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

Forests For All, Forever

First published in the Chronicle Journal Wed April 20, 2016

Julee Boan

Debate over the use of Ontario’s forests has intensified in recent years. At the heart of the matter: how do we determine which activities are sustainable, and which are not? How much risk is too much risk? And most importantly, who should decide?
Even in a democratic society, such as Canada, expectations for determining whether forestry activities are sustainable go beyond mere compliance with federal and provincial laws. They also go beyond assertions of sustainability from companies themselves or their industry associations.

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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

Fracking is a bridge to nowhere

SUSTAINABILITY MATTERS
First published in the Chronicle Journal Jan 11, 2016

BY JASON MACLEAN
For Canada and other parties to the recent Paris climate change agreement to meet their commitment to keep warming well below 2 degrees Celsius, “‘plan A’ must be to immediately and aggressively reduce GHG emissions.”
Why? Because there’s no plan B.
That’s not the cry of crazy environmentalists. That’s the cool-headed conclusion of a recent study in the journal Nature Climate Change entitled “Biophysical and economic limits to negative CO2 emissions” assessing the potential of what are called NETs (negative emissions technologies), which are designed to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

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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.

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Hope or hype? Paris climate agreement just a promise for now

First Posted: Wednesday, December 16, 2015 in the Chronicle Journal

By Christine Penner Polle
Red Lake

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.

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At stake: Everything; Walking the Paris climate talks

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.”

Read moreAt stake: Everything; Walking the Paris climate talks