We’re all ‘Under the Dome’

By JASON MACLEAN

First published Monday, March 23, 2015
in the Chronicle Journal Column, SUSTAINABILITY MATTERS

Have you watched Under the Dome yet? I’m not talking about the TV adaptation of Stephen King’s novel of the same name. I’m talking about the documentary released last month about China’s cataclysmic air pollution that generated more than 200 million views on Chinese websites within days of its release before the government ordered that it be removed from the Internet (you can watch it with English subtitles here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T6X2uwlQGQM).

The TED Talk-style documentary was made by Chai Jing, a former investigative journalist for China Central Television, a state network.

Read moreWe’re all ‘Under the Dome’

In 2015, let’s really talk about sustainability

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.

Read moreIn 2015, let’s really talk about sustainability

Don’t frack with the facts, Prime Minister

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.

Read moreDon’t frack with the facts, Prime Minister

Is the Canadian oil game rigged?

“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

Read moreIs the Canadian oil game rigged?

Never let a good crisis go to waste

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recently released its starkest warning yet on the clear and present danger of global warming.

According to the IPCC’s report, “continued emission of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and long-lasting changes in all components of the climate system, increasing the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems.”

Read moreNever let a good crisis go to waste

This changes everything, but how is the question

With condolences to climate change deniers and other card-carrying members of the Flat Earth Society (yes, it’s a thing), the troubling reality of climate change has arrived (again).

Exhibit A is the U.S. Pentagon’s recent report asserting with Pentagon-like assertiveness that climate change poses a real and present danger to national security.

What’s at stake? For starters, climate change increases the risks associated with terrorism, infectious disease, global poverty and food shortages.

The Pentagon’s report proceeds to map out how the U.S. military will adapt to rising sea levels, violent storms and widespread and protracted droughts.

Read moreThis changes everything, but how is the question

What’s the use? Why I marched, and what’s next in the fight against climate changers

Lately I’ve been asked a lot about why I decided to march with over 300,000 people in New York City as part of the People’s Climate March that coincided with the UN’s Climate Change Summit.

“Do you really think it’s going to change anything?”

“China’s not going. India’s not going. So what’s the point of a climate change summit if two of the world’s largest carbon emitters are sitting it out?”

Read moreWhat’s the use? Why I marched, and what’s next in the fight against climate changers

How to save the CBC, climate: tune in, demand better

University of Toronto geography professor Danny Harvey recently filed a motion with the National Energy Board urging them to reconsider its refusal to consider the climate change impact of the proposed trans-mountain oil pipeline expansion.

Prof. Harvey’s logic is pretty straightforward. It goes like this:

• New and expanded oil pipelines will facilitate the expansion of tar sands production.
• Expanded tar sands production will significantly increase greenhouse gas emissions.
• Increased greenhouse gas emissions will worsen climate change.
• Worsened climate change will jeopardize the well-being of Canadians, including future generations.

Read moreHow to save the CBC, climate: tune in, demand better

The Environment: It’s time to come clean

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?”

Read moreThe Environment: It’s time to come clean