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 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 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 »
Let’s have a show of hands: how many of us have already reneged on one or more New Year’s resolutions?
You’re not alone. According to a study recently published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, 45 per cent of us make New Year’s resolutions, but only 8 per cent of us actually succeed.
New Year’s resolutions, it turns out, are just another form of procrastination. Interested in losing weight and getting in shape? Spending more time with family and loved ones? Maybe learning something new? No matter the goal, the best approach, according to a spate of new scientific studies, is to ditch the resolution and just do it. Like, now.
We need to heed this advice on a national level when it comes to energy, the environment and sustainable development. Like, now. More »
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 »
“TransCanada plans to spend big, but project uncertainty looms,” read a recent headline in The Globe and Mail.
The newspaper went on to describe TransCanada as a “Calgary-based pipeline and power giant” and explained to those of us who choose to think about sunnier topics than the politics of oil pipelines that the projects in doubt include TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL and Energy East pipelines.
But TransCanada apparently intends to do more than just spend big. According to documents prepared for TransCanada by Edelman, one of the world’s largest public relations firms, Edelman is advising TransCanada to “add layers of difficulty for our opponents, distracting them from their mission More »
No doubt the double entendre was unintended. However, when a bill calling for a National Fiddling Day is introduced late the same afternoon as a quietly tabled report showing extreme climate effects on Canada’s boreal forests, and coming the day after Prime Minister Stephen Harper shunned the UN global climate summit, we are unfortunately left with an image of Nero fiddling amidst the fires of Rome. More »
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 »
It’s time to come clean about the environment. Trigger warning: Popular myths are about to be debunked.
Myth #1: We can’t live without the tar sands.
Let’s start with Alberta’s tar sands, now rebranded as the “oilsands.” Globe and Mail columnist Konrad Yakabuski asks, in an oddly plaintive tone, “will we ever be proud of our oilsands?” More »
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 »
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 »
As our prime minister prorogues Parliament (again), environmental advocates are suing the federal government over new rules restricting public participation in hearings conducted by the National Energy Board (NEB) on major energy projects, including Enbridge’s proposed reversal of its Line 9B pipeline.
Some background: In 2008 the government passed the Federal Sustainable Development Act. The unobjectionable purpose of this legislation is to make environmental decision-making more transparent and accountable. In passing the act, the government acknowledged the “need to integrate environmental, economic and social factors in the making of all decisions by government.” More »
Congratulations are in order to The Chronicle-Journal for taking on a new columnist on environmental issues.
Jason MacLean’s column of Aug. 12 entitled, It’s a Pipe (line) Dream, brings to mind the findings of a recent report called Unburnable Carbon by Carbon Tracker Initiative.
This organization based in London, U.K., is made up of financial analysts who review investments and stock portfolios for risk in the context of climate change.
The conclusion of their report is that we have a huge carbon bubble which represents a financial disaster waiting to happen. More »