Monday, July 30, 2007

Board Approves Swindle for Surrey Schools

Surrey School Board Trustee Heather Stilwell gained national attention this past May by proposing that The Great Global Warming Swindle be made available in Surrey high schools alongside An Inconvenient Truth in order to ensure students are offered a "balanced perspective" on the issue of global warming.

The Board heard her proposal in May and unanimously passed the following motion:

THAT WHEREAS it has been reported in the media that all secondary schools in the Province will be provided with a copy of the movie “An Inconvenient Truth”; and WHEREAS this movie is advancing one particular view of the world’s climate change based on ice, etc.; and WHEREAS many scientists world-wide have expressed scepticism about this scientific accuracy; and WHEREAS it is our role as Trustees to ensure that students are provided with accurate information and a balanced perspective when there is credible information presented on two sides of an issue.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT the school district’s Instructional Resources staff ensure that the resource “The Great Global Warming Swindle” if approved by the district’s Learning Resource Committee, and/or any other resource the committee identifies that provides a balanced view of global warming, be made available to our schools.

Chairperson Wilson called the question on the amended motion and it was CARRIED unanimously.

I contacted Heather Stilwell last week who said, "As we left it at the end of June, staff were working on getting the kind of permission rights that we require for school use. It is certainly my expectation that this will be available in September."

The Great Global Warming Swindle has been widely criticized for misrepresenting global warming science and the opinions of researchers. In an embarrassing appearance, the film's director Martin Durkin was recently interviewed on ABC Australia where he was confronted about the film's inaccuracies and offered little information in his own defence.

Skeptics, This Way Please

For as long as global warming has been at the forefront of the media, there has been climate change deniers muddying the public discourse and slowing progress towards solutions.

The press, our politicians, and even the progressive blogosphere, have been integral in giving these "skeptics" a voice - by accommodating opinions that are patently false, and lending authority to those engaging in an agenda of misinformation.

While deniers arguments gain coverage in the mainstream thanks to so called "balanced reporting", bloggers are to blame for freely publishing deniers comments regardless of how demonstrably false they are - a practice that gives the false impression of a debate about the facts of climate change when in reality there isn't one.

There are those who are genuinely misinformed or under-informed about global warming and to their credit seek new information and correct their opinions as they learn more. For the rest - those that knowingly perpetuate lies, or stubbornly refuse to consider new information - it is time that they were treated for what they are, the intellectual children of the online community.

To that end, today represents the beginning of a new comment moderation policy at The Conscious Earth. The following rules will go into effect immediately:

  • Anyone making ad hominem attacks in the global warming debate will have their comments summarily rejected.
  • Commenters that regurgitate an existing and previously debunked skeptic argument will be directed to the Grist's Skeptics Page, where they can learn the facts behind the false evidence they are citing.
  • Subsequent comments regarding the point in question will be accepted only if they provide new evidence that counters the conclusions of the scientific community or that represents new findings not previously discussed in the blogosphere.

In the name of genuine climate change debate, I encourage all members of the green and scientific community to take a similar approach. I'll be placing this post at the top of The Conscious Earth's Top Posts section. Feel free to link to it if helpful. You can also use the following form letter for responding to comments.

Public debate requires learning, openness to new information, arguments that address issues, freedom from personal attacks, and the basic ability for rational discourse. By accommodating deniers, and their refusal to engage in any of these behaviours, we've all played a role in lending authority to their irrational opinions and in slowing progress towards solutions.

Nobody would spend a decade debating bed time with a 5 year old. It's now long past due to end the current climate change "debate" and send deniers to bed, without their supper.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Oil Spill in Vancouver Suburbs

A geyser of oil sprung up from the streets of a Vancouver suburb yesterday, after a construction crew's backhoe inadvertently broke a pipeline that connected a refinery to a refuelling facility in the harbour.

It's still unknown how much oil was spilled. Though certainly a small spill, the oil quickly made it's way into Burrard Inlent. Photo's below, courtesy of Global TV News.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Turning Car Emissions Into Green Fuel

Three fishermen from Wales have invented a box that can be fixed to the exhaust outlet of any vehicle and safely capture greenhouse gas emissions.

However, in addition to reducing the vehicle emissions by 85% to 95%, the Greenbox goes one step further by providing the raw ingredients for new biofuel production. Once full, the Greenbox can be detached from the vehicle and sent to a bioreactor where it provides food to algae that can then be converted to bio-diesel.

Through a chemical reaction, the captured gases from the box would be fed to algae, which would then be crushed to produce a bio-oil. This extract can be converted to produce a biodiesel almost identical to normal diesel.

This biodiesel can be fed back into a diesel engine, the emptied Greenbox can be affixed to the car and the cycle can begin again.

The process also yields methane gas and fertilizer, both of which can be captured separately. The algae required to capture all of Britain's auto emissions would take up around 1,000 acres

Although there are no immediate plans for production, the product has gained the attention of UK Labour MP David Hansen, and Toyota and GM have reportedly spoken to the inventors. Facilities and infrastructure are obviously lacking for both the mass production of the Greenbox and the associated biofuel production chain. However, at the bare minimum the announcement shows the sort of ecological and self sustaining solutions that are waiting to be discovered. Time will tell if it becomes economically viable.

Story via Reuters.

Friday, July 20, 2007

The World's Top Green Cities

The Grist has posted their choices for the 15 greenest cities on Earth. Top place goes to Reykjavik, Iceland on the waves of its commitment to renewable energy a their long-term plan to be fossil fuel free by 2050.

My humble hometown of Vancouver places 5th.

See the complete list at The Grist.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Death of The Great Global Warming Swindle

For months, global warming skeptics have been touting The Great Global Warming Swindle as a balanced and fair counterpart to those calling for urgent action on the issue of climate change. In reality, The Swindle is a misleading, dishonest and ill-conceived work of propaganda that is chock full of paid industry mouth pieces while being anorexically thin on genuine evidence.

Nowhere was this better revealed than in a recent interview conducted by ABC Australia's Tony Jones with the Martin Durkin, the film's director. Durkin lurches, sputters and sweats his way through the 10 minute grilling as Jones lines up example after example of omissions and lies that he presented in his film.

For those on the sane side of the spectrum, you are excused from debating this movie with anyone who insists on citing The Swindle as 'evidence' after watching this clip.

Rest in peace GGWS.

See part one of the interview at DeSmogBlog.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Darfur, Climate & Responsibility

The discovery of a vast underground lake is offering the best hope yet for an end to the war in Darfur. At 30,750 km2 it is the size of Lake Erie and will provide much needed influx of water, and an opportunity for peace, to the Sudan's drought stricken north.

Since 2003, two hundred thousand people have died and a further 2 million have fled the north where water shortages and drought have fueled a human catastrophe of mass migrations and ethnic conflict. With the discovery of this new fresh water resource, plans are moving forward to drill 1000 wells in the area and bring relief to Darfur's people.

The conflict in the region, and the prospect of peace through water, underscores our reliance on the environment and the bigger risks that we're assuming in ignoring the environmental damage that is ongoing throughout the world.

Critics of that view point will point to the overpopulation in the region while turning a blind eye to the same pressures in the United States where the population has swelled to 300,000,000. Critics will downplay the role of environmental damage in bringing on the conflict while ignoring the fact that 12% of the Sudan's forests have been hacked down in past 15 years. Critics will also belligerently shout down the role of climate change in the drought, while embracing fictions and bedtime stories that allow them to ignore all evidence to the contrary and have an easy night's sleep.

Ultimately, it is all about responsibility.

The people of the developed world have built a civilization based on the ideal of personal responsibility. That ideal is the backbone of democracy and the foundation of the free market that drives our economy. What a fitting irony that we are facing unprecedented assaults on our democracy, spiraling debt, and growing environmental carnage while all we can throw up in our defence is litany of excuses.

"It's the Democrat's fault!"

"It's the Liberal's fault!"

"It's all China's fault!"

"It's single mothers' fault",

And the all time winner, "Al Gore's heating bill is too high".

The trend goes far beyond the issue of global warming, and now infects every aspect of our political culture. The reason is simple. We are fat, lazy and more interested in preserving our comforts than taking an honest look at our role in the world's problems. Doing that would mean real responsibility, and there is no time for that in a world of instant gratification and borrowed wealth.

America, and implicitly the modern western world, was built on "Life, Liberty and Freedom". Now the future holds a new American dream with a new call to battle - "Borrow, Spend and Forget"!

It's simple, comfy and easy next to that messy business of personal responsibility.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Ninjas Are Cool. Are You a Ninja?

Ninjas are cool. Ninjas say fight global warming. Are you a Ninja?

Man Swims at the North Pole

In a jaw dropping effort to get leaders to take action on global warming, endurance British explorer and endurance athlete Lewis Gordon Pugh has done the unthinkable - swim in the open waters at the North Pole.

Lewis Gordon Pugh swam Sunday for 18 minutes and 50 seconds in temperatures of –1.8 degrees in just a Speedo, cap and goggles.

“I am obviously ecstatic to have succeeded, but this swim is a triumph and a tragedy,” the 37-year-old British lawyer said after coming out of the water.

Are we gettting the message yet? In case the point needs to be belabored further, if Pugh was swimming in open water at the top of the planet, it means that a lot of ice is melting. That melt includes land base ice in Canada's North, in Greenland, Antarctica and alpine glaciers. It means the oceans are rising. It does not mean that selling swimming trips to the arctic is a new business opportunity, and it doesn't mean that global warming is a good thing.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Producing Solar Power Like Paper

New research released this week concluded that the sun is not driving the global warming problem. However, the sun may be powering our global warming solutions in the near future thanks to a revolutionary solar panel being developed by the California company Nanosolar.

Their product represents a new approach to solar that aims to crank out paper thin panels at low cost through the same mass production techniques used in (not surprisingly) paper production. If successful, translucent solar powers could literally blanket our cities and drive a new era of renewable energy.

Nanosolar has the technology for the product in place and they have secured $100,000,000 for the construction of a pair of manufacturing sites in California and Germany. They can also count the founders of Google on their list of investors, as well as the US Department of Energy which contributed a $20 million research grant earlier this year.

Clip courtesy KQED Public Television 9

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Sun Not Responsible for Global Warming

In yet another blow to climate change 'skeptics', a newly released study demonstrates that global temperatures are rising at an accelerating rate despite the fact that the sun's output has been decreasing since 1985.

The study not only delivers a blow to deniers arguments, but to their credibility as well. For the past decade, a well funded strategy of public relations spin and unsupported claims have been the backbone of skeptics' attempts to derail efforts to fight global warming.

With the solar argument now put to rest, skeptics will be scrounging for a new angle. Watch for it in the coming months.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Boeing Launches New Green Jet

Boeing has unveiled its new greener jet that promises to use 20% less fuel than other similarly sized aircraft by taking advantage of a new lightweight carbon fibre design. Dubbed the 787 "Dreamliner" the craft promises to carry up to 330 passengers in greater comfort than its predecessors by offering larger windows and less noise.

The launch took place yesterday outside the boeing factory in Everett, Washington.

Close to 700 orders for the new Boeing have already been fulfilled, with Virgin Atlantic leading the way. They have already purchased 15 and will likely exercise options on another eight by the end of this year. They also have the right to buy a further 20, in a deal that could be worth up to $8 billion.

How significant is a 20% increase in efficiency? The Grist has the scoop from one the project's lead designers,

According to Jeff Hawk, who oversees environmental efforts for the model, the 787 consumes about one gallon of fuel per seat per 100 miles of travel -- "less than a typical sedan, and a half to a third the fuel consumption of an SUV."

There's something seriously wrong with our transportation system when, mathematically, you can fly to work more efficiently than you can drive. Perhaps Boeing should start designing our automobiles as well.

Miss Live Earth? See the Highlights on MSN

If you missed Live Earth you can catch all the highlights online thanks to MSN. Following the record setting event that drew 10 million online viewers, MSN is offering highlight clips from every major venues through their concert website. You can scroll through the available footage and assemble your personal favorites in a customized video playlist.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Live Earth Draws 2 Billion Viewers, Breaks Internet Record

Live Earth successfully wrapped up its 24 hour concert series that spanned seven continents and reached an estimated 2 billion people. In its goal to raise global awareness of the climate change problem, the series can be only be called a success. And unlike previous concert events, this one deals with an issue that will touch every person on globe.

Here are a few highlights from the day.

  • Internet streaming record: 10 million viewed the concert via Internet streams, which surpassed the previous record held by 2005's Live 8 global concerts to fight poverty.
  • Largest crowd: The largest event of the series was in Rio de Janeiro where 400,000 attended free of charge.
  • Concerts on every continent: Nunatak, a previously unheard of band of research scientists in Antarctica, beamed their performance abroad making Live Earth the only concert event to be held on all seven continents.
  • Walking the walk: Live Earth committed to minimizing its ecological footprint at every stage. Measures included sourcing electricity from green sources, implementing a comprehensive recycling program for concert waste, and purchasing offsets for other carbon impacts.

After successfully raising awareness about the global warming problem, organizers must now face the more difficult task of translating awareness into action.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Live Earth - Complete Viewing & Listening Guide

In case anyone has been living off planet for the past couple months, Live Earth is here!

Live Earth is a 24-hour, 7-continent concert series taking place tomorrow (Saturday, July 7th) that will bring together more than 100 music artists and 2 billion people to trigger a global movement to solve the climate crisis, with concert footage flowing throughout the world over television, radio, Internet and wireless channels.

Here's a rundown of everything you'll need to tune in:

Streaming Online Footage

MSN will stream the Live Earth concerts LIVE from all seven continents starting from Sydney, Australia and continuing geographically and chronologically across the globe. Log on tonight -- Friday, July 6th -- at 9:15pm (ET) / 6:15pm (PT) (since it's tomorrow already in Australia) for the start of what is destined to be an incomparable 24 hours.


Live Earth Sydney 11:10 a.m. 7/7 9:10 pm 7/6
Live Earth Tokyo 12:00 p.m. 7/7 11:00 p.m. 7/6
Live Earth Shanghai 7:00 p.m. 7/7 7:00 a.m. 7/7
Live Earth Hamburg 2:00 p.m. 7/7 8:00 a.m. 7/7
Live Earth London 1:30 p.m. 7/7 8:30 a.m. 7/7
Live Earth Johannesburg 6:00 p.m. 7/7 12:00 p.m. 7/7
Live Earth New York 2:30 p.m. 7/7 2:30 p.m. 7/7
Live Earth Rio de Janeiro 4:00 p.m. 7/7 3:00 p.m. 7/7

Check for the most current info at

TV Broadcast

Live Earth will be transmitted worldwide in standard and high definition across multiple media channels - TV, radio, Internet and wireless channels. In the US, highlights from all Live Earth concerts and events will air on NBC at 8:00p.m. on Saturday, 07.07.07. Visit for a more expansive list of International Broadcast Partners.

Radio Broadcast

Worldwide concerts will be broadcast on satellite radio through XM, Sirius, Worldspace, Premiere and Radio Express. Follow the links for more details.

The event is just the beginning of a a multi-year campaign led by the Alliance for Climate Protection, The Climate Group and other international organizations to drive individuals, corporations and governments to take action to solve global warming. Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore is the Chair of the Alliance and Partner of Live Earth.

Visit the Live Earth website for more information on the ongoing effort, and learn how you can get involved.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Guilting the Public is Not a Global Warming Solution

Throughout the past 18 months, the environment has seen a resurgence in the hearts and minds of voters as the reality of global warming hits home. However, on the heels of chronic inaction, governments and environmentalists are now riding a fine line towards voter backlash.

Public sentiment has been punctuated by two factors: rising environmental concern and a desire for leadership and solutions. In the face of rising greenhouse gases and a complete lack of accountability from industry, the public have been seeking action from elected officials - action that will make a seriously impact on emissions and begin to stop a looming environmental catastrophe.

Instead what we have seen is an utter unwillingness and inability on the part of both elected officials and environmental campaigners to hold industry to account, while all responsibility for the stewardship of nature is dropped onto the lap of the individual citizen. This trend is threatening to squander a rising environmental concern and alienate the people who genuinely want to be part of the solution.

Skeptical? Read on. In the past weeks policies have come forward that take a hard line on leaf blowers and lawn mowers, backpackers are being told how to go carbon neutral, and air travel, which accounts for just 3% of world's emissions, has been inexplicably cornered as a pariah in the fight against greenhouse gases. All of these actions have a single result. They guilt, restrict and constrain the behaviour of you and I, the citizens who genuinely want environmental solutions, while giving a free pass to the fossil fuel and automotive industries who are the real source of global warming.

Meanwhile, the Conservatives are boasting a war chest that is growing ten times as fast as the Liberals. When an election does come, this will be money targeted directly at moving public opinion away from the environment and in discrediting opposition leaders who choose to support it.

Both governments and environmentalists need to refocus quickly by increasing pressure on industry and calling for solutions that will genuinely solve the global warming problem. The public wants action and they are willing to do their part, but they will not be content to shoulder the work load for shirking corporations pulling in unprecedented profits on the wings of soaring greenhouse gas emissions.