Monday, October 30, 2006

Al Gore to Advise UK on Climate Policy

On the heels of an alarming report that forecasts the economic losses of unchecked climate change at $7 trillion dollars, British finance minister Gordon Brown has announced a laundry list of new measures to address global warming. Included among the new initiatives is the hiring of Al Gore as advisor to the treasury on environmental issues. Other announcements include:

  • Enshrine British climate change commitments in legislation, through a Climate Change Bill, including the goal to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 60 per cent by 2050.
  • Promote sustainable forestry through an international partnership with Brazil, Papua New Guinea, Costa Rica and the Coalition of Rainforest Nations, the European Union, and the World Bank (deforestation accounts for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions).
  • Create a $20 billion loan and grant fund for energy efficiency through private sector partnerships.
  • Promote the development of a sustainable regional biofuels industry in southern Africa by launching a joint task force with Brazil, South Africa and Mozambique.
  • Form a new commission to keep Britain at the forefront of the global environmental market, projected to be worth close to $700 billion by 2010.

The announcement also outlines intentions to work towards tougher EU reduction targets and to expand the EU carbon trading market to include other greenhouse gases and to work with new markets in Australia, northeast American states and California.

Global Warming Price Tag - $7 Trillion

A new report has painted one of the direst pictures of global warming yet seen. Prepared by Sir Nicholas Stern, the World Bank's former chief economist, the 700 page analysis projects that the economic losses from climate change could cost as much as $ 7 trillion, or 20% of the world's GDP.

"Whilst there is much more we need to understand - both in science and economics - we know enough now to be clear about the magnitude of the risks, the timescale for action and how to act effectively," Sir Nicholas said.

The report implicitly supports an analysis
by PricewaterhouseCooper that places the cost of a 60% reduction in emission by 2050 as being one year's economic growth. Taken together, the two reports make an inarguable business case, if not human imperitive, for sustainable world climate policy.

Tony Blair has responded with strong words and promises of renewed leadership on the issue. His Environmental Secretary David Miliband has already pledged a new climate law, and today finance minister Gordon Brown announced a raft of new green initiatives including the hiring of Al Gore as an environmental advisor.

The British government's formal policy agenda for the coming year will be announced during the annual Queen's speech on November 15th.

YouTube Video Clips Removed

Here is a quick alert for Conscious Earth readers trying to access YouTube video clips from this site. Comedy Central has impelled the popular video share site to remove clips taken from Jon Stewart's The Daily Show. This site has made numerous use of Daily Show highlights to help bring a lighter side to the too often depressing news of environmental current events.

For the moment, viewers will be unable to view such clips from this site. I'll update the links if they become availabe again at a later date. In the mean time, sorry for any inconvenience.

Source: Abandoned Stuff

Sunday, October 29, 2006

10,000th Hit

This is a quick note to thank to each and every reader and supporter for brining The Conscious Earth its 10,000 visitor.

Australia Approves World's Largest Solar Plant

Last week the world's largest solar power generating plant was announced in Australia. The federal government agreed to contribute $75 million towards the A$420 million (US$319 million) 154 megawatts solar power project in Victoria.

Though making a significant financial contribution, John Howard's federal government continues to come under sharp criticism for failing to sign on to Kyoto and for not taking sufficient action to help curb greenhouse gas emissions. Despite the feds financial contribution, both Solar Systems Generation - the company building the plant - and the state of Victoria's Premier Steve Bracks are crediting Victoria's legislated target of 10 per cent green power by 2016 for making the project viable.

I Count Rally Update

The I Count climate change rally - set to run from 1pm to 3pm this coming Saturday, November 4th at Trafalgar Square - has now announced its line-up of speakers.

Scheduled to appear during the day of action are KT Tunstall, Rob Newman, Miranda Richardson, Simon Amstell, Rufus Hous, Bishop of Liverpool, Adam Hart Davis, Dr Hany El Banna (President-Islamic Relief), Sharon Looremetais and Stop Climate Chaos Director Ashok Sinha.

Stop Climate Chaos (SCC) is a coalition of over 35 organizations - including Friends of the Earth, RSPB, Greenpeace, WWF, Oxfam, Tearfund, Christian Aid, the Women's Institute and UNISON - who are coming together with the public to push the UK Government negotiate an international deal to keep global warming levels less that 2 degrees centigrade and introduce a Climate Change Bill into the Queens speech. Although the government has indicated that new climate legislation will be included in the November's Queen speech, all details have not been released and pressure is needed to ensure that British citizen's are offered a truly effective plan to curb greenhouse gases. Unlike that delivered to Canadians earlier in October following months of hype and government rhetoric.

The day of action is open to all members of the public and everyone is encouraged to join I Count at Trafalgar and to take part in the lead up march through London. Pack a lunch and add your voice to millions world wide who support strong action on climate change.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Green Sell Out Attacks Activist

Patrick Moore, one time co-founder of Greenpeace but now an anti-green spin campaigner, is attacking one of fish farming's most dedicated and credible researchers.

Biologist Alexandra Morton has been testing and reporting on the impact of sea lice on the pink and chum salmon runs in the Broughton Archipelago for over five years. Her findings have been consistently proved by independent scientists, and this month her work was given further backing. New research shows that the wild salmon population is being devastated by sea lice from fish farms, with 95 per cent of young wild salmon that migrate out to sea dieing after swimming through lice plumes from infected farms.

Unfortunately, like global warming, the potential for profits have drawn a host of PR professionals who are only too willing wade into the fish farming front lines with half-truths and attack campaigns.

Enter Patrick Moore, who has forged his new career by leveraging whatever remians of his green reputation for the benefit of unsustainable energy, forestry and fish farming. In a pathetic effort, Moore has incomprehensibly tried to paint Morton as "flip flopper" in a naked assault on her credibility. Readers will need to consult his press release directly for the allegations, as his assertions are so convoluted they are impossible to reproduce in any coherent form.

The ploy was Moore's second ill-advised and poorly executed PR attack in as many months. Back in September, he had the audacity to accuse the world's pre-eminent scientific organization of repressing science. At that time, the UK's Royal Society' released a timely and impeccably researched open letter criticizing Exxon for funding groups that misrepresent the scientific facts of climate change. Moore embarrassed himself by comparing the Royal Society - which counts Sir Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin and Stephen Hawking among its fellowship - to the Inquisition.

Moore's problem isn't that he sold out decades of environmental work for a career in misinformation - its just that he's so bloody bad at it. His allegations are as laughable as they are limp, and in the ultimate irony, after abandoning legitimate environmental causes back in the 1980s he has managed to create a new, and truly renewable industry - by supplying the environmental and progressive community with an inexhaustible supply of jokes and laughing material.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Top Ten Consumers of Earth's Resources

This week, the WWF released its Living Planet Report. In addition to the broadly publicized soundbite that we will need two planet Earths by the year 2050 to supply our needs, the report also provided valuable information on the per capita impact of each country.

The ecological footprint was calculated for each nation, measured as the number of hectares required to supply the resources used by one person from a given country. The United States and Canada finished 2nd and 4th respectively, with the United Arab Emirates taking top spot due almost exclusively to the impacts of its fossil fuel industry.

Compiled below are the ten countries with the highest per capita impact on the planet.

Country Ecological Footprint

United Arab Emirates 11.9
United States 9.6
Finland 7.6
Canada 7.6
Kuwait 7.3
Australia 6.6
Estonia 6.5
Sweden 6.1
New Zealand 5.9

David Suzuki to Step Away from Spotlight

Though it falls short of a retirement, David Suzuki - the renowned Canadian scientist, environmentalist and activist - is preparing to step away from the public eye while he laments that he has not had a greater impact on the environmental movement.

Those were his words in a recent interview given from Australia while he was promoting the second installment of his autobiography. Suzuki said that he is looking forward to spending more time in the Canadian wilderness, carving wood and fishing and promises that this most recent book will be his last.

Dr. Suzuki is now 70 years old, and the world would be hard pressed to find a more dedicated and effective champion for the environment. His television program, The Nature of Things, is broadcast in 40 countries. He is the author more than 40 books, dozens of radio programs, has sat on countless boards and councils, holds 18 honourary degrees, and is a recipient of the Order of Canada. That his focus during this stage in his life remains firmly on the growing importance of sustainable living exemplifies his personal dedication to the environment, and the critical importance of the environmental threats we are facing today.

He will undoubtedly remain involved with numerous organizations, including the David Suzuki Foundation, in moving us towards a sustainable future. However, as he takes his first steps away from public life he will leave behind a giant's footsteps. The question is - who will have the courage to follow in them?

How to Vote Green in November

American's go to the polls on November 7th to elect federal representatives in the Senate and House, as well as choose Governors in 36 states. Voters concerned with making green friendly choices should visit the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) for their green-endorsement guide map.

The map gives a point and click reference for green candidates and initiatives throughout the country while providing links to the voting records of the enivironments best and worst elected representatives throughout the last term in office.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Oil Glutton to Head US Energy Policy

Former Exxon CEO, recipient of one of the largest bonuses in world history, and poster child for corporate excess - Lee "Fat Bastard" Raymond - has been tapped by the Bush Administration to develop national energy policies.

"..the environment is real. You can smell it. In parts of Houston, you can grab hunks of it with your hands and use it to lube your car! And if there is a single face you might want to use to personify this evil (climate change), he was in the news this week: the retiring and handsomely-compensated chairman of Exxon Mobil, Lee 'Fat Bastard' Raymond."

- Bill Maher, from Real Time Apr 21, 2006

Under Lee Raymond's tenure, Exxon was a world leader not only in oil profits but also in funding groups who undermine global warming science.

One needs to be more than a little skeptical when a man whose parting gift from the oil industry was a $400 million dollar cheque is charged with forging a climate responsible energy plan in the era of global warming.

Via: charge: the future of energy

British Government Tables New Climate Bill

Bowing to pressure from opposition parties and environmental campaigners, the British government will table a new long-term climate change bill for inclusion in next month's Queen's speech.

Despite the new initiative, green campaigners remain critical as the new bill is not expected to include the legally binding reduction targets they have been pushing for. Instead of the mandatory annual decreases in greenhouse gases of 3% that are being called for, the bill is expected to set specific targets for each decade - a move consistent with other European Union targets.

Ideally, there is probably a happy middle ground to be found. Legally binding annual cuts in greenhouse gases are undesirable for the same reason balanced budget legislation is a poor fiscal policy. They unduly restrict the responsiveness of governments to unforeseen needs and emergencies. Unexpected events do and will occur and can often push a nation into debt for a given year, whether that debt is measured in dollars or carbon dioxide makes little difference. The point is to remain financially, and environmentally sustainable over time.

As long as we remain in free market society, the market will require a certain degree of flexibility and room to work within. Unanticipated booms in the economy will occur, resulting in short-term increases in greenhouse gas emissions. Government's role is to ensure that on an overall level emission targets are achieved and any increases are promptly addressed exist only in the short-term.

Binding targets within a two to three year time frame would allow a more realistic amount of room for market fluctuations, while giving the government in power an incentive to hit mandated targets - by keeping those target deadlines within the four to five year election cycle.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Carbon Neutral Oil Sands Possible

The Pembina Institute has released a report asserting that Alberta's oils sands development can affordably become carbon neutral by the year 2020 by employing carbon sequestration technology and purchasing offsets. The report, titled "Carbon Neutral by 2020", pegs the cost for carbon neutrality in the range of $1.76 to $13.65 (US) per barrel of crude oil.

So called conservative market champions will doubtlessly argue about the prohibitive costs of making the shift, but consider two points. First, investment in carbon neutral technology will be much cheaper if done now while new developments are being built, rather than upgrading existing facilities down the road. Second, and more importantly, there are plenty of dollars to pay for this technology.

The market price for crude at which tar sands developments are considered profitable are variously given as being between $20 to $28 per barrel. Put another way, as an oil company CEO you would gladly start a development project given a market price of $28 per barrel for your crude. However, surging world demand has sustained prices above $50, with no expectation of a significant decline. That $22 buffer zone represents pure additional profit that goes entirely to oil companies operating on a business model of environmental exploitation.

What policy makers need to decide is where that surplus is best spent - on ensuring a stable climate? Or in purchasing third and fourth homes for oil company executives.

RealClimate Offers Powerful New Search Tool

The reputable and reliable RealClimate website has launched a new custom search function using the Google Co-op service that will give readers and researchers a one stop location for information on climate science already vetted by RealClimate.

The number of sites and pages available will be growing and promises to be a worthy new resource for information about global warming. To use the new feature simply enter your search criteria in the box at the top of the RealClimate page.

Write to Your MP About Deep Integration

Following my post from yesterday on the deep integration of North America, a reader requested that I post a letter template for anyone wanting to write their MP about the issue. For everyone interested you will find a copy of the letter I sent out below. Please copy and forward without hesitation. Be sure to update the variable fields highlighted in bold italics before sending.

Canadian readers can find their local MP at the Parliamentary search site.
American readers can find their representative of Congress here or your Senator here.

Dear insert addressee,

I am deeply concerned about the move towards the deep integration of North America that began under Paul Martin through the signing of the Security and Prosperity Partnership, and that has continued during the current Conservative government.

From September 12th to 14th, North American leaders from government, business and key agencies met in Banff, Alberta for a series of closed door meetings on the integration of security, trade, and energy policies between Canada, Mexico and the United States. In attendance were Donald Rumsfeld, Stockwell Day, and Chief personnel from NORAD, Chevron, Suncor and Lockheed Martin to name a few. Meanwhile, the Canadian public is being denied a role in discussions that about the future of our own sovereignty by the secret nature of this session and others like them.

There has been scant reporting of this event online, but little else while most elected officials have remained silent on this critical issue.

I am writing to express the strongest possible opposition to these talks and any future plans that would sacrifice Canadian sovereignty and the democratic rights of Canada's citizens.

More to the point, as insert MP's credentials, I would like to know your position on this issue.

Thank you,

Your name and contact information

Monday, October 23, 2006

The OC Plays Green Card

The hit fox series The OC is turning a new green leaf. This season features the introduction of a new character and self styled green revolutionary named Che. Fans can check out the trailer below. Catch the Season Premiere on Thursday, November 2nd.

Deep Integration Update - Does Your MP Give a S#@! ?

If you want answers and public accountability in Canada, the only place to find it is from representatives not in power, and even then it's iffy.

Last month, while Canadians were ooing and ahhing over the rumoured romance between Peter MacKay and Condoleezza Rice (we haven't heard a thing about that one since, have we?), the meat of North America's political machinery was in Banff, Alberta engaged in closed door meetings for the merging of the continent's security, economies and military.

As a democratic exercise, I wrote to the leaders of our opposition parties to discover their stance on the most important issue facing the sovereign future of Canadians. In tandem with that effort, I also wrote to our major news outlets to politely inquire as to why this meeting was not picked up and reported on. Here are the results.

Of the five news companies I wrote - The Globe & Mail, Canwest, Alberta affiliates of Global TV, CTV and the CBC - none responded to either of the two enquiries I submitted.

In Ottawa, I wrote to the Liberal party, the NDP, the Green Party, my personal MP (Derek Bell - Lib), and the major contenders for the Liberal leadership - Bob Rae, Michael Ignatieff, Stephane Dion, Ken Dryden, and Gerard Kennedy. Of all these public officials only two offered a response, Jack Layton and Michael Ignatieff.

Mr. Layton provided a comprehensive stance against deep integration and other Conservative initiatives that represent a potential threat to Canadian interests. From Mr. Ignatieff I received a brief note that stated his support of Canadian sovereignty with no mention of deep integration in particular. Below are their respective responses in full.

Response from Jack Layton, Leader, Federal NDP
Thank you for informing me of your concern about the further integration of Canada with the United States and Mexico.

At an October 4th press conference and in Parliament, NDP International Trade and Globalization critic, Peter Julian, outlined the NDP's opposition to plans to fast-track North American integration through the harmonization of 300 common areas of legislation and regulations.

Mr. Julian stated, "This is the giving away of Canada’s command to the U.S. Republican administration and to North America’s largest corporations. We are seeing this with the Softwood Lumber Agreement and with the Canadian Wheat Board, as well as in a variety of other sectors." For more information, please see attachment below and visit:

The recent Banff meeting of top government, corporate and military officials from all three countries has heightened this concern. It was clear that organizers and participants intended to keep this important meeting on integration out of the public eye.

Mr. Julian has been active on this file since the launch of the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP) - Please be assured that the federal NDP will continue to demonstrate strong leadership on deep integration as we have on other important issues such as Afghanistan and the Softwood Lumber Agreement.

Again, thank you for taking the time to convey your interest to safeguard our future and our Canadian sovereignty. Feel free to forward this email to all others who may share this concern.

Jack Layton, MP (Toronto-Danforth)
Leader, Canada’s New Democrats

Response from Michael Ignatieff:
Mr. Ignatieff is a strong defender of Canadian sovereignty. He does not believe that we should make our country more dependant on the United States, or any other country. We must always maintain a strong and independent voice on the world stage.

Thank you for your question.

All the best,

Sean Williamson
Campaign Michael Ignatieff Leadership Campaign

I would encourage all Canadian readers to forward this article to your MP's and demand their views on the matter, especially if you are in a Liberal riding. The Security and Prosperity Partnership was begun under the Paul Martin government, and as the Liberal's will likely return to power before this issue is resolved, their stance and future action on this issue needs to be made known to voters in advance of the next election, as well as in the current leadership race.

You can find your local MP at the Parliament search site.

Brits are the EU's Worst Energy Wasters

A recent survey on energy waste indicates that Britons are the worst energy wasters in the European Union, engaging in more than twice the number of energy wasting actions per week than Europe's best performer, Germany.

Though the survey paint Britain in poor light next to its European neighbours, the UK stands as a pillar of responsible energy use next to North American nations. According to 2002 data, both Canada and the US consume twice the amount of energy per person than British citizens.

Thanks to Canada's Clean Air Act and Bush's inaction, that difference is not likely to change soon.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Our Polar Impacts

The clearest and most disturbing evidence of our global environmental impact was, and is, seen at the planet's poles. In the past week, scientists found that Antarctica's ozone hole is currently the largest on record (now bigger in area than the North American continent) while at the opposite pole researchers announced disturbing new data on the speed of Greenland's melting.

In the 1990s the world successfully addressed the ozone hole by agreeing to phase out ozone destroying chemicals. Its now a waiting game as the hole will continue to fluctuate while slowly healing over the course of the next 50 years. It is a vivid yet disturbing lesson about the time frame of planetary recovery as we continue to play Russian roullete with the world's climate by failing to act with the urgency the problem warrants.

The reasons for this are myriad, but a major one is quite literally in our view of the problem. Unlike the ozone hole we have no shared image of global warming. We see receding glaciers and drying lakes, but nothing that uniquely captures the novelty and urgency of the problem we are now facing.

In the early 1990s the world was stunned by the scientific photography of Antarctica's failing ozone cover. The idea of a future where the life giving sun became our most mortal enemy exploded into the consciousness of the world. Reports of increasing skin cancer rates became more common and citizens, businesses and governments reacted to the threat by rapidly agreeing to the phase ot of ozone depleting chemicals.

We have no such iconic image of global warming, and unfortunately, most major environmental achievements have found a place in the minds of citizens through the shocking realism of a visual image. Decimated rain forests, endangered whales and thinning ozone all have galvinized awareness and action through immediate and irrefutable proof of the problem through visual imagery - often a single shared image.

This reality represents the blessing and curse of our current media reliant culture - a picture has the power to bring millions together in a common goal, but conversely, if a cause fails to offer an iconic snapshot, it will more often than not fail to create change.

This is the problem facing the leaders battling for global warming action, and the greatest ally of those who spread disinformation in the name of profit. Environmental visionaries have worked tirelessly at building consensus on the risks we all face by rising temperatures, and to their credit have made impressive progress.

Now we need our image to drive the point home.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Painting Harper's Political Corner

Opposition Liberals, Bloc and NDP have stated they will vote against the Conservatives green plan tabled yesterday before Parliament. Though it would not represent a confidence vote for the minority Conservatives, the defeat of their so called green plan would be the second time in recent months that the Tories have been outvoted in parliament and place Stephen Harper in a tenuous political corner.

For Stephen Harper the risks are real. In the face of a poor strategy in Afghanistan, a bigoted stance on gay marriage, the selling out of Canadian interests in softwood lumber, and opposition to the Kyoto protocol, Harper has hedged his party's salability on delivering improved air quality. With yesterday's confirmation that his green plan will do nothing to abate smog for decades that salability is called into serious question.

Canadians oppose our current involvement in Afghanistan, we want recognition of the rights of all people, we want action on global warming, and we want better air quality. In the first three issues Harper publicly disagrees with Canadians. The last point, improving air quality, he publicly endorses while simultaneously proving incapable of delivering on.

And so the self-dubbed billed party of results has delivered only rhetoric while showing how out of step they are with every voter who does not own stock in Shell or Suncor.

Check your egg timer folks, because this government is cooked.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Ta Da! Tory Clean Air Plan Unveiled

And it's a complete crock. As predicted by the Conscious Earth and throughout the media and environmental community for months, the Clean Air Act has proved to be nothing but hot air and offers no results for decades and no plan on how to achieve any. Instead of action, the Tories plan approach will tie Canada lockstep to the world's worst polluter and climate destroyer while offering no progress in addressing global warming.

The intention will be to synchronize Canadian regulations with those of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

That was the message from Rona Ambrose and the Federal Tories today. In summary, emissions will steadily increase until intensity based targets go into effect in 2010, at which point emissions will continue to increase as soaring oil and gas production wipes out whatever efficiency gains are actually put in place. No plan on decreasing smog nor greenhouse gases was given. Today's announcement instead promises to "seek" reductions, but not until after 2020.

The only surprise is that the Conservatives could not even deliver on their promise of smog reduction - an initiative their propaganda machine has been pumping since Harper became party leader. The "Made in Canada" plan does not offer so much as a target for smog until 2025, and succeeds only in accomplishing the Tories primary environmental goal - to ignore the Kyoto Protocol. Today's annoucement made no mention of the treaty.

In addition to the "results" highlighted above, the Conservatives made several pie in the sky promises for the distant future including actual decreases in CO2 starting in 2020, and a miraculous 45 to 65% reduction taking hold in 2050. No targets, plan or firm commitment to those goals were made, likely because the current Conservatives will be retired, or voted out office, and back in the oil pampered comfort of the Alberta high country while the rest of Canada pays the price for rising oceans and temperatures.

Despite the criticism above, today's announcement did promise strong action to curb emissions from motorcycles, outboard engines, and other irrelevant low impact engines. Strangely absent from these new restrictions on put-put toys were aggressive targets for whale oil lanterns and Bic lighters, though such action was not ruled out in their new "approach".

The best news from today actually has nothing to do with the environment. Now that the Conservatives have ended months of waiting and speculation by tabling their environmental vision, we can all get back to the more important business of discussing the proven ineptitude of this government and stop indulging their non-announcements with political breathing room.

You can read the complete bill here.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Schwarzenegger Joins NE States in Global Warming Fight

New York Governor George Pataki and Governor Schwarzenegger have signed an agreement that will see California join seven northeast states in a climate change partnership. The deal will take effect in 2009 and establish a carbon trading system to allow carbon polluting power plants to buy credits from those that are cutting their greenhouse gas emissions.

The move is the latest in a host of climate friendly initiatives that Schwarzenegger has either backed or tabled in recent months, with other notable moves including requiring a 25% reduction in California's c02 emissions by 2020; calling for the installation of 1 million rooftop solar units by 2018; and joining British Prime Minister Tony Blair in a new agreement to fight global warming while vocally criticizing Bush's lack of action.

Google Goes Solar

Fresh on the heels of shelling out a cool $1.6 billion for YouTube, Google has announced plans to build one of America's largest solar power installations to supply electricity to its corporate headquarters in Mountain View, California.

The Googleplex's rooftop solar installation will generate 1.6 megawatts of electricity, enough power to supply 1,000 homes. The project will also put a dent in Schwarzenegger's initiative to have 1 million rooftop solar units in place throughout California by 2018. Specifics of Google's plan include:

  • 9,200 solar panels to be installed by next spring
  • Total capacity equal 1.6 megawatts
  • It will supply 30 percent of the campus' electricity on a hot summer day
  • In addition, motion sensors will be installed on indoor lights

  • Google aslo supports a green corporate philosophy that includes all organic cafeterias and and extensive commuter shuttle program that removes hundreds of cars from the road daily. David Radcliffe, Google's vice president of real estate was quoted as saying, "If we can dispel the myth along the way that you can't be green and profitable at the same time, that's another benefit."

    Amen to that.

    Tuesday, October 17, 2006

    Iceland Begins Commercial Whaling

    Iceland has confirmed their intention to resume the commercial hunt of whales, with an announcement of annual quotas totaling 30 minke whales and 9 endangered fin whales.

    Iceland joins Norway as the only two nations engaged in the commercial hunt of whales. Despite the new policy, the Icelandic government has stated that the catches will be set on a sustainable level.

    "The total stock size of central and north Atlantic minke whales is close to 70,000 animals, of which around 43,600 are in Icelandic coastal waters," said the government's statement.

    "The number of fin whales in the [area] is estimated at around 25,800 animals.

    "The catches are clearly sustainable and therefore consistent with the principle of sustainable development."

    Greenpeace captured the harpooning and extended death of a minke whale on film. The graphic film clip is below.

    Its Official. There's Just Way to Many Americans

    Today is the official date that the United States tops 300 million in population. For the environmental impact see my lead up post.

    UK Rallying Around Climate Change - Join the Effort

    A host of initiatives, celebrities and rallies are coming together in the UK calling on Blair and the Labour government to introduce aggressive new climate change legislation - and it appears to be working. Late last week it was reported that a "climate change bill is likely to be included in next month's Queen's Speech".

    The announcement comes on the heels of a major push by opposition parties earlier that led to 59% MPs signing a motion backing a new climate law, and a pledge to support to Blair if he included such a law in the Queen's Speech.

    The can help keep up the pressure by joining thousands of others for a march through London and mass gathering at Trafalgar Square to demand a new climate change action for the UK. The march begins November 4th at 10am and culminates by joining I Counts rally at Trafalgar at 2pm.

    Mark you calendars. The complete schedule is below.

    Date: November 4th

    10.00am Cycle protest assembles at Lincoln's Inn Fields, South side (Holborn/Temple tube). Goes via ExxonMobil offices, Australian Embassy and Downing Street to arrive at US embassy at 11.30 am.

    11.00am Rally opens : Messages from around the world, performance poetry & musical protest with "Seize the Day" and others.

    12 noon Main Rally at US Embassy, Grosvenor Square. Speakers include George Monbiot, Colin Challen MP, Caroline Lucas MEP, Norman Baker MP, Zac Goldsmith.

    1.00 pm March for Global Climate Justice from US embassy to Trafalgar Square

    1.45 - 2.00 pm March joins i-Count's.. Mass Gathering in Trafalgar Square

    1.00 - 3.00pm i-Count Mass Gathering in Trafalgar Square

    Canada to Establish a New National Park

    Last week, an agreement was announced between federal officials and first nations for the creation of a vast new national park centred on Great Slave Lake in the Northwest Territories. The proposed park would encompass an area of 33,525 square kilometers - an area four times the size of Yellowstone. Included in the proposed area are 4,000 square kilometers of the lake itself (the world's tenth largest), as well as a key northern landscape representing the transition zone between boreal forest and northern tundra that is home to caribou, moose, grizzlies and black bears.

    The local Lutsel K'e Dene first nations, who negotiated the agreement with the federal government, are proposing to call the new area Thaydene Nene National Park, which means "land of the ancestors" in the Dene language. Like the DeCho first nations of the Nahanni watershed, the threat of mining development was a key consideration in their agreement to support the creation of the park - a stance that has changed since they initially opposed the park's creation 30 years ago.

    Formal talks on the creation of the park will now begin, with the expectation that the park boundaries will be ready for parliamentary approval in three years. The last time Canada gained a new national park was 2005 when the federal government signed an agreement with the Labrador Inuit Association for the creation of the Torngat Mountains National Park Reserve in Labrador.

    Friday, October 13, 2006

    Tory Clean Air Act Leaked

    The Sierra Club of Canada, Friends of the Earth Canada and Greenpeace have obtained a leaked draft of the Conservative's Clean Air Act. The groups are condemning the draft as being nothing more than a minor housekeeping bill that offers only adjustments to existing language while giving provinces the option to opt out of what few existing regulations are in place.

    The bill would let provinces opt out of federal rules, according to the draft, which was circulated by the Sierra Club of Canada, Friends of the Earth Canada and Greenpeace. Also, because the draft would regulate some substances as ``air pollutants,'' and not ``toxic'' materials, companies may be able to challenge it because federal jurisdiction over pollutants has never been established, said Greenpeace's Steven Guilbault.

    ``It's a delay tactic, it's a serious delay tactic,'' Beatrice Olivastri, chief executive of Friends of the Earth Canada, told reporters a press conference in Ottawa. Current laws governing toxic materials have been ruled valid by the country's Supreme Court, Guilbault noted.

    In commenting on the August draft, the groups acknowledge that they have to way of knowing how representative it is to the final bill. However, given that back in August the Conservatives still had a "plan" rather than an "approach" for addressing air quality and CO2, and that the Environment Minister herself has said that emissions will rise under the new bill, it seems safe to bet that the final Act will offer nothing more substantial.

    The Conservatives will announce the bill on Tuesday.

    Hat tip to: Le Revue Gauche

    Oil Rich Calgary Hard Over Surging Profits

    Euphoric over surging oil and gas profits, and soaring on the wings of rising greenhouse gas emissions, Calgary is celebrating its booming economy with plans to pop the country's second largest boner.

    Today, Encana announced its $1 billion plan to construct a 59 storey office tower in downtown Calgary. The tower will be the tallest office building west of Toronto and serve to further masturbate Calgary's ego, as city politicians and business leaders alike celebrate their bulging pockets and increasing intimacy with American markets.

    But despite widespread celebration of Encana's plans, the announcement put Prime Minister Harper in a tough bind. Though a staunch defender of Alberta's right to pollute, the masturbatory implications of Calgary's impending woody have put him at odds with his religious supporters.

    "This is a good plan approach for Calgary.", said the PM, "I mean, its not like it looks like a gay erection or anything."

    Construction starts next year, with doors slated to open in 2010.

    Thursday, October 12, 2006

    Canada's Top CO2 Polluters Exposed

    Is it any wonder Harpers green plan approach will do nothing to reduce greenhouse gases?

    On the heels of this weeks non-announcement on the Tories non-action on global warming, PollutionWatch has made published a database on the nation's top greenhouse gas producers. To the surprise of nobody, Alberta - the breadbasket of Harpers support - is Canada's top producer of greenhouse gas pollution by a long shot, ranking 41% higher than second place Ontario.

    Total Greenhouse Gas Emissions
    (reported by large industrial facilities in 2004)

    In addition to ranking provinces visitors can also see a listing of the top polluting companies in the nation. For more details visit the PullutionWatch website.

    DuPont Announces $6 Billion Sustainable Strategy

    DuPont is continuing its leadership role in energy efficiency and the reduction of greenhouse gases.

    In 1990, spurred in part by their successful development of alternatives to ozone depleting CFC chemicals, the global chemical giant announced its intention to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Now they have unveiled a new sustainable growth strategy that by 2015 is projected to generate $6 billion dollars of additional revenue while creating 1,000 new products or services that will enhance the environmental profile of its business operations.

    New innovations include reduced greenhouse gases in refrigerants, safer automotive finishes, and the engineering of polymers and coatings based on renewable materials. Additionally, DuPont pledges to introduce clean fuel fleet vehicles with the goal of converting its entire off-site fleet towards fossil fuel alternatives, and they will continue with its 2010 goal to hold total energy use flat versus 1990 and to source 10 percent of its energy from renewable sources.

    Chairman and CEO Charles O. Holliday Jr. termed "sustainable growth" as "the biggest market opportunity on the horizon for the next two or three decades." The strategy could yield an additional $6 billion in revenues by the year 2015, he said.

    "Many companies say that what's good for the environment can also be good for business. We have a slightly different view: What's good for business must also be good for the environment and for people everywhere in the world," Holliday said in a statement.

    For those who think DuPont's goals are hot air, consider this. While Canada and the USO have been dithering and denying their own climate change responsibilities for the past 16 years, DuPont has reduced their greenhouse gas emissions by 72%, and they reduced their overall energy use to 9% below 1990 levels, while increasing production by 35%. There plans have also gained the praise of the Natural Resources Defense Council - a leading ENGO in the US.

    “Dupont's made a lot of progress in reducing its global warming emissions. Partly that’s from refashioning its business, selling things off and changing what they do, but largely, it’s a real improvement,” says policy director David Doniger. “They seem to be pledging more of the same, and we need more progress of that kind, from companies that take a forward-looking position.”

    Duponts plans put an exclamation point on the Liberal's inaction and the sham that has been the Tories' green propaganda plan. It also demonstrates with clarity how achievable it is to go beyond what Kyoto, and how infinitely within our reach the solutions to global warming are.

    Wednesday, October 11, 2006

    Clean Air Pledge Goes Up in Smog

    In the aftermath of yesterday's green plan approach non-announcement by the Conservatives, Rona Ambrose is defending her party's plan against the critics, not the least of which was Jim Ibbitson of the Globe, who leveled a frank but devastating critique of the Conservatives.

    Ultimately, the Tory smog plan will outline the rules that will allow smog and co2 producing industries to increase the amount of pollution they eject into the environment through the establishment of "intensity based targets". An intensity based target is a crony-fied piece of industry jargon, invented by George Bush, that specifies a reduction in emissions per unit produced (i.e. per barrel of oil or per tonne of coal). The problem is that if production increases (i.e. more units) the total amount of pollution is going to increase according to the following formula:

    current pollution - small per unit reduction in emissions x BIG increase in production = BIG F@#!IN' INCREASE IN SMOG!!!
    That is a real problem for Canada where oil sands production is expected to at least double by 2015. The net result? In the coming years you can look forward to more greenhouse gases, more global warming, more smog and more asthma.

    Personally, I believed that the Conservative's plan approach would deliver some minimal amount of real results on smog, while my problem has been his attempted snow job on the issue of global warming. Instead, Harper's approach has been a snow job on all fronts while fulfilling the opposition's dream - by demonstrating how out of touch he actually is with Canadians desire for real action on environmental issues.

    Some Hope for First Nations Water

    Following last week's release of a national drinking water report card by Sierra Legal, a series of high profile announcements have hit the news.

    That report was particularly critical of the federal government for its failure to provide national safeguards for drinking water and singled out the continued risk faced by First Nations communities, as demostrated by last year's evacuation of Kashechewan.

    Today the Ministry of Indian Affairs and Northern Development & Interlocutor for Metis and Non-Status Indians (I'm not joking. That's really the full name of the ministry) announced new water treatment plants for Alberta's Driftpile First Nation and and for the Naskapi Nation of Kawawachikamach, Quebec.

    Many more such announcements will need to come in order to close the safety gap for Canada's, and especially First Nations, drinking water supplies.

    Best & Worst US Elected Officials

    Following a week that clearly demonstrated how Canada's elected officials are addressing the environment, here is the scoop on US representatives via the 2006 League of Conservation Voters Scorecard. The scorecard was released in good time for the 2006 Congressional elections and was tabulated using actual voting records on green related initiatives including offshore drilling, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and environmental funding.

    The top green states were California, Illinois, Maryland and Vermont. If you live in Alabama, Alaska, Georgia, Idaho, Kentucky, Montana, North Carolina, Texas or Wyoming, good luck - they're at the bottom.

    The best and worst from both the Senate and the House are listed below. You can also look up your elected official directly with the LCV search page. On a juvenile note, I found it interesting that those with 0% scores were far more likely to have names like Doolittle and Crapo.

    The Senate

    Top Senators (100% scores)

    California - Boxer · Feinstein
    Connecticut - Dodd
    Delaware - Biden
    Hawaii - Akaka
    Illinois - Durbin · Obama
    Indiana - Bayh
    Maryland - Mikulski · Sarbanes
    Massachusetts - Kennedy
    New Jersey - Menendez
    New Mexico - Bingaman
    Oregon - Wyden
    Rhode Island - Reed
    Vermont - Jeffords · Leahy
    Washington - Cantwell
    Wisconsin - Feingold

    Worst Senators (0% scores)

    Alabama - Sessions · Shelby
    Florida - Martinez
    Georgia - Chambliss · Isakson
    Idaho - Craig · Crapo
    Kansas - Roberts
    Kentucky - Bunning · McConnell
    Louisiana - Vitter
    Mississippi - Lott
    North Carolina - Burr · Dole
    Oklahoma - Inhofe
    Texas - Cornyn · Hutchison
    Virginia - Allen
    Wyoming - Enzi · Thomas

    The House

    Top Members of Congress (100% scores)

    Arizona - Grijalva
    California - Becerra · Berman · Capps · Eshoo · Farr · Harman · Honda · Lee · Matsui · George Miller · Napolitano · Pelosi · Roybal-Allard · Linda Sanchez · Loretta Sanchez · Schiff · Sherman · Solis · Stark · Tauscher · Waters · Watson · Waxman · Woolsey
    Colorado - DeGette · Udall
    Connecticut - DeLauro
    Florida - Davis · Wasserman Schultz · Wexler
    Georgia - Lewis · McKinney
    Hawaii - Case
    Illinois - Gutierrez · Schakowsky
    Indiana - Carson
    Maine - Allen
    Maryland - Cardin · Cummings · Hoyer · Van Hollen
    Massachusetts - Capuano · Frank · Lynch · Markey · McGovern · Meehan · Neal · Olver · Tierney
    Michigan - Conyers · Dingell · Kildee · Kilpatrick · Levin
    Minnesota - McCollum
    Missouri - Carnahan
    Nevada - Berkley
    New Jersey - Andrews · Holt · Pallone · Pascrell · Rothman
    New Mexico - Udall
    New York - Engel · Hinchey · Lowey · McCarthy · McNulty · Nadler · Owens · Rangel · Serrano · Weiner
    Ohio - Brown · Kaptur · Kucinich
    Oregon - Wu
    Pennsylvania - Fattah · Schwartz
    Rhode Island - Langevin
    South Carolina - Clyburn
    Tennessee - Cooper
    Texas - Doggett
    Vermont - Sanders
    Virginia - Scott
    Washington - Inslee · McDermott · Smith
    Wisconsin - Baldwin · Moore · Obey

    Worst Members of Congress (0% scores)

    Alabama - Aderholt
    Alaska - Young
    Arizona - Franks · Hayworth · Kolbe · Shadegg
    California Bilbray · Doolittle · Herger · Hunter · Issa · Lewis · Gary Miller · Nunes · Radanovich · Thomas
    Colorado - Hefley
    Florida - Mica · Weldon
    Georgia - Deal · Gingrey · Linder · Norwood · Westmoreland
    Idaho - Simpson
    Illinois - Manzullo · Shimkus
    Indiana - Burton · Buyer · Chocola · Hostettler · Pence · Souder
    Iowa - King · Latham
    Kansas - Ryun · Tiahrt
    Kentucky - Northrup
    Louisiana - Alexander · Baker · Boustany · McCrery
    Michigan - Hoekstra · Knollenberg
    Minnesota - Gutknecht
    Mississippi - Wicker
    Missouri - Blunt
    Montana - Rehberg
    Nevada - Gibbons
    New Mexico - Pearce
    North Carolina - McHenry · Myrick
    Ohio - Boehner · Hobson · Oxley
    Oklahoma - Boren · Istook · Lucas
    Pennsylvania - Peterson
    South Carolina - Wilson
    Tennessee - Blackburn · Wamp
    Texas - Bonilla · Carter · Conaway · Gohmert · Granger · Hall · Johnson · Neugebauer · Sessions · Thornberry
    Utah - Bishop · Cannon
    Virginia - Goode · Goodlatte
    Washington - Hastings · McMorris
    Wyoming - Cubin

    Tuesday, October 10, 2006

    Conservatives Rhetoric Announces An End Of Rhetoric

    Stephen Harper, Rona Ambrose and other key members of the Tory cabinet were in Vancouver today to announce that the Conservatives will introduce their Clean Air Act before the House of Commons next week. In announcing the introduction of their green plan approach, Harper was quoted as follows:

    "Our new national government has a new approach", said Harper, "This approach will mark a fundamental departure from the approach of the previous government." He concluded by adding that his green plan approach "is going to replace rhetoric with results."

    Few details of the plan approach were given, nor was a reason given why he and a gaggle of cabinet minister flew all the way to Vancouver to offer the upcoming non-details.

    Tune in next week for more results rhetoric.

    Friday, October 06, 2006

    Feds Slammed for Failing to Protect Drinking Water

    Despite frequent high profile cases of drinking water contamination - including Walkerton, North Battleford, and Kashechewan - Canada continues to lag in assuring the safety of drinking water to its citizens. This is the message from the Sierra Legal Defence Fund who released Waterproof 2: Canada's Drinking Water Report Card today.

    In evaluating the drinking water systems of all 13 provinces and territories the report notes improved conditions since Walkerton, but slams the federal government for relying on patchwork provincial laws and failing to pass binding national standards for drinking water safety throughout the country. Unlike the United States and the European Union, Canada has no minimum national standards on drinking water, resulting in an 'F' grade going to the Feds.

    Ontario garnered the nation's top grade for largely implementing the recommendations of the Walkerton Commission. Alberta, Quebec and Nova Scotia are the only provinces outside of Ontario to require advanced treatment of drinking water, such as state-of-the-art filtration.

    So after failing to provide any leadership on climate change yesterday, it looks like Rona will now have to answer for Canada's failures to protect its drinking water.

    Summary grades are below. You can also read the complete report online.

    Run Rona Run

    I'm not going to waste a lot of print space pointing out the obvious.

    Yesterday, Rona Ambrose returned to Ottawa to address the Environment Commissioner's report on climate change released last week. In that report, the Commissioner called on the federal government to establish clear priorities and plans to address Kyoto commitments and global warming. Since that report was issued, Ambrose has fulfilled the Commissioner's call with a clarity and conviction rarely seen in Canadian politics. For those who were asleep at the wheel for the past week, here is a summary of Ms. Ambrose's response to the report:

    • She hid in Alberta during its release
    • She named a climate 'skeptic' as her new chief of staff
    • She downgraded the Tories Made in Canada plan to address global warming into an "approach"
    • She voted against a bill in support of Kyoto that was passed by opposition parties in the House of Commons.
    • She blamed everyone but herself for the Conservative's failures, and
    • She stated point blank that carbon emissions are not the top environmental priority for her government.

    And so it is. Rona and the Conservatives have laid out their Made in Canada plan approach with crystal clarity, despite failing to table a single new initiative before Parliament or the Canadian people. Rarely has the Canadian public been gifted with such a clear statement of their government's agenda, and I'm wholly confident that Canadians will be equally clear in their message to the Conservatives when we next return to the voting booths.

    Thursday, October 05, 2006

    British Opposition Calls for Tougher Climate Laws

    Following yesterday's theme here in Canada, Britain's major opposition parties have stated that they will back Prime Minister Tony Blair if he tables a law requiring annual cuts in UK carbon dioxide emissions.

    "We have asked Tony Blair to put a Climate Change Bill in the Queen's Speech," says Conservative Leader David Cameron, "If he does, we'll back it." The statement echoes similar calls from the Liberal Democrats.

    In total, 59% of Westminsters 646 MPs have signed a motion backing a new climate law, indicating a significant cross party willingess to act on global warming. "There is now overwhelming political support for a new climate law to ensure that the UK cuts its carbon dioxide emissions every year," says Friends of the Earth director Tony Juniper, "The alarm bells are ringing, but there is still time to act." The call came as Tony Blair is attended a two day climate summit in Mexico alongside representatives of 20 of the world's top greenhouse gas producing nations.

    With the announcement from Britain's opposition parties, the ball now appears to be in Blair's court. When he took the chair of the G8 last year, the Prime Minister promised to make climate change the priority of his term. The move was a strong one both environmentally and policitally, as it allowed Blair to distance himself from the Bush administration, which many felt he had become too close with through his support of the Iraq war. And despite some apparent waffling in his commitment towards global warming action, his recent signing of a global warming pact with California has breathed new life into his reputation.

    Now Blair is looking at what is likely to be his last year as Prime Minister, and next month's Queen's Speech will be his opportunity to leave a true legacy - by outlining a commitment to strong action on climate change for his final year in office.

    He has the support of the public and the opposition. The choice is now his.

    Wednesday, October 04, 2006

    Tories Embarrassed as Opposition Passes Climate Bill

    In a victorious 152 - 115 vote, the opposition Liberal, Bloc and NDP embarrassed the governing Conservatives by passing a bill that would oblige the government to respect its obligations under the Kyoto Protocol.

    The bill's stated purpose is "to ensure that Canada takes effective and timely action to meet its obligations under the Kyoto Protocol and help address the problem of climate change."

    Conservative MPs found themselves in the awkward position of voting against a bill which calls on them to uphold a treaty which they claim to support.

    The bill now goes to the Commons environment committee for study, before returning for a third reading before Parliament.

    Further revealing the Conservatives true intentions, their own much flaunted "Made in Canada" plan has now been downgraded to an approach. "The details of the plan — sorry, I shouldn't say plan, the approach — will be coming some time shortly," said Mark Cooper, senior official in the office of Environment Minister Rona Ambrose.

    After months of promising a comprehensive ``Made-in-Canada" environment plan, word from the federal Conservative government is there won't be a formal plan after all.

    Since being elected last winter, the Conservatives have deferred most questions about environmental issues by referring to the coming plan.

    If there is anyone remaining who is standing up for the Conservative's intentions towards the environment, they're either illiterate or should be sharing whatever they're smoking (oops, scratch that thought).

    This of course occurs in the lead up to Rona Ambrose's return to Ottawa, after a week spent seeking asylum with the Alberta oil industry during the release of the Auditor General's scathing call to action on global warming.

    Sounds like a government on the run to me. We'll find out tomorrow when Rona Ambrose is expected to address the Auditor General's report from Ottawa.

    Nicaragua to Saw Country in Half

    Officials in Nicaragua have formally announced their intention to build a $20 billion rival to the Panama canal.

    The canal would take ten years to build and involve moving ships through a series of giant locks 105ft up to Lake Nicaragua, the second largest lake in Latin America before sending them along a route that would largely follow the San Juan River.

    The economic feasibility of the project is debatable, and officials are debating whether or not it is needed given the massive environmental concerns and a major upgrade being completed at Panama. Located 500 miles to the south, the Panama canal is undergoing renos to allow increased traffic and the ability to accommodate larger vessels. However, despite upgrades the largest ship that will be able to pass through Panama would be 120,000 tonnes, where the proposed Nicaraguan canal could accomodate 250,000 tonne supertankers.

    The project would be funded largely by Chinese and Japanese investors, as Nicaragua's GDP equal just 5% of the projects costs.

    Science Idol: Winner of the UCS Cartoon Contest

    The excellent Union of Concerned Scientists website has announced a winner in their Scientific Integrity Editorial Cartoon Contest. Launched in June of this year, the contest has sought to raise awareness and help combat the rampant undermining of science going on in the United States, and increasingly taking root in Canada.

    Here is the winning cartoon:

    Personally, I preferred the following two, but such are personal preferences:

    You can visit their site to see the other 11 finalists, as well as order your 2007 calendar featuring the artists works.

    More importantly, for anyone concerned with accurate and well written commentary on environmental concerns, I highly recommend the Union of Concerned Scientists website. It is far and away one of the best online resources on a host of issues ranging from climate change, nuclear power and proliferation, GMOs and cutting edge technology.

    Tuesday, October 03, 2006

    News as it Should Be

    BBC's Newsnight has done a stellar job in exposing the spin-doctoring of ExxonMobil and its affiliates in the aftermath of last week's letter sent to the company by the UK's Royal Society.

    In that letter, the Royal Society, the world's oldest and most esteemed scientific organization, called on the oil giant to stop funding organizations that publish deceptive and inacurate information on climate change. Among those organizations receiving Exxon's money is the Competitive Enterprise Institute, an American lobby renowned for it's disinformation ad "CO2 - They Call it Pollution, We Call it Life".

    In the video clip below, Jeremy Paxman of Newsnight takes apart the CEI's rep in a panel discussion. If North America had news of this calibre, there would be no debate about global warming.

    Canada Poised for CO2 Windfall - Federal Leadership Needed

    A group of 100 brokers, hedge fund managers, traders and analysts have declared that Canada's open, transparent markets and heavy per capita CO2 footprint have it poised to become a global powerhouse in the carbon trading market.

    Among the experts lauding Canada's environmental and financial potential in the co2 market is Richard Sandor, chief executive officer of the Chicago Climate Exchange and the pioneer of financial futures trading in the 1970s. Like many others, he is pointing to the explosive growth the carbon trading market as Kyoto ratifiers continue to make progress in reducing carbon dioxide emissions below 1990 levels.

    In Europe, the value of carbon emission rights topped $12.6 billion for the first half of the year, and in the US, which still lacks any federal commitment to reducing carbon, co2 trading has soared to eight million tonnes in the first eight months of the year from 500,000 tonnes in the same period last year.

    The key for capitalizing on this untapped wealth is strong federal leadership in the form of clear mandatory cuts to co2. To date, Ottawa has buckled under industry pressure and failed to provide a cohesive and binding plan to limit emissions, leaving the environment and progressive businesses in the lurch. And while Environment Minister Rona Ambrose is talking tough about strict limits to industry, leaked reports indicate that the Conservative's plan will emphasize smog and pollution reduction while largely ignoring global warming and the need to limit CO2.

    Canada's Auditor General has already taken the feds to task over inaction on global warming. Now they have a choice to make. Continue to protect the pockets of the oil and gas industry, or start generating wealth and environmental safety for the rest of Canadians. Your move Rona.

    Monday, October 02, 2006

    US Population to Hit 300 Million

    The United States, the only major industrial country whose population is substantially increasing, will reach the 300 million mark this month. The figure is significant as the States has the highest per capita environmental impact in the world, and that impact has risen dramatically in recent decades.

    Conservative commentators will likely use this as a reason to argue for tighter immigration control. Immigration has indeed played a role in overall population growth; however, the vast majority of growth since 1960 is do to the high birth rate of the US - a statistic that conservative values have likely influenced by opposing sex education, abortion, and through overall economic policies that maintain a large discrepency in overall wealth.

    At 2.1335 births per woman, the US fertility rate is the highest its been since 1971 and far exceeds other developed nations. The current US birth rate is 25% higher than the UK, 52% higher than Canada, and a whopping 64% higher than Germany's rate of 1.3%.

    Here is the overview of environmental impact:

    - Each American occupies 20 percent more developed land - housing, schools, shopping and roads - than 20 years ago.

    - Each American uses three times as much water as the world average; over half the original wetlands in the United States have been lost, mainly due to urban and suburban development and agriculture.

    - Half the continental United States can no longer support its original vegetation; nearly 1,000 plant and animal species are listed by the U.S. government as endangered or threatened, with 85 percent of those due to habitat loss or alteration.

    - The United States consumes nearly 25 percent of the world's energy, though it has only 5 percent of the world's population, and has the highest per capita oil consumption worldwide.

    - Each American produces about 5 pounds (2.3 kilogram) of trash a day, up from about 3 pounds (1.4 kilogram) in 1960; the current rate is about five times that in developing countries.

    The US is the world's third most populous country, has the highest environmental impact, and is continuing to grow. In biological terms this is referred to as cancerous.

    Sunday, October 01, 2006

    Save the Earth for the Cost of a Cup of Coffee

    PricewaterhouseCoopers has tabled a "green growth plus" strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 60% by 2050 and stabilize global CO2 levels at 450 parts per million - the figure judged to be needed to avoid large scale climate change. They also found the price tag to attach to it. The cost? One year's economic growth over the next 40 years, or a 2.5% reduction in overall growth over that time. It is a quite literally a plan that can save the earth "for about the cost of a cup of coffee". Sally Struthers would be proud.

    The strategy involves increases in energy efficiency, greater use of renewables and carbon capture to cut emissions, and does not necessitate a large scale shift to nuclear power. According to PwC's plan, the world's leading economies in the G7 would take the lead, while the worlds fast-growing developing nations - China, India, Brazil, Russia, Mexico, Indonesia and Turkey - would be allowed to increase their emissions moderately in order to continue their development towards first world economies.

    Highlights of the plan include:
    • Double the current non-fossil fuel primary energy share to about 30% by 2050 for a 25% reduction.
    • Increased energy efficiency gains to 2.6% a year from today's 1.6% for a 33% reduction.
    • Carbon capture and storage for a further 20%.
    • The European Union could cut its share of global emissions to under 9% by 2050 from 15% now.
    • Britain's should fall to 1% from 2%, it said.

    Conservatives Given Climate Change Warning

    The Auditor General of Canada has issued a scathing report on Canada's action on global warming up to this point and sent a single clear message to Stephen Harper and the Conservatives. Act now.

    "Our future is at stake," Johanne Gelinas, the commissioner of the environment and sustainable development, said in a report that states Canada has moved far too slowly to cut greenhouse gas emissions and performed even worse on planning for drought, storms and other inevitable impacts of climate change.

    The report includes statements that the government accepts all of Gelinas' recommendations and will consider them as it completes its own "made in Canada environmental agenda," to be unveiled next month.

    "I expect the government's new plan to spell out clearly how these recommendations will be taken into account."

    Meanwhile, despite the fact that the date of the AG report was known well in advance, Environment Minister Rona Ambrose was missing in action and unavailable for telephone interviews, as she chose to wait out the report in Alberta, home of the oil sands where greenhouse gases are expected to double by 2015.

    To date, reports have indicated that the Conservative's forthcoming "Made in Canada" plan to tackle climate change will do little to address necessary CO2 reductions.