Canada and global warming: a state of denial 2

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U.S. District Judge James Boasberg has ordered the shutting down of the Dakota Access Pipeline in the United States.  It begins in the shale oil fields of  northwest North Dakota and passes through South Dakota and Iowa before ending in  Pakota Illinois. It was the subject of sometimes violent clashes between native groups and their allies with the pipeline security guards and police during months of protests in 2016 and 2017,  while pipeline construction was attempted near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.

Led by Standing Rock Sioux opposition to the 1,100-mile (1,886-km) pipeline, a coalition of 75 U.S. and Canadian native groups, as well as their allies, opposed to the expansion of North American oil production fought against the Dakota Access pipeline. It represented "the largest Native American protest in decades and included violent confrontations ... between protesters and security guards." (

During confrontations in 2017, "law enforcement officers at times used pepper spray, rubber bullets and a high-pitched "long-range acoustic device" to disperse or control the crowd. Most officers on the front lines of the standoff held batons, wore riot gear and were backed by armored vehicles". (

Dakota Access pipeline protest

A fire burns as law enforcement officers attempt to move protesters in North Dakota from their barricade along a state highway near the Dakota Access pipeline route in 2017. Photo courtesy of AP Images.

 A judge on Monday ordered the Dakota Access pipeline shut down for additional environmental review more than three years after it began pumping oil -- handing a victory to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and delivering a blow to U.S. President Donald Trump's efforts to weaken public health and environmental protections it views as obstacles to businesses.

In a 24-page order, U.S. District Judge James Boasberg in Washington, D.C., wrote that he was "mindful of the disruption" that shutting down the pipeline would cause, but that it must be done within 30 days. Pipeline owner Energy Transfer Partners plans to ask a court to halt the order and will seek an expedited appeal, spokeswoman Vicki Granado said.

The order comes after Boesberg said in April that a more extensive review was necessary than what the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers already conducted and that he would consider whether the pipeline should be shuttered during the new assessment. ...

"Yet, given the seriousness of the Corps' NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) error, the impossibility of a simple fix, the fact that Dakota Access did assume much of its economic risk knowingly, and the potential harm each day the pipeline operates, the Court is forced to conclude that the flow of oil must cease," he added.

The findings may challenge the legal footing for the Trump administration's most momentous environmental rollbacks. Trump surrounded himself with industry leaders and workers in hard hats this January when he announced plans to overhaul the rules for enforcing NEPA.

The Dakota Access pipeline was the subject of months of protests in 2016 and 2017, sometimes violent, during its construction near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation that straddles the North Dakota-South Dakota border. The tribe pressed litigation against the pipeline even after it began carrying oil from North Dakota across South Dakota and Iowa and to a shipping point in Illinois in June 2017. ...

"This pipeline should have never been built here. We told them that from the beginning," Standing Rock Sioux Chairman Mike Faith said in a statement. ...

Boasberg ruled then that the Corps "largely complied" with environmental law when permitting the pipeline but ordered more review because he said the agency did not adequately consider how an oil spill under the Missouri River might affect the Standing Rock Sioux's fishing and hunting rights, or whether it might disproportionately affect the tribal community.


Germany Votes to End Coal Use by 2038; Activists Say It’s Not Enough to Stop Climate Catastrophe

Lawmakers in Germany voted to phase out coal use entirely by 2038 — the first major economy to make such a commitment. Germany has also said it would eliminate nuclear energy by the end of 2022. But environmental groups say the move does not go far enough to mitigate the climate crisis, pointing out that Germany burns more lignite coal than any other country. Climate activists and the German Green Party say the government should phase out coal by 2030 at the latest. This is Green Party leader Annalena Baerbock.

Annalena Baerbock: “It would have been a chance to fight the climate crisis with the same vivacity and determination we fought the coronavirus crisis. But that, you did not do. You did not do that. Instead, you are de facto presenting an 18-year financial coal protection law.”


The record temperatures that saw Siberia hit 38 degrees Celsius, which is more than ten degrees above the previous record (100.4 degrees Fahrenheit), as global warming heats up the Arctic at three times the rate of the rest of the world is leading to the melting of permafrost that releases even more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and gargantuan wildfires that now cover 1.7 million hectares, according to CBC National News. The smoke from these wildfires is now reaching the west coast of North America. Many Siberian forests are burning without any response from government because of their remoteness and the extensiveness of the blazes. 

As the following article notes, climate change models predicted these extreme temperatures in the Arctic were not expected for seven more decades, indicating that current models have greatly underestimated the rate of change created by climate change. 

Forest fire in Siberia

A forest fire in central Yakutia (Sakha Republic). (evgeny Sofroneyev\TASS via Getty Images)

“Higher temperatures and drier surface conditions are providing ideal conditions for these fires to burn and to persist for so long over such a large area,” European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts fire specialist Mark Parrington says in a statement, per the New York Times. The smoke from the fires alone spans over 1,000 miles, per the Post, and is causing hazy skies the northwestern United States, as Nick Morgan reports for the Mail Tribune.

Permafrost is rich in organic material that froze before it could completely decompose. Melting permafrost releases greenhouse gases on top of the pollution released by the blazes themselves, per National Geographic. All of which could exacerbate further climate change. ...

After a month of blazes that released record-breaking amounts of polluting gases, smoke from Siberian wildfires are now making their way to the west coast of the United States.

The New York Times’ Somini Sengupta reports that Arctic wildfires in June released more pollution than in the previous 18 years that data had been collected. Seasonal wildfires are common in Siberia, but this year’s fires are unusually widespread in part because of a climate change-driven heatwave, as Madeleine Stone reports for National Geographic. The Arctic is experiencing climate change-driven warming faster than the rest of the Earth, which sets up the dry conditions that make blazes spread. While on average, the Earth’s temperature has risen by 1.71 degrees Fahrenheit, the Arctic has seen a rise of 5.6 degrees Fahrenheit, a discrepancy accounted for by Arctic amplification. ...

The current situation in the Arctic circle shows that previous predictions “underestimate what is going on in reality,” University of Alaska at Fairbanks earth scientist Vladimir Romanovsky, who studies permafrost, tells the Washington Post. Romanovsky adds that temperature observations in the High Arctic made in the last 15 years weren’t expected for another seven decades.

Millions of acres of land are ablaze this wildfire season, according to Russia’s Forestry Agency estimates. Most of the wildfires are located in Siberia’s Sakha Republic, which sees wildfires frequently, but fires are also spreading further north and into unusual ecosystems, like those that are characterized by a layer of frozen soil called permafrost.


While the following article is about an Alaskan indigenous group, the Inupiat who live along the northern Alaskan coast, many of the problems that they face from climate change are also those faced by Inuit and northern First Nations in Canada. However, the Inupiat have an advantage that northern Canadian indigenous people do not, an advantage that is costing them dearly as global warming drastically changes their lives. The median household income of North Slope Borough residents is $75,431, but the money comes from the same fossil fuel industry that is destroying their way of life. A large part of their money comes from the property taxes on the oil industry in the area. 

A home lost to erosion due to permafrost melting caused by climate change in Shishmaref, Alaska. Credit: Alaska Village Electric Cooperative

Utqiagvik sits at the very tip of the United States, saddled against the Arctic Ocean. The Alaska Native Inupiat are set apart from other Indigenous peoples by their subsistence hunting of the bowhead whale. Even today, this unique, centuries-old practice determines the social structure, reflects community values and supplements the people’s nutrient-rich diet. Nearly all of Utqiagvik’s roughly 5,000 residents, the majority of whom are Inupiat, rely on hunting to support their way of life. ...

IN THE LAST TWO CENTURIES, the climate has been severely altered by human forces. ... 

When Western influences crept north, the Inupiat replaced their dogsleds with snow machines, their seal oil lamps with electricity. Today, the Arctic is warming at twice the global average, necessitating a new era of adjustments in life on land and sea. The weaker sea ice endangers hunters, while melting soil threatens homes and city infrastructure. The encroaching sea is eating away at the shoreline.

THE ARCTIC — “GROUND ZERO for climate change” — is warming more rapidly than the rest of the planet because of a positive feedback loop called Arctic amplification. Rising global temperatures melt the reflective surfaces of snow and ice each year, exposing the darker areas they cover, and the open water and bare ground absorb sunlight, rather than reflect it. This absorbed light creates heat, melting more snow and ice.

Last year, temperatures in Utqiagvik and the state of Alaska broke the federal government’s 120-year record. The shift has happened so quickly in the North that it has outrun the research tools used to measure it. In 2017, it changed so fast that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration warned scientists that the data was potentially flawed. But the data proved accurate: It was the area’s warmest recorded temperature to date. ...

The Arctic has lost 641,000 square miles of sea ice in the month of March alone — an area roughly the size of Alaska, according to National Snow and Ice Data Center records. Warmer temperatures also make for a later freeze and an earlier breakup of the ice, shrinking the time frame for spring whaling.

Whaling is the pinnacle of Inupiat culture and the subsistence lifestyle. It takes place in spring and fall, when bowhead whales migrate past Utqiagvik. ... But landing a bowhead has become increasingly dangerous: Each whale weighs up to 120,000 pounds and must be pulled onto the less stable sea ice. ...

On land, Utqiagvik residents face a different but related instability underfoot: permafrost thaw. Last summer, Utqiagvik endured the wettest summer on record, with twice as much rainfall as usual. Rain thawed the ground several feet deeper than normal, past the “active” layer of permafrost, which is normally frozen year-round. During freeze-up, the infrastructure built into the usually immobile permafrost — water lines, telephone poles and house pilings — all began pushing up out of the ground. Now, utility poles tilt at worrisome angles, and some homes appear to be teetering on stilts.

Bill Tracey, a local assemblyman who represents Point Lay, a village about 200 miles southwest of Utqiagvik, said the thaw there is so bad that once-narrow crawlspaces under the homes can now hold ATVs. ...

The work of adaptation never ends. Now, as increasingly tough whaling years leave freezers empty, the Inupiat hunt more caribou. With coastal erosion eating away several feet of beach each year, the borough is seeking federal and state bonds to build a $300 million seawall. When the drinking water lagoon become polluted, the city put in place infrastructure to collect snowmelt that now runs through spigots. And now that permafrost thaw and coastal erosion threaten homes, a local housing authority is building adjustable homes on sleds. The Inupiat adapt, bearing the brunt of global climate change — a harbinger of what’s to come in a world that remains stubbornly reliant on fossil fuels.


Warren Buffett’s decision to walk away from a proposed LNG terminal investment in Quebec reflects a growing consensus in the investment community that fossil fuel industry investments are not advantageous economically as well as environmentally.  Local protests, including by indigenous groups, in the region, and plunging prices that have fallen even further due to Covid-19's economic impact have hit the LNG industry hard.

A total of 13 LNG projects ranging from BC to Nova Scotia have been cancelled or suspended in recent years. Yet the Liberal Trudeau government, as well as many provincial ones, continue down the same sunset industry path that is destroying the planet while producing greatly reduced if any economic returns.

Neither Warren Buffett nor Berkshire Hathaway explained their reasons for withdrawing a planned $4-billion investment in an LNG export terminal in Saguenay, Que.

Warren Buffett decision shows LNG projects on shaky political, economic ground: report

Legendary investor Warren Buffett’s decision to walk away from a proposed export terminal for liquefied natural gas in Quebec is being held up in a new report as a sign that the LNG sector in Canada and elsewhere is on shaky ground.

The Global Energy Monitor report released Monday says Buffett’s move in March underscores the growing political and economic uncertainty that LNG projects are facing even as governments around the world tout liquefied natural gas as a clean alternative to coal power.

Canada has emerged as a major proponent of expanding liquefied natural gas as a way to fight climate change abroad and create jobs and revenue at home, with numerous multibillion-dollar projects to facilitate LNG exports to Asia and elsewhere in the works.

Yet Global Energy Monitor suggested Buffett’s decision to withdraw investment firm Berkshire Hathaway’s planned $4-billion investment in an LNG export terminal in Saguenay, Que., is a sign of things to come.

Neither Buffett nor Berkshire Hathaway explained their reasons for the move, but the company behind the terminal project blamed “the current Canadian context” — an apparent reference to countrywide rail blockades and protests against the Coastal GasLink pipeline in B.C. at the time.

“While many projects face opposition from local communities, the case of the Energie Saguenay LNG Terminal in Quebec shows the potential for a local protest to galvanize a national movement,” said the Global Energy Monitor report.

Global Energy Monitor is an international non-governmental organization that catalogues fossil-fuel infrastructure around the world and advocates for more investments in renewable energy.

Monday’s report goes on to suggest that political opposition is only one of many new challenges to the LNG sector, with another being a dramatic drop in the price of gas due to an oversupply at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has sent demand plummeting.

The result: plans to build pipelines, terminals and other infrastructure in Canada and around the world have been put on hold — or dropped entirely.

The report lists 13 LNG projects in Canada alone that have been cancelled or suspended in recent years. That includes a $10-billion LNG export facility in Nova Scotia, which is now in limbo as the company behind the project tries to decide whether to move ahead or not.

One of those apparently not affected is LNG Canada’s Coastal GasLink pipeline, which was the target of this year’s protests and blockades over a route that crosses traditional Wet’suwet’en territory in British Columbia. The company said last month that it plans to have 2,500 people working on the 670-kilometre pipeline from Dawson Creek to Kitimat by September.


A 2020 report draws the direct link between militarism and climate change.

The COVID-19 pandemic has provided us the opportunity to discard the old “normal” and start building a world without extractive economies and militarism, a new report says

In the aftermath of the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a reduction in the burning of fossil fuels due to lockdowns and a decline in industrial activity. Some climate change activists have seen this as a silver lining to the current crisis. However, this will not last if we do not start building a new economy which will be non-extractive and non-militaristic.

A new report titled “No Warming, No War: How militarism fuels the climate crisis-and vice versa” points to the direct links between an extractive economy, the military and the increasingly deteriorating climate. The report was prepared by Lorah Steichen and Lindsay Koshgarian and published by the National Priorities Project at the Institute of Policy Studies in the US.

The US withdrawal from international climate negotiations under the Trump administration and its treating climate emergency as any other national security issue has diverted attention and resources away from the attempts of urgent mitigation of global warming in the country.

The report is critical of the so-called “armed lifeboat” approach according to which growing militarization is the solution to problems caused by climate change. “True climate solutions must have anti-militarism at their core,” the report underlines.

According to the authors of the report, our pre-COVID-19 “normal” was defined by unfettered capitalism thriving on the devastation of our planet, the devaluation of human life and the use of military force to perpetuate both. The US has used its military power to capture the world’s oil resources through war and forceful suppression of dissenting groups such as indigenous populations.

The extractive economy is based on racial discrimination where it is okay to kill others to take their resources to maintain the living standards of the rich. The fact that close to half of all interstate wars waged since 1973 have been linked to oil says a lot, the report says, highlighting the need to shift away from culture of war to a culture of care.

Growing militarism and the extractive economy does not just kill people; it also harms the environment, risking the future of humankind.  ...

According to the report, the Pentagon is the world’s largest institutional user of petroleum. With more than 800 bases in over 90 countries, a force of over 2 million personnel and an annual budget of more than USD 700 billion, the US military produces 59 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions every year which is more than what industrialized countries such as Portugal or Sweden produce.

Hence, militarism and climate change are fundamentally at odds, the report concludes. The military cannot deal with climate change because it is the cause of it. The security-based approach to climate change mitigation is racist and classist because it is designed keeping the interests of the rich in mind, and leaves the black, brown and indigenous populations, and the poor out.

The report says that the climate-changed world will see more cross border migration when poor countries face the withering away of their natural resources and agriculture. The security-based approach will create more militarization. We are already witnessing the growing militarization of borders across the world. In the US, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has continued its raids, detention and deportation of migrants even during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Demilitarization and simultaneously working for a climate just society needs a diversion of focus and resources to develop the green economy. According to the report, if we divert the existing military budget in the US, we can create 40% more jobs which will be better in terms of wages and in quality. In brief, “energy efficiency retrofits create nearly twice the number of jobs.”

In 2020, the military budget was 272 times higher than the federal budget for energy efficiency and renewable energy. “Compared to the $6.4 trillion spent on war in the past two decades, the cost of shifting the US power grid to 100% renewable is an estimated $4.5 trillion.”

The report highlights that the current crisis demonstrates the necessity of a just transition from a “bank and tank” economy to one rooted in “cooperation and care.


The Antarctic's Thwaites Glacier is called the 'Doomsday Glacier' "is crucial for predicting how sea level rises will impact on cities, and how we should prepare for a radically different world."

Map of Thwaites Glacier in Antarctica

Dubbed the “doomsday” glacier, Thwaites, perhaps more than any other place in the world, holds crucial clues about the future of the planet. ...

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But understanding Thwaites Glacier is not just academic — it is crucial for predicting how sea level rises will impact on cities, and how we should prepare for a radically different world. If Thwaites continues to deteriorate, then by the end of the century the glacier could be responsible for centimetres or tens of centimetres of sea level rise. “That doesn’t sound like much, but it is,” says David Vaughan, director of science at the British Antarctic Survey. “It is not about the sea coming up the beach slowly over 100 years — it is about one morning you wake up, and an area that has never been flooded in history is flooded.” ...

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Antarctica holds around 90 per cent of the ice on the planet. It is equivalent to a continent the size of Europe, covered in a blanket of ice 2km thick. And as the planet heats up due to climate change, it doesn’t warm evenly everywhere: the polar regions warm much faster. It puts the icy continent of Antarctica and Greenland, the smaller Arctic region, right at the forefront of global warming. The South Pole has warmed at three times the global rate since 1989, according to a paper published last month. As Antarctic ice melts and the glaciers slide toward the ocean, Thwaites has a central position that governs how the other glaciers behave. Right now, Thwaites is like a stopper holding back a lot of the other glaciers in West Antarctica. But scientists are worried that could change.

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“It is a keystone for the other glaciers around it in West Antarctica . . . If you remove it, other ice will potentially start draining into the ocean too,” says Paul Cutler, programme director for Antarctic glaciology at the National Science Foundation in the US.

Thwaites is getting thinner and smaller, losing ice at an accelerating rate. “The big question is how quickly it becomes unstable,” Mr Cutler adds. “It seems to be teetering at the edge.” By itself, Thwaites could raise sea levels about 65cm as it melts. But if Thwaites goes, the knock-on effect across the western half of Antarctica would lead to between 2m and 3m of sea level rise, says Mr Cutler, a rise that would be catastrophic for most coastal cities.


Following the release of data showing that 400 sq km of the Amazon, a record, were burned in June, thereby threatening indigenous and other Amazon residents, wildlife and increasing enormously the amount of carbon dioxide released into the air from burning vegetation, the Bolsinaro government's Trumpian solution to the problem was to fire the person responsible for releasing the information. Destruction of the Amazon has global implications because of the amount of carbon dioxide released and the fact that its loss would change wind and weather patterns around the world. 

File image.

Inpe figures published on Friday showed 400 square miles (1,034 square kilometers) of deforestation in the Amazon in June, a new record the month since data started being gathered in 2015.

Brazil’s government on Monday fired an official at the national space agency Inpe whose department is responsible for satellite monitoring of the Amazon rainforest, just three days after the release of June deforestation data reflected a continued increase in degradation.

Lubia Vinhas was the general-coordinator of Brazilian space agency Inpe’s Earth Observation Institute, which is an umbrella for divisions that monitor the Amazon and panels to debate climate change with civil society organizations. ...

the timing of the dismissal — coming on the heels of June data — drew an outcry from environmentalists who claim it may be an echo of a high-profile firing at the same agency last year. President Jair Bolsonaro is a critic of environmentalists and defends fostering more economic development in the Amazon, which many adversaries see as a nod to illegal miners and loggers.

Ms. Vinhas was picked in 2018 for a four-year term but Science and Technology Minister Marcos Pontes decided to remove her after 2 years and 3 months on the job. 

Inpe said in its statement that Ms. Vinhas’ former department will be merged with others, and she will oversee implementation of a new georeferencing database.

Inpe figures published on Friday showed 400 square miles (1,034 square kilometers) of deforestation in the Amazon in June, a new record the month since data started being gathered in 2015.

Total deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon from January to June was 1,890 square miles (3,069 square kilometers), up 25% from the same six-month period last year. ...

Mr. Bolsonaro also put the Army in charge of efforts to curb deforestation in May after last year’s fires pushed destruction to the highest level in 11 years. Yet data from Inpe show that it kept climbing.

Marcio Astrini, the executive-secretary of the Brazilian Climate Observatory, a coalition of civil society groups, alleged that the government has previously made clear its desire to intervene in Inpe.

The removal of Lubia Vinhas could be an indication that the plan was never abandoned. This is happening as deforestation accelerates, when the administration needs to stop threats of divestment, Mr. Astrini said in a statement.



Presidential candidate Joe Biden has put forward a economic and environmental plan that many will question because of his past history in this regard. While the plan was built with the help of the Sanders team, I am very skeptical that it will be implemented. It does not include Medicare for All or a federal jobs guarantee that was part of Ocasio Cortez's plan. 

However, it still beat's Trudeau's ongoing $60 billion a year subsidies to the fossil fuel industry according to the International Monetary Fund (, his pursuit of more pipeline construction, his failure to hit emission targets according to the Auditor General in 2018 (( and Environmental Commissioner in 2019 ( as well as in the latest report this May ( The Trudeau government has simply redefined the way emissions are reported in order to make the emissions look smaller (

If not a Green New Deal then at least a Green Society. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

No Democratic presidential nominee has ever assembled a more progressive campaign website than Joe Biden. Blue America’s presumptive standard-bearer has endorsed an expansion of collective-bargaining rightsthat drastically increases labor’s leverage over capital. He’s called for waging war on exclusionary zoning, and making Section 8 housing assistance an entitlement program that would be available to all Americans whose material circumstances qualify them for aid — policies that meaningfully reduce housing segregation and slash child poverty by more than a third. Biden has proposed making public college free for most Americans, tripling federal funding for low-income school districts, raising the federal minimum wage, and making Washington, D.C., a state.

But a campaign website promise is worth about as much as a verbal IOU from a miserly amnesiac. America’s veto-point laden legislative system, polarized politics, and right-leaning Senate map all make passing laws exceptionally difficult. ...

Expressing support for a policy means little, absent a commitment to prioritize its passage once in office. For this reason, the most encouraging aspect of Biden’s new climate plan is that it is also his plan for economic recovery.

During the 2020 primary, Biden called for spending $1.7 trillion on renewables, energy-efficient infrastructure, and research and development on a wide range of “moon shot” green technologies, among other projects. His plan also aimed to achieve net-zero greenhouse emissions by 2050 through the establishment of an “enforcement mechanism” (ostensibly, some kind of carbon tax) that would ratchet up until CO2 emissions fell to a level consistent with that goal. This was an order of magnitude more ambitious than any policy Democrats had entertained four years earlier, but still exponentially less ambitious than a rational and humane response to the climate crisis would require.

But that was the primary. Now that Biden’s secured the nomination, he’s walking back that proposal — and pivoting to the left.

On Tuesday, the presumptive Democratic nominee unveiled a new climate policy, informed by the work of the Biden-Sanders unity task force. Now, instead of investing $1.7 trillion over ten years, Biden calls for getting $2 trillion out the door in just four. As for zero-emissions targets, 2050 is soJanuary 2020; today, Biden wants America to run run on 100 percent clean electricity by 2035.

The new policy would spread $2 trillion across a wide range of initiatives, including revamping the nation’s infrastructure, upgrading and weatherizing millions of buildings, providing every major U.S. city with “high-quality, zero-emissions” public transit, constructing 1.5 million ecofriendly affordable-housing units, subsidizing the growth of America’s electric-car industry, and creating a climate conservation corps to clean up abandoned gas wells and other ecological blights. This is not the Green New Deal (GND) as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez conceived it; her version included Medicare for All and a federal jobs guarantee. But it is remarkably close to the narrower version of the GND outlined by the progressive think tank Data for Progress in September 2018. ...

All this would mean little in the absence of indications that Biden views his climate policy as a governing priority, rather than a mere campaign ploy. But there are two reasons to believe that he sees it as the former. First, there is the policy’s timing. We aren’t in the heat of a primary in which Biden is jockeying for the support of progressive interest groups. We’re in the general election. And, as recent polling from the New York Timesdemonstrates, from a purely political perspective, Biden has no real need to shore up his left flank. Former supporters of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are nearly unanimous in their backing of the Democratic nominee over Trump. ...

Secondly, and more important, Biden’s vow to spend $2 trillion in four years doesn’t just represent a more substantively ambitious response to the climate crisis — it also establishes massive green investment as the cornerstone of his vision for economic recovery. The aim of rapidly dispensing these funds is as much Kenyesian as ecological: The point is to replace depressed private-sector demand for capital and labor with public investment in a sustainable future. ...

To be sure, the obstacles to enacting a plan as ambitious as Biden’s present one remain myriad. Even with Biden’s lead over Trump near all-time highs, Senate control remains a toss-up. If Chuck Schumer secures a tiny majority, centrist Democrats from states dominated by fossil-fuel interests will have significant leverage over all legislation. And although Biden is signaling comfort with abolishing the filibuster if Republicans obstruct his agenda, not every Senate Democrat is onboard.

Nevertheless, the odds that the Democratic Party will secure the power to govern in 2021 — and will use that power to substantially mitigate our ever-deepening ecological catastrophe — are higher now than they’ve ever been.


 The Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE) has just issued a report which states that if Canada met "its climate change targets, Canada could save 100,000 lives and create more than one million jobs over the next few decades." However, the vast sums of money being spent during the Covid-19 crisis needs to be directed at building a new green economy, not rebuilding the old fossil fuel economy for this to happen. So far this is no evidence of the Trudeau Liberals doing this, as they continue their fossil fuel subsidies and pipeline building. 

climate change

The kind of economy Canada needs to move away from. 

In an interview with CTV Morning Live Wednesday, Robin Edger with the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE) said the report lays out a roadmap where the government could invest in renewable energy, sustainable transport, homes and health care, and meet its climate targets.

The federal government is spending at a level not seen since the Second World War to help get the country out of the economic "doldrums" caused by the pandemic, Edger said. And his group hopes to see the government take action on climate change to help in that recovery.

"The choices that they make in these investments are going to determine whether or not we can transition to a sustainable economy," he said.

During the pandemic, many countries have seen a reduction in air pollution because people weren't leaving their homes. If Canada were to meet its climate targets, the report found 112,081 lives in Canada could be saved between 2030 and 2050 from improvements to air quality alone.

"Of course, we can't expect everyone's going to stay at home into the future," Edger said. "So our report lays out a roadmap for how we can have those sustained air quality improvements while getting our lives going again."

The report made 25 recommendations for federal stimulus spending that would help Canada meets its 2030 and 2050 emission reduction targets.

It also found 1.3 million "clean" full-time jobs could be created if Canada hits its climate targets.

"We're talking getting where the puck is going rather than were it's been," Edger said. He added many industries have been hit hard during the pandemic, but the fossil fuel industry has been "decimated. It was important to us to make recommendations to the federal government to invest in job training programs that allow former fossil fuel workers to transition their very flexible skills into spaces like renewable energy," he said.

The World Health Organization has called climate change the greatest threat to global health. CAPE doctors noted increases in extreme weather events, Lyme disease, heat stroke and cardiorespiratory issues are all ways climate change has already harmed Canadians' health.


Money Capital vs Life Capital: The War of Values We Live Or Die By

"Author of UNESCO's 'Philosophy and World Problems', Professor John McMurtry is questioned on the Planetary life-system crisis by media critic Dr Jeffrey Klahen. 'You have stated that the war of values is what is least comprehended in our multi-level world crisis.' What is this war of values?"



A recent study has found that global warming is changing our weather through a weakening of the jetstream that has led to summer droughts, floods and wildfires in the Northern Hemisphere and to a lesser extent in the southern hemisphere. This involves a process called blocking that tends to weather systems in place and therefore results in more extreme heat, such as seen in the 100 degree Fahrenheit temperatures reached in Siberia, as well as droughts and wildfires. Weather systems stay in place because of the weakening jetstream, brought on by global warming. The jetstream historically tended to move weather systems along. 

The speed and waviness of the northern jet stream, a river of wind across the Northern Hemisphere, is affected by the temperature difference between the Arctic and mid-latitudes. Credit: NASA

The past few months have seen some remarkable weather, from the UK’s sunniest spring on record to Siberia’s dramatic heatwave and “zombie wildfires”.

Key to this unseasonable weather are persistent high-pressure “blocking” weather systems, which bring clear, dry conditions on the ground below for many days or weeks.

Blocking events bat away oncoming low-pressure systems that would bring the prospect of clouds and rain. They are particularly synonymous with heatwaves and drought in summer and bitterly cold conditions in winter. ...

Around the mid-latitudes of the northern hemisphere, low-pressure weather fronts, which bring cloudy, windy and potentially wet weather, generally move from west to east. These are carried along by the jet stream – a current of fast-flowing air high up in the troposphere, the lowest layer of the Earth’s atmosphere. (Jet streams encircle the mid-latitudes of both the northern and southern hemispheres.)

The jet generally keeps a steady stream of weather systems moving across the Earth’s surface. This means that any low-pressure system – or intervening high-pressure system that brings clear, still and sunny conditions – will generally only linger for a matter of days before being shunted on by the next system. ...

However, sometimes weather systems can get stuck in place for an extended period of time. This is known as “blocking”, explains Prof Tim Woollings. ... 

“Blocking is a stationary and persistent weather pattern, most often an anticyclone [high-pressure system], that blocks the oncoming jet stream and storms.” With a high-pressure weather system in the way, the oncoming weather is either deflected  away or it, too, stays put. This can bring extended periods of consistent weather. ...

This persistent weather can cause extreme conditions. The UK has just experienced its  sunniest and fifth driest spring on record, an extraordinary about-turn after the wettest February on record just months earlier. ...

At the same time, the usually chilly expanse of Siberia has been simmering in unseasonable heat. Average temperatures during May, for example, were 10C above the norm – reigniting wildfires still simmering from last year. This extended period of heat was also the result of a blocking weather pattern.  ...

For example, blocking was a driver of the heat and drought of the UK’s 1976 summer, the deadly European summer heatwave of 2003Siberia’s heatwaves and wildfires in the summer of 2013, and Europe’s extreme cold winter of 2009-10. A blocking pattern – in different positions – brought the US a record-breaking warm March in 2012 and record-breaking cold March in 2013. ...

The Arctic is warming more than twice as quickly than the global surface average. This phenomenon is known as “Arctic amplification”. In part, this stems from the rapid loss of sea ice cover in the region – as the ice diminishes, energy from the sun that would have been reflected away by the bright white ice is instead absorbed by the ocean, causing further warming. ...

There are some theories that these rapid changes in the Arctic “might influence the frequency of blocking events”, explains Shaffrey: “The theories suggest that as the Arctic warms, changes in the strength and position of the northern hemisphere jet stream will allow blocking events to become more frequent.”  ...

Greenland, Woollings notes, which has seen an increase in summer blocks since the 1990s.

It is worth noting that blocking happens in the southern hemisphere, too, adds Woollings: “[Blocking] tends to be less persistent in the southern hemisphere as the westerly jets are stronger. Despite this, they do have some important impacts, such as over Australia, New Zealand and southern South America.” ...

For example, blocking events were behind the record hot, dry weather that saw devastating bushfires during Australia’s 2019-20 summer, and a major drought in southeastern Brazil in 2014-15.


Greenhouse gases are increasingly disrupting the jet stream, a powerful river of winds that steers weather systems in the Northern Hemisphere. That's causing more frequent summer droughts, floods and wildfires, a new study says.

The findings suggest that summers like 2018, when the jet stream drove extreme weather on an unprecedented scale across the Northern Hemisphere, will be 50 percent more frequent by the end of the century if emissions of carbon dioxide and other climate pollutants from industry, agriculture and the burning of fossil fuels continue at a high rate.

In a worst-case scenario, there could be a near-tripling of such extreme jet stream events, but other factors, like aerosol emissions, are a wild card, according to the research, published today in the journal Science Advances. ...

The study identifies how the faster warming of the Arctic twists the jet stream into an extreme pattern that leads to persistent heat and drought extremes in some regions, with flooding in other areas.


A new study shows that most polar bear populations will face extinction between the 2060s and 2080s because of global warming. However the southernmost populations in northern Ontario and southern Hudson Bay face extinction by 2030 and others in the Davis Strait region by the 2040s.

polar bear on melting ice floe in arctic sea

The climate-change clock is ticking on the world's polar bears and a group of Canadian and U.S. scientists say they've determined when that time will run out. The researchers used data on shrinking sea ice and detailed information on what the bears need to stay healthy and rear cubs to project the survival odds for 13 of the world's 19 bear populations through to the end of the century.

"It's very grim work," said Peter Molnar, a University of Toronto biologist who is the lead author on the study, published Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change. "The sad part is that we have known for a very long time what is going to happen." What hasn't been studied — until now — is when dramatic declines are likely to begin. To determine those timelines, the researchers weighed what the bears need to live, reproduce and rear cubs against what their environment offers them.

"How long can a bear last on its energy stores?" Molnar asked. "What are some thresholds for a population beyond which reproduction and survival would decline? By using these new tools we can put numbers on when to expect these effects." ...

Polar bears depend on rich, fatty seals to get them through long periods of fasting, and they can only hunt that prey from sea ice — a platform rapidly shrinking due to climate change. Foods on land, such as bird eggs, just don't have enough calories to keep the bears going over the long term. ...

The researchers had enough information on projected ice conditions to forecast for eight of the 14 Canadian bear populations. They found cubs will be the first to go. ...

Even if the world were to manage to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, bears in northern Ontario on the south coast of Hudson Bay will likely have trouble raising new bears by the end of this decade. ...

Their cousins along the west coast of Hudson Bay would likely follow a year later and those in the southern Beaufort Sea a few years after that. By the early 2040s, bears in Davis Strait would join them.

Those four groups represent nearly a third of Canada's total bear population. Cub-rearing problems for almost all the rest of them are considered likely to occur within similar timelines.

Under a business-as-usual scenario, reproductive failure would become inevitable for Hudson Bay and Davis Strait bears beginning in the 2060s. By the 2080s, it's likely that adult bears in those regions would be starving to death. ...

A few populations — those in the northern Beaufort or Queen Elizabeth Islands — will probably be fine.

"With business-as-usual greenhouse gas emissions, polar bears are going to be gone from probably everywhere except the very High Arctic," Molnar said.



The auditor general (AG) has concluded that Ford government broke the law when it failed to failed to consult the public on major environmental changes before passing legislation affecting the issue, after the Ontario NDP environmental critic wrote the AG about this violation of environmental legislation.

Ontario NDP environment critic Ian Arthur questions Environment Minister Jeff Yurek at Queen's Park on July 21, 2020 about changes to environmental assessments. 

The Ford government broke the law by passing its omnibus economic recovery bill Tuesday without consulting the public on major environmental changes, auditor general Bonnie Lysyk said.

The government used its majority to pass the legislation, Bill 197, on Tuesday night over the objections of opposition parties. The omnibus bill makes sweeping changes to 20 pieces of legislation, including major rewrites of environmental law. 

Under Ontario’s Environmental Bill of Rights, the Progressive Conservative government is required to post measures that impact the environment on the Environmental Registry and consult the public for 30 days. The government posted notices on the registry but did not hold consultations about Bill 197, which was introduced in early July.

“We did give (the government) a heads up indicating that we had concerns on Friday,” Lysyk said in a phone interview with Canada’s National Observer. "We indicated that the bill, before it passes third reading, should be posted on the Environmental Registry (for a full 30 day consultation).” ...

Green advocates have said measures in the bill amount to a rollback of environmental protections.

It includes a rewrite of environmental assessment rules — the government will now decide which projects get environmental assessments, rather than reviewing most public sector projects by default. It also streamlines assessments for projects that do need them, and removes a mechanism that allows the public to ask the environment minister to require a full review of a project. 

The government has said it’s working on more regulations to decide which projects should get assessments, and to define what streamlined assessments would look like. 

The bill also expands the government’s power to override the normal land planning process and potential opposition to projects through Ministerial Zoning Orders (MZOs). 

Premier Doug Ford has previously said the proposed rewrite would be used to speed up infrastructure projects that would help Ontario recover from the financial hit it has taken during COVID-19.

Ontario NDP environment critic Ian Arthur wrote to the province's auditor general to ask for an investigation into Bill 197, which Arthur said may be a violation of the Environmental Bill of Rights. ...

The government previously told National Observer it included a measure in the bill to exempt it from public consultation requirements under the Environmental Bill of Rights.

Lysyk said only the portion of the bill that deals with environmental assessments included that exception, not the one about MZOs. And either way, the government still needs to consult the public, she said, adding that it would be “precedent-setting” to allow the government to retroactively give itself an exception to the rules. “It could undermine public confidence,” she said. 

NDP environment critic Ian Arthur said the legislative process doesn’t work the way government was attempting to use it. “You can’t embed a change that affects legislation being tabled in the legislation itself,” he said.

Arthur said he hopes the bill will be challenged in court. “(The Ford government is) on a mission and it’s to run roughshod over environmental protections, and they’ll do that at any cost,” Arthur said in a phone interview. “I certainly hope that they’re not allowed to do this without some sort of pushback.” ...

In a letter to Lysyk earlier Tuesday, Arthur asked that she and Jerry Demarco, assistant auditor general and commissioner of the environment, review the government’s push to pass the environmental changes in the economic recovery bill. Not only did the government not hold public consultations, he said, it was also using its majority to skip the committee stage and fast-track the bill. ...

Lysyk said late Tuesday that she had not yet received Arthur’s letter, but said her office is already done assessing the issue. “We already concluded on that,” she said. “We will issue a report on compliance or noncompliance with the Environmental Bill of Rights this fall. And we’ll address it in that.”

During question period at Queen’s Park Tuesday, Arthur asked the government to withdraw the “potentially illegal” changes.


Train derailments, of which the Lac Megantic derailment was the most disastrous in Canadian history, and pipeline spills are a byproduct of our lust for fossil fuels and another of its byproducts, the carbon dioxide that is already dramatically changing our climate. Sadly the changes in federal rules under the Harper and Trudeau governments concerning pipelines and rail transport have made the dangers greater, not less as one might expect after the 2013 Lac Megantic explosion, as these rule changes have focused on financial risk, rather than public risk. 

 Transportation Safety Board/Flickr

Lac Megantic derailment

In the midst of global upheaval, recent oil spills in Canada have received little attention. 

These spills occurred as governments, both federal and provincial -- notably Alberta and Ontario (which later reversed the suspension) -- suspended environmental regulations for the oil and gas sector, mirroring suspensions in the U.S.  But the recent Saskatchewan train derailments and Trans Mountain pipeline spill point at how dangerous it is to allow these events to be swept under the rug, given the hazards of an already weak regulatory system.

As the seven year anniversary of the Lac-Mégantic disaster passes, and in the midst of plans for expanding pipeline infrastructure across the country, it is important to reflect on the regulations which followed in the aftermath of the Lac-Mégantic disaster.  

The general assumption is that regulatory changes enacted in response to disaster and protest were intended to make oil and gas transportation safer. But these regulations have little to do with reducing risks to the public, and much more to do with reduction of financial risk in a form that makes hydrocarbon transport economically viable by shaping the conditions around their insurance. ...

In the immediate aftermath of the Lac-Mégantic disaster, and upon the technical recommendations of the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, Transport Canada updated key operating procedures and regulations. Further legislation was introduced to amend the Transportation Act and the Railway Safety Act in 2015, expanding minimum insurance requirement for railways hauling dangerous goods, and the creation of a compensation fund financed by levies on crude oil shippers, as well as increased information-sharing provisions with municipalities and first responders (even though such information remains limited and inaccessible to the larger public). 

A key outcome of the 2015 Pipeline Safety Act was to set liability at a maximum of $1 billion for all pipelines with capacity to transport 250,000 barrels per day, leveling the insurance requirements across pipeline firms. 

But there is little incentive for railway companies and pipeline firms to take public safety seriously. In the case of the railway safety act, monetary penalties for contravening the Railway Safety Act or rules and regulations are minimal (and generally appealed). Meanwhile increased oil-by-rail transportation has boosted railway companies' profits. 

Although large and small railway companies have varied capacity to develop safety management systems, the size of companies does not prevent derailments as they all operate with staff cutbacks, lack of maintenance and chronic underinvestment in equipment and infrastructure, as the Saskatchewan derailments demonstrate. 

For pipelines, incidents have increased since the 2015 pipeline safety act took effect, yet these incidents are complicated to track due to highly inconsistent reporting structures.

Infrastructural investment to ensure safety would require either that the private sector is willing to forego profits given the costs involved in proper equipment maintenance, or state subsidies to underwrite these costs. 

The recent $4.5-billion purchase of the Kinder Morgan pipeline by the Canadian state illustrates the extent to which the government is prepared to make huge expenditures to bring oil to market and underwrite the sector overall, but instead of similar investments in safety the federal government  has rolled back the rules, further externalizing costs to humans and the environment.

Austerity has covered for reduced monitoring of safety compliance and rule enforcement, shifting from a prescriptive regulatory approach to corporate self-monitoring. This reduction in safety management has been particularly problematic as companies increasingly transport dangerous goods and crude oil across the continent and as pipelines have aged.   ...

The lack of inspections by independent monitoring agencies is a major area of weakness in the regulatory process. To make the audit process substantive would, in effect, not only require reporting but also periodic inspections leading to action. A 2013 report by the auditor general of Canada (completed just days before the tragedy in Lac-Mégantic) revealed problems with continuous safety issues, oversight of safety management systems and collection of data on safety performance.

As tragically illustrated by the derailment in Lac-Mégantic, and subsequent CN and CP derailments in Gainford, Alberta; Plaster Rock, New Brunswick; Gogama in northern Ontario; near Gurnsey, Saskatchewan; and Emo, Ontario, among many others, transporting oil by rail remains hazardous.  ...

The term "railway occurrence" is employed to refer to what the Transportation Safety Board of Canada calls "any accident or incident associated with the operation of rolling stock on a railway, or situation or condition that the Board has reasonable grounds to believe, could, if left unattended, induce an accident or incident." With this vague term, the TSBA recognizes a certain inevitability and failure of their operations, which completely disregards the people experiencing the too often tragic consequences of crude oil tank cars derailing, burning and exploding. 

The situation is even worse for pipelines. A 2014 report to energy ministers clearly states that "there is no standard definition for a 'pipeline incident' in Canadian law. Definitions vary by jurisdiction, which can influence the scale, scope, and pace of a response."

Notable, however, is that in response to public concerns, the release of data by government ministries has been not only partial but also presented in a highly misleading form. Overlapping provincial and federal jurisdiction for pipeline monitoring and spill remediation contributes to lax accountability, allowing regulators to shift responsibility onto other levels of government. ...

Inconsistencies in reported data constitute a major obstacle to the possibility of substantive monitoring and auditing even though the information superficially provides some social-psychological comfort to regulators and the public.  

In a context of highly inadequate information, incomplete data renders audit practices substantively hollow. Meanwhile the dangers that spills cause to the public -- in particular those in lower income, Indigenous and rural populations -- only intensify.


WA State King County Council Unanimously Adopts Bold Regulations to Stop New Fossil Fuel Projects Before They Start

Last year, thousands of King County residents came together to win a moratorium on new fossil fuel development. Today, King County Council voted unanimously to make that moratorium permanent, by passing a comprehensive suite of regulations that protect local communities from fossil fuel threats.

“The first step to getting out of a hole is to stop digging. When it comes to the climate crisis, that means we need to stop building new fossil fuel infrastructure which would lock us into decades of climate pollution and injustice,” said Jess Wallach, 350 Seattle Campaigns Co-Director.

Fossil fuel infrastructure poses an unacceptable risk to the health and safety of people living in King County. Fracked gas pipelines, oil-by-rail, and coal extraction (and the toxic messes these projects leave behind when abandoned) are linked to cancer-causing air and water pollution, respiratory illness, heart attacks, birth defects, stroke, and premature death.

“Low-income and communities of color in King County already bear the brunt of negative health outcomes from exposure to the burning of fossil fuels and this will only be exacerbated with the deepening climate crisis” said Matt Remle (Lakota), co-founder of Mazaska Talks. “The first step in addressing the climate crisis is by not making it worse. With today’s vote, King County is showing that all communities deserve clean air, water, neighborhoods and futures.”

The King County regulations adopted today:

  • Explicitly prohibit certain types of fossil fuel infrastructure, such as coal mines and large-scale oil and gas storage facilities (like the dirty and dangerous Tacoma LNG facility currently being built at the Port of Tacoma).

  • Strengthen permitting criteria for new and expanded fossil fuel infrastructure, to ensure the well-being of current and future King County residents is prioritized in any project review.

  • Require comprehensive review and mitigation of the full scope of environmental impacts of any fossil fuel project, including lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions, threats to air and water quality, and public health risks.

  • Establish demonstrated, early, and meaningful consultation with tribes.

The County also took steps today to ensure local taxpayers aren’t on the hook for the costs when fossil fuel infrastructure inevitably leaks, explodes, and pollutes:

“As fossil fuel companies teeter on the edge of bankruptcy in the age of COVID19, they are leaving potentially gargantuan cleanup costs in their wake,” said Daphne Wysham with Center for Sustainable Economy in Portland, ORG. “We’re glad to see King County, WA, join Multnomah County, OR, in exploring fossil fuel risk bond programs as an innovative way to force the polluter to pay — before they declare bankruptcy or before a major accident occurs — while minimizing costs to the taxpayer and risks to frontline communities and the environment.”

“The longer we wait to act on pollution and climate change, the more dire and wide-spread the impacts on people will be,” adds Dr. Ken Lans, with WA Physicians for Social Responsibility. “We should be doing everything we can to reduce our fossil fuel use, rather than enabling it — so we’re thrilled that the county has taken this critically important action to protect the health and safety of all its residents.”.....


By the way, the current consensus among climate scientists is to refer to global heating, not warming.


While I really don't want to get into semantics and definitions, rather than the problems created by greenhouse gas emissions and therefore will not engage in a long debate about what to call the problem, I will explain my choice of global warming in the title and many comments. 

I chose global warming over climate change because the latter was pushed by the right with the implication being that the climate could change in either direction and is always changing  to help them mask the effects of fossil fuel use. 

There are articles since at least 2013 in which scientists that argue global heating should replace global warming because “Global heating is technically more correct because we are talking about changes in the energy balance of the planet,” the scientist Richard Betts said at the UN climate summit in Katowice, Poland in 2018. “We should be talking about risk rather than uncertainty.” (

On the other hand, that same year as Professor Betts made this comment the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which gets more coverage of the problem than any other organization put out a report entitled "Global Warming of 1.5ºC". The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) which collects and analyzes much of the United States and global data has data up to and including this year under the website title "NASA: Climate Change and Global Warming", while the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which also collects this kind of data has a website entitled "Global Warming". If you type "Global Warming" into Wikipedia you get a thread with that title, but you don't if you type "Global Heating". 

Therefore, because of its more frequent use, I will continue to use global warming, without getting into technical arguments about terminology. 



Despite the Ontario Auditor General finding that the Ontario Ford government's Bill 197 did not comply with existing law because it failed to consult the public on major environmental changes before passing the bill, Ford simply says its legal. 


Ontario Premier Doug Ford said he doesn’t agree with the province’s auditor general that his government was “not compliant” with the law by passing major environmental changes without public consultation.

The government passed Bill 197 on Tuesday, an act that would alter 20 existing laws and make pivotal changes to environmental law. Under Ontario’s Environmental Bill of Rights, the government must consult the public about environment-related legislation before passing it. 

Auditor general Bonnie Lysyk flagged concerns to the government Friday, saying two portions of Bill 197 were not compliant with the Environmental Bill of Rights, Canada’s National Observer previouslyreported. 

“I’m going to have to respectfully disagree,” Ford said Wednesday, when asked about Lysyk’s finding at his daily COVID-19 briefing. 

Ontario NDP environment critic Ian Arthur fired back on Twitter: “You can respectfully disagree with a law all you want. But it's still a law,” he said. ...

The auditor general is an independent watchdog role, mainly tasked with keeping an eye on provincial finances. Last year, however, the Ford government dissolved the office of the environmental commissioner and moved that role under the auditor general’s purview. 

Ford has said Bill 197 is aimed at speeding up key infrastructure projects to help Ontario recover from the economic hit it has taken due to COVID-19.

The legislation means the government will now decide which projects get environmental assessments, rather than reviewing most public sector projects by default. It also streamlines assessments for projects that do need them, and removes a mechanism that allows the public to ask for a full review of a project.

The government is working on more regulations to decide on a list of which projects should get assessments, and to define what the streamlined assessments will look like — the government has said it will still review projects with a moderate or high impact on the environment. ...

Bill 197 also expands the government’s power to override the normal land planning process and potential opposition to projects through ministerial zoning orders (or MZOs). ...

The government laid out the changes to environmental assessments in a discussion paper last year and held consultations about its plans. But it did not consult the public on the final version of the rewrite — the government included a measure to exempt that part of the bill from public consultation requirements under the Environmental Bill of Rights — or on the changes to MZOs. 

Lysyk previously told National Observer that the government exempting itself from a law retroactively would be “precedent-setting.”



Canada, despite all of the promises of the Trudeau Liberals, continues to be a global leader in emissions. 

Despite decades of promises to prevent a climate crisis, the primary cause of it, global fossil fuel burning, continues to increase rapidly. Last year's fossil burn broke all records. ...

To illustrate humanity's relentless acceleration off the climate cliff, and Canadians' role as top one-percenters, I've dug into the latest BP energy report and created the “missing charts” that show fossil burning trends — both here at home and worldwide. ...

The BP data shows that Canada is one of the world's top-10 fossil burners — both in total amount and per person. So, our actions and leadership in the fight for a safe climate matter more than those of nearly every other country. And Canada also has what it takes to help lead the world toward a safe climate future. We are one of the world's wealthiest, most tech-savvy, get-it-done countries. And we pride ourselves on doing the right thing and being a force for good in the world.

Plus, politically, both Liberal and Conservative federal governments over the years have stated that Canada aims to be a global climate leader and have collectively pledged to reduce our climate pollution — nine times.

Canada fossil fuel burning 1990 to 2019

So, how are we doing?

My chart on the right shows Canada's annual fossil burn since 1990. You can see that we haven't been cutting back as promised. We keep burning more.

One bright spot is that our coal burning has declined. But that relatively small bit of climate progress has been wiped out many times over by our increases in both fossil oil and fossil gas burning. At this point, eliminating coal won't even get us to back to our starting line. As the chart shows, our rising fossil oil and gas burn is now higher than all our fossil burning (including coal) was in 2005. That's the baseline year we promised to make big cuts from in our Copenhagen and Paris Agreement climate targets.

If we want to start making climate progress in Canada, we'll need to start making significant and sustained reductions in the amount of fossil oil and gas we burn, as well. ...

How does our fossil burn in Canada compare to our global peers? My chart below compiles the BP data for fossil burning per person in the world's top eight economies — which includes Canada. Combined, this group accounts for around 80 per cent of global GDP. Obviously, any solution to the climate crisis will require the action and leadership from all these countries.

Fossil fuel burning in 2019 in top-8 economies, including Canada

Two things immediately jump out at me about Canada. First, Canada burns the most per person. We now burn even more than the Americans; twice as much as the Europeans; and three times the global average.

Second, Canadians are still burning as much as we did back in 1990. In fact, we burn a bit more per person now.

In contrast, the Americans cut their fossil burn by 15 per cent per person. The Europeans now burn 22 per cent less. And the U.K. burns 37 per cent less per person than they did in 1990. So, clearly it is possible for wealthy, technologically advanced countries to turn down the fossil burner — at least at the per-person level.

My final chart expands the scope to include the entire world. In this chart, the x-axis shows the running total of the global population. For example, it shows that half the world lives in countries that burn less than 33 GJ per person. While 90 per cent of humanity burns less than 135 GJ per year.

If Canadians want to finally get started in the right direction in the climate fight, where could we start? Here are a few options:

  • Create a plan. Canada is great at setting climate targets. Nine federal targets have been pledged so far. But we've never once taken the next step of creating a plan to fully achieve them. Zero for nine. No wonder we keep failing to meet them. We need a plan.
  • Adopt a climate policy framework that has worked elsewhere. For example, our Commonwealth peer, the U.K., cut their climate pollution by 42 per cent since 1990. In contrast, we've increased ours by 21 per cent. We could adopt the key parts of their innovative Carbon Budget law that has worked so well for them.
  • Require proposed new mega-projects prove they are compatible with our climate targets. We often don't. Just a few examples: oilsandsLNGbio-energy.
  • Choose cleaner transport. One of the biggest climate polluting decisions Canadians ever make is the vehicles we buy. Sadly, Canadians are currently choosing to buy the world's dirtiestnew passenger vehicles. On average, each one sold locks in future demand to burn 21 more tonnes of gasoline and emit 66 tonnes of CO2. In most of Canada, however, choosing an electric vehicle instead will reduce those fuel emissions by 98 per cent. As a bonus, switching to electric transportation will dramatically reduce air pollution in our cities and our lungs. And, of course, there is that other hugely climate polluting transportation problem: jet-setting. Canadians have plenty of transportation options that will turn down our crazy-high fossil burn. If we want climate progress, we all need to start choosing options that are compatible with a safe climate future.




This letter has been sent to all EU leaders and heads of state on 16 July 2020.

You must stop pretending that we can solve the climate- and ecological crisis without treating it as a crisis

Here are our demands of this open letter:

These are some first steps, essential to our chance of avoiding a climate- and ecological disaster​.

  • Effective immediately, halt all investments in fossil fuel exploration and extraction, immediately end all fossil fuel subsidies and immediately and completely divest from fossil fuels.
  • EU member states must advocate to make ecocide an international crime at the International Criminal Court.
  • Include total emissions in all figures and targets, including consumption index, international aviation and shipping.
  • Starting today – establish annual, binding carbon budgets based on the current best available science and the IPCC’s budget which gives us a 66% chance of limiting the global temperature rise to below 1.5 °C. They need to include the global aspect of equity, tipping points and feedback loops and shouldn’t depend on assumptions of possible future negative emissions technologies.
  • Safeguard and protect democracy.
  • Design climate policies that protect workers and the most vulnerable and reduce all forms of inequality: economic, racial and gender.
  • Treat the climate- and ecological emergency like an emergency.

We understand and know very well that the world is complicated and that what we are asking for may not be easy.​ The changes necessary to safeguard humanity may seem very unrealistic. But it is much more unrealistic to believe that our society would be able to survive the global heating we’re heading for, as well as other disastrous ecological consequences of today’s business as usual​.....

This letter has been signed by the following people, along with thousands of activists and citizens, and hundreds of scientists.

  • Malala Yousafzai, Activist, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Founder Malala Fund 
  • Billie Eilish, Artist and Activist
  • Leonardo DiCaprio, Actor
  • Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Actor, Producer, Activist, Unicef Goodwill Ambassador
  • Opal Tometi, Human Rights Activist, Writer and Co-Founder of Black Lives Matter
  • Shawn Mendes, Artist 
  • Michael Mann, Distinguished Professor, Penn State University and Member of the National Academy of Sciences
  • Coldplay
  • Nadia Murad, Nobel Peace Laureate and Human Rights Activist 
  • Ben Stiller, Actor, UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador
  • Sônia Guajajara, Indigenous leadership, Executive Coordinator of APIB (Brazil’s Indigenous People Articulation) 
  • Mark Ruffalo, Actor, Justice Activist
  • Greenpeace
  • Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, Atmospheric Physicist and Founding Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research Scientist
  • Emma Thompson, Actor
  • Naomi Klein, Author, Rutgers University...and many more

Biden has struggled to attract young voters, so his adoption of much of the Green New Deal comes with question marks about whether he would push it forward once in office. His proposal goes far beyond Trudeau's tinkering with carbon taxes while buying pipelines and redefining greenhouse gas emissions so that they look lower than under previous definitions, while actual emissions continue to grow. He simply continued on using Harper's greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets, but has even failed to meet those according to the Auditor General in March 2018 and the Environmental Commissioner in April 2019.   

Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden

Biden rode a wave of establishment endorsements to the nomination this spring. But it’s progressive ideas that might carry him to the presidency ‘Climate change is a strong mobilization issue for the young voters Biden has struggled to attract to his campaign.’ 

Joe Biden did something unprecedented for a Democratic candidate assured of nomination: he moved left. In a speech delivered from Wilmington in his home state of Delaware, Biden unveiled the most ambitious clean energy and environmental justice plans ever proposed by the nominee of a major American political party. The plans, which the Biden campaign described to reporters as “the legislation he goes up to [Capitol Hill] immediately to get done,” outline $2tn in investments in clean energy, jobs and infrastructure that would be carried out over the four years of his first term.

Forty percent of these investments would be directed to communities of color living on the toxic edge of the fossil fuel economy – communities that have also been among the most devastated by the coronavirus pandemic. Biden proposes to pair these investments with new performance standards, most notably a clean electricity standard that would transition the United States to a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035.

Part of Biden’s “Build Back Better” agenda, these plans are a Green New Deal in all but name. If you set aside the most attention-grabbing left-wing programs included in New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s 2019 Green New Deal resolution, like Medicare for All and a federal job guarantee, Biden’s plans broadly align with an approach advocated by the left-wing of the Democratic party. Firstly, like the Green New Deal, Biden’s plans reframe climate action as a jobs, infrastructure and clean energy stimulus.

After three decades of economic elites failing to pitch a carbon tax as a solution to the supposed “market failure” of greenhouse gas emissions, Biden has elected to focus instead on economy-wide performance standards as the cutting edge of decarbonization. And while earlier generations of Democrats wanted consumers to foot the bill for that clean energy transition at the gas pump, a position shared by Milton Friedman, Biden takes Keynesand Franklin Roosevelt as his intellectual and political forebears. Perhaps most encouragingly, Biden views the workers, unions and communities of color most impacted by the fossil fuel economy and the potential shift away from it as deserving special attention. In his view, climate action cannot be separated from economic, environmental and social justice. ...

Biden’s plans draw upon the Green New Deal-inflected recommendations issued by the joint taskforce convened by surrogates of the Biden and Bernie Sanders campaigns, including Ocasio-Cortez. They also crib heavily from plans devised by Washington governor Jay Inslee’s climate-focused presidential campaign. ...

ver recent months, public opinion research from Data for Progress has shown that climate change is a uniquely favorable general election issue for Biden and Democrats. When it comes to climate and clean energy priorities, voters trust the Democratic party more than the Republican party by an 18% margin. Climate change is a strong mobilization issue for the young voters Biden has struggled to attract to his campaign.

In a May survey, 61% of voters under 45 said they would be more likely to vote for Biden if he committed to a platform that would move the United States to a 100% clean energy economy, with just 14% reporting that such a platform would make them less likely to support the Democratic nominee. A more recent survey fielded in late June by Climate Power, the Global Strategies Group and Data for Progress found that bold climate action was also persuasive for middle-of-the-road and Latino voters. Even after survey respondents were shown strong messaging attacks from Trump and Republicans claiming that Democrats wanted to pass a $100tn Green New Deal that would increase taxes – as well as more outlandish arguments that Democrats were going to take away hamburgers, pickup trucks and airplanes – voters moved even further in Democrats’ direction. Middle partisans shifted two percentage points further in favor of Biden, while Latinos leaned a further four points towards him.

These findings show that one of Trump and Republicans’ favorite act: that “Venezuela-style socialists are going to take away the American way of life” – doesn’t work. In fact, an analysis of the 2019 Cooperative Congressional Election Study published by Data for Progress found that 2016 Trump voters who are unsure how they will vote in 2020 are uniquely cross-pressured on climate issues. They view climate change as being much more important than other 2016 Trump voters and side with Biden and Democrats on key policy issues, like the Paris Climate Agreement and Clean Power Plan. Crucially, they also tend to be young, meaning that if Democrats can attract these voters in 2020, they could grow their base for years to come. ...

The most recent polling from Data for Progress shows that 44% of voters would be more likely to support a candidate who doesn’t take money from fossil fuel companies, executives and lobbyists and that 49% would be opposed to industry representatives receiving appointments to government agencies and the White House.


lagatta4 wrote:

By the way, the current consensus among climate scientists is to refer to global heating, not warming.

I always just call it climate chaos because I think that best describes what we are experiencing.


Thawing Arctic Permafrost

"...Humanity is playing with fire in a very big way by allowing anthropogenic green house gas emissions (cars, planes, trains etc.) to run wild, increasing by the month, by the year, by the decade with absolutely no end in sight, none whatsoever. At some point in time all those billions of tons of carbon storied in frozen permafrost will start breaking lose beyond normal background rates and humanity will find its goose cooked maybe well done.

And here's the distressing part (one of many): Fieldwork by scientists proved that permafrost is already a 'net emitter of CO2,' this after thousands of years as a 'carbon sink', but no longer! As such, thousands of years of one of the largest carbon sinks on Earth erased by recklessness of human-generated over-heating ecosystems. Meaning there's a very nasty surprise down the line for the rah-rah climate mitigation crowd. Meanwhile, after years of handwringing and gushing teardrops of green sympathizers, the world is still 80% dependent on fossil fuels. That's the same 80% as 50 years ago and a clear sign of absolute failure by governments around the world. It's disgraceful!"

Meanwhile, it's full speed ahead for Canada's TMX!


The fact that Alberta is now officially a have-not province and therefore will be receiving money from the federal government drives home its failure to get more than a relative pittance in compaison to the oil companies from the province's natural resource wealth, its failure to establish a create a giangantic provincial wealth fund unlike Norway considering the province has the second or third largest oil reseves in the world depending on how they are defined, its $260 billion deficit in orphan wells that taxpayers will pay instead of the fossil fuel industry (, and its failure to diversify away from the fossil fuel industry that is leading to a global warming catastrophe is a tragedy for Albertans and Canadians. 



Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says the "bizarre" circumstances of 2020, which will result in the province getting more from Ottawa than it gives, do not change what he sees as structural issues within the federation.

For the first time in 55 years, Alberta will be a net receiver, according to an analysis by University of Calgary economist Trevor Tombe. ...

Tombe said that in the past decade, the federal government collected an average of around $20 billion each year more than it spent in the province.

But this year is a "complete reversal," the economist said, with Alberta projected to receive about $22 billion in the federal budget. 

"We've never seen in recorded history a gap between spending and revenue in Alberta that large before," he said. 

Duane Bratt, a political science professor at Mount Royal University, said this shows that fiscal transfers aren't a policy to "screw over" Albertans, it's just that there are more wealthy people in the province. 

"The argument is that in comparison to those who believe Alberta has been getting a raw deal, that's in good times. But in bad times this shows the value of the federal government, it shows the value of the federation," Bratt said.  ...

Alberta is set to hold a referendum on equalization payments next year, one of multiple recommendations from the province's so-called "fair deal" panel report, which also suggested exploring creating a provincial pension plan and police force.



While Alberta's $17.5 billion Heritage Fund from government oil revenues is less than 2% of Norways trillion dollar soverign wealth fund. This is the case despite the fact that Alberta has much larger reserves because of its low royalty prices. Norway, on the other hand, has used to start diversifying away from fossil fuels since 2017 in recognition of fossil fuel trends while the Alberta and Trudeau governments have been pushing for more fossil fuel production and pipelines. 

The 5m-odd Norwegians own more than 1% of all the shares in the world

Norway's $1 trillion sovereign wealth fund is expected to sell some of its oil and gas holdings. The world's largest sovereign wealth fund owns $37bn of shares in oil companies such as BP, Shell and France's Total.

Selling the shares means it would not be as reliant on oil prices, it says. ...

The move is being positioned as a way to diversify the nation's wealth away from oil. ...

However, it said: "A permanent reduction in the oil price will have long-term implications for public finances."


The following article explains how Norway has so overwhelmingly out performed Alberta and Saskatchewan in returns on it natural resource wealth, thereby enabling Norway to start diversifying away from fossil fuels. 

Twenty-five years ago, when Norway set up its oil fund, it demanded high taxes from oil companies – 78 per cent after profits and the costs of research and exploration. One hundred per cent of those taxes were banked. The government is allowed to tap into the fund, but only up to four per cent. That leaves the principal untouched. 

"We have low unemployment, we have growth, we have a huge surplus – that's a very robust start in the face of declining oil prices", she says confidently. ...

Norway did well by those rules. In contrast, Alberta and Saskatchewan – both endowed with oil and other mineral resources – took different routes with vastly different results.

Alberta and Saskatchewan both set up heritage funds (in 1976 and 1978, respectively), but Alberta, for example, only put in 30 per cent of royalties. The funds were consistently raided by governments of the day, and in Alberta, contributions petered out altogether by 1987. The Saskatchewan fund was terminated in 1992.

Those two provinces reveal important failures in the Canadian experience, says Greg Poelzer, a professor at the University of Saskatchewan and author of a recent paper on lessons from Norway.

"First, the failure to contribute annually means the fund will not grow and one-time earnings from non-renewable resources are lost forever," he says.

"Second, governments should only use the interest, otherwise governments will overspend, putting programs at risk when the prices fall, as they always do."


In a just released report, Global Witness identified a record number of land and environmental activists totalling more than 200 who were murdered last year.

"Canada is home to almost 1,300 mining companies, constituting 75 percent of all the mining companies in the world. Non-profit advocacy organization Mining Watch Canada has been monitoring Canadian mining companies' global actions since its founding in 1999." (


An employee of a Canadian-owned gold mine in Cocula, Mexico is among two people still missing days after local police freed ten others said to be victims of a kidnapping. The group was travelling in an SUV about 30 minutes outside of Coculaon Friday when kidnappers dressed as police or military personnel abducted them. 

Global Witness today revealed the highest number of land and environmental defenders murdered on record in a single year, with 212 people killed in 2019 for peacefully defending their homes and standing up to the destruction of nature.

The NGO’s annual report also shed a light on the urgent role land and environmental defenders play in fighting climate breakdown, opposing carbon intensive and unsustainable industries that are accelerating global warming and environmental damage. It points to how, under increased crackdown and surveillance during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, the protection of these activists is all the more vital for rebuilding a safer and greener planet.

On average, four defenders have been killed every week since the creation of the Paris Climate agreement in December 2015. Countless more are silenced by violent attacks, arrests, death threats or lawsuits. 

Shockingly, over half of all reported killings last year occurred in just two countries: Colombia (peaking at 64) and the Philippines (rising from 30 in 2018 to 43 in 2019). Globally, the true number of killings was likely much higher, as cases often go undocumented.

These killings include the murder of Datu Kaylo Bontolan, murdered in the Philippines after opposing illegal mining in the area. A Manobo leader, he was one of many indigenous people killed in 2019, asserting their right to self-determination and protecting their ancestral lands from those looking to exploit their natural resources.

Mining was the deadliest sector globally with 50 defenders killed in 2019, with agribusiness remaining a threat, particularly in Asia – where 80% of agribusiness-related attacks took place.

There have also been increasing threats and attacks in Romania, including the killing of Liviu Pop. A ranger working to protect one of Europe’s largest, primeval climate-critical forests, Liviu was shot and killed after protecting trees in a country where organised criminal gangs are decimating these forests.

Activists still campaigning and under threat include Angelica Ortiz, one of the prominent Wayuu women defenders from La Guajira, who for years has opposed the largest coal mine in Latin America, as part of efforts to protect water rights for communities living in one of Colombia’s poorest regions. Throughout this campaign, she was threatened and harassed. ...

“Agribusiness and oil, gas and mining have been consistently the biggest drivers of attacks against land and environmental defenders – and they are also the industries pushing us further into runaway climate change through deforestation and increasing carbon emissions. 

“Many of the world’s worst environmental and human rights abuses are driven by the exploitation of natural resources and corruption in the global political and economic system. Land and environmental defenders are the people who take a stand against this. 

“If we really want to make plans for a green recovery that puts the safety, health and well-being of people at its heart, we must tackle the root causes of attacks on defenders, and follow their lead in protecting the environment and halting climate breakdown.”  ...

Key stats: 

  • Over half of those killed were from mining-affected communities in Latin America. The Philippines was the country with most mining-related deaths, with 16 people killed.
  • Logging was the sector with the highest increase in killings globally since 2018, with 85% more attacks recorded against defenders opposing the industry.
  • Over two thirds of killings took place in Latin America, which has been consistently ranked the worst affected continent since Global Witness began to publish data in 2012.
  • Asia has consistently been one of the worst regions for attacks related to agribusiness - a long-time driver of attacks against defenders. In 2019, over 85% of agribusiness related attacks recorded were in Asia. Of these, almost 90% of these were documented in the Philippines.


The Trudeau government, despite its 2015 election promises has done virtually nothing to improve the record of its mining companies, which make up at least 50% of the world's mining companies, when it comes to the environment and the murder of environmentalists. However, a 2019 Supreme Court ruling may be about to force changes in this regard, according to the Mongabay report released this week. 

A study published this month analyzed 2,743 environmental conflicts registered in the Environmental Justice Atlas. Showdowns around mine sites are the most common type of environmental conflict globally, with 21% of global environmental conflicts and 20% of the associated assassinations linked to mining, according to the study. Image from Scheidel et al (2020).


  • Canada is home base for nearly half of the world’s mining companies, but the country’s efforts to improve corporate accountability for environmental and human rights violations have fallen short, observers say.
  • Internal documents show the government has stressed a voluntary approach to regulation, despite campaign promises to address abuses and outcry from campaigners.
  • A government spokesperson says Canada has launched new initiatives to safeguard environmentalists and land-rights activists and to promote corporate responsibility.
  • A recent Supreme Court decision could open the country’s legal system to allow victims of corporate abuses overseas to sue companies in Canada.

Home to nearly half of the world’s major mining companies, Canada has failed to fully implement promised reforms to hold corporations accountable for abuses committed overseas, according human rights advocates.

Ahead of its 2015 election win, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party promised to create an independent ombudsperson to investigate companies that violate human rights or poison the environment when extracting resources in the developing world, along with better protections for land rights campaigners there.

Officials with Global Affairs Canada, the foreign ministry, began meeting with human rights activists, as described in internal government files. Going into one meeting, in March 2017, campaigners told Mongabay they felt a sense of optimism: after a decade of Conservative Party rule, when officials froze NGOs out of the decision–making process, a new administration promising “sunny ways” and increased corporate accountability wanted to hear from them.

Today, though, land rights campaigners opposed to Canadian mining operations face more threats than ever, according to the activists. And while the government’s rhetoric has stressed human rights and accountability, it hasn’t introduced binding rules to crack down on companies that commit abuses overseas.

But a decision by Canada’s Supreme Court earlier this year could provide an avenue for redress in the courts when campaigners say the political system has failed....

Just over 600 pages of partially censored Canadian foreign ministry documents, accessed under freedom of information laws, detail the Trudeau government’s approach to human rights defenders and the mining industry. They include internal policy briefings for officials, minutes from meetings with activists and others, background research, and other correspondence for 2017 and part of 2018. A litany of abuse allegations dogging Canadian mining companies features prominently.

The documents cite data in bold from the Toronto-based Justice and Corporate Accountability Project, a legal advocacy group, noting that “28 Canadian mining companies and their subsidiaries were linked to 44 deaths, 403 injuries, and 709 cases of criminalization, including arrests, detentions, and charges in Latin America between 2000 and 2015.”

“Considering that over 60% of mining concessions held by foreign companies in Ecuador are in Canadian companies’ hands, mining issues are of great interest to Canada,” reads a 2017 internal foreign affairs department briefing on Ecuador’s human rights situation that was marked “secret” and included in the documents. ...

Examples include the recent death of Mexican labor campaigner Óscar Ontiveros Martínez. He was allegedly murdered on May 12 by forces linked to organized crime groups operating around a mine in Guerrero state owned by the Canadian company Torex Gold Resources, according to the Ottawa-based advocacy group MiningWatch Canada. His assassination is believed to stem from his involvement in a 2017 strike at the mine. There have been at least three other murders and one disappearance related to the labor action. In a letter responding activists’ inquiries, Torex Gold Resources said that the deaths “were criminal matters that were quite outside of our control.”

And Vancouver-based Pan American Silver, which operates eight mines in Central and South America, has been accused of polluting land and stoking violence in Peru and Mexico, including threats against local community members, according to research released in March by the Environmental Justice Atlas. Pan American Silver denies the charges.

“However, strong opposition by some indigenous and environmental groups continues to pose problems for mining development. Local human rights organizations have reported abuses from mining companies, (including, in the past, from Canadian companies), and from security forces hired by these companies,” the briefing continues.

When it comes to environmental conflicts between companies and communities, Canadian firms are overrepresented compared to their international peers, McGill University natural resources researcher Leah Temper told Radio Canada International. She was part of an international team that published a study on global environmental conflicts this month in the journal Global Environmental Change. Canadian firms are involved in 8% of the more than  2,700 conflicts analyzed in the study, Temper said. ...


Northern Saskatchewan is facing near record water levels from heavy rainfall that is closely correlated with the increased variability and extreme weather assciated with climate change. 

The Churchill River is seen in northern Saskatchewan. Northern Saskatchewan has seen extremely high cumulative precipitation (rainfall and runoff) since April 1, resulting in high flows and lake water across the Churchill River and Lower Saskatchewan River basins.

Water levels near record high in northern Saskatchewan

Precipitation in northern Saskatchewan is approaching record highs as water rises.

High river and lake water will be a concern for the rest of summer, and in some cases — such as the main-stem of the Churchill River — into the fall and winter, analysts say.

“The Churchill River system is full … We certainly haven’t seen many years like this where the whole basin is filled up,” Saskatchewan Water Security Agency spokesperson Ron Podbielski told Canada’s National Observer on Friday.

According to the agency, northern Saskatchewan has seen extremely high cumulative precipitation (rainfall and runoff) since April 1, resulting in high flows and lake water across the Churchill River and Lower Saskatchewan River basins. ...

Podbielski said an increased variability in weather patterns, and more extreme conditions caused by climate change, will mean the province will have to adapt to a new normal.

“We’re seeing that climate variability that we’ve acknowledged in the province is happening in terms of both drought and flood,” Podbielski said. “It looks like the province is going to have to focus on adaptation because of some of these extremes.” ...

Flows and levels in the Lower Churchill River, including Reindeer River and Churchill River near Sandy Bay, have exceeded these highs. ...

About 10 to 20 millimetres of rain is expected over the weekend in the central part of the Churchill River drainage basin, with localized higher amounts in thunderstorms. ...

Podbielski said the heavy rainfall means Lac La Ronge and Sandy Bay could peak at a later date — and at a higher volume.

“Lac La Ronge is under the risk of handling those higher levels for a longer period of time with the wild card of additional wet weather,” Podbielski said.

“If we go over to Cumberland house lots of the community there, the people in the Cumberland delta, some of those individuals got flooded. The outfitters for example. But we’re not anticipating the town proper to actually be in the flooding situation.” ...

“In addition to recreation, people in the north are using boats for their daily business, and there’s always a personal safety risk when water levels are extremely high.” he said.

Although he said northerners are experienced dealing with high water, he said residents should “practise safety and good awareness.”


Ecojustice, an environmental law group, has gone to court to get an injunction to suspend the Kenney government’s public inquiry into “anti-Alberta” campaigns by environmentalists until the court rules on a lawsuit that challenges the inquiry’s legality. 

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and Minister of Energy Sonya Savage respond to the federal approval of the Trans Mountain Pipeline in Edmonton, on Tuesday, June 18, 2019.

If granted, the injunction would force commissioner Steve Allan to pause all work on the public inquiry until the court can rule on whether the process is legal in the first place. This would mean a halt on interviewing and investigating charities and individuals who have previously expressed criticism of the province’s oil and gas industry.

Ecojustice launched a legal challenge of the inquiry in November 2019. The organization says the government brought the inquiry for improper political purposes, that the proceedings give the perception of bias and unfairness, and that the inquiry sets out to deal with issues that don’t actually fall under provincial jurisdiction

A hearing on the matter was originally scheduled to take place in April 2020, but has been indefinitely delayed due to COVID-19.

In the meantime, the Alberta government extended the due date for the inquiry’s final report by four months, to Oct. 30, and earmarked an additional $1M in funding for the inquiry. It also made minor updates to the inquiry’s terms of reference.

In response, Ecojustice filed for an injunction late last week. The organization says changes to the terms of reference do not address their fundamental concerns with the inquiry, and that the government should not spend an additional $1M of taxpayer dollars on a process that the court may find to have been illegal from the start. ...

“Organizations and individuals — particularly those working at the grassroots level — should not be expected to redirect resources away from the critical work they’re doing to prevent the climate catastrophe and take part in a process that is stacked against them.

“Every minute and dollar spent on this inquiry is a waste of resources that could be invested in  policies and programs that would actually help Albertans and create sustainable jobs and infrastructure to help with COVID-19 recovery. Instead, the Kenney government is spending millions of dollars on a political exercise that is not in Albertans’ best interest.”


German headquartered Deutsche Bank announced this week it will no longer finance any new oilsands or Arctic oil and gas projects and end all of its coal industry business by 2025. 

“This is just the beginning of the end for the fossil fuel industry,” says Frederic Hauge, head of the Bellona Foundation in Norway. He described this decision by Deutsche Bank as “a signal to all investors that conversion to clean energy can’t start soon enough.” (


An oil sands extraction facility is reflected in a tailings pond near the city of Fort McMurray, Alta.

Frankfurt-based Deutsche Bank is joining a lengthening list of European lenders and insurance companies that say they won't back new oilsands projects.

The German bank said Monday its new fossil fuels policy will also prohibit investing in projects that use hydraulic fracturing or fracking in countries with scarce water supplies, and all new oil and gas projects in the Arctic region. ...

It says its ban on oilsands financing, effective immediately, will include exploration, production, transport or processing, seemingly including oilsands pipelines and upgraders or refineries.

It says it will stop financing and capital markets transactions involving coal mining by 2025 at the latest after achieving a goal last year to reduce its loan exposure to coal-fired power plants by 20 per cent. It says it won't finance any new coal power plants.

Deutsche Bank says the moves are part of a commitment to align its credit portfolios with the greenhouse gas reduction goals of the Paris Agreement. ...

Two years ago, Europe's largest bank, HSBC Holdings plc, announced it would no longer offer financial services for new oilsands projects or pipelines, a move that led to producer Suncor Energy Inc. vowing to end all business with HSBC, including in its conventional oil operations in Europe.

"Deutsche Bank's updated fossil fuel policy is the latest warning shot telling us that doubling down on coal, oil and gas will sink our economy while destabilizing the climate," said Greenpeace Canada campaigner Keith Stewart on Monday. We still have time to protect the workers, communities and regions currently dependent on oil as we navigate this shift and ensure that all Canadians prosper in the new low-carbon economy."


Linda McQuaig has an excellent write-up on how Big Oil poorer, by paying only a 1% royalty and this only after costs, while leaving the province and Trudeau federal government with $260 billion orphan oil well clean-up bill, as well as leaving Canada as a world leader in greenhouse gas emissions. 

A screenshot from a private presentation delivered by Alberta Energy Regulator vice-president Robert Wadsworth in Calgary on Feb. 28, 2018 outlining the financial liabilities in the province’s oilpatch. Image from AER presentation

We're used to the mantra that the Alberta economy has been a roaring success. True, it's been a "have" province, lecturing the rest of us on how to live within our means -- a task that would have been easier if we'd all been born with abundant quantities of one of the world's most valuable commodities under our soil

But the real measure of success is what one makes of the hand one is dealt. And, by that measure, Alberta has been a train wreck.

Its political leaders, by allowing corporate interests to design the economy to their own benefit, have squandered the province's vast natural wealth, leaving Alberta's citizens with a mere fraction of what they could be enjoying today, even with the downturn in world oil prices.

Over the past two decades, more than half a trillion dollars — $528 billion — has been siphoned off by foreign shareholders who have ended up owning every major development in the oilsands, with only two small enterprises under Canadian ownership, according to a new study by University of Alberta political economist Gordon Laxer and Calgary researcher Regan Boychuk.

While the usual narrative has it that oil companies invested billions of dollars of capital to develop the oilsands, in truth, they've done nothing of the sort. All the investment that has gone into the oilsands over the past 23 years has effectively been paid for by the people of Alberta.

"Industry didn't pay those costs. Albertans did," says the report, soon to be released by the University of Alberta's Parkland Institute and the Council of Canadians.

That's because the oil companies have been operating under an extraordinarily generous regime -- paying a mere one per cent royalty, and only after all costs have been deducted. ...

It's a royalty regime that the companies designed themselves, the report notes. This exceptionally favourable arrangement, begun under Premier Ralph Klein in the 1990s, was inspired by the pro-corporate revolution launched by Britain's Margaret Thatcher and America's Ronald Reagan.

It was a sharp departure from how the province had been operating. In the 1980s, premier Peter Lougheed had been much tougher on the oil industry, forcing it to pay a royalty of 25 per cent and even creating an energy company owned in part by the public.

Klein's sweetheart deal for the oilsands, which remains in force today under Kenney, has amounted to a complete capitulation to Big Oil.

On the industry's behalf, the province has also resisted action on climate change, despite producing one of the world's dirtiest oils. And it's allowed Big Oil to destroy Alberta's environment, leaving a clean-up bill estimated at $260 billion, without clear evidence of who will pay for it. (Clue: so far, the province has collected only a paltry $1.6 billion from the companies to cover clean-up costs.)

Defenders of Alberta's oil establishment hate it when critics mention Norway -- understandably. This annoying little country, also endowed with generous oil reserves and a small population, has shown how to throw a punch when it comes to dealing with Big Oil, ensuring the lion's share of the nation's oil wealth benefits its citizens.

By imposing a tough tax regime on oil companies (which always threaten to depart, but never actually leave the negotiating table) and setting up its own publicly owned oil company (now diversified into wind and solar power), Norway has ended up with a heritage fund worth about $1 trillion more than Alberta's fund.

Unless we're indifferent to money, Alberta's management of its economy should be seen as nothing short of a disaster -- something to keep in mind as Kenney and his followers push for maintaining the pro-corporate model in the post-pandemic order.

They'll make their case with a huge megaphone and a lot of swagger, but let's demand they explain why they left a trillion dollars on the table, and little Norway didn't.


Here's more from the article about "The Current State of Liability & Security" diagram about the revenue and costs of the Alberta oilpatch used in the last post created in response to the revelation by the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER), a government agency captured by the fossil fuel sector, that allowed $260 billion in oilpatch clean-up costs to be shifted from the fossil fuel companies to the taxpayers. Incidentally, the actual costs of oilpatch clean-up is likely greater than the $260 billion estimate of the oilpatch beholden Alberta Engergy Regulator, as noted in the article below. 

The Alberta Energy Regulator efforts at damage control this week are nonsensical. It’s difficult to overstate the consequences of the predicament that the regulator – assumed to guard the public interest, but long since captured to serve industry – has plunged the province.

For months its top experts have known that the financial liabilities accumulated by the oilpatch are staggering figures that are far higher than any the industry and government have told the public. While industry has pocketed hundreds of billions in profits from public resources, complicit regulators have enabled $260 billion in unfunded cleanup to accumulate, as National Observer, Global News and the Toronto Star reported this week. Most of these liabilities have been kept off the balance sheets of government and industry.

After National Observer obtained these estimates and sought explanations from the regulator, it stalled for days, as its spin doctors tried to come up with explanations to downplay the financial catastrophe on the horizon.

Once they could no longer keep the numbers secret, they made a comical apology that suggested their top executive in charge of the file, vice president of closure and liability Robert Wadsworth, had made a mistake by telling people about their internal estimates during a private presentation that was prepared in advance with a slide show and speaking notes and which were never meant to be revealed to the public. ...

Were they apologizing because Wadsworth had dared to challenge the industry and embarrass the oilpatch?

Of course, it’s also worth noting that his presentation mentioned several times that the AER’s internal $260 billion estimate was likely lower than the actual liabilities that are hanging over Albertan and Canadian taxpayers.

At the heart of the problem is a regulatory system that Wadsworth admitted was “flawed.” The AER will soon tweak rules governing the cleanup of aging and expired oilfield infrastructure. But the changes were developed in close collaboration with industry and will almost certainly fail to address the true scale, urgency or cost of the crisis. ...

The starkest example is the scandalous mismanagement of aging and expired oilfield infrastructure and the accumulation of $260 billion in cleanup liabilities while hiding the true amount from the public. It puts the scale of off-balance sheet liabilities on a shocking level. Liabilities not recorded on a company’s balance sheet are hidden from investors and lenders. Such hidden liabilities can become a significant concern when trying to assess a firm’s financial health. This scale of unaccounted for liability also has the potential to seriously affect the province’s credit rating.

A screenshot from a private presentation delivered by Alberta Energy Regulator vice-president Robert Wadsworth in Calgary on Feb. 28, 2018 outlining the financial liabilities in the province’s oilpatch. Image from AER presentation ...

Regulators have failed to impose meaningful cleanup deadlines. Another central reason that industry has failed to fulfill a legal obligation to return sites to near their original state is this: accountants simply make the problem disappear.

Accountants do so in three ways. First, they begin with absurdly low estimates of the actual cost of reclamation. Then, the schedule of payments necessary to fund cleanup is drawn far into the future with unrealistically long well lives. Finally, the underestimated costs are discounted over too many years to arrive at the “net present value” that is recorded on a company’s balance sheet....

The province currently holds a mere 0.6 per cent of the internally estimated $260 billion in cleanup costs as security deposits, leaving the Alberta public at severe risk of inheriting tens or even hundreds of billions in environmental liabilities from an industry with an uncertain future.

The bitumen and coal mining liabilities managed under the AER’s Mining Financial Security Program (MFSP) are publicly reported as $27.8 billion, while the regulator privately estimates reclamation will cost $130 billion. The crude oil, natural gas, and in-situ oilsands liabilities managed under the AER’s Licensee Liability Rating (LLR) program are publicly reported as $30.2 billion, while the regulator privately estimates reclamation will cost another $100 billion. ...

The low-ball liabilities publicly reported under the MFSP are supplied by industry without verification by the regulator. And almost all oil and gas producers use the public LLR numbers, shown to be gross underestimates, to state cleanup costs.

What’s more, a case currently before the Supreme Court of Canada could effectively render polluters and their bankers immune from the environmental consequences of their profit. This is the RedWater Energy case in which lower courts in Alberta accepted an extreme interpretation of bankruptcy law that allows bankrupt companies to disown liabilities, dealing a huge blow to regulators’ ability to force polluters to clean up their mess. 

The days of hiding this crisis under a rug are over. Absent dramatic reforms, the Alberta public could inherit hundreds of billions in environmental liabilities while industry and their enablers escape with their pockets stuffed full of profit from our natural resources.

And, as the AER recognized internally, even that is an underestimate. There was less than 1/30th of the old estimate held as security and now there is barely more than 1/200th held by the regulator. Where is industry going to get an extra quarter trillion dollars?

We should be very worried about that, even if our captured energy regulator isn’t.



A June report entitled "STILL DIGGING: G20 GOVERNMENTS CONTINUE TO FINANCE THE CLIMATE CRISIS" found that all G20 countries are continuing to subsidize the fossil fuel industry during the Covid-19 crisis despite the large drop in demand for fossil fuels, instead of shifting toward renewable green energy, with Canada coming in at #2 in subsidies, behind only China. On a per capita basis, Canada is #1 in subsidies by a wide margin.

So much for Trudeau's climate change plan promises as Canada has failed to meet even the Harper greenhouse gas reduction targets that he adopted and bought the Trans Mountain pipeline while increasing subsidies to the oil and gas industry. 

Top 12 G20 countries’ fossil fuel public finance, total and per capita, annual average, 2016-2018*

In 2015, governments around the world committed to hold global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius (°C) and to strive to limit warming to 1.5°C by adopting the Paris Agreement. This analysis shows that since the Paris Agreement was made, G20 countries have acted directly counter to it by providing at least USD 77 billion a year in finance for oil, gas, and coal projects through their international public finance institutions. These countries provided more than three times as much support for fossil fuels as for clean energy.

With the health and livelihoods of billions at immediate risk from COVID-19, governments around the world are preparing public spending packages of a magnitude they previously deemed unthinkable. In normal times, development finance institutions (DFIs), export credit agencies (ECAs), and multilateral development banks (MDBs) already had an outsized impact on the overall energy landscape and more capacity than their private sector peers to act on the climate crisis. In the current moment, their potential influence has multiplied, and it is imperative that they change course. The fossil fuel sector was showing long-term signs of systemic decline before COVID-19 and has been quick to seize on this crisis with requests for massive subsidies and bailouts.1 We cannot afford for the wave of public finance that is being prepared for relief and recovery efforts to prop up the fossil fuel industry as it has in the past. Business as usual would exacerbate the next crisis— the climate crisis—that is already on our doorstep.

 Support for fossil fuels has not dropped since the Paris Agreement was made. Progress on coal took a step backwards compared to 2013 to 2015, with annual average support for coal from G20 countries increasing by $1.3 billion. Support for oil and gas stayed steady at $64 billion a year, showing that public finance institutions are far from aligning their financing with what is necessary to limit warming to 1.5°C.

Export credit agencies (ECAs) were the worst public finance actors, providing nearly 14 times as much support for fossil fuels than clean energy with $40.1 billion a year for fossils and just $2.9 billion for clean energy

Development finance institutions (DFIs) have not supported a transition away from fossil fuels. DFIs provided $25.1 billion annually for fossil fuels and $8.1 billion annually for clean energy, similar to what they financed in 2013 to 2015.

 Multilateral development banks (MDBs) increased their fossil fuel support compared to 2013 to 2015. They provided $11.5 billion to fossil fuels annually — an increase of $3.4 billion over the previous period due to increased finance for oil and gas.

 Most of this fossil fuel finance flowed to wealthier countries. Nine of the top fifteen recipients were high or upper-

middle income countries by the World Bank’s classification.6 Six were lower- middle income, and only one low-income.

China, Canada, Japan, and Korea provided the most public finance for fossil fuels between 2016 to 2018:

China was the largest provider of public finance for fossil fuels —for both oil and gas, as well as coal—with $20.2 billion a year for oil and gas, and $4.4 billion for coal. This is a dramatic increase in China’s support for fossil fuels compared to 2013 to 2015.

Canada was the second largest supporter of fossil fuels with $10.6 billion a year, all of which went to oil and gas. This is especially notable considering the relatively small size of Canada’s economy and population.



In a stunning upset, a Black single mom environmental justice activist, Marquita Bradshaw, who had only $20,000 beat the Democratic establishment candidate in the Tennessee primary who was a military veteran attorney who had a $2,000,000 camaign warchest, sending another message about the changing nature of the Democratic base. By the way the establishment candidate finished third. 

I included this under the US election but also put it here because the post here because it shows what can be done with virtually no money when one attacks the issue head on, instead of attacking the opponent. An issue that has impact not only in the United States and Canada, but around the world. When asked about beating her November election opponent she replied "“I don't have an opponent. We have issues to solve." 

The url below has a video interview of Bradshaw. 

Marquita Bradshaw

Marquita Bradshaw (Photo: Submitted)

Memphis environmentalist, Black activist and single mom Marquita Bradshaw has won the Democratic primary for an open U.S. Senate seat in Tennessee. 

In the November election, Bradshaw will face former U.S. Ambassador to Japan Bill Hagerty, who defeated Nashville trauma surgeon Manny Sethi in the Republican primary.

Bradshaw defeated Nashville attorney and former Army helicopter pilot James Mackler, who had snagged an endorsement from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and others.

“I am so appreciative of the movement we have built across Tennessee of hardworking families,” Bradshaw said outside her home Thursday night. “This is not just Marquita right now. You are looking at hardworking families across Tennessee who want healthy and safe communities.”


"The progressive movement is undeniable," Bradshaw tweeted to her followers. "Thank you all so much for your support and this victory. It’s time to put hardworking people first."

The Memphis Democrat faced four challengers: Robin Kimbrough, James Mackler, Gary Davis and Mark Pickrell. Bradshaw won the race with 35.5% of the vote. Kimbrough had 26.6% and Mackler had 23.8%. Davis and Pickrell trailed with each winning less than 10% of the vote. 

Bradshaw beat out a better-known and better-funded challenger. Previously, Mackler ran briefly in 2018 for former U.S. Sen. Bob Corker's seat until former Gov. Phil Bredesen joined the race. He bowed out and endorsed Bredesen. ...

This time around, Mackler received Bredesen's endorsement and had already been running a campaign aimed at the two leading Republican candidates. He had the backing of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. 

Bradshaw's mother, and a network of people in the environmental justice movement, prepared her for the run and inspired her to do it, she said.

"We have been campaigning since September," Bradshaw said. "We called everyone and they called everyone they knew. It's organizing and building a network of people working together." ...

Bradshaw is an organizer for and involved with local and statewide efforts of the environmental group Sierra Club. Through those efforts she has focused much of her attention on environmental justice, and how, she said, people of color are disproportionately impacted by environmental policy. It’s something she would focus on in the Senate....

Since she announced her campaign, Bradshaw raised $8,420, according to her most recent Federal Election Commission filing. Comparatively, Mackler raised $2.1 million to run in the race. In that time, he has spent $1.5 million. 

“Let me tell you what we did with less than $25,000 ... we beat out $1 million. So just imagine (what we can do) with a $3 million budget, utilizing organizing principles to bring people back into this process, so they can have faith that they will have true representation in Washington, D.C.,” Bradshaw said.

“This is a network that has reached across Tennessee. Now it's time to move forward to flip this U.S. Senate seat. And we can do it by working together, by staying true to the principles ... by listening to voters.”

Bradshaw, when asked about the prospect of running against Hagerty in deep-red Tennessee, said: “I don't have an opponent. We have issues to solve. And that's the reason why we're leading in the state right now. And that's how we're going to flip this U.S. Senate seat.



A new study from the University of British Columbia published in Nature Climate Change this month concludes that melting glaciers will create water shortages for one-in-four Albertans.

A first-of-its kind study from the University of British Columbia has found that melting glaciers will bring water shortages to one-in-four people living in Alberta.


Melting glaciers will bring instability to more than 1 million Albertans' water supply 

A first of its kind study from the University of British Columbia has found that melting glaciers will bring water shortages to one in four people living in Alberta. The study, which was published in the journal of Nature Climate Change on Aug. 3, found that global glacier retreat will have big impacts on the availability of water for communities that rely on glacier runoff during the summer season.

Sam Anderson, the study's lead author and a PhD candidate in UBC's department of earth, ocean, and atmospheric sciences, grew up in Alberta. During his undergrad at the University of Alberta, he came across photos comparing the size of glaciers in the Rocky Mountains 100 years ago and today.

"I was really shocked at how much smaller they were today, versus in the past. And then I was thinking, you know, in Edmonton, when I turn on the tap, that water is coming from the North Saskatchewan River, which at the very beginning is starting at these glaciers that are disappearing," he said. "So that's when I became very concerned and interested in figuring out how water supply in communities will change as we lose these glaciers."

Anderson and co-author Valentina Radic looked at water flow data for 194 rivers from the 1980s through 2010, to see how glacier-fed rivers in the province behave differently from non-glacier fed rivers. What they found was the loss of glacier-fed waters will have a significant impact on the water that supplies the Bighorn Dam, which serves more than 1 million people, Rocky Mountain House, Lake Louise, and Hinton. Alberta's total population is roughly 4.4 million.

"Once these glaciers are no longer contributing water to the rivers, the rivers at those locations will have lower flows on average, and greater variability from year to year," he said. He said there will be less water available in those areas in August each year, and the supply will be more inconsistent. "Effectively what we found is not that there will be no water in those locations in late summer, but that they'll be transitioning from historically high water happening in August to, in the future, having low water." ...

The study did not look at when communities might feel the impact of glacier loss. Anderson said the intention was to examine which areas would be affected so that other studies could zero in on those areas to establish timelines. 

Models show that the Rocky Mountains could lose 90 per cent of glacier ice volume by 2100, due to climate change. ...

While glaciers feed municipal water supplies, they also do a lot more, like generating hydropower, providing irrigation for agriculture, and playing a role in terms of tourism.


"Satellite animation  from July 30 to Aug 4, shows the collapse of the last fully intact ice shelf in Canada. The Milne Ice Shelf, located on Ellesmere Island in Nunavut has now reduced in territory by 43%."

Develop those oil sands, build those pipelines, 'Support PM Trudeau's bold action plan on climate change'.


'I Often Thought NDP Govts Would Be Progressive. Not the Current One in BC'

"The latest data from the provincial govt shows BC's 2018 GHG emissions spiked to an all time high since 2001 - largely due to oil projects, off-road transport and heavy duty diesel vehicles. When will our govts walk the talk on climate action?"

When we make them. Not until.


NDPP wrote:

"Satellite animation  from July 30 to Aug 4, shows the collapse of the last fully intact ice shelf in Canada. The Milne Ice Shelf, located on Ellesmere Island in Nunavut has now reduced in territory by 43%."


Here's more on the signifigance of the collapse of the the Milne ice shelf off Ellesmere Island. 

Massive Chunk of Canada's Last Ice Shelf Reduced by More Than Half Creating a Manhattan-Iceberg
Massive Chunk of Canada's Last Ice Shelf Reduced by More Than Half Creating a Manhattan-Iceberg

A massive chunk of Canada's last fully intact ice shelf, some 4,000 years old, has broken off, reducing the shelf by more than half, scientists reported last Sunday. After separating from the shelf, the piece split in two, forming an iceberg almost the size of Manhattan. ...

Climate change likely fuelled the collapse of the shelf, researchers said. This summer, the region's temperature was 9 degrees Fahrenheit (5 degrees Celsius) warmer than the 1980 to 2010 average, Luke Copland, a glaciology professor at the University of Ottawa, told the Associated Press.

"Above normal air temperatures, offshore winds, and open water in front of the ice shelf are all part of the recipe for ice shelf break up," the Canadian Ice Service said on Twitter.

A research camp was lost when the shelf broke apart, as was the Northern Hemisphere's last known epishelf, a kind of freshwater lake, flanked by ice, that sits on top of ocean water. ...

Satellite imagery shows that about 43 percent of the shelf broke off, forming pieces that were up to 260 feet (80 metres) thick. ...

"Entire cities are that size," Copland told Reuters. "This was the largest remaining intact ice shelf, and it's disintegrated, basically."...

The Arctic is warming much faster than the rest of the world, a phenomenon known as polar amplification, and those hot temperatures are causing ice to melt. Today, for example, polar ice caps are melting six times faster than in the 1990s.

In Canada, there used to be a continuous ice shelf spanning the northern coast of Ellesmere, but human-made warming has caused it to break apart, White said.

By 2005, Milne was "really the last complete ice shelf," she told the Associated Press.


With the province of Alberta facing ongoing economic decline because of its dependence on fossil fuel production and Kenney needing a distraction from the political embarrassment wrought by Education Minister Adriana LaGrange's disastrous curriculum-review news conference, Jason trotted out a solution that had nothing to do with shifting to safe renewable energy. Instead he announced "a multi-province effort to sell natural resources and encourage the development and sale of a new generation of Canadian technology." in a proposal that made no economic or environmental sense. 

 Screenshot of Government of Alberta video

But there was the Alberta premier on Friday, accompanied by Energy Minister Sonya Savage, touting the benefits of building international markets for Alberta's ethical uranium and developing safe new "small modular reactors" to generate "small scale nuclear power."

Despite the inevitable controversy that will result from any project involving development of nuclear power, and the fact that the three-province memorandum of understanding the Kenney government plans to sign is a long-term, rather speculative, project, you'd think this would be the kind of deal the United Conservative Party would normally want to shout from the rooftops. So why now? ...

The political calculation behind the timing of Friday's video announcement is easier to explain than the murky economics of small modular reactors. ...

The explanation, almost certainly, was the political embarrassment wrought by Education Minister Adriana LaGrange's disastrous curriculum-review news conference the day before, which started to melt down the instant that curriculum advisory panel chair Angus McBeath stepped up to the microphone and opened his mouth. ... LaGrange's newser had itself likely been a failed attempt to distract citizens from the fatal potential of her ministry's half-baked plan to reopen Alberta's schools in September without adequate measures in place to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.  ...

Conveniently, the collaboration memorandum of understanding signed last year by New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs, Ontario Premier Doug Ford, and Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe was readily at hand and provided an opportunity to change the channel. ...

What's more, the people most likely to get riled up right now, environmentalists and the like, are easy to portray as enemies of Alberta. ...

As a bonus, the dream of a safe little nuclear reactor that can power the carbon intensive extraction of bitumen from the tarry oilsands of Athabasca is bound to appeal to the UCP's base, if no one else.

Even Kenney knows this scheme will never work economically. 

For a variety of economic and technical reasons, the scenario Kenney described while re-tweeting a CBC story about his announcement that Alberta intends to sign onto the three-province effort to develop small nukes is unlikely ever to occur.

Kenney and his government's officials certainly know this.

This is not a judgment call on whether "small modular reactors" -- as the companies proposing manufacturing these things prefer to call them to sooth a public skittish about the word "nuclear" -- will perform as advertised. Small nuclear reactors can be built and should be able to be operated reasonably safely.

Nor is it a call on whether nuclear power is the solution to a warming planet or a dystopian nightmare with the potential to make things even worse. ... The problem is that the economics of the scheme described by Kenney just don't add up.

As long as natural gas is cheap and plentiful, small nuclear reactors will not make economic sense. 

Except in a few locations like very remote mines, small nuclear reactors will never make sense from an economic standpoint as long as natural gas is readily available and inexpensive, as it is now in Canada and will likely remain. Even a modular reactor built by a mature industry selling lots of units would cost more to build and run than a natural-gas powered plant. And right now, there is no approved small reactor design anywhere in the West, and no mature industry to make them. ...

Small nuclear reactors are not necessarily as cheap to build as nuclear fairy tales like the premier's suggest. 

Creating an acceptable small nuclear reactor design all the way from the drawing board to approval by a national nuclear regulatory authority will cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

While dozens of speculative companies are printing colourful brochures with pretty pictures of little nukes being trucked to their destinations, very few are serious ventures with any possibility of building an actual reactor. The UN's International Atomic Energy Agency says diplomatically there are about 50 concepts "at different stages of development." Those that are serious, like NuScale Power in the United States, have huge amounts of government money behind them.

The only small nuclear reactor plant known to be operating in the world now is the Akademik Lomonosov, Russia's floating power barge with two 35-megawatt reactors aboard. From an original estimate of US$140 million in 2006, its cost had ballooned to US$740 million when the vessel was launched....

Small reactors are less economical to run than big reactors. 

If a reactor is only producing 300 megawatts of electricity compared to 800 megawatts or more, it's not going to generate as much profit for its private sector owners. This is why all reactors getting built in the world nowadays are large -- 1,000 to 1,600 megawatts....

Small reactor designs mostly require enriched uranium, and Canada doesn't produce any ...

Global uranium markets are already saturated, so there's no way this will become a new resource industry for Alberta. ...

Then there's still the matter of waste disposal. 

Nuclear plants don't produce a lot of waste by volume, but what there is sure has the potential to cause problems for a very long time. Thousands of years and more. So safe storage is an issue with small nukes, just like it is with big ones.


Lennox Island, which is a First Nations reserve that is part of the province of Prince Edward Island, is losing its battle with sea level rise created by climate change. This is also happening to PEI, but at half the rate of Lennox Island. The photo of the sacred First Nations cemetery, which has had to had to have a wall built around it, is just one example of the problems already created by climate change on Lennox Island. 

The community spent tens of thousands of dollars to build a rock wall to shore up Lennox Island’s cemetery against the rising waters.© Provided by Guardian News The community spent tens of thousands of dollars to build a rock wall to shore up Lennox Island’s cemetery against the rising waters.

On Lennox Island, the signs of climate change are everywhere.

The coastal cave where Gilbert Sark played as a child has disappeared. The beachside location where his family used to have cookouts has shrunk, and the area where they once set up the firepit is now underwater. And the sacred burial grounds of his ancestors have had to be relocated, to protect them from erosion.

Eventually, he worries his entire community may have to follow suit. "This is my home," he said. "And we're losing it."

Sark grew up on this 540 hectare island on the north shore of Prince Edward Island, the home of the Lennox Island First Nation. ...

In his lifetime, he's seen the low-lying island steadily erode, jeopardizing homes and critical infrastructure, and prompting some to wonder if the future of Lennox Island lies on the mainland.

"For Lennox Island, I hope we actually figure out how we can slow down the erosion," he said. "And that, further down in the future, we figure out how to actually start relocating, and just get ready for that." ...

The composition of the land on P.E.I. — there are no rocky shores, only sand and sandstone — makes the whole island vulnerable to erosion and sea level rise, but Lennox Island is eroding twice as fast as the mainland, according to research from the University of Prince Edward Island. ...

In some places, such as the graveyard for Lennox Island's Catholic church, the community has stopped erosion by armouring the shore with small boulders and cages of rocks....

A similar approach has been taken elsewhere, including at the causeway and bridge connecting Lennox Island to the mainland. Work is in the planning stages to protect other vulnerable spots in the community, with adaptations such as shoreline armouring or sacrificial reefs.

One spot that Sark hopes is protected is the community's powwow grounds, which he said has lost roughly a metre of land to erosion this year....

"Now that will only work for so long," he said. "If it's going to erode, you can slow it down and plan for it, but at the end of the day, you can't stop water." ...

Sark said the community's youth are well aware of the impending threat. When asked at a community meeting where they saw Lennox Island in 50 years, "they all put up their hands and said 'underwater.'"

Sark said that as a solution, the youth suggested building houses on land the community has purchased on the mainland.


The Ford Ontario government is being sued by Ecojustice and Greenpeace  because of it passed it Covid-19 bill which undermines environmental oversight without consulting the public as required by law. Ecojustice already represents a group of young people who are suing the Ford government because alleging of the Ford government's lack of climate action that is endangering their charter rights.

Ontario Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk speaks to media following the release of her annual report in Toronto on Dec. 5, 2018. Photo by Fatima Syed

Ontario auditor general Bonnie Lysyk speaks to media in 2018. Lysyk has said the government was required to consult the public on environmental changes in Bill 197. File photo by Fatima Syed

A coalition of environmental groups filed a lawsuit against the Ford government Monday, alleging the province’s lack of public consultation on environmental changes in its economic recovery bill was “unlawful.”

The Ontario legislature passed the omnibus Bill 197 last month over objections from opposition parties, environmental advocates and auditor general Bonnie Lysyk. Lysyk warned the government would be “not compliant” with Ontario’s Environmental Bill of Rights if it passed the bill without consulting the public. The bill was aimed at jumpstarting economic activity after COVID-19, but critics said it undermines environmental oversight.

“The government does have to consult the public when it makes changes like this,” said Ian Miron, a staff lawyer with the green law charity Ecojustice, which is representing Greenpeace Canada and the Wilderness Committee.

“We say (the passage of the bill) broke the law.”

The environmental groups have filed an application for judicial review, asking Ontario’s Divisional Court to rule that the Ontario government’s passage of the bill was “unlawful.” If successful, the law wouldn’t be struck down, but Miron said he hopes clear guidance from the courts could help the government reassess its plans — though Bill 197 has passed, it hasn’t taken effect yet. ...

Greenpeace and Ecojustice brought a similar case before the courts in 2018, after the Ford government axed the province’s cap-and-trade program without holding consultations. The court found last year that the government broke the law in that case, though the judges didn’t compel the government to undo the change. 

Three environmental groups are taking the Ford government to court for failing to consult the public on major envirnmental changes in Bill 197. “We say (the passage of the bill) broke the law," said Ian Miron, a staff lawyer with Ecojustice. ...

Ecojustice is also representing a group of young people who filed a suit against the Ford government last year, alleging the province’s lack of climate action is endangering their charter rights.

In the application for judicial review on Bill 197, Ecojustice alleged the Ford government has shown a “pattern of illegal conduct. Here we are again,” Miron said. ...

In Ontario, the Environmental Bill of Rights mandates governments to consult the public for 30 days on changes that would impact the environment. Proposals are supposed to be posted online, on the Environmental Registry, for public feedback. ...

The Ford government did not do so before it passed Bill 197, which included rewrites to 20 pieces of legislation, including several that related to the environment.

Lysyk previously told Canada's National Observer she was concerned about a section of the bill that overhauled environmental assessments (environmental advocates said the rewrite weakened environmental protections). She also flagged a portion that expanded the government’s power to use Ministerial Zoning Orders (MZOs), a mechanism that allows Municipal Affairs Minister Steve Clark to override the normal land planning process.

The Ecojustice court challenge mentions those sections as well, but also points to four other sections that it says would change laws related to the environment, with measures related to expropriating land, land development and municipal drainage systems. The laws changed fall under four ministries — municipal affairs, agriculture, environment and transportation.


Since Brazil's President Bolsinaro denies climate change exists, it is not surprising that he now denies that there are wildfires in the Amazon, despite a record number of fires there this month. Since the Amazon is "the lungs of the world", taking in so much carbon dioxide and giving off oxygen, its destruction is a major contributor to global warming. 

2019 was already a record year for Amazonian. A study that year warned that "as the climate becomes hotter and drier, future fires could be far more damaging.They project that the amount of forest burned could double by 2050 and consume 16 percent of the rainforest." The study concluded that " fires could imperil its ability to fight climate change, the study found, to the point that the forest actually could begin contributing more planet-warming gases to the air than it absorbs by 2050 -- or sooner." (

 A photo from Brazil in August 2019 shows one of the many fires that scorched the Amazon last year.

A photo from Brazil in August 2019 shows one of the many fires that scorched the Amazon last year.

The Amazon has seen the worst start to the fire season in a decade, with 10,136 fires spotted in the first 10 days of August, a 17% rise on last year.

Analysis of Brazilian government figures by Greenpeace showed fires increasing by 81% in federal reserves compared with the same period last year. Coming a year after soaring Amazon fires caused an international crisis, the new figures raised fears this year’s fire season could be even worse than last year’s.

“This is the direct result of this government’s lack of an environment policy,” said Romulo Batista, senior forest campaigner for Greenpeace Brasil. “We had more fires than last year.”

The numbers are likely to add to the rising sense of alarm among business leaders and investors over the negative impact caused by the ongoing destruction of Brazil’s Amazon forest. ...

Fires in July were 28% up on a year ago, according to Brazil’s Space Research Institute (INPE), in charge of satellite monitoring. Deforestation from August 2019 to July 2020 is up 34%. And nobody has been charged over last year’s coordinated “Fire Day”, when fires tripled in the state of Pará alone on 10-11 August, especially around the Novo Progresso area, where 638 fires were spotted in the first 10 days of August. ...

“This story that the Amazon is going up in flames is a lie and we must combat it with true numbers,” Bolsonaro said, according to Reuters, which published photos of forest devastated by fire in Apuí municipality in Amazonas state.

Fires in the Amazon dry season are mainly caused by people either clearing land, or burning felled trees or forest from which valuable woods have already been removed, Batista said.


The once common sea stars along British Columbia's coast are in danger of going extinct due to warming ocean water caused by climate change. Some sea star species have already totally disappeared from the southern United States coast because of this. Scientists are now trying to get some species listed as "threatened". The loss of sea stars has long-term negative implications for the entire marine ecosystem, as the following article explains. 

Because scientists cannot monitor the entire Pacific coast, they are asking people to upload an app, take photos and record data along the coast of sea stars to help monitor the precarious position of the sea stars. Information on the app is provided in the article below. 

An ochre star clinging to a rock on B.C.'s West Coast in August 2019 shows white blotches, indicating sea star wasting disease. Photo: Courtesy Alyssa Gehman

The once common treasure of the tidal pool is at risk of being eradicated along the Pacific coastline from a deadly combination of disease and warming oceans caused by climate change, said biologist Alyssa Gehman.

“It’s hard when you're thinking about conservation of a species,” said Gehman. “Because climate change, well, that's a very big problem to address.”

The problem surfaced in 2013, when sea star wasting disease (or SSWD) was spotted along the B.C. and Washington coasts.

It then rapidly began to lay waste to many as 20 different sea star species from Mexico to Alaska, said Gehman, a researcher with the University of British Columbia and the Hakai Institute. ...

The syndrome, linked to a virus, starts as white lesions on the sea stars, but quickly causes their arms to fall off and reduces the creatures to white piles of mush. “It looks like they are melting away,” Gehman said. “It’s really sad.”

Two of the most affected sea stars, the ochre and the sunflower stars, were once abundant on the B.C. coast, but both were ravaged by SSWD, she said.

The sunflower sea star has been hit especially hard. ... But the species has suffered a massive die-off. There’s been up to a 90 per cent decline in overall population, with the complete disappearance of sunflower stars in some southern areas of the U.S. coast, Gehman said.

The loss is so widespread, persistent and alarming that Gehman and a group of her peers are trying to get the sunflower sea star registered as a threatened species. ...

Research indicates rising sea temperatures linked to climate change makes the sea stars more vulnerable to a virus that previously had isolated effect on sea star populations — but is now pushing some to the edge of extinction, said Gehman. Lab experiments also show infected stars die faster and suffer a higher mortality rate in warmer water, she said. ...

Aside from the alarming loss of sea stars, their disappearance has larger, ongoing implications for the marine ecosystem, Gehman said.

Both sunflower and ochre stars — the purple and orange starfish found clinging to rocky beaches and piers that people along the B.C. coast are most likely to recognize — are keystone species.

Both have a disproportionately large influence in their ecosystem, Gehman said. Ochre stars keep mussel colonies along rocky shorelines at bay, allowing other plants and animals to thrive. Sunflower stars, in particular, are voracious eaters that can swallow sea urchins whole, keeping their populations in check. But now without this primary predator, sea urchins are mowing down kelp forests. 

It’s difficult for researchers and scientists to monitor the entire Pacific coastline for sea stars, Gehman noted.

So, there’s a push to educate the public about sea stars and to encourage them to become citizen scientists and help researchers monitor populations in their areas, she said.

An especially useful tool is the iNaturalist app that can be downloaded to cellphones, Gehman said. If people see sea stars, they can take photos and record data on the app about their sightings and provide valuable information to researchers.


'Canary in the Coal Mine': Greenland Ice Has Shrunk Beyond Return, Study Finds

"Greenland's ice sheet may have shrunk past the point of no return, with the ice likely to melt away no matter how quickly the world reduces climate warming emissions,* new research suggests..."

There doesn't appear to be any rush unfortunately.


The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is predicting a record number of named storms this year thanks to an extremely active hurricane season created by global warming. We already had a previously unheard of nine named storm by August 6th, instead of the usual two such storms by this time, including Hurricane Isaias that hit southeastern Canada as a "post-tropical cyclone. Heavy rains meant about 46,000 residents of Quebec were without power overnight, according to Hydro Quebec. The ninth named storm of the year, Isaias hit Puerto Rico, Haiti and the Dominican Republic with hurricane strength winds last week." (

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has predicted an “extremely active” hurricane season in the US in an already record-breaking year for storms. NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center said there could be up to 25 storms which have sustained winds of 39mph or greater. Storms which hit this threshold are named by the agency. This year, there have already been nine named storms, a record which makes 2020’s hurricane season one of the busiest on record in the US. In a normal year, there are usually two storms before August which are named. ...

Gerry Bell, the lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at the Climate Prediction Center, said the combined intensity and duration of all storms during the season is predicted to be much higher than the threshold for an “extremely active” season. “We’ve never forecast up to 25 storms,” Bell said in a press briefing. “So this is the first time.” The previous high was in 2005, when the agency predicted a maximum of 21 named storms.

Of the 25 possible named storms, Noaa estimates seven to 11 could become hurricanes, which have winds of at least 74mph. The agency also forecast that three to six storms could become major hurricanes, with winds of 111mph or more. ...

The increase in predicted hurricanes is attributed to warmer than usual sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, combined with the wind conditions. There is also growing evidence that warming in the atmosphere and upper ocean, caused by human activity, is creating conditions more suitable for more destructive hurricanes.


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