their vision the Greens have the opportunity to make major inroads In Canadian politics. Here are several points our own Green Party leaders would do well to embrace.

1. Greens are not the lefts alternative to the NDP, and they should distance themselves from their union patronizing platforms. The BC Green platform deals extensively with unionized labor in BC and specifically with reinstating unionized contracts for food and cleaning services in government departments. Unfortunately, most Canadians do not support public dollars going towards bolstering minimum wage services and corrupt unions, so the more of an issue it is in the platform, the fewer voters will vote green. Wage issues should be addressed through minimum wage policy and labor laws, not by pandering to unions.

2. Do promote alternate tax structures to advance sustainable economy and discourage unsustainable practices. Here is the Green's bread and butter and the real way towards winning new voters. People believe in private enterprise and the role of government to provide free market leadership through a fair and productive tax structure. The place to find those votes is in the progressive supporters of the Liberal Party, not the NDP's left overs.

3. Engage the private sector as a part of a meaningful fundraising strategy. Once destructive union sympathies come off the Green Platform, they stand to be the party of choice for responsible, sustainable and green industries being hampered by the pollution friendly policies of current administrations. Renewable power producers, alternative fuel manufacturers, and companies moving ahead to meet Kyoto targets are being hurt by the foot dragging policies and lack of commitment shown by both the Federal Liberals and Conservatives whose are supported by corporations opposing Kyoto.

4. The number one priority of every Green Party in Canada, both provincial and national, is to ensure that the upcoming referendum on electoral reform is passed in BC. The referendum date is set for the next provincial election in 2009, and if passed it would put BC on the road to electing a proportionally representative government in the election to follow. Based on current voting patterns, that would mean almost 10% of the seats in government going Green. If electoral reform is successful in BC, it is very likely that similar initiatives will take hold in other provinces, clearing the way for the Green Party to become a genuine political force in Canada and for progressive values to gain a stronger voice in Canadian government. But that all depends on the success of this first step.

The Green Party recongizes the electoral system as their major barrier to election. Now they need to put their collective money where their mouth's are by beginning immediately to put together an effective public education program in support of electoral reform in BC that will ensure the success of this intitiative.

Currently, all Green candidates are dedicating their campaign dollars towards elections that they know they will lose before they begin. The path to success lies in having the courage to put forward a long term vision of sending representatives to government in 2013, by putting all available dollars towards ensuring the referendum's success in 2009.

Spotted Owl Numbers Drop to 17

In the past year, the population of spotted owls remaining in BC has dropped from 23 to 17, and in that same time period the number of mating pairs has been cut in half to 3.

While spotted owls face imminent extirpation in Canada, the BC Liberals continue to ramp up logging of their old growth habitat - from 492,746 cubic metres in 2001 to 602,773 cubic metres in 2004. And despite these terminally fatalistic numbers, Canada's Environment Minister Rona Ambrose insists there is nothing to worry about.

The Liberals insist they are tackling the issue effectively with their 3.4 million captive breeding and release plan. Unfortunately, that plan will end following the 2010 Olympics once it is ensured that the Liberals avoid getting an environmental black eye in front of the international community.

Even if extended the program is destined for failure. Without old growth habitat to return to any spotted owl released from the program will face imminent end, and the money spent on this band aid solution may has well be deposited straight in the trash, or perhaps the recycling bin. The Liberals wouldn't want their enviro reputation taking any further damage.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

VoW: Global Warming "Skeptic" Comes Clean

Further discrediting global warming "skeptics", this week's video is a BBC segment documenting the Bush administration's campaign of censoring global warming scientists and altering their reports fit with his agenda.

Included in the opener is an interview with Frank Luntz, Republican spin doctor and author of their propaganda script on global warming. In his now famous memo Luntz advised the Republican's to play up the uncertainty surrounding global warming science in order to win over voters. Now, in this BBC interview, Luntz tells says he now accepts the scientific consensus on climate change.

"It's now 2006. I think most people would conclude that there is global warming taking place and that the behavior of humans are (sic) affecting the climate."

BBC: "But the administration has continued taking your advice. They're still questioning the science."

Luntz: "That's up to the administration. I'm not the administration. What they want to do is their business. It has nothing to do with what I write. It has nothing to do with what I believe."

Here is that BBC program.

The Right Wing Swings & the Left Wing Falls

As posted here a couple days ago, Al Gore has been the target of a right-wing smear campaign attempting to refute his climate change credentials by bringing forward a series of irrelevant details about both his lifestyle and the Democratic Party. Painfully, as right-wing websites lap this material up, left leaning readers are also falling victim to this spin doctoring.

This tactic is old hat. We saw it in 2000 with the "Al Gore invented the Internet smear", it was repeated in 2004 with the John Kerry swift boat farce, and each time the Republican's face an opponent with genuine credentials, they use the same spin technique to falsely discredit the threat to their party line - and each time they do it far too many people on the left side of the spectrum fall for it and shoot their own efforts squarely in the foot.

For the progressive community to make real headway against these sorts of concentrated and broad reaching spin campaigns, they need to stay strong within the facts, and true to the real message at hand. Al Gore's choice of residence is irrelevant to his leadership on climate change, and each person who buys in to these irrelevancies is shoveling fuel on the Republican fire.

This isn't to say that progressive leaders should be free from dissenting opinion. A functioning democracy requires questioning and criticism at all times and at all levels of debate. But that criticism should be born out by facts and should be relevant to the issue at hand. The attacks on Al Gore satisfy neither of those two conditions, and serve only to spin the debate on the right-wing's terms.

Progress requires leadership, and leadership requires support from constituents. The right-wing is excelling in North American politics across the board by getting behind their leaders and fixing the terms of public debate. For progressives to gain a meaningful foothold, they'll need to stop reacting to conservative propaganda and begin establishing, and supporting, their own leadership and values.

Monday, August 14, 2006

BC Approves 300-mgw Wind Power Project

The BC provincial government has approved a 300 megawatt wind energy project proposed for the Peace River Region. The move is the right one, but the future sustainability of BC's power production will largely depend on how tightly citizens become wedded to coal generation.

Sifting through BC Hydro's warm and fuzzy production of the 2006 Integrated Electricy Plan (IEP), you are given little to go on aside from some lovely photos and a lot of environmental lip service. Time will tell if the Liberals choke us with cheap coal or remain committed to BC Hydro's tradition of green power. The Peace River announcement is a good start, now we need an an IEP that follows through with a commitment to sustainability.

Saving Old Growth One Click at a Time

With one click you can save a section of old growth forest in Sweden. "Ett klick for skogen" is Swedish for "A click for the forest" and with each click, their sponsors contribute towards the purchase old growth forests. To date 70 hectares have been protected. With your help, this number will grow.

Global warming is a global problem, so a tree in Sweden helps reduce CO2 as well as a tree in Ontario. You can click as often as you like, so visit often and help protect these forests and combat climate change. You can also make a direct donation.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Al Gore in the Conservative Crosshairs

Proving their deftness with manipulation and hypocrisy, the Conservative propoganda machine is continuing to fire on all cylinders in its relentless and manufactured assualt on Al Gore and the movie that has catapulted global warming into the forefront of human awareness.

In a USA Today column widely cited by conservative websites and blogs, Peter Schweizer compiles a largely distorted and baseless assualt on the credibility of Al Gore. Rather than recognizing the success of his impact on the global warming debate, and his personal leadership in embracing a carbon neutral lifestyle, Mr. Schweizer instead attempts to paint Mr. Gore as an environmental hypocrit by focusing on three irrelevant details of his personal consumption habits and the peripheral environmental impacts of his business and investments.

As with most right wing smear efforts, the article entirely misses the point. Al Gore is championing action against global warming, not recycling, not sustainable mining, and not the green character of the democratic party. What he is doing is advocating explicit action to curb and control carbon emissions, and he is living his life 100% consistently with this aim by going carbon neutral. This is the entire point behind Kyoto and other efforts, not to prescribe what we should and should not do or consume, but rather the leverage the power and innovation of the free market and allow businesses and citizens the maximum amount of flexibility in bringing our carbon impact under control.

The so called free market champions of the right should be embracing these efforts, but instead they are showing their true motivation and hypocrisy. The modern conservative movement does not believe in free markets, human innovation or freedom itself. What is at the heart of modern conservativism is the world's most complex and well funded propoganda machinery, whose sole purpose is to misdirect people's values into thinking we can anything without facing consequences, while bolstering the power base of the fossil fuel and military industries. And each time a threat to that structure bubbles to the surface, the full power of that propaganda machinery is turned loose against it.

Al Gore has now found his way into the crosshairs of that machinery, during a time of the current Bush administration where the right has perfected the manipulation of disinformation and the world of truth and fact has been ground in its gears. For decades, the right wing has built up grass root support, funding and a massive public relations infrastructure that can now be turned against any threat to its interests. Now the progressive community in general, and the blogging community in particular, is charged with providing the counterbalance - to build a network that can face this well tuned conservative machinery and support the true champions of progress, human freedom, and a sustainable world.

That begins by taking a stand against the systematic smearing of true leadership. Provide your feedback to the original article here, and email Peter Schweizer at and let him know your opinions on his style of journalism.

Friday, August 11, 2006

A Business Case for Sustainability

Here is some math even Ralph Klein could grasp. The shut down of BPs supply pipe decreased US oil supply by 8%, drove crude costs up $2 per barrel and resulted in an increase of $24 million in import costs per day. All of those effects would be wiped out by a 1 mpg increase in fuel efficiency standards.

How much would we all save with a 5 mpg boost?

The Best Car Commerical You'll Ever See

Some Friday fun for everyone. I can hardly wait until this vehicle hits the market.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Colbert Roasts George Bush - Video

I only just saw this today and it is brilliant. During the Annual White House Correspondents Association dinner, comedian Stephen Colbert took Bush apart for 20 minutes with the President seated just 10 feet to his right. The press jumped all over Steve Bridge's impersonation of Bush, but Colbert's roast was the real story of the night.

"Most of all, I believe in this President. Now I know there are some polls out there that indicate this man has a 32% approval rating. But guys like us, we don't pay attention to the polls. We know that the polls are just a collection of statistics that reflect what people are thinking in "reality",.........and reality has a well known liberal bias."

Check out the complete video at Google Video or see it in three parts below.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Ralph Klein's Accountable To........Ralph Klein

Continuing to sound like a hog at the trough, Ralph Klein has told the Pembina institute to "keep their noses out of anyone's business, especially businesses that want to take risks" for calling for a moratorium on oilsands development until a plan to protect the Alberta's boreal forest a is developed. Unfortunately for Ralphie, when business's "risk taking" involves massive environmental harm, it is everyone's business.

Here are 9 reasons why Ralph Klein should look beyond his own nose before lashing out at anyone daring to suggest that his policies on oilsands development could use some improvement.

1. 141,000 square kilometres or 21 per cent of Alberta is up for grabs by the oilsands industry

2. Oilsands companies use 20 billion litres of groundwater a year to get the bitumen out of the ground and process it. They are licensed to use 75 billion litres a year.

3. For perspective, the total authorized water diversions for from the Athabasca River alone stands at 359 million litres - twice the volume used by Calgary in an single year.

4. Water used for oil sands becomes polluted and cannot be returned to the river system.

5. Royalties to Albertans for a barrel of oilsands oil has dropped from $2.90 per barrel in 1997 to just $1.70 per barrel in 2005. While the market value of oil has tripled, the value realized by tax payers has dropped by 39 per cent.

6. 84 per cent of Albertans support a public review of the royalty structure.

7. 91 per cent of Albertans believe protecting the environment is important, even if this means oilsands development unfolds more slowly.

8. Global warming. In addition to the impact of the oil itself, for every barrel recovered, enough gas is burned to heat a home for four days.

9. He sounds like a progressively bigger jackass every time he opens his mouth.

Are people getting value from the oilsands? Definitely, but who are those people? The extent to which that value goes to American owned oil companies and Albertans are stuck with the environment damage is the measure of Klein's failure. So far, Albertan's are not looking too good in that equation.

"Hunting is not Slaughtering" - China's Enviro Poles

China, a country that has shown significant environmental leadership in embracing new technology such as high efficiency wind and advanced solar power, is showing the other half of its enviro face by announcing its intention to auction off hunting permits for endangered species. Revenue from the permits would be used to protect wild animals, but presumable not from hunters.

This article should give us all a powerful dose of insight into the political hurdles facing environmental causes throughout the world. Environmentalism is still approached as a special interest, and the ability to stand back and make objective decisions about the natural world for its own sake is a way of thinking that most people are far removed from. At heart, for good or bad, most people make decisions based on their best interests., so while a nation of 1 billion people can readily see the risk of climate change and mercury pollution from their growing energy needs, commitments to renewable energy policy are made because of the risk to the health and future of the country, not due to some inherent sense of environmental value.

The fate of the species and wildlife faces a more uncertain future, so long as their survival is seen as separate from the fate of the farmers or entrepreneurs that stand to profit from cultivating the land they rely on or from auctioning off their death certificates under the guise of species protection.

Bridging that gap in thinking is the real challenge of environmentalists. Preaching to the choir about species preservation creates no momentum for change and will never win over the people who either stand to profit from their death, or simply see no issue with the extinction of species great or small.

Future success lies in brining forward the values behind the environmental movement - our inherent connection to the environment, the unique beauty of our wild places and the creatures that, and most importantly the idea that the Earth is a single interdependent system that carries with it the keys to our very survival and that any assault on that system, is ultimately an assault on ourselves. Intuitively, most people realize this. Creating the political will for change is simply a matter of demonstrating how far from that ideal we have fallen.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

VoW: Australia Builds 1,600 ft. Solar Tower

Video of the Week - Australian power company EnviroMission, is set to become the world's leader in renewable energy technology through their proposed Solar Tower project - a $225 million green power experiment to construct a 1,600 foot tower with enough generating capacity to fuel 100,000 homes.

Instead of relying on solar cells, the tower acts like a giant greenhouse. The sun's energy is harnessed to create warm air currents that will drive a series of power generating turbines inside the tower. Located under the glaring sun of the Australian outback, the 50 megawatt pilot project will stand taller than Chicago's Sears Tower and sit 260 feet in diameter at the base. The capacity for the technology is far greater though, and has gained the attention of Chinese investors.

In 2002, Xiang Jiang Industrial became EnviroMission's second largest shareholder and plans to build a 200 megawatt tower in Shanghai, China.

Below is the demo video for the project.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

The World's Looming Water Wars

As global warming continues its assualt on our ecosystems, increased drought and water shortages will be two of its most significant impacts. Here is an outline of some of the top hot spots of future water conflicts according to ENN.

  • India and Pakistan
  • India and Bangladesh
  • Israel, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Palestinian Territories
  • Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia
  • Turkey, Syria and Iraq

These areas represent massive crossing points of culture, religion, historical unrest and oil, and given that they already represent some of the most significant areas of conflict in the modern world, the strain and the consequences of water shortages they face will be an additional destabalizing influence for all of us.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Sign the "Millions Against Monsanto" Petition

Monsanto has reaped enormous profits from selling products that harm the environment and risk human health. Now the Organic Consumers Association has launched the Millions Against Monsanto campaign. You can help make their goal of 1,000,000 signatures a success by adding your name to the petition.

In the 1960s, Monsanto supplied millions of gallons of Agent Orange to the US military effort in Vietnam causing massive health impacts and over 150,000 birth defects. More recently, they have used the courts to bully farmers and to oppose citizen's rights to protect themselves against the dangerous effects of pesticides. A few of their products and actions include:

  • Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH) - rBGH is banned in Canada but used through the US. It causes severe suffering in cows while creating a risk of breast and colon cancer in people.
  • Pesticides: Monsanto has consistently opposed the efforts of Canadian municipalities to restrict the use of pesticides in their communities, despite reports and testimony from doctors and scientists outlining the health risks from exposure to pesticides. Included in their actions is last year's failed lawsuit against the City of Toronto through the pesticide industry lobby Croplife.
  • Genetically Engineered Crops: Monsanto continues to be the world's largest producer of genetically modified crops, while pursuing aggressive legal action against farmers over the use of their genetically altered seeds. Despite Monsanto's claims that using their seeds will reduce pesticide use, recent studies show that their GE products result in greater pesticide use over the long-term, while encouraging the emergence of resistant strains of weeds.

Without strong action and public will Monsanto will continue to create profit from environmental and human harm. Please visit the Millions Against Monsanto site to add your name to those opposing Monsanto's products and business practices and forward this link to everyone you know.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Climate Porn....Does This Turn You On?

Are headlines describing climate change disasters pornography? According to the BBC they are.

This interesting piece recently ran on their website, alleging that by focusing on the most horrific and extreme climate change impacts and forecasts, the media is engaging in 'climate porn', a tactic of playing up the most alarming images of global warming in order to sell newspapers.

But.....there is a mismatch of scale; a conclusion with which Solitaire Townsend, MD of the sustainable development communications consultancy Futerra, agrees.

"The style of climate change discourse is that we maximise the problem and minimise the solution," she said.

"So we use a loud rumbling voice to talk about the challenge, about melting ice and drought; yet we have a mouse-like voice when we talk about 'easy, cheap and simple' solutions, making them sound as tiny as possible because we think that's what makes them acceptable to the public.

Although this is accurate on a surface level, Ms. Townsend places the blame in the wrong place. Small scale solutions are not offered because they are "what is acceptable to the public". It is a deferring tactic by those in power.

The media by its nature is beholden to corporations and other well financed interests, to which it relies on for advertising revenue and for news content. Articles that outline solutions on the same scale as the climate change threat - solutions like aggressive mileage standards, carbon taxes, and mandatory co2 reduction targets - would not serve the interests of the most powerful business leaders and the politicians whom they finance.

The result is that the buck is passed onto consumers and citizens. Governments hand out small scale solutions like Halloween candy so that people will feel just good enough about the problem to no make a fuss while our decision makers continue to commit our society to policies of energy inefficiency and waste that serve only to ensure the profits of large automobile manufactures and fossil fuel suppliers.

Native Loggers Threaten Clayoquot Sound

Seven years after the old growth forests of Clayoquot Sound were protected and internationally recognized as a UN Biosphere Reserve, the deal that guaranteed its future has been swept aside to allow the logging of 90,000 hectares in eight valleys.

Perhaps most disturbingly, the company set to log the area is a native controlled business that was set up following the Clayoquot deal to act as stewards of the Biosphere - Iisaak Forest Resources.

...that memorandum -- which gained the logging company unprecedented environmental endorsement in return for agreeing not to log untouched watersheds -- appears now to be in dispute.

Key environmental officials who negotiated the memorandum said yesterday they were shocked to learn that a planning body, the Clayoquot Sound Central Region Board, has approved plans to log more than 90,000 hectares in eight valleys. The plans open the way for logging in Ursus Valley, Clayoquot River Valley and other watersheds, where up to 60 per cent of the timber can be cut.

The 1999 agreement was hailed as a major win for the environmental community. More than that, it possessed the power to act as a symbol not only for environmental values, but for aboriginal values as well.

Through the original Clayoquot agreement, the First Nations community was given a tremendous opportunity to provide clear and uncompromising leadership for the sanctity of our lands, and the integrity of traditional Native values. Instead Iisaak spokespeople are addressing the issue of logging with spin and rhetoric, much as their western industry counterparts would do.

Gary Johnsen, General Manager of Iisaak, said however that he doesn't think the company has violated either the spirit or the letter of that agreement.

He said Iisaak would be interested in logging in the eight valleys, "in an environmentally responsible way," but the company does not yet have any harvesting plans.

Mr. Johnsen said the decision to open the valleys to logging was made by the Central Region Board, not his company, and at any rate the memorandum does not restrict logging in all areas of the valleys, just in untouched areas.

"The watersheds themselves are not all pristine. I would dispute that. Only some areas within the valleys are pristine," he said.

Real leadership would have involved Iisaak honouring the true spirit of the agreement - to protect and preserve the living ecosystem of Clayoquot Sound and hold it up as a living, untouched example of the power and spirituality of nature. Instead Mr. Johnsen has chosen to be an industry apologist for the benefit of his company and profit.

It would be patently wrong to make a broad generalization that the current stance of Iisaak is representative of the First Nations community as a whole. However, the real leaders among First Nations would do well to come forward in a loud and united voice to decry the hypocrisy of Iisaak, while endorsing the inherent value that comes from offering real, dedicated protection for the future of the Clayoquot ecosystem.

Vancouver Sewage Follow-up

As a follow up to my post yesterday reporting the lawsuit launched against the GVRD and the Province of BC over inadequate sewage treatment at West Vancouver's Lions Gate plant, here is a link to today's story in the Globe and Mail covering the case.

It is worth noting that there is a strong precedent for success in this one. In 1995 Sierra Legal Defence Fund filed a similar lawsuit against the GVRD over inadequate treatment at their Annacis Island plant. That effort pushed the municipal, provincial and federal governments to agree to build secondary sewage within weeks.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Sewage Lawsuit Launched Against Vancouver

A major prosecution was launched today against the City of Vancouver. Following the news from two weeks ago that Victoria would be required to end the practice of dumping raw sewage into the ocean, Sierra Legal has launched a lawsuit against the Greater Vancouver Regional District and the Province of BC for their failure to address toxic pollution from the Lions Gate sewage treatment plant.

The lawsuit seeks to force the GVRD into implementing secondary sewage treatment at both its Lions Gate plant in West Vancouver and the Iona plant in Richmond. Currently, those facilities are limited to primary treatment, which only removes a fraction of the suspended solids and toxic chemicals from the sewage while failing to adequately treat for heavy metals and persistent organic pollutants. Secondary treatment would remove 90% of pollutants including mercury and PCBs.

“My investigation revealed that Lions Gate sewage frequently fails scientific tests for fish toxicity used under the Fisheries Act" said Doug Chapman, lead investigator for Sierra Legal, "the GVRD and the Province are aware of this, and have received serious warnings from the federal government, yet continue to permit this pollution.”

For the prosecution to proceed, the charge must be confirmed before a Provincial Court Judge. That hearing is expected to occur in the coming within the next few weeks.

The Consensus on Climate Change

Old news for those in the know, but a critical piece of info to keep at the ready. This article from Science outlines the scientific consensus on climate change with razor sharpness and provides an invaluable go to resource for anyone debating a so called global warming 'skeptic'. Worth bookmarking.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

VoW: Al Gore's Interview with The Guardian

The first Video of the Week for August is The Guardian's excellent interview with Al Gore.

Blair and Schwarzenegger Beat Bush to Climate Punch

Continuing his agenda for addressing climate change, Schwarzenegger met with British PM Tony Blair to establish an agreement for California and the UK to bypass the Bush administration and work together to against global warming.

"We see that there is not great leadership from the federal government when it comes to protecting the environment," Schwarzenegger said. "We know there is global warming, so we should stop it."

Couldn't have said it better myself.

Such acts are often symbolic and this one is no different. What sets it apart is that Tony Blair has been the foremost world leader driving tangible climate change policy. A partnership between him and the Republican Governor of the most populous US state can do nothing but carry political weight, whether George W's realizes it or not.