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 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 »
By now you’ve probably heard about the historic Lima Accord — nearly 200 countries have agreed to agree to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of oil, gas and coal. Of course, it’s just a pledge at this point, with the final agreement to be reached next year in Paris. And even if a final agreement is reached, it won’t be legally binding. The Lima Accord doesn’t actually obligate countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by any particular amount, or at all. Rather, countries are encouraged to submit by March 2015 their plans — “Intended Nationally Determined Amounts” — setting out how much they will cut after the year 2020, and what domestic laws they will pass to achieve the cuts. If countries miss the March 2015 deadline, they get an extension until June 2015. And if they miss the June 2015 deadline, well, no one really cares. More »
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will soon release its fifth report summarizing the latest science on climate change. A new IPCC report is kind of a big deal, so let’s look ahead to its expected findings and the response it’s likely to provoke.
Based on improvements in climate modeling since its last report was published in 2007, the IPCC is expected to conclude (again) that global temperatures are climbing, oceans are acidifying, Artic ice is melting (but much faster than previously predicted), dangerous methane emissions are escalating (ditto) and sea levels are rising.But even more importantly, the IPCC’s report will likely affirm with overwhelming confidence that these calamitous changes are largely being caused by human beings. More »
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 »
Forget Keystone XL for the moment. With U.S. approval growing ever more unlikely, TransCanada Pipelines has resuscitated Energy East, its proposed $12-billion pipeline to ship Alberta crude to refineries and export terminals in Quebec and New Brunswick. But long before Energy East delivers a drop of oil, it has already spilled a torrent of empty promises and false choices.
Some background: Keystone XL is TransCanada’s proposed $7-billion pipeline extension stretching from Hardisty, Alta., to Steele City, Neb., where it would connect to a pipeline running to refineries and export terminals on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. More »