Saturday, June 30, 2007

Denier Form Letter

Dear (insert commenter's name),

I appreciate you taking the time to respond to the global warming issue. Please see the following page to find the scientifically endorsed and verified response to the information you provided. If you have additional and relevant information to add after reviewing it, I hope you'll return to share it with our readers here.

Thank you for your shared interest in creating solutions for global warming, and a sustainable economy where all can prosper. If you'd like additional information on why you're being directed to the link above, please visit this page.



Friday, June 29, 2007

The Evolving Threat to Our Forests

It is estimated that the mountain pine beetle has destroyed 40% of British Columbia's lodgepole pine since 1993. University researchers have now found evidence that the beetle is adapting to spruce as well.

Researchers at the University of Northern B.C. in Prince George say the pine beetle, which has destroyed about 40 per cent of the province's lodgepole pine since 1993, is now killing spruce trees as well.

"There were rumours before that pine beetles were not only killing spruce but successfully reproducing in spruce, and we have now observed that in Prince George and we have been trying to document what's going on," Staffan Lindgren, a professor of ecosystem science at UNBC, said yesterday.

Lodgepole pine is the most common timber in forest rich BC, covering 14 million hectares of land. Spruce is right behind and covers 13 million hectares. With that in mind, the threat posed by the mountain pine beetle is arguably the most visible and significant consequence of global warming yet seen on the North American continent.

In short, welcome to global warming induced evolution.

Historically, pine beetle populations are kept in check by winter temperatures that drop to -40°C for several days. But since 1993, warmer winters have meant that the beetle has been left untouched by prolonged cold periods and their numbers are skyrocketing accordingly. With greater numbers of beetles comes greater opportunity to take advantage of new evolutionary niches.

One might expect genetic variability within the pine beetle to allow rare individuals to thrive on spruce rather than pine, but they would have been few and far between and would be unlikely to form new breeding populations even if they survived the winter freeze. That changes when the natural weather cycle no longer keeps their numbers in check. What was once an insignificant genetic mutation now threatens our forests with the seeds of a whole new catastrophe.

From the disappearance of the bees that pollinate our crops, to the decimation of our forests, nature is issuing ever more severe warnings that the course our society is on is not in tune with our long term survival. It's time to stop pretending we're both deaf to the message and dumb towards action and begin changing the way we interact with the planet - for our own sake.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Eagles Removed From Endangered List

Four decades after it was declared endangered, the bald eagle has been removed from the US critical list.

Population levels bottomed out in 1967 when only 400 breeding pairs remained in the lower 48 states. Today, that number tops 10,000, in no small part thanks to Canada. Over the decades Canada has supplied more eagles to the US efforts than can easily be counted, and with them helped ensure that the aggressive conservation policies put in place were bolstered by a growing and healthy eagle population.

A Glowing Bid from Cumbria, UK

Congratulations to the community of Cumbria, UK! They have emerged as the early front runner to host the the long-term disposal of 500,000 cubic meters of radioactive waste.

However, communities that have fallen behind the early favorite need not fear. The British government is still "eager for other communities to compete" with Cumbria's nation leading bid, and will be throwing in £300,000 in annual "community benefit packages" for the eventual winner.

Project costs are estimated at £10bn at 2003 prices. As a side note, is using 4 year old pricing working well for anyone at home?

Conservatives Told to Price Carbon Now or Pay Later

Last week, a report commissioned by the Conservative government advised them that a carbon tax of up to $50 would cause no harm to the economy. A new report now follows that up stating that they need to quickly and clearly communicate a pricing schedule for carbon or risk serious economic consequences.

Despite their obsessive-compulsive habit of blaming 2 year old Liberal policy for Canada's inaction on climate change, Environment Minister John Baird and the Conservative government are now firmly in the drivers seat of climate change policy. They can 1) institute effective policy now and succeed, 2) do it later and cause economic harm, or 3) do nothing and set Canada on a long term course of failure both economically and environmentally.

In short, they are going to have to demonstrate leadership on this issue instead of pointing fingers towards the past. It will be interesting to see how they do.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

To Act or Not to Act

A key tenet of the environmental movement is something called the precautionary principle, an inherently conservative principle that says if a course of action could result in widespread or irreparable harm, we should act immediately to avoid it rather than wait for 100% scientific certainty on the issue. Put in the context of global warming it goes something like this.....

Thanks to Debra for the lead.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Hastings Wins Yahoo's Greenest City Contest

Yahoo has awarded a top prize of $250,000 to the city of Hastings, Nebraska for being America's greenest city. The award was announced today as Hastings is recognized for winning Yahoo's Be a Better Planet - Greenest City in America contest. The money will go towards funding green projects within the municipality.

The month long Be a Better Planet campaign sought to empower citizens to make key changes to their lives to help fight global warming. Every time a resident of an American municipality signed up, points were given to their home town. The town with the most points was the winner.

In addition to the $250,000 grand prize, Yahoo is also sending thousands of compact fluorescent light bulbs to each of the top five cites. The list of top green cities is:

1. Hastings, Nebraska
2. Pelzer, South Carolina
3. San Carlos, California
4. Mill Valley, California
5. Topeka, Kansas
6. Dover, Delaware
7. Spring, Texas
8. Lawrence, Kansas
9. Walnut Creek, California
10. Fairfax, Virginia

The official recognition of Hastings happens tonight at a Yahoo-hosted Nebraska-style BBQ and celebration at 6:00pm at Hastings' Chautauqua Park. Residents are invited to join Mayor Matt Rossen and Lieutenant Governor Rick Sheehy, and other local and state officials at the public event.

Congratulations to all of the contest participants!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Choose Our Ends, And We'll Find the Means

We all have our own personal fantasy worlds. Mine is to live in a world of balanced political debate where liberal and conservative politicians bring forward different political strategies to address common social problems.

What a world that would be - the perfect balance between tough government regulations and well funded programs, with aggressive fiscal responsibility and market advocacy. The reality is that in the issue of global warming, the real world has devolved into one where the true controlling political party invests millions of dollars to convince you, the voter, of a fantasy world of their choosing - one where cheap, everlasting, and harmless fossil fuels will better our lives for eternity.

Let's be perfectly honest on this one. Metaphorically, there are precisely two people in the world who do not believe in the danger of human generated global warming - The President of the United States and the CEO of Exxon-Mobil. Every other voice chiming in with their agreement are either a paid employee of one of those two individuals - in the form of direct employees, think tanks, media outlets, editorial writers, and yes, the conservative leaders of Canada and Australia - or one of the minority of the general public that they have managed to convince with lies and misinformation. It is on this foundation that magazines like The Economist can publish the following editorial on London's climate change policy without being laughed off of the news stand.

Haringey's plan is merely the latest in a flowering of official greenery. Ken Livingstone, London's mayor, has mooted tinkering with the city's pioneering congestion charge, which already rewards drivers of electric and gas-powered cars by exempting them from the £8-a-day charge. The mayor wants to go further, cutting prices for cleaner cars and hiking them for dirty ones. If he gets his way, drivers of the biggest cars could pay £25 to drive into the city centre. Mr Livingstone's opponents in the London Assembly accuse him of being more interested in revenue-raising than road-clearing.

It is not just local government that has caught the green bug. Earlier in the month, the government wondered publicly about adding a “carbon cost” to the price of petrol by including motor fuel in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme, which limits the amount of carbon dioxide certain industries can produce.

But none of these plans is obviously a good idea. Britons are already taxed twice on their cars' carbon emissions: once by a sales tax on petrol, and again by a separate tax levied on the cars themselves. And exemptions, however well-intentioned, work against the purported aim of London's congestion charge—clean vehicles take up just as much road space as dirty ones.

Nice positioning statement. But we weren't talking about gas prices and traffic congestion. We were solving the global warming problem.

Raising the cost of gas and the cost of driving polluting vehicles is actually the most conservative type of strategy available in addressing climate change. By placing a cost on the problem (too many cars burning too much fuel), you allow the public to make the right choices by purchasing consumer products that will benefit (or be less harmful) to the environment. Consumers can opt out of higher costs by choosing more cost effective and fuel efficient options while business still sells goods, consumers still have choice, and the economy canl hum along while we all take productive steps towards solving the climate crisis.

In an honest report, London's policy of making fuel hogs expensive and high mileage cars cheap would be embraced as a conservative victory in the fight against global warming. That doesn't happen because the controlling political party alluded to at this articles beginning is not liberal, nor conservative, but capitalist. And that political force has bent the foundation of both parties so far askew that both are hard pressed to address global warming or any genuine social concern.

Democratic political systems are concerned with providing the best solutions to the problems of society. A liberal approach advocates stronger government involvement and spending, while a conservative approach advocates minimum government intervention and free market principles, but both strive towards the same end - the betterment of society.

The political force of capitalism is not concerned with the end of a better society or in solving problems. By nature, it is a philosophy based on the principle of "the end justifies the means". The only end is profit, and any means are justified so long as they realize more profit. Our acceptance of that principle isn't limited to oil, it pervades all business enterprises of our society. Consequently, that 'ends justify the means' philosophy has infected our political and decision making processes so thoroughly that we are losing the ability to question it.

The root of the world's two most prominent problems, the war in Iraq and the danger of global warming, both stem from the pursuit and justification of the same ends. Namely, the continued growth of oil profits, and the continued expansion the economies that rely on burning it. In Iraq, the US justified both the use of force and a case for war that was based on outright falsehoods in order to secure greater access to the world's second largest deposit of conventional oil. In the case of global warming, the use of deception, misinformation and personal attacks on scientists are likewise justified as the means necessary to protect our economy.

As long as we accept those ends - the dominance of the oil industry in our economy, and most importantly our reliance on that same industry for our continued prosperity, genuine global warming policy will continue to be road blocked, and Iraq will not be the last oil rich nation to fall under the control of a hostile foreign power.

Change our ends and the means will inevitably follow.

Power in Numbers

Nature is full of lessons. This clip shows something of the strength of numbers and the power of community. The day is not far off when all of those who care about the environment will similarly realize their strength in the face of obstructionist corporations and government inaction.

Clip via An Insomniac

Thursday, June 21, 2007

China Becomes the World's #1 Emitter

In announcement that was surprising for it's timing, rather than outcome, China has become the world's number one emitter of greenhouse gases. Experts believed that this would not occur until next year at the earliest, but unprecedented economic growth and their reliance on coal power has catapulted China ahead of the US far earlier than expected.

The analysis was done by the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency.

In addition to being bad news all-round, the announcement punctuates an opinion expressed here earlier in June. Namely, that in the face of US obstructionism, it's critical for the world community to stop harping on about American involvement in international talks. The key nations are China and India. They represent the world's number one and two populations and will soon be the world's number one and number two greenhouse gas emitters. If you bring them into a productive solution now, market forces will force the US to follow in the coming decades. Dither away time on the US and the growing carbon footprint of these emerging Asian superpowers will squash international efforts underfoot.

Unauthorized Dam Faces Criminal Charges

We all know the environmental harm caused by large scale hydro-electric projects - silted rivers, destruction of salmon spawning grounds, carbon release from submerged decaying foliage. So what happens when an unauthorized dam gets plunked down in small town America? Simple. Sue the bastards.......

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

No Danger in Implementing a Carbon Tax

Fighting global warming with a carbon tax would cause virtually no negative economic impact in first two years and offer an economic boost thereafter.

At $50, a carbon tax would shave about $4.8-billion from Canada's GDP in 2010, which works out to about 0.09 per cent of GDP. However by 2020, the impact would become slightly positive for the economy, working out to a 0.004 per cent increase to the GDP.

That is the result of an internal report prepared for the Conservative government, and obtained by Green Party Leader Elizabeth May through an access to information request.

The report was written by economist Mark Jaccard and analyzes the potential impacts of various climate change measures on Canada's GDP including carbon taxes ranging from $10 to $250. If you're not familiar with Mark Jaccard, you should be. He is one of the world's foremost experts specializing in energy related issues and policy. Jaccard's also been a vocal advocate for the development of a sustainable energy future for the province of BC, but although he consistently has the ear of environmental advocates, he is not an "environmentalist".

His views are those of an informed realist that recognizes the need to meet the energy needs of the developing world as well as the critical goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. He's not against the use of fossil fuels, but he is adamantly in favour of creating policy and economic systems that encourage the solutions we need to drastically curb emissions.

Now with the release of Jaccard's expertly informed report, Canada's governing party have themselves in a pickle and have been resisting a scheduled appearance of Dr. Jaccard before the House of Commons environment committee - an appearance that would likely result in the Tory's own hired consultant stating that there is no reason to delay the implementation of a substantial carbon tax to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

10 Years to Save Civilization

It's a title that would scream hyperbole if it wasn't true.

Today, six scientists from some of the leading scientific institutions in the United States have issued what amounts to an unambiguous warning to the world: civilisation itself is threatened by global warming.

That warming stems from a new report headed by James Hansen, one of the world's leading experts and voices for climate change science. Based on the results of the study titled Climate Change and Trace Gases, Hansen is predicting that the nations of the world have a slim 10 year window to put in place the radical changes needed to avert catastrophic global warming.

In an email to the UK's Independent Hansen said, "In my opinion, among our papers this one probably does the best job of making clear that the Earth is getting perilously close to climate changes that could run out of our control."

The reason for the alarm focuses on the impact of what is termed an "albedo flip". It layman's terms it's simple. Right now the Earth has what amounts to two continent sized mirrors - the ice sheets of Antarctica and the north polar ice cap - that are reflecting heat back into space and minimizing warming. Once those start to shrink, the heat that used to be bounced off the planet will be absorbed by open waters and exposed rock, causing a runaway warming effect that will lead to the rapid collapse of the world's remaining ice sheets.

If that happens, sea levels are expected to rise not by 40 cm, as predicted by the UN consensus, but by several meters within the next century.

The complete report is posted online through the NASA website.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Exxon Funds Deniers, But Wants to Save the Planet

In a statement the redefines the notion of cogent argument for the worse, Exxon has launched a volley at Greenpeace saying that the oil giant's stance against Kyoto, their opposition to the European carbon trading system, and their funding of climate change denier groups does not make they themselves 'deniers'.

Mr Cohen (Exxon spokesman) was in London to explain the position of Exxon.

The firm's funding of third-party thinktanks, which have produced papers questioning the human role in climate change, has recently been heavily criticised in a Greenpeace report.

Exxon retaliated yesterday by saying some of Greenpeace's facts were "just flat wrong" and in one case "absurd", though the company hinted that it may stop funding the controversial thinktanks.

Nice explanation. Exxon maintains that it is supportive of an international cap and trade system to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. However, so long as they continue to fund deception campaigns on global warming and oppose international agreements, like Kyoto, that represent a bare minimum of what needs to be accomplished, the logical conclusion is that they will not endorse a level of carbon limits that would genuinely address the problem of climate change.

On the upside, if their arguments continue to become weaker and more absurd it just might mean that we're moving closer to more aggressive action on the issue.

Global Warming Impacts from the Arctic to Darfur

A pair of recent stories are pointing to the growing and increasingly human impacts of global warming.

First in the high Arctic, scientists are reporting that some species of plants and animals have begun their annual cycles as much as 30 days earlier in just the past ten years.

In some cases, flowers are emerging from buds and chicks are hatching a full 30 days sooner than they did in the mid-1990s in response to sharply increased temperatures burning off the winter's snow layer.

But while arctic song birds see the light of day a month earlier, climate change is also being implicated as a major factor in Darfur, Sudan where 200,000 have died in an ongoing ethnic conflict. The link was drawn by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in an editorial published Saturday.

It would be natural to view these as distinct developments. In fact, they are linked. Almost invariably, we discuss Darfur in a convenient military and political shorthand -- an ethnic conflict pitting Arab militias against black rebels and farmers. Look to its roots, though, and you discover a more complex dynamic. Amid the diverse social and political causes, the Darfur conflict began as an ecological crisis, arising at least in part from climate change.

The connection between ecological strain and war was convincingly presented in Jared Diamond's chronicle of the Rwandan genocide featured in his acclaimed book Collapse. The key point in the issue is that as we enter an age of increasing shortages of food and water, warfare and genocide will act as the face mask worn by a true root cause of human generated climate change.

Gore Calls G8 Summit a "Disgrace"

Following the conclusion of the G8 summit and climate change talks about a week and a half ago, I had the following to say in my post titled G8 Leaders Agree to Make an Agreement,

The leaders of the group of eight industrial nations have agreed to make an agreement on climate change in what Tony Blair calls "a major, major step forward".

Wow....I say, wow.
Al Gore has issued his statement on the events, and his words were equally tongue in cheek,

"The eight most powerful nations gathered and were unable to do anything except to say 'We had good conversations and we agreed that we will have more conversations, and we will even have conversations about the possibility of doing something in the future on a voluntary basis perhaps."'

The one result from the latest summit was the US agreeing to work with other nations towards "substantial cuts" in greenhouse gases within a UN framework. No firm timelines or goals were agreed to despite the efforts of German Chancellor and G8 Chair Angela Merkel who wanted countries to agree to work towards a 50% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2050.

Talks resume in Bali this December.

PS - A note of thanks to Crooks and Liars for including The Conscious Earth on their weekly roundup.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Rachel Carson Vindicated

Readers may or may not be aware of an ongoing misinformation campaign being waged against Rachel Carson, the woman widely credited for the birth of the modern environmental movement.

In 1962 she wrote Silent Spring, a cautionary criticism about the impacts of widespread pesticide use, particularly DDT, on both the natural world and human health. However, recent efforts to posthumously honour Rachel Carson have been stalled thanks to the work of certain Republicans in the US Senate, in particular one Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK), who implicitly holds Carson responsible for millions of malaria deaths that have occurred in the developing world. The people at Celsias have done a perfect job outlining the controversy and showing why the this accusation is false.

This unfortunate misconception is the result of a very misleading and inaccurate campaign that is being waged against Carson and the movement that she helped to initiate. Basically, the argument is that she pushed for a ban on the use of DDT, which led to the deaths of millions of people every year around the world. I hope to demonstrate that this couldn’t be farther from the truth. First, and possibly most important, is the fact that Carson never advocated an absolute ban on the use of DDT.

The article does indeed demonstrate that point, as do the words of Rachel Carson herself with her common sense prescription that governments should, "Spray as little as you possibly can" rather than, "Spray to the limit of your capacity".

Intervention at an intelligent and effective minimum, rather than a hysterical and reactionary maximum....that's good policy we can generalize to any political issue.

So once again the air clears and we see that it's certain "conservative" politicians who are overreacting - both in endorsing the indiscriminant use DDT and their wholly inaccurate attack on Rachel Carson.

Thanks to Celsias for a great summary of the issue.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Good News for Wildlife, But Bad for the Rep

The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) has reportedly been stunned by the discovery of what could be "the largest migration of land mammals on Earth". Over 1.3 million animals including white-eared kob, African antelope, mongalla gazelle, elephants, buffalo and ostriches have been counted in an aerial survey of the southern Sudan where it was assumed that wide spread war had wiped out these herds.

This is great news for wildlife. It is not good news for WCS.

I don't usually play the cynic, but this the worst PR job I've seen in the enviro community since the Center for Biological Diversity sued one of North America's largest wind farms for bird deaths caused by turbines. Rather than assuming all animals had perished when a proper survey had not been completed since 1982, it may have been better to take a conservative approach in estimating the death toll.

The WCS is accepting donations to help them "protect this wildlife haven". Although I don't know much about the organization, my advice would be that if the WCS couldn't locate the world's largest migration of animals in the first place, they're probably the wrong folks to be protecting them.

Check out the BBC slide show for more great pics.

Will Canada's Water Cure the US Drought?

In the face of global warming and eight dry years, the United States is confronting its worst drought since the Dust Bowl years of the Great Depression. Between 1930 and 1940, 2.5 million people were forced to leave the southwest plains and 50 million acres of formerly productive land was destroyed thanks to a combination of drought and poor farming practices.

Nobody is saying the impacts of this year's drought are on that scale. However, Alabama Senators Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions have are already requesting a disaster declaration for 19 Alabama counties as corn farmers and cattle ranchers face potential ruin. The more drastic consequences may occur much further north, in Canada.

The US federal government, particularly President Bush, still has not agreed to impose mandatory cuts on greenhouse gas emissions. Until they do, they are effectively saying that they are prepared to live with the consequences of global warming rather than try to prevent them. For the states already affected by drought this will mean longer and more severe water shortages and increasing strain on already endangered farmland. If that occurs, the US government will be left with three choices to address the looming catastrophe:

  1. do nothing
  2. relocate millions of people to more economically productive areas
  3. gain controlling interests of Canada's fresh water supply.

One guess as to which option the US will choose. Abandoning large tracts of the country isn't just economically undesirable, it would also mean relinquishing two of America's most cherished bedtime stories - 1) that it's man's right to control and exploit nature for his own benefit, and 2) manifest destiny, the myth that "the American government was "destined" to establish uninterrupted political authority across the entire North American continent."

The US thirst for Canadian water is not a myth. It's a desire and policy goal that's been prepared for by international trade agreement's (NAFTA) and clearly stated by numerous US politicians, most recently Kansas congressional hopeful John Doll.

If the drought continues, look for renewed calls for large scale water diversions from Canada - an alarming possibility given rising world temperatures, shrinking glaciers, and a booming Canadian oil sands industry that has already swallowed up enough water rights to quench the thirst of a large city.

Fight Deniers. Support DeSmog USA

Regular readers of The Conscious Earth will recognize DeSmogBlog as a frequent link and source for breaking news. The Vancouver based blog was launched last year when local PR professional Jim Hoggan decided to throw his expertise into the global warming debate and fight the ongoing campaign of disinformation being waged by deniers and big oil.

DeSmogBlog exists to clear the PR pollution that is clouding the science on climate change. An overwhelming majority of the world’s climate scientists agree that the globe is warming - the world's climate is changing - and that the indiscriminate burning of fossil fuels is to blame. We know that the risks are incalculable and, increasingly, we understand that the solutions are affordable.

DeSmogBlog is an invaluable resource for global warming information and the integrity of public debate. Now they are planning to establish a full presence in the United States and are asking for your support to make it happen.

Visit their fundraising page to help raise the $10,000 they need to get Desmog USA up and running. It's money well spent.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

UK Gets First Zero-Carbon Home

Earlier this year, the British government announced an ambitious target of having all new homes built carbon neutral by 2016. This week saw the first step towards that goal as the "Lighthouse" was recognized as the nation's first zero carbon home.

The prototype is being billed as "the most environmentally friendly home yet built" in the UK, and it is the first to meet the government's highest standards for sustainability. Energy efficient construction methods were employed in the construction of the two bedroom house, which also features renewable and sustainable energy technologies such as solar powered water heaters and top notch water efficiency devices. In fact, a spokesman boasts that the building will only require heating 6 weeks of every year.

The Lighthouse also hopes to put money back in the pockets of consumers both through energy savings and lower price. By reaching "level 6" of the new government sustainability code, the Lighthouse is exempted from the federal stamp duty of 1% on new homes.

The unveiling is the first step in what housing minister, Yvette Cooper sees as a revolution in housing.

"A quarter of carbon emissions come from our homes. That's why zero-carbon homes are so important," said Yvette Cooper.

"We need a complete revolution in the way we design and build our homes. Many of the technologies exist already, as these new homes show. Now we need more work to test them and deliver economies of scale."

See the BBC article for a diagram of the interior layout or take the vidoe tour below.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Al Gore to Unveil Model Green Home

Renovations of Al Gore's home are almost complete, and the result will be a model of green design, technology and engineering that will put a final end to the latest round of ill-conceived and baseless smear campaign being waged by right wing pundits.

"This plan has been in the works for a long time," the former vice president said in an interview with The Associated Press. "The only thing that has changed is that we're more public about it because of the misleading attack by a global-warming denier group."

Gore's redesigned home is aiming to meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards and will include rooftop solar panels, a geothermal heating system, upgraded windows and ductwork, energy-efficient lighting and a rainwater collection system for irrigation and water management.

However, conservative groups and climate change deniers have been working hard over through this same time period to paint Al Gore as an environmental hypocrite who only talks green as a part of an elaborate ploy to enter the US presidential race. Like most spin jobs this one is slim on facts and long on hot air.

The initial assault on Gore's environmental reputation was a laundry list of outright lies that were thoroughly debunked here at TCE. Next came a gem of an effort from the Tennessee Center for Policy Research (TCPR), a right wing think-tank of marginal credibility that, among other things, "facilitates" a three ring circus of global warming deniers. In February, the TCPR dug Al Gore's utility bill out of the metaphorical trash bin and promptly launched a southern style swift boating of the former Vice President - an equally inaccurate attack that conveniently ignored the fact(s) that:

  1. Gore pays a premium for green power options in his home,
  2. that the environmentally friendly renos listed above had been in the works well before the time of their attack,
  3. that the only reason solar panels were not installed already is because Gore has been knee deep in a municipal battle over bylaw restrictions, and most importantly
  4. that the Gore "residence" is not only a home but also an office for both Al Gore, his wife and runs a commercial kitchen for events.

But it only takes five words to say "Al Gore is a hypocrite", whereas you need a few sentences and a 10 second Google search to reveal the motivation of the TCPR and the green leading designs of Mr. Gore. If the country can't expect that kind commitment to accuracy from their pseudo elected leader, then far be it for me to ask it of the conservative press.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Cancer Causing Chemicals Decreasing in UK

Regulation works. A new study shows that the levels of cancer-causing pollutants in Great Britain's soils has been dropping dramatically over the past two decades thanks to the strict regulation of chemical emissions into the environment.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

G8 Leaders Agree to Make an Agreement

The leaders of the group of eight industrial nations have agreed to make an agreement on climate change in what Tony Blair calls "a major, major step forward".

Wow....I say, wow.

The concrete development coming out of the G8 summit is that the US has agreed to work with other nations towards "substantial cuts" in greenhouse gases within a UN framework. China and developing nations will also be involved in emissions cuts and a new international deal is to be completed by the end of 2009. Though there is no agreement on details, Blair is optimistic about the results and the road ahead.

Mr Blair told reporters there is now agreement. "The important thing is we now have an agreement - one; that we need a new worldwide agreement on climate change," he said.

"Two; that at the heart of that should be a substantial reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

"Three; in the process that will then work out what that cut in emissions should be there will be serious consideration given specifically to the goal of halving emissions by 2050.

"This is an agreement in which we want all the major countries to be involved including America, China, India and others - the developed and the developing world."

"We agreed... that CO2 emissions must first be stopped and then followed by substantial reductions," the German chancellor said.

"Now we have an agreement that there will be a climate change deal, it will involve everyone, including the US and China, and it will involve substantial cuts."

Previously, the US has flatly opposed being a part of any post-Kyoto deal. However, mounting political pressure within the US has been seen as a key factor in Bush's willingness to negotiate with the international community. There's still no accounting for the American media though, as ABC was quick to put a different spin on today's events:

Surprise, surprise.

Negotiations resume in Bali this coming December.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

US Rejects G8 Climate Goals

The US says it will reject the climate change goals set out by German Chancellor and G8 Chair Angela Merkel as this week's summit begins today in Heiligendamm, Germany.

Merkel proposes cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2050, setting up a cap and trade system for carbon, and limiting global warming to 2% celsius - goals that are broadly seen as the minimum needed to avert the more severe impacts of global warming. The US rejects all of these goals and, under the guise of defending the rights of individual countries, is pushing for a US led agreement between the world's top emitters that would allow continual increases in greenhouse gases.

Speaking ahead of his meeting, Mr Bush said that instead of backing the proposed emissions caps he favoured his own plan that the worst CO2 emitting nations, including the US, China and India, meet before the year is out to put together a new long-term strategy to tackle the problem.

The US continues to promote reductions in carbon "intensity" and voluntary reduction targets. It is well established that voluntary targets do not work, and as explained here, reducing carbon intensity will do nothing to decrease overall greenhouse gas emissions and consequently will lead to increased global warming.

Meanwhile, outgoing British PM Tony Blair insists that he can convince George Bush to agree to substantial cuts within an UN framework.

Good luck Tony, we're all counting on you.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Airlines Told to Go Emissions Free

The world's airlines have been told that they have 50 years to become emissions free. This bold and surprising statement comes not from governments but from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) - the global trade organization representing 250 airlines and 94% of the world's scheduled air traffic. The announcement came yesterday in Vancouver during the IATA annual general meeting.

"Climate change is a real concern for our customers and a political priority for many governments," Mr. Bisignani told 700 delegates, including chief executive officers from airlines around the world.

However, the good will was not without a caveat,

"We have been silent in our success and now we have a reputation crisis," IATA director-general Giovanni Bisignani yesterday. He argued that the airline sector has been unfairly singled out by environmentalists and politicians jumping on the green bandwagon.

In this he is right. Global airline emissions account for a small (but significant) portion of the total worldwide pie - 2% according to most experts. Meanwhile, there is scarcely a week that goes by without new cries of outrage over these slim percentage points. A level of blame that is out of all proportion given that the airline industry chronically faces two of the most volatile and uncertain variables of the modern business world - rising fuel prices and ongoing security concerns.

In the face of these challenges, the IATA is deserving of any kudos it recieves for sucking it up and moving forward a new green vision. If our governments acted with the same forethought, we would be well on our way to solving the global warming problem.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Canada and Europe Agree on Climate Change, Sort of

The Prime Minister's office has released the 2007 EU-Canada Summit Statement outlining the results of Stephen Harper's meeting with German Chancellor and European Union Chair Angela Merkel. It announces that both parties agree to halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. However, they are at odds when it comes to the finer points of the math.

Harper and Merkel issued a statement saying both sides sought cuts in greenhouse gases by at least half by the year 2050. However, they remain divided on what year to take as a starting point, with the EU favouring 1990 and Canada 2006.

Oh well. What's 16 years and a few billion tonnes of C02 anyway?

The complete statement is available on the Conservative Party website.

German Chancellor Strong Against Bush

After initially sounding somewhat limp with respect to President Bush's proposed "US led" global warming strategy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has since come out strong saying that it was "non-negotiable" that the United Nations should take the lead in global efforts to combat climate change and vowed to make no compromises that disregard the scientific evidence on the issue.

"I will not go for a 'lazy compromise' ... I will not get involved in diluting definite scientific findings like those of the U.N.'s Intergovernmental panel on climate change," she said.

The US proposal promises to do nothing to reduce global emissions and has been widely criticized in the international community, despite having effectively fooled the US media machine. It also opposes hard caps on emissions, a carbon trading scheme and the objective goal of limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius - all elements endorsed by the European Union. Maybe the problem is that Bush doesn't have a clue what "2 degrees Celsius" is.

Climate change negotiations will take place at the upcoming G8 summit on June 6th - 8th.

Update 1:13pm: Merkel's comments were echoed by Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who today rejected Bush's proposal and insisted that nations come to an agreement under the UN and not through US led negotiations.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

UK Shoppers to See Carbon Labels on Products

British consumers wanting to address global warming will soon have the benefit of carbon labeling on the products they buy. The government has revealed a new plan that would show greenhouse gas emissions created by their production, transport and eventual disposal, similar to the calorie or salt content figures on food packaging.

Ian Pearson, the environment minister, said ministers would work with the Carbon Trust and BSI British Standards to develop a benchmark for measurements over the next 18 months, allowing businesses to calculate the impact of their goods and label them accordingly.

The measure will be voluntary, but major retailers like Marks and Spencer and Tesco are already on board.

Happy green shopping UK!

US & Canada: The World's Achilles Heel

Heading into this month's G8 climate change talks in Germany, North America is rapidly asserting itself as the world's biggest nemesis.

Following last week's leaked memo showing the Bush administration's continued opposition to hard caps on carbon emissions, the President himself has now made a new proposal that threatens to hijack the international process - by placing the US in a lead role in negotiations with the world's top 15 greenhouse gas emitters. In making this offer, Bush openly asserts that the US is opposed to hard caps on emissions, carbon trading, and the EU's goal of limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius.

Canada is offering little better. Saturday's Globe reports that Prime Minister Stephen Harper wants to act as a bridge between Europe, the US and Asia. The basis for this bridge is recognizing Canada's right to produce more emissions than other countries because of our spiraling oil sands emissions.

Yet, the most embarrassing part of these developments is the reaction of British PM Tony Blair and German Chancellor Angela Merkel who both offered a stunning level of praise to Bush's proposal.

Tony Blair hailed the Bush initiative as an important step forward. "For the first time America's saying it wants to be part of a global deal".

Angela Merkel, the German chancellor and host of next week's G8 summit, also welcomed the initiative. "I think it is positive, and the US president's speech makes it clear that no one can avoid the question of global warming any more," Ms Merkel said of the proposal. "This is common ground on which to act."

By calling Bush's transparent diversionary tactic "a step forward" and "common ground" these European leaders are framing the failure of future climate change talks. As posted here last week, the most destructive approach is allowing the US - which under the current administration has no intention of solving global warming - an active voice in negotiations. European nations have to show the leadership the world needs and dismiss the US from negotiations and work to bring China and India fully on board international efforts.

The US can be invited back to the table once the Bush Administration has been safely put out to pasture in 2008. Until then, the foundation for aggressive reductions needs to be made now.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Two Documentaries Airing This Sunday

Canadian readers, or those with satellite access, can watch a pair of global warming documentaries this Sunday June 3rd via the CBC.

Five Ways to Save the World runs at 10pm ET/PT on CBC Newsworld.

If global warming continues to escalate at the current rate, many fear the effects could be catastrophic. Five Ways to Save the World features five of the world's top scientists and the revolutionary scientific inventions they believe could stop global warming and prevent worldwide disaster. In Five Ways to Save the World, computer-generated imagery allows each scientist to fully describe his radical approach to a solution.
Discuss this film online.

The Denial Machine follows at at 11pm on CBC-TV (note the channel change)

In the past few years, a hurricane has engulfed the debate about global warming. This crucial scientific issue has become a rhetorical firestorm with science pitted against spin and inflammatory words on both sides. Bob McKeown investigates why a debate that some say could determine the very future of our planet has become a partisan battleground. The Denial Machine follows a small but powerful group of scientists who argue, among other claims, that global warming may be a good thing and it investigates their links to the oil and coal industries. Film also available for viewing online.