Firs published in the Chronicle Journal Monday April 25, 2016
by Jason MacLean
After the US Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizen United, the corrupting influence of money in politics was supposed to be an exceptionally American problem. But it turns out that it’s very much a Canadian problem, too. Worse still, the corruption of money in politics is trumped by the corruption of expertise. Worst of all, the corruption of expertise is at the root of every important public policy issue, including climate change. More »
First Published in the Toronto Star March 3, 2016
by Jason MacLean
The Ontario government has unveiled its long-awaited cap-and-trade regime. Meanwhile, the federal government is in the early days of establishing its pan-Canadian climate strategy featuring a minimum national carbon price of $15 per tonne. Will these policies help Canada meet its commitments under the Paris climate change agreement to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels?
It depends. More »
First published in the Toronto Star Feb 7 2016
By Jason MacLean
Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna and Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr recently announced new interim regulations for oil pipeline projects currently under review by the National Energy Board, including Trans Mountain and Energy East.
The new regulations stipulate that oil pipeline decisions will be based on science and traditional Indigenous knowledge; the views of the public, including affected communities and Indigenous peoples; and the direct and upstream greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that can be linked to pipelines.
During their press conference announcing the new regulations, Ministers McKenna and Carr repeatedly intoned that “Canada needs to get its natural resources to market in a sustainable way.”
According to the ministers, this depends on restoring Canadians’ trust in the government’s regulatory processes. “We believe it is important and, in fact, essential to rebuild Canadians’ trust in our environmental assessment processes,” Minister McKenna said.
But therein lies the problem. More »
First posted Saturday, November 28, 2015 in the Chronicle Journal
by Peter Lang
At their open house at the Italian Cultural Centre on Nov. 30 TransCanada Pipeline Corporation (TCC) will tell you that a significant leak on their pipeline is “highly unlikely.” They will cite continuous remote sensing, regular flyovers, and the latest ‘smart pig’ technology to support their conjecture. And they will relate this at a pleasant one-on-one wine-and-cheese-type gathering which is cleverly designed to avoid a public forum — wherein together we could have asked the difficult questions, and critically weighed their answers. In fact, TCC will credit this open house as “a community consultation” when it is merely corporate flim flam. More »
First Posted: Wednesday, December 16, 2015 in the Chronicle Journal
By Christine Penner Polle
The news of the Paris climate agreement reached by nearly 200 countries after decades of trying was cause for celebration in our house last weekend. The first worldwide commitment to phase out fossil fuels in order to limit global temperature rise is an enormous and unprecedented accomplishment.
Our joy, however, was bittersweet. It was overshadowed by awareness that the deal fell short of solving of the huge problem the world is facing. More »
First Posted: Saturday, December 19, 2015 in The Chronicle-Journal
THE VIEW FROM PARIS
By Julee Boan
With nearly 200 countries at the table, is it not surprising that the Paris climate agreement that was negotiated last Saturday fell short of legally-binding caps on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Differences in wealth, geography, and population size were but a few of the complexities facing the talks. It was abundantly evident before the negotiations even began that economic (and carbon) powerhouses like the United States and China would only agree to non-binding targets.
Yet, the significance of the agreement is unmistakable. The signatories recognize that, “climate change represents an urgent and potentially irreversible threat to human societies and the planet.” More »
First Posted Monday, December 21, 2015 in the Chronicle Journal
By Jason MacLean
Cultural critic Lauren Berlant defines cruel optimism as the desire for something that’s an obstacle to our flourishing. We fantasize about a “good life” — of enduring reciprocity in romantic couples, organizations, political systems — despite the evidence of their instability and diminishing returns.
The optimism about the recent Paris climate agreement is a cruel case in point.
According to the world’s leading science journal Nature, “the Paris agreement represents a bet on technological innovation and human ingenuity.”
Why? Because the agreement is a legal and scientific failure. More »
by Ed Shields
Mr. Harper is religious. How does he respond to the Pope’s message to the US Congress (a Harperesque body) and the UN basically to keep tar sand in the ground? Or is Harper’s religiosity merely a facade to get votes. Or is his greed greater than his religiosity?
Harper’s fight against environmentalist action is akin to an illogical fight not to fix ones leaky roof. Of course, over time your house collapses. I wonder if a massive asteroid was targeting earth if he would worry. More »
First Published in the Chronicle Journal Monday, September 21, 2015
SUSTAINABILITY MATTERS BY JASON MACLEAN
Corporate crime pays. A lot. So does covering it up. Exhibit A: Healthcare giant Johnson and Johnson develops and markets a drug called Risperdal. Risperdal is a billion-dollar antipsychotic medicine that has both real benefits as well as some serious side effects.
For example, Risperdal increases the risk of strokes among the elderly, and can cause boys to develop breasts, a condition known as gynecomastia. One teenage boy developed a 46DD bust. More »
First Published in the Chronicle Journal Saturday, September 5, 2015
On Aug. 31, Thunder Bay city council deferred a vote to oppose TransCanada PipeLines’ Energy East proposal. Certainly it was a disappointing result for our coalition of local citizens — but it was not completely unexpected. What was unexpected was the sudden appearance of TransCanada PipeLines (TCP), added to the agenda on the day of the vote!
When our elected council looks closely at this plan they will see how flawed it is. Transporting tar sands bitumen through an old natural gas pipeline at 1.1 million barrels per day across the Lake Superior watershed is a very bad idea. The evidence of past natural gas leaks and explosions in the same line over the last dozen years should be most convincing. More »
First Published in the Chronicle Journal Tuesday, September 8, 2015
SUSTAINABILITY MATTERS by Jason MacLean | 7 comments
Two years. Two years since I moved to Thunder Bay. Two years in Thunder Bay without a car. Or truck. Or monster truck.
How do I get around?
I bike (mostly). And forgive me for saying so, but so should you.
Some background: Every so often I give a public lecture on environmental law and sustainability, and the question I get most often is this: As an ordinary citizen, what can I do to help? More »
First published in the Chronicle Journal Wednesday, July 29, 2015
When the NDP rally ended on Sunday I was dismayed. Thomas Mulcair had laid out an array of sound policies but had not once mentioned climate change. Not once. Really? As one NDP supporter said afterwards, even the Pope is talking about climate change.
Can it be that in 2015 there is not one national political party with a coherent policy on climate change?
We know Stephen Harper’s deluded stance as cheerleader for big oil. Justin Trudeau supports tar sands expansion via new pipelines. Elizabeth May would have upgraders built in Alberta — massively expensive new fossil fuel infrastructure that Canadians would pay for. More »
First Posted:Chronicle Journal Saturday, May 9, 2015
By Julee Boan and Faisal Moola
Managing publicly-owned forests is complicated. Goals for forestry, hydroelectric development, mining, tourism, hunting, recreation, conservation and other forest uses are not always compatible and trade-offs must be made. It is fair to say that our organizations – the David Suzuki Foundation and Ontario Nature – don’t always agree with claims made by some members of the forestry industry that their logging is sustainable.
At last week’s annual meeting, the Northern Ontario Municipal Association (NOMA) passed a resolution (Support for Northern Forestry Operations) sending our organizations a clear message: Keep your mouths shut and your opinions to yourselves. More »