FOR THE CHRONICLE-JOURNAL Oct 12, 2017
BY SCOTT HARRIS

THAT’S what they say. Who are they? Well, geophysicist Henry Pollack for one.

In his book A World Without Ice, Pollack explains the delicate geological balance between the Earth and its ice, and why it is important that we humans pay attention to this balance, especially since human activity is accelerating the planet’s race toward a tipping point with respect to its ice.

Ocean floor core samples reveal that the last time Earth was free of ice was 55 million years ago, when the greenhouse gas methane warmed the atmosphere, melting the polar ice sheets and reducing the planet’s ability to reflect solar energy back into outer space.

We currently live in what scientists describe as a Goldilocks environment, not too hot and not too cold. As we look for life on other not-so-fortunate planets, we can see clearly that indeed we are a Goldilocks planet – not too close to the sun to lose all of our water to evaporation, or far enough away to be just another snowball rocketing through space. More »

18. January 2017 · Comments Off on If there ever was a time . . . · Categories: Activism, Climate Crisis, Climate Policy, Energy Policy, Pipelines-Tarsands, Scott Harris, Social Justice

by Scott Harris

First Posted: Wednesday, January 18, 2017 in the Chronicle Journal

Right-wing Fraser Institute’s Ken Green champions the “rule of law” vs “special interests” (Protesters Aren’t in Charge – Guest Column, CJ, Jan. 16). He states that pipeline protesters should take heed.
He qualifies that civil disobedience “is most appropriate when a group faces oppression without representation.” How better to describe future, unborn generations, a group which has no voice, which nevertheless has a right to a tolerable climate, but whose present-day governments don’t see it that way.

Our own Liberal government acknowledged this right by signing on to the Paris Agreement to limit the greenhouse gases that threaten that right, but then, inexplicably, made it impossible to follow through by approving new tar sands pipelines.
Naomi Klein got it right. The immediate threat of global warming changes everything, and the promises of politically compromised, deal-making governments are meaningless in the face of it.
If ever there was a time for civil disobedience, it is with respect to the issue of new bitumen pipelines.
Scott Harris
Thunder Bay

05. October 2016 · Comments Off on Confirmation bias: Science and the Internet form a double-edged sword Story · Categories: Activism, Climate Crisis, Climate Policy, Corporate Irresponsibility, Economic Policy, Energy Policy, Fouling the Earth, Scott Harris, Social Justice, Transformative Ideas

First Posted: Wednesday, October 5, 2016 in the Chronicle Journal

By Scott Harris
For The Chronicle-Journal
‘By either stressing or ignoring the information that bombards us, we create our own reality” (author unknown). Such, perhaps, is what it means to be human. Our own opinions are formed by our own unique experiences, cognitive intake and reflection.
The advent of universal, electronic transmission tools such as the Internet amounts to an information strafing unlike anything we humans have experienced before.
But the Internet is a double-edged tool. With the current availability of electronic information, one can find validation for virtually any opinion, no matter how bizarre. On the other hand, there are impeccable, peer-reviewed sources which help us separate truth from fiction. That distinction is becoming increasingly important, as we begin to address global issues triggered by human behaviour. More »

20. June 2016 · Comments Off on Woodland Caribou: Our Shared Past, Our Shared Future · Categories: Climate Crisis, Forestry, Fouling the Earth, Scott Harris

By Scott Harris

First published in the Chronicle Journal June 2016

From May 16-20th, our community hosted nearly 400 biologists, policy-makers, First Nations, environmentalists, forestry, oil and gas interests to discuss the most recent scientific findings on the decline of woodland caribou across Canada. An evening, organized by our local Thunder Bay Field Naturalists, was dedicated to sharing information with the general public. At that session, Paul Kennedy, the moderator of CBC’s Ideas, referred to woodland caribou as the “canary in the coalmine”, suggesting that the disappearance of this species from parts of northern Ontario and our Lake Superior shores, and across Canada, may signal a decline in the general health of the boreal forest. More »

16. May 2016 · Comments Off on Footprint vs handprint: Engaging with global warming · Categories: Climate Crisis, Climate Policy, Energy Policy, Fouling the Earth, Pipelines-Tarsands, Scott Harris, Transformative Ideas

First posted in the Chronicle Journal Sunday, May 15, 2016

The world’s best scientists, across a broad range of disciplines, have advised us that we humans are responsible for a spike in global temperatures not seen in hundreds of thousands of years.
They state that digging up and burning, in a couple of hundred years, solar energy stored as coal, gas and oil over hundreds of millions of years as the reason.

They have equated the addition of resulting greenhouse gases (GHGs), mainly carbon dioxide, to the detonation of 400,000 atomic bombs daily, 365 days a year.
And so they have asked us to reduce our “carbon footprint,” as ice-core samples have established a direct link between carbon in the atmosphere and global warming. More »

14. July 2015 · Comments Off on Is NOMA ignoring democratic values? · Categories: Climate Crisis, Climate Policy, Economic Policy, Energy Policy, Julee Boan, Pipelines-Tarsands, Scott Harris, Social Justice

By Julee Boan and Scott Harris
We have concern regarding the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association’s (NOMA) recent resolution, passed with support from Thunder Bay, calling on a number of environmental organizations to “cease and desist” their forestry “campaigns.”
While Environment North is not specifically mentioned, we are also a registered charitable organization. Since 1972, we have strived to improve and protect the ecological sustainability and socio-economic wellbeing of Northwestern Ontario through leadership, research, partnerships, education, community advocacy, information and community capacity building.
At times, we have called for changes to forestry practices and policy, including voicing questions and concerns when the province exempted the forest industry from the Endangered Species Act. We also voiced support for forest tenure reform to increase local decision making, and the expansion of Wabakimi Provincial Park, among other issues. More »

05. January 2015 · Comments Off on Grass-roots activism: Changing the Course of History · Categories: Activism, Experimental Lakes, Fouling the Earth, Pipelines-Tarsands, Scott Harris

Is democracy still alive? Can ordinary citizens still make their voices heard? A look at initiatives in recent decades here in Northwestern Ontario strongly suggests that the answer is yes.

In 1980, when Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd., proposed a high-level nuclear waste storage facility in Atikokan, Environment North and other citizen organizations studied the proposal and believed that not enough was known about the safe transport and storage of the waste to justify the risk it posed.

A petition that called for public hearings had 24,000 signatories. Test-drilling was halted and the hearings were eventually held in the 1990s. More »

25. October 2014 · Comments Off on Global Warming: When science fails to convince, can kitty sneezes carry the day? · Categories: Climate Crisis, Climate Policy, Scott Harris

Don Clarke’s CJ article “For those who worship climate change”, Thu Oct 16, 2014, and Herman Dost’s “Nothing we can do about climate change”, Mon Oct 20, 2014 make me resort to metaphor.

Had they taken the time to read the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report , or even the Summary, I don’t believe they would have made such comment.

Yes, the earth does go through cycles of warming and cooling. These typically develop over thousands, tens of thousands, or even millions of years and yes, there are aberrations like the 700-year-old medieval blip. More »

01. August 2014 · Comments Off on Stranded grain blame misplaced · Categories: Climate Crisis, Pipelines-Tarsands, Scott Harris

Curious bit of logic from Warren Kinsella (Pipeline Opponents Go Against Grain — column, July 26). He blames anti-pipeline environmentalists for the backlog of Canadian prairie wheat waiting for transport to market. He states that limited rail capacity due to an increase in oil transport by train, in the absence of pipelines, is the reason.

Citing the Lac Megantic tragedy as a reason to support new tarsands expansion, and the pipelines that would carry its oil to market, Kinsella states: “A pipeline like Keystone would move enough oil, in a single day, to avoid having to make use of 4,200 railway cars to move the same amount. Lac Megantic provides a compelling argument for finally doing so.”

He fails to mention that the Lac Megantic explosion had nothing to do with the tarsands. More »

05. July 2014 · Comments Off on Let’s all stop digging up bones · Categories: Climate Crisis, Corporate Irresponsibility, Pipelines-Tarsands, Scott Harris

Fossil fuels are the skeletal remains of plants and animals that lived millions of years ago. It took eons for geologic processes to concentrate their carbon into coal, gas and oil, but it’s taking only a few hundred years, a mere blink in time, to release it. Seems a risky thing to be doing, as this song suggests.

Feel free to sing this to the tune of Randy Travis’ Diggin’ Up Bones: More »

14. June 2014 · Comments Off on Google to know then sign to slow · Categories: Climate Crisis, Corporate Irresponsibility, Pipelines-Tarsands, Scott Harris

Can we afford new pipelines?

Go to the CBC’s Pipeline Map to find National Energy Board (NEB) figures. They state that between 2000 and late 2012 more than 1,000 pipeline ruptures, leaks and explosions have happened across the country. In fact, in spite of supposedly more sophisticated pipeline diagnostic equipment, the rate of overall incidents has doubled in the past decade. The brand new Canadian section of the Keystone XL1, predicted to spill no more than once every seven years, has leaked 12 times in less than a year. More »

20. November 2013 · Comments Off on Climate Justice · Categories: Climate Crisis, Scott Harris, Social Justice

Good that our Federal Government is giving $20 million on our behalf to the storm-ravaged Phillipines. That’s about 60 cents for every Canadian, the price of half a cup of coffee at the donut shop. Good also that Canadian businesses and individuals have contributed another $20 million. Bravo!

Not to belittle those individuals compassionate enough to donate personally, but this is as it should be. This “largesse” should not be interpreted simply as a reflection of our generosity, but rather a debt needing repayment, since we are one of a number of Western industrialized countries responsible for the excess carbon dioxide driving global warming. More »

04. September 2013 · Comments Off on Alternatives to Capitalism, Part 2: Climbing Down From Growth · Categories: Climate Policy, Economic Policy, Energy Policy, Scott Harris

One alternative to free-market capitalism is degrowth, which Louis Marion in A Fitting Idea for Fateful Times describes as “a rallying cry for the preservation of our world.” Richard Heinberg in The End of Growth: Adapting to Our New Reality thinks the limitless growth paradigm of industrial civilization is colliding with non-negotiable natural limits. He believes that resource depletion, environmental impacts and crushing levels of debt force us to question the validity of capitalism.

Degrowth advocates, as the term suggests, even see “sustainable development” as a contradiction in terms, “a way to maintain profits and avoid making substantive changes to our habits.” More »

03. September 2013 · Comments Off on Alternatives to Capitalism, Part 1: Perpetual growth on finite planet delusional · Categories: Economic Policy, Fouling the Earth, Scott Harris, Social Justice

A recent writer questioned the widely-held belief that free-market capitalism, based on infinite growth and supported by relatively cheap fossil-fuel energy, was sustainable (Our Ubiquitous Deadly Addiction — commentary, July 22). Freda Davies suggested we look at other economic models.

So what’s wrong with free-market capitalism?

The Cochabamba Summit: Documents of the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth (Bolivia, April 2010) is helpful: “Under capitalism, Mother Earth is converted into a source of raw materials, and human beings into consumers and a means of production, into people that are seen as valuable only for what they own, and not for what they are. It is an imperialist system of colonization of the planet.” More »

01. February 2013 · Comments Off on Ecocidal behaviour · Categories: Activism, Scott Harris, Social Justice

Thank you to the aboriginal community, especially the young leaders of the local Idle No More movement who spoke so eloquently at the City Hall rally Monday. At the moment, you seem to be our best hope for slowing the Harper agenda.

As spokesperson Joyce Hunter and many others have documented, Prime Minister Harper is hell-bent on being the leader of a fossil-fuel superpower, and doesn’t care what it takes to realize such a misguided dream. More »