Wednesday, January 31, 2007
This week, the Bush Administration was accused of widespread and systematic tampering with the works of government climate scientists.
Details are coming to light in ongoing hearings by US House committee on oversight and government reform - now controlled by the Democrats - following years of complaints from the scientific community.
The interference went so far as removing mere references to global warming. A survey of 1,600 government scientists completed by the Union of Concerned Scientists revealed that 46% had been warned against using terms like global warming both in speech and official reports. The resulting culture through the community was described as one of "anticipatory self-censorship."
Additionally, 43% said that their reports had been revised dramatically enough to change the meaning of their scientific findings, and 38% reported direct knowledge of cases where scientific information on climate was stripped from websites and reports.
No doubt there will be more details to come.
Some of the more interesting claims made in the letter are that the Kyoto Accord is "based on tentative and contradictory scientific evidence", that it "focuses on carbon dioxide, which is essential to life", and that "Kyoto is essentially a socialist scheme to suck money out of wealth-producing nations."
In response, an unidentified spokesman for the Harper office demonstrated the party's general lack of reading comprehension by saying that the letter was "pointing out that the Liberals had no plan to meet the (Kyoto) targets." Neither the words "plan" nor "targets" appear anywhere in the letter.
Times have changed a bit in the five years since the letter was written. The Tories have now been forced to recognizing global warming to a certain degree, but they still have a long ways to go. In fact, new polling results from McAllister Opinion Research and GlobeScan Inc. indicate that Harper's hostility towards the environment has probably played a key role in galvanizing Canadian support for the issue.
According to pollster Angus McAllister, who conducted the research, the Harper government's inaction or even hostility to environmental issues, at least until recently, has actually accelerated public concern.
"Until their death-bed conversion a few weeks ago, they were actually throwing gasoline on the fire," Mr. McAllister said of the Conservatives.
The complete letter can be read at canoe.ca.
So Harper has been shooting himself in both feet. Not only is his minority government reeling under opposition attack, but he is also failing a Canadian public that recognizes the need for strong environmental leadership and is demanding solutions to the global warming crisis. In response, Stephen Harper needs to make a full reversal of his anti-global warming stance and leave himself one good foot to stump around Parliament Hill on. At least until the Conservatives are forced from office in the coming months.
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
Environment Minister John Baird made a strong case through sheer intensity, while Stephen Harper preferred to stickwith his bread and butter - pointing heavenward to his personal source of inspiration in all matters spiritual and political.
Meanwhile, NDP leader Jack Layton took a more understated approach that left many MP's, including Stephane Dion, wondering if he was talking about his party's environmental platform or indicating where the NDP sat in the current polls.
You can read the full run down of Monday's environmental action from Parliament Hill here.
Canada's environment commissioner Johanne Gélinas has reportedly been fired for her strong position on global warming.
Sources inside and outside Gélinas's office said Auditor General Sheila Fraser fired her following months of friction over Gélinas's mandate, the Canadian Press reports.
In September 2006, Gélinas released a highly critical report attacking the previous Liberal government's efforts to address climate change in the past 10 years, while outlining policies for the Conservative government to implement.
She also openly criticized the Tories' recent clean air plan, saying it did little to address the problem of climate change and greenhouse gases in the short term.
Meanwhile, the Harper government is coming under fire from Sierra Legal for allegedly withholding the results of two environmental investigations that would embarrass the Conservatives and conflict with their claims that they are in fact a legitimate option for green voters.
The investigations were conducted by the Commission for Environmental Cooperation, CEC, the environmental agency established under the North American Free Trade Agreement between Canada, the United States and Mexico.
They focused on the destruction of tens of thousands of migratory bird nests in Ontario's forests and the discharge of toxic effluent from Canadian pulp and paper mills.
More Conservative accountability please!
Monday, January 29, 2007
The first set of ads take aim squarely at Liberal leader Stephane Dion, while a second wave will hit the French language channels shortly. Money is no object for the Tory spin doctors on this one.
Mr. Kenney (Secretary of State for Multiculturalism) refused to discuss the Tory budget for this negative-advertising campaign, saying only that his party will spend “as much as it takes to drive our message home.”
A more realistic assessment of the situation came from deputy Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff, “They're running scared”.
Scared and rudderless. The irony is that the Tories would have nothing to fear if they would just show some political skill. The environment is the number one issue with voters, and every other party in Parliament has recognized this and taken a strong stand on the issue. All Harper needs to do is get on board with the issue and he can pick and choose who to work with almost indefinitely.
He can leave the Liberals in the cold while forging ahead with the help of the Bloc or the NDP, or he could silence the Liberal critics completely be tabling an environmental platform that they would be hypocrites to reject. But Harper isn't getting it, and in the process he's making his party more politically irrelevant by the day. In failing to provide leadership on global warming, he is resembling a 15th century pope instead of a 21st century leader - screaming in the face of science that the sun DOES revolve around Earth, because its god's will.
In Harpers view, the will of God is for every drop of Albertan oil to be extracted, sold and burned - with no consequences for anyone except to become filthy rich in the process. It's a view point that is fundamentally out of touch with other parties, Canadian voters and most importantly - reality.
It is time for the Conservatives to step up or risk being ridiculed alongside history's other great nay sayers.
Friday, January 26, 2007
Since 1946, the IWC has been charged with the conservation of the world's whale populations after rampant slaughter nearly annihilated many species. However, after implementing a complete ban on commercial fishing in 1986, there has been growing pressure from Japan, Iceland and Norway to resume the practice. To bolster their cause, Japan has been working behind the scenes to bring "sympathetic" countries into the IWC by exchanging foreign aid for pro-whaling votes.
This past June they tipped the scales and two decades after the ban went into effect, the IWC voted 33-32 in favour of the eventual return to commercial whaling. Shortly after that, Iceland announced annual quotas of 30 minke whales and 9 endangered fin whales and harvested their first catch - a 70ft fin - in October.
Its a controversy that will become more heated in the coming years.
As whale populations recover, the debate is slowly shifting from the outright preservation of whales a more subtle moral consideration of their value as unique intelligent creatures. Conservationists have acted for years under the implicit premise that whales should be set apart and afforded special protections that go beyond the mere survival of the species. The primary concern of pro-whaling nations is the management of the species for commercial harvest.
Tony Blair and the British government have embraced the conservationists view and are actively seeking other nations to join in the cause. Canada, despite having the longest coastline of any nation - and being home to 11 endangered whale populations - is not a member of the IWC.
To encourage Canada to join the UK's efforts write the appropriate Ministers below:
Prime Minister Stephen Harper - email@example.com
Environment Minister John Baird - John.Baird@ec.gc.ca
Foreign Affairs Minister Peter Mackay - firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday, January 25, 2007
the public is being misinformed on climate science by poor journalism that continues to tell both sides of the story even when there is no other side. The resultant political inaction might well kill the planet.
The opinions of any so called global warming "skeptic" should be considered null and void until unless they can refute the contents of this article.
The piece also offers some valuable reading for anyone who wants to be informed about the truth about global warming and are also listed under the new Must Reads header on the Conscious Earth's sidebar. They are required reading for anyone with an interest in both the global warming and the environmental debate.
Smoke, Mirrors & Hot Air: How ExxonMobil Uses Big Tobacco's Tactics to "Manufacture Uncertainty" on Climate Change - the title says it all.
Balance and Bias: Global Warming and the U.S. Prestige Press - outlines how global warming science is distorted by media.
Canada and the other major sources of the world's greenhouse-gas emissions must lead the way toward a new, post-Kyoto climate-change deal or risk economic and environmental disaster, says British Prime Minister Tony Blair's special envoy on global warming.
That man is Elliot Morley who met with Environment Minister John Baird in Ottawa Wednesday. His intention? To get Canada plus 12 other countries to join a group dubbed the "G8 plus 5" in order to craft a climate change plan that would be tabled at this year's G8 meeting in Germany and be finalized at the 2008 meeting in Japan.
Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa would join the G8 nations in building the plan. Together, these countries represent 75 per cent of the world's greenhouse-gas emissions.
During his Canadian visit, Morley was refreshingly blunt in summing up the Conservative government's climate change stance to date.
"I think when the Canadian government was elected, the present one, their intention was to kick the whole climate-change issue into the long grass, basically, and I think they underestimated Canadian public opinion, the strength of the opposition parties."
Meanwhile, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been in the news saying he will not follow US President Bush in setting hard targets for reduced oil consumption. he is also calling on CBC's French-language television network to retract a report that links the PM to a planned fivefold increase in oil sands production to fuel US consumption.
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
The movie has played an invaluable role in galvanizing global awareness about the threat of climate change, while setting an example for sustainable business. Both the film and the book of the same name were carbon neutral projects, while all profits are being devoted to initiatives that are fighting global warming. Although the nomination officially goes to director Davis Guggenheim, Al Gore is expected to attend the Oscar event.
"The film ... has brought awareness of the climate crisis to people in the United States and all over the world,'' Gore said in an e-mail statement. ``I am so grateful to the entire team and pleased that the Academy has recognized their work. This film proves that movies really can make a difference."
The film was also nominated in the category of Best Original Song for "I Need to Wake Up" by Melissa Ethridge.
Monday, January 22, 2007
First, credit where credit is due. BC protected areas got a good shot in the arm with $30 million for the Great Bear Rainforest and $2 million for Stanley Park. Granted, the money for the rainforest comes a year after the agreement was reached, and offering funding for Stanley Park is a political no-brainer, but both announcements are good ones and represent real progress for the areas affected.
The Conservative's climate change initiatives are a quite a different story though. Harper's crew has been busy opening up the purse strings, offering $230 million to clean energy technology, $300 million for wind and renewable energy, and funding for a toned down version of the Liberals Energuide program. Unfortunately, this spending doesn't amount to any real progress and only serves to restore Liberal programs that the Tories have spent the last year criticizing.
To date, the net impact of Harpers green approach has been a one year delay in implementing what was already on the books.
Fortunately, there is better and more important news buried within these announcements. With public demand for action on global warming soaring and an election somewhere on the horizon, politicians (even the climate change skeptics) are being forced to compete for the environmental vote.
As with any competitive market, the winners will be the consumers - both the people casting their vote, and the environment as a whole.
Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, has also created a new Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, much to the chagrin of some Republican legislators.
Pelosi said the committee would be designed to "raise the visibility" of energy and climate change issues, and that it would not have legislative jurisdiction. Many lawmakers saw it as a way to diminish the influence of veteran lawmakers, such as Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman John D. Dingell (D-Mich.), who in the past has guarded the interests of the big U.S. automakers from his state by opposing higher fuel efficiency standards.
You go girl! Bring on the next 100 hours!
The federal dollars will join $60 million already contributed by private foundations, and an additional $30 million from the BC Liberals, to form a $120 million pool for the creation of a new protected area three times the size of Prince Edward Island.
Moving forward, the future of the forest will largely depend on the enforcement of the ecosystem based management system that will govern logging in the area, as the strict protected area will only cover about 1/3 of the total forest area. This was a controversial part of the agreement, and as recently as 2005 the David Suzuki Foundation published findings that showed widespread clear cutting and negative impacts from logging in the region’s most productive salmon bearing watersheds.
Background: At approximately 6.5 hectares the Great Bear Rainforest is widely considered to be the largest intact temperate rainforest remaining on the globe. It is also also home to the rare kermode, or spirit bear - a sub species of black bear whose recessive gene trait makes it snow white.
The new money joins a raft of contributions including $1 million from the BC Provincial government (to be matched by the city of Vancouver), a $1 million pledge from local billionaire Jim Pattison to match public contributions, and a Global TV fundraiser that has pulled in $2.5 million. All totaled this could mean up to $8.5 million to help rebuild the damaged park where over a 1,000 trees came down in recent wind storms.
Founded in 1888, Stanley Park is the third largest city owned park in North America and covers approximately 1,000 acres. More on the park here.
After the most comprehensive look at global warming science ever performed, the panel found a 100% agreement that global warming was a serious issue affecting our future and that it is unquestionably being caused by human generated greenhouse gases. Much of the political and media debate since then has been an effort for the world to come to grips with the end of global warming debate and start coming up with real solutions.
Now the IPCC's 4th report is set for release, and a draft copy released yesterday offers a sneak preview of the scientific consensus surrounding the environmental destruction and unstable weather that will be caused by unchecked climate change.
A draft copy of the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, obtained by The Observer, shows the frequency of devastating storms - like the ones that battered Britain last week - will increase dramatically. Sea levels will rise over the century by around half a metre; snow will disappear from all but the highest mountains; deserts will spread; oceans become acidic, leading to the destruction of coral reefs and atolls; and deadly heatwaves will become more prevalent.
The report is compiled by thousands of leading scientists and is considered incredibly conservative. Only points and conclusions that are considered indisputable by the entire panel are published in the final document.
Specific findings from the report will include:
- 12 of the past 13 years were the warmest since records began
- ocean temperatures have risen at least three kilometres beneath the surface
- glaciers, snow cover and permafrost have decreased in both hemispheres
- sea levels are rising at the rate of almost 2mm a year
- cold days, nights and frost have become rarer while hot days, hot nights and heatwaves have become more frequent
- and finally, in a point leveled squarely at industry funded "skeptics", the panel reports that mankind's industrial emissions have had five times more effect on the climate than any fluctuations in solar radiation.
Thursday, January 18, 2007
Meanwhile, 65 have died in the US as winter storms continue to grip the so called Sun Belt states. To date, the cold snap has featured snows in the Malibu resort area of California and 33 deaths in the unlikely states of Texas and Oklahoma.
In northern Europe, 10 people have died and hundreds of air flights have been cancelled due to violent storms and hurricane force winds slamming into Great Britain, Germany, the Netherlands and France. The storms have also forced the cancellation of hundreds of air flights, including 123 at London's Heathrow, in addition to shutting down ferries, closing schools and roads, and causing the abandonment of a container ship listing in the English Channel. Germany currently has 40,000 volunteers on standby in anticipation of damage and flood.
So where is the greatest risk? In the savage unpredictability of unstable climate? or in the irrational fear of a decimated Muslim nation whose 95th ranked GDP could scarcely buy a plane ticket across the Atlantic, let alone pose a genuine threat to the US? The Bush administration has its own answer, and they continue to spend $300 million dollars per day to ensure the growing impacts of global warming by subsidizing the United States ongoing oil addiction through their war in Iraq.
Fair comparison? You decide. But the fact remains that top analysts estimate the total cost of the war will be $1.2 to $2 trillion dollars. A fraction of that total could make the United States the global leader in solving climate change while simultaneously offering all citizens the security of our survival - as a civilization and a species.
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
This week, the clock was moved forward two minutes to stand at 5 minutes to midnight (aka "doomsday"). The move comes not because of new nuclear threats, but rather to reflect the risk of catastrophic global warming now faced by humankind. The announcement came during an unprecedented joint news conference at the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington, DC, and the Royal Society in London.
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
Adding to this pressure, a prominent Anglican leader has spoken out urging the BC Liberals to set binding provincial targets to reduce greenhouse gases. The call to action came from a letter addressed to Premier Gordon Campbell from Rev. Michael Ingham, Bishop of the Diocese of New Westminster, which includes the Lower Mainland, Sunshine Coast and Fraser Valley.
"We believe the targets must be based on the best possible science in terms of what is required to stabilize the climate, and do not believe that so-called 'intensity' targets can replace the need for absolute reductions in B.C.'s emissions"Words of true wisdom....and it's not the first time Rev. Ingham has taken the lead on a progressive issue. In 2002, he became the first Anglican bishop in the country to permit the blessing of same-sex couples in church. In throwing his support behind strict co2 caps, he is now pushing a Liberal government who are already under pressure to act on climate change.
Meanwhile, rumours persist that they will announce new action in the province's upcoming energy plan, which Campbell promises will "deal directly" with the issue. More to come.
Sunday, January 14, 2007
Bush and Blair held private talks on climate change before Christmas, and there is a feeling that the US President will now agree a cap on emissions in the US, meaning that, for the first time, American industry and consumers would be expected to start conserving energy and curbing pollution.
This year's State of the Union address is scheduled for Tuesday, January 23rd.
Saturday, January 13, 2007
The promised aid is the largest to date and follows on an offer made by local billionaire Jimmy Pattison to match up to $1 million in public donations, in addition to an unspecified promise of aid from newly appointed federal Environment Minister John Baird made during his visit to the park on Tuesday.
History: Stanley Park is the third largest city owned park in North America and covers approximately 1,000 acres. In 1886, the city of Vancouver applied to the federal government to have the area - a former a military base - leased to the municipality as a park. The feds agreed and on September 17, 1888 Stanley Park was officially opened. Named after Lord Stanley of Preston, Governor General of Canada and benefactor of hockey's historic Stanley Cup, the park remains a centre piece of one of the world's most livable cities.
Thursday, January 11, 2007
Exxon Vice President for Public Affairs Kenneth Cohen has announced that the the company now accepts the reliability of global warming science and has announced the end of their funding to organizations that deny climate change science, such as the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) who were made laughably famous for their near parody "CO2 - They call it pollution, We call it life" television ad.
Exxon now says they ready to work with policy makers on regulations, which they anticipate will be coming soon.
Exxon wants any regulation to be applied across "the broadest possible base" of the economy, said Jaime Spellings, Exxon's general manager for corporate planning. Exxon says avoiding a ton of carbon-dioxide emissions is, with certain exceptions, less expensive in the power industry than in the transportation sector. Though solar energy remains expensive, reducing a ton of emissions by generating electricity from essentially carbon-free sources such as nuclear or wind energy is cheaper than reducing a ton of emissions through low-carbon transportation fuels such as ethanol.
The parent in question, Frosty Hardison, asserts:
"Condoms don't belong in school, and neither does Al Gore. He's not a schoolteacher," said Frosty Hardison, a parent of seven who also said that he believes the Earth is 14,000 years old. "The information that's being presented is a very cockeyed view of what the truth is. ... The Bible says that in the end times everything will burn up, but that perspective isn't in the DVD."
More disturbing is the response of the school board. New rules implemented this week state that any teacher showing the film, or who has shown the film, must present "a "credible, legitimate opposing view". School Board President Ed Barney was specifically quoted as saying,
Students should hear the perspective of global-warming skeptics and then make up their minds, he said. After they do, "if they think driving around in cars is going to kill us all, that's fine, that's their choice."
Unfortunately, "skeptics" fall into one of two camps. Either they are paid members of the oil industry or they live in fantasy land. The parent in question falls clearly into the latter category. Parents living in the Federal Way school district should do their children a favour and find out what camp their school board members fall into.
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
"Europe must lead the world into a new, or maybe one should say post-industrial revolution - the development of a low-carbon economy."Citing European vulnerability to foreign imports of gas as a major factor, the plan calls for binding targets for increased efficiency, the development of alternate fuels, and a the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Specific highlights include:
Establishing a true internal energy market Reducing greenhouse gas emissions 20% by 2020 Supplying 10% of vehicle fuel through biofuels & Increasing energy efficiency Making all new power stations carbon neutral in 13 years
Tuesday, January 09, 2007
So if Harper needs more than a slick sales job, but also has no results to point to, what "more" does he intend to do? There are few options left unless you assume that in admitting he needs more than salesmanship, he is just continuing his sales job.
On that note, the Globe and Mail recently got hold of materials from an abandoned Conservative AD CAMPAIGN that was meant to PROMOTE their so called Green Plan II.
According to the article, efforts to effectively MARKET the plan included running FOCUS GROUPS with select groups of Canadians to evaluate LOGOS, TAGLINES and other key BRANDING MESSAGES that could be used to SELL the plan to voters.
Meanwhile, the new Environment Minister John Baird has been busy posing for photo ops in wind gutted Stanley Park, and being profiled on mcleans.ca where he describes parliament as a "theatre" and himself an "actor" - a fitting reminder to this governement's green intentions. Any mention of the environment by the Tories amounts to pure performance, and their efforts to sell their Green Sham II as an environmental solution is the equivalent of Ronald McDonald hawking quarter pounders as health food.
Lets be clear. It's no surprise to see politicians actively marketing their policies, but the line gets drawn when the only product behind those marketing efforts is disinformation and green washing. Harper is continuing the green wash by trying to pass into law an environmental non-plan that - against all odds - accomplishes even less then the previous government, mostly because it was never intended to accomplish anything in the first place.
For their part, the Canadian media is all too happy to help - by keeping their focus a half step away from the issues and running stories on Harper's 'sales efforts' instead of his proven disregard for environmental action.
Friday, January 05, 2007
The reason widely given has nothing to do with the environment itself but rather Ambrose's failure to "sell" the Conservatives Clean Air plan. That statement demonstrates the Conservative's true approach to the environment better than any analysis could - that the role of the Environment Minister is to convince Canadians to accept a Conservative environmental approach that bows to industry while offering no results on air quality or global warming for decades and no plan on how to achieve any.
Conservative sympathizers and right leaning commentators will be quick to all for "time" to allow Mr. Baird to introduce his "vision". They will applaud the latest regurgitation of the call for "results" and to "consult" with industry.
No one else will buy it.
Unless Mr. Baird quickly tables a plan that promises more than rhetoric, he is putting Canada on a fast track to another election - a result that is more than likely so long as Harper's ideal of an ideal Minister is a successful salesman and not an environmental leader.
Thursday, January 04, 2007
It turns out they couldn't get the job done. The article was pulled from the archive listing, but you can still read it directly on his site right here. Meanwhile, Day's communications office denies any knowledge of the article.
''Were they (articles) there before?'' wrote Melisa Leclerc, Day's director of communications, in an e-mail. ''I hadn't noticed.''
Really? Well, if its existence on his own site isn't enough for you, it was also reported online here, here and here.
Mr. Day's incompetence obviously goes far beyond his lack of environmenal understanding and poor party leadership skills. It also finds a comfortable home in website management. I'm sure his PR team will sort it out eventually. When that unlikely event does occur, you can still access the original through the cached google page here.
Wednesday, January 03, 2007
10. A Stern reminder
9. Takings is leaving - Oregon's Measure 37
8. Carbon neutrality is the new black
7. Grist officially out of punny California headlines
6. Roadless! No, roadful! No, roadless! - the saga of Clinton's Roadless rule
5. Hi. My name is the United States of America, and I'm an addict.
4. God v. Dobson
3. America takes Dick out of resources committee
2. Wal-Mart: America's leading source of cognitive dissonance
1. An inconvenient yet bizarrely popular truth
If you need more, read on to their 2006 A-Z list.
Of the four MPs tested, John Godfrey had the highest total number of pollutants at 55, followed by Health Minister Tony Clement and Jack Layton at 54, with Environment Minister Rona Ambrose testing positive for 49. All four politicians were more polluted than both the child and adult volunteers who participated in the Environmental Defence study on pollutants in families, released last June, though the group made no claims about how these pollutants may be influencing the state of Canadian politics.
That aside, it may explain why the Conservatives have been moving ahead with tough, and potentially world leading, regulations controlling toxic substances. In December, they unveiled a $300 million plan to curb chemicals that cause harm to the environment and human health.