This is a newsroll page on A Socialist In Canada, commencing Sept 19, 2017. See also the feature articles on ecology and global warming. These are listed in the website category ‘Environment’ on the main website page.
Another historic storm: Tropical Storm Ophelia strikes Ireland with hurricane force, Roberts Scribbler, Oct 16, 2017
Warmer than normal ocean temperatures due to human-forced climate change are now enabling major hurricanes to threaten Northern Europe…
‘This is a really big deal’: Canada methane gas emissions from Alberta oil and gas wells far worse than feared, report by Ashifa Kassam, in The Guardian, Oct 18, 2017
The pioneering peer reviewed study, published in Environmental Science & Technology on October 17, used airplane surveys to measure methane emissions from oil and gas infrastructure in two regions in Alberta…
The world is going slow on coal, but misinformation is distorting the facts, by Adam Morton, The Guardian, Oct 16, 2017
Background: Fossil fuel expansion crushes renewables, by Barry Saxifrage, The National Observer (Canada), Sept 20, 2017
Australia debates: Does a warming planet really need more coal?, by Jacqueline Williams, New York Times, Oct 14, 2017
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says it’s unfair to assess Energy East tar sands pipeline on downstream environmental impact, by Dean Bennett, Canadian Press, Oct 14, 2017
[Irony abounds amidst the Alberta NDP government’s advocacy of digging up and burning Alberta’s tar sands reserves (the third-largest fossil fuel reserves in the world). The Canadian Press article cited above reports, “The premier said her approach, which includes a carbon tax and capping oilsands [sic] production…” The said “cap” on “oilsands” production is, to be precise, a cap on greenhouse gas emissions from the tar sands. The government has set that at 100 million megatones per year, up from the current, estimated 70 million tonnes. That, in turn, understates the production increases which the government would be happy to boost because the industry is seeking to reduce its per-unit emissions. Of course, neither the industry nor the government have any control over the emissions where the final product is processed and then shipped to consumers and burned. That, as the saying goes, is ‘someone’s else’s problem’.
[The near entirety of Alberta’s tar sands product (called ‘oil sands’ by the industry) is shipped to the United States by pipeline or rail for processing then refining. Some 60 per cent of it is shipped in the form of ‘diluted bitumen’; 40 per cent is ‘upgraded’ in Alberta to what is called ‘synthetic oil’ and then shipped. The first refinery to be built in Canada in three decades is to process bitumen into diesel fuel; the project has become an economic boondoggle, heavily subsidized by the Alberta government.]
Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming, interview with Paul Hawken, editor of Drawdown (published in 2017), interview published on VOX.com, July 21, 2017
A new book ranks the top 100 solutions to climate change
[Author Paul Hawken defines ‘drawdown’ as “the point in time when greenhouse gas concentrations peak in the atmosphere and begin to go down on a year-to-year basis”. He is the editor of the new book Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming. The book lists seven categories of greenhouse gas reduction measures: energy, food, rights for women and girls, buildings and cities, land use, transport, and materials. Each category is quantified as to the potential for greenhouse gas emission reductions. There is also a “coming attractions” category of not-yet-commercialized technologies; they are not included in the scenarios.
[The book does not call into question most of the features of expansionist capitalism. It may be seen as a radical, ‘green capitalist’ manifesto. But it nonetheless presents many vital, scientific insights into the global warming emergency and its potential mitigations.
[In his interview with VOX, Hawken cites “war” as a large contributor to the global warming emergency. He also says “it is simply not true” that 100 per cent renewable energy is a solution to the global warming emergency. He calls that a “scientific howler”.]
California fires burn out of control, New York Times, Oct 10, 2017 90,000 hectares of forest and forest-urban interface have burned across California since wildfires began on Oct 8. Forty five people are recorded dead and hundreds are missing (figures as of October 14).
Related: Raging wildfires bring death and destruction to California’s wine country, LA Times, Oct 10, 2017. Drought and heat, worsened by humans, help fuel California fires, NBC News, Oct 10, 2017. Drone footage shows destruction in Santa Rosa (north of San Francisco), New York Times, Oct 10, 2017. As wildfires continue to burn, 2015 map project by U.S. Forest Service shows expansion of wildland-urban interface, press release and weblink to map and report, by U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Sept 10, 2015
How Trump’s approval of Keystone XL killed the Energy East pipeline project, by Andrew Leach, Globe and Mail, Oct 9, 2017
Conference in Vancouver to discuss Pacific coast Orca whales threatened with extinction, by Terri Theodore, Canadian Press, Oct 9, 2017
Related: The life and death of a right whale on Canada’s Atlantic coast, by Thu Thanh Ha, Globe and Mail, Oct 6, 2017; Report says boat strikes, fishing gear behind right whale deaths in Gulf of St. Lawrence, by Lindsay Jones, Globe and Mail, Oct 5, 2017; The North Atlantic right whale, by World Wildlife Fund Canada. ‘North Atlantic right whales are among the most endangered whales on the planet.’
Canada is failing to protect vanishing caribou herds threatened by natural resource extraction projects in north, report by Shawn McCarty, Globe and Mail, Oct 9, 2017
Why eating grass-fed beef isn’t going to help fight climate change, by Tara Garnett, published in The Conversation, Oct 3, 2017. (Tara Garnett is the lead researcher at the Food Climate Research Network. This article by her introduces a report issued in early October 2017 by the FCRN titled Grazed and Confused‘.)
[According to Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming (edited by Paul Hawken, Penguin, 2017), raising livestock accounts for nearly 15 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions; assessments of direct and indirrect emissions (eg forest clearcutting) pegs it at more than 50 per cent.]
Stark evidence showing a warmer world is sparking more and bigger wildfires, by Nicola Jones, Yale E360, Oct 2, 2017
The increase in forest fires, seen this summer from North America to the Mediterranean to Siberia, is directly linked to climate change, scientists say. And as the world continues to warm, there will be greater risk for fires on nearly every continent. [Nicola Jones is a freelance journalist based in Pemberton, British Columbia and serves as the science journalist in residence at the University of British Columbia.]
Those three per cent of scientific papers that deny climate change? A review found them all flawed, Quartz, Sept 5, 2017
Seventy five per cent of global honey samples found to be contaminated by neonicotinoid pesticides, by John Dyer, The Seeker, Oct 5, 2017, and, Much of the world’s honey laced with pesticides, study finds, by Eric Atkins, Globe and Mail, Oct 5, 2017
Basic economics – not regulation – ended the Energy East pipeline, by Benjamin Dachis, The Globe and Mail, Oct 5, 2017
[Fossil fuel advocates are blaming ‘excessive government regulation’ for TransCanada’s decision to cancel its $10 billion+ plan to build a tar sands export pipeline from Alberta to the Atlantic Ocean port of Saint John, New Brunswick. Heaven forbid that considerations of global warming were involved. No, it was a straight-up business decision, writes an associate director of research at the conservative C.D. Howe Institute.]
and: Five things you need to know about the cancellation of the Energy East oilsands pipeline, DeSmog Canada, Oct 6, 2017
Global demand for meat amounts to ‘appetite for destruction’ says new study, by Julia Conley, staff writer, Common Dreams, Oct 5, 2017
In a study titled Appetite for Destruction, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) revealed on October 5 that humans’ consumption of meat is having a devastating impact on global biodiversity in a way that’s too often considered.
Climate disruption could pose ‘existential threat’ by 2050, latest dispatch by Dahr Jamail, published in his monthly ‘Climate Disruptions’ feature on Truthout.org, Oct 2, 2017
It is time to transform, not just rebuild, in Puerto Rico, by Marisol LeBrón and Hilda Lloréns, Truthout.org, Oct 4, 2017, and: Before Hurricane Maria, forcing Puerto Rico to pay its debt was odious. Now it’s pure cruelty, by Stan Cox and Paul Cox, published on Green Social Thought, Oct 2, 2017
The collateral damage of airport sacrifice zones in the United States, by Kit Norton, Truthout.org, Oct 5, 2017
Children who live in neighborhoods bordering the Boston airport are four times more likely to experience shortness of breath and show signs of asthma and lung disease.
James Hansen’s Generation IV nuclear advocacy: a deconstruction of nuclear fallacies and fantasies, by Dr Jim Green, abridged version published in The Ecologist, Oct 3, 2017. (The full version of the article is published in the Nuclear Monitor newsletter.)
TransCanada shelves its $10 billion+ idea of 4,000 km, ‘Energy East’ tar sands export pipeline from Alberta to Atlantic Ocean, CBC News, Oct 5, 2017
BC NDP gov’t to defend Trans Mountain pipeline approval in B.C. Supreme Court, by Justine Hunter, Globe and Mail, Oct 4, 2017
[The new NDP government in British Columbia will be in court next month defending the approval earlier this year by the previous Liberal Party government of the expansion of Kinder Morgan Inc’s Trans Mountain oil and tar sands pipeline from Alberta. In another courtroom, the government is joining the legal action to force Ottawa to withdraw its consent for the project. Chief Ian Campbell of the Squamish First Nation (near Vancouver) says, “It’s unfortunate. It makes one question, is all their [NDP] opposition to this project just posturing?”]
Further background: First Nations begin court challenge against Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline, report on CBC News, Oct 2, 2017, and: Trudeau government built pipeline website during ‘consultation’ with First Nations, court told, by Dylan Waisman, The National Observer, Oct 2, 2017 The federal government was already building a website announcing approval of the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion when it “consulted” with First Nations in November 2016, according to lawyers at the opening day of a court challenge in Vancouver…
Legal appeal against approval of 800 km Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline from Alberta to Vancouver pits NDP governments in BC and Alberta against each other, report by Justine Hunter in Globe and Mail, Sept 29, 2017 Related: Court ruling on First Nations rights deals blow to federal gov’t approval of Trans Mountain pipeline, Globe and Mail, Sept 28, 2017
Washington state deals blow to plan for coal export terminal, Associated Press, Sept 26, 2017
[For years, the port of Vancouver BC has been a last-ditch doormat for thermal coal exports by the coal industry in Wyoming and Montana. The coal is shipped by rail to Vancouver alongside the rivers and ocean waters of Washington state and Vancouver region, fouling the air, land and water along the way with coal particulates. Background: Why does U.S. coal get a free ride through BC?, by Ariel Ross, The Tyee, March 20, 2017.
How crooks [capitalism] stalled the rise of electric cars for 100 years, by Mick Hamer, New Scientist, print issue of Sept 9, 2017
Battery-powered buses could have killed off the internal combustion engine long ago, if only the company making them hadn’t been run by swindlers
The cities in the firing line for the next Hurricane Harvey, by Michael lePage, New Scientist, print issue of Sept 9, 2017
A budge in carbon budgets?, by Greg Muttitt, Oil Change International, Sep 25, 2017
A new scientific paper last week seemed to have some good news on climate change: keeping warming to 1.5°C – the goal of the Paris agreement – may be less difficult than previously thought. Not that it removes the urgent need to decarbonise; rather, as lead author Richard Millar of Oxford University put it, “although 1.5°C is not yet a geophysical impossibility, it remains a very difficult policy challenge”…
Related: Paris climate aim ‘still achievable’, by Paul Rincon, Science editor, BBC News, Sept 19, 2017
… The study authors say: “Pursuing ‘efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5C’ is not chasing a geophysical impossibility”.
Analysis by David Shukman, BBC Science Editor: ‘The climate models are exaggerating. The predictions are too alarmist. The Tuvaluans and other islanders are safer than we thought.’ These are among the conclusions that some might reach from this latest work. In reality, nothing is quite that straightforward. The models are simulated approximations of possible futures. Inevitably they are going to be at least slightly adrift of reality, either in the amount of warming or its timing. They come with caveats and margins of error. In many ways, it’s remarkable that these computer constructs are even roughly on track. And models designed to come up with very broad potential outcomes for the end of the century may not be fine-tuned enough to give more detailed forecasts year-by-year.
The authors themselves are anxious that their research is not misunderstood. The need for urgent action to reduce emissions is unchanged, they say. It’s just that the most ambitious of the Paris Agreement targets is not as unachievable as many once thought, that there is time to act, though the task remains a monumental one.
Fossil fuel expansion crushes renewables, by Barry Saxifrage, published in National Observer, Sept 23, 2017 (and see accompanying comment by Roger Annis at weblink)
Memo to Jacobin magazine: Ecomodernism is not ecosocialism, by Ian Angus, Climate and Capitalism, Sept 25, 2017
Ian Angus, editor of Climate and Capitalism, challenges a left-wing magazine that promotes geoengineering, nuclear power, carbon storage and other techno-fixes as solutions to climate change.
Half-way to catastrophe: Global hothouse extinction to be triggered by or before 2100 without rapid emissions cuts, article on Roberts Scribbler, Sept 22, 2017
First Nations in northern BC hire two sexual assault prevention officers in preparation for gas pipeline construction and the ‘man camps’ they bring, National Observer, Sept 22, 2017
Failing dam creates new crisis on Puerto Rico amid flooding from Hurricane Maria, Reuters, Sept 22, 2017
[The U.S. colony of Puerto Rico has collapsed due to the combined effects of Hurricane Maria, which struck the island on September 21, and decades of colonial underdevelopment. Seventy thousand people are being frantically moved out of the path of a threatened collapse of a hydro-electric dam in the country’s northwest. Electricity will be out for many parts of the island for months.
[Cuba, meanwhile, is busily rebuilding from the direct hit it took from Hurricane Irma for several days beginning September 9. Large shipments of aid are arriving from China (article here) and from South American countries. Hundreds of Cuban doctors have been dispatched to Caribbean islands hit by hurricanes Irma and Maria. ]
Dark and flooded — Puerto Rico devastated by Hurricane Maria’s unprecedented rains, terrible winds, article on Roberts Scribbler, Sept 21, 2017
… For the Atlantic, the long term trend has been for more category five hurricanes to form. Back during the late 19th Century no Category 5 storms were recorded for the North Atlantic in the entire 50 year period from 1851 to 1900. In the 27 year period from 1991 to 2017 we’ve had 13 — with some years featuring as many as 2 or more Category 5s in a single season. 2017 was the only year other than 2007 in all of the last 167 years to see two category 5 storms making landfall. So we can clearly state that the long term trend for the Atlantic is for more Category 5 storms and for more of these storms impacting land.
From an earlier exchange of comments on Roberts Scribbler:
On a point of information from your previous post, Robert, you mentioned damage now of 160 billion dollars for the 2017 hurricane season. However, Harvey alone is, as I understand, estimated at 180 billion, so the damage looks to be much worse.
I’m looking at the official consensus estimates that tend to lag projections. Present top range projections for Harvey are in the range of 200 billion for that storm alone. Irma probably likely to top 100 billion in the end. Maria may be worse, overall, than Irma. Worth noting that damage assessments always tend to start smaller and grow over time as more and more reports come in.
Catastrophic category five Hurricane Maria strengthens as it tracks toward Puerto Rico, report on Roberts Scribbler, Sept 19, 2017
‘Green’ Vancouver’s park board votes on banning latex trash that poisons wildlife, CBC News, Sept 19, 2017
[Vancouver touts itself as a world-leading ‘green’ city. So when its park board voted on a proposal on Sept 18 to ban latex (balloons) that lasts forever in the wild and poisons wildlife, of course the board voted in favour of the ban. Ha ha, kidding. The board voted five to two against the ban, saying it has “more important” things to do.]
Scientists say no longer any doubt about impact of pesticides on bees, by Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press, Sept 19, 2017
A group of international scientists meets today in Ottawa to try to convince parliamentarians there is no longer any doubt that common agricultural pesticides are toxic chemicals which are killing off honey bees. In fact, says Jean-Marc Bonmatin of the French National Centre for Scientific Research, neonicotinoid pesticides kill a lot more than just bees, posing a deadly risk to frogs, common birds, fish and earthworms…
Ban ‘neonic’ pesticides. Our food supplies are at risk, op-ed by Jean-Marc Bonmatin, Globe and Mail, Sept 18, 2017
Evaporation drains Caspian Sea level, by Tim Radford, Climate News Network, Sept 18, 2017
Can emissions shrink while the economy grows?, by David Suzuki, appearing on Rabble.ca, Sept 13, 2017
One third of Earth’s soil is acutely degraded due to agriculture, The Guardian, Sept 12, 2017
First Nation leaders to press Desjardins financial group to stop funding oilsands pipelines, by Ian Bickis, The Canadian Press, Sept 7, 2017
“The oil and gas industry had a pretty unfettered access to the financial community, to the investment community in regard to their grandiose expansion plans up until now,” said [Grand Chief Stewart] Phillip [of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs]. “Now there’s greater scrutiny, and it goes hand in hand with the undeniable, irrefutable evidence of the catastrophic impacts of climate change.”
Trans Canada Corp suspends its regulatory application to build $10 billion-plus ‘Energy East’ tar sands pipeline from Alberta to Atlantic Ocean, report on CBC News, Sept 7, 2017
A combination of oil industry economics and stiff opposition to the 4,000 km pipeline has likely killed the proposed Energy East pipeline. The pro-fossil fuel NDP gov’t in Alberta and Liberal gov’t in Ottawa can do little more than wail and complain. Attention now focuses on the proposed ‘Trans Mountain’ tar sands pipeline expansion by Texas-based Kinder Morgan Co, from Alberta to the port of Vancouver BC. Related story: Members of Secwepemc Nation to build ‘tiny houses’ on Trans Mountain Pipeline route, CBC News, Sept 7, 2017. [The pipeline expansion would increase by sevenfold the number of oil tankers in the waters of the port of Vancouver and west coast of North America, to more than one per day.]
Hurricane Harvey shows that when disaster strikes cities, residents are stuck, by Christopher Hume, Toronto Star, Sept 4, 2017
‘Clearly, city officials believe climate change measures can always be put off for another day. Though the effects of global warming are apparent, there is no collective sense of urgency. Toronto’s unspoken policy remains the same as always — it won’t happen here…’