Heavy rain day helps make wettest June on record

By Graham Saunders

First Posted: Wednesday, July 6, 2016 For The Chronicle-Journal

Was June wet enough for you? The long-term average rain total for June at the Thunder Bay Airport is 86 millimetres but varies considerably. For example, June 2003 had a total of 35.5 millimetres, compared to an estimated 228 millimetres this year. The previous record was 196 millimetres, set in June 2008.
This June total is slightly higher than the monthly total recorded in May 2012, the time of devastating flooding in Thunder Bay and some adjacent rural areas. Heavy rain totals on June 28 were similar to May 28, 2012 but the “character” and timing were different. The maximum rate in May 2012 was 48 millimetres/hour compared to intensities of about half of this a week ago.
Other factors helped:
• The city was better prepared.
• 84 to about 100 millimetres fell in two periods separated by about two hours.
• Afternoon and evening storm situations are easier to cope with than overnight events. (Most of the rain fell between midnight and 2 a.m. on May 28, 2012.)
An editorial titled “100-year storms every four years” was published in The Chronicle-Journal on June 28. It noted that the frequency and intensity of such severe-weather events is increasing. I noticed “These are not unusual weather events but rather regular summertime storms . . .” in one of the comments. This is not correct.

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Pondering Pipeline Possibilities

Gordon Laxer Energy East Position Evolves.

Published in the CJ Thu May 19, 2016 as Pondering Pipeline Possibilities

Gordon Laxer spoke at the Finlandia Hall Wednesday, hosted by Environment North and the Thunder Bay Environmental Coalition. He outlined the theory behind his latest book, After the Sands: Energy and Ecological Security for Canadians. Laxer is a PhD, the founding director and former head of the Parkland Institute at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, political economist and professor emeritus at the University of Alberta, and a prominent public intellectual. He was a founding member of the Council of Canadians. He endorses Naomi Klein and the Leap Manifesto and offers a workable framework for a transition to a green economy.

Laxer’s position on the proposed Energy East pipeline has evolved since the publication of his book. In it he had indicated that he was supportive of EE for the sake of Canadian energy security and sovereignty. He qualified this stance by stating as we phase out our dependence on fossil fuels, Energy East should ship conventional oil to Eastern Canadian consumers for another 15 years, (as opposed to rip and ship bitumen overseas).

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What’s the Plan? For Canada’s climate change policy, it’s a leap either way you look

“Forget about what you are escaping from,” the illusionist Harry Houdini used to say. “Reserve your anxiety for what you are escaping to.” When it comes to Canada’s climate change policy, that’s wise counsel. Because whether you look to the left or to the right, it’s a leap either way.

Let’s start with the left, the already infamous Leap Manifesto.

Seldom has a four-page document loosely stringing together a series of disparate ideas—none original or genuinely controversial—generated so much handwringing.

What do the Leapers want? They call for Canada to generate 100% of its energy from renewable resources within 20 years, which is scientifically feasible; an end to fossil fuels subsidies, new oil pipelines, and other fossilized infrastructure investments; no more trade deals that compromise our ability to protect the environment; a universal guaranteed minimum income; recognition and enforcement of existing treaties with Indigenous peoples; and an expansion of low-carbon sectors of the economy, including caregiving, teaching, the arts, and public-interest media.

Above all, the Leapers demand the transition to a low-carbon future begin now.

Read moreWhat’s the Plan? For Canada’s climate change policy, it’s a leap either way you look

NOMA Hears One Side of the Story (Again!)

First published in the Chronicle Journal May 7 2016
By Peter Lang
On April 28, uninvited and without the $450 delegate fee, I was allowed to observe TransCanada Pipeline’s presentation to NOMA’s annual general meeting. It must have been the 1,000 signatures on our petition to reject the proposed Energy East pipeline… And, as with TCP’s address to City Council last August, the corporation was spared any contrary public input.

In his address, TCP’s Stefan Baranski first implicated us in the global demand for oil by asking, “How many of you drove here today?” He then followed with projections to show that increasing demand — after which he declared — “We have the oil!”

We know that. It’s what we should do with it now that we begin to understand climate change, the science behind it, and in light of Canada’s commitments to the Paris Summit last December.

Read moreNOMA Hears One Side of the Story (Again!)

Footprint vs handprint: Engaging with global warming

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.

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After the Sands: A low-carbon future in the era of Canada’s dangerous new climate

By Graham Saunders

First published in the Chronicle Journal Tuesday May 10, 2016

Environment North and other local groups recently hosted Dr. Gordon Laxer to speak about his new book, “After the Sands, Energy and Ecological Security for Canadians”. To avoid any confusion “the Sands” refer to the Alberta tar sands, or oil sands, or most accurately, Alberta Bitumen Sands. His book was published last year and summarizes Dr. Laxer’s extensive research into the energy and climate policy of this country. He outlines a roadmap to a low-carbon future for Canada.
His book was among the five short-listed for the 2016 J.W. Dafoe book prize for best non-fiction. Ralph Nader calls Laxer’s book a “myth-destroying blockbuster”. (Historical note: A young Environment North brought Ralph Nader, consumer advocate and author of “Unsafe at Any Speed”, to speak in Thunder Bay in the 1970s.)

Read moreAfter the Sands: A low-carbon future in the era of Canada’s dangerous new climate

Want to fix the climate? Fix the corruption of expertise first

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.

Read moreWant to fix the climate? Fix the corruption of expertise first

The Challenge of Ontario’s New Cap and Trade Regime

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.

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How to Evaluate Energy East? Try Evidence

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.

Read moreHow to Evaluate Energy East? Try Evidence

Truth about pipeline is ‘highly unlikely’

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.

Read moreTruth about pipeline is ‘highly unlikely’