From December 3 to 6, the somewhat neglected but still unfortunately effective World Trade Organization meets for a ninth ministerial conference, this time in Bali, Indonesia. Its effectiveness is unfortunate because, as this global sign-on stat…
I noticed maybe a month ago that this Brand guy had a brain, and it’s a good one. Paxman: “You’re not going to solve world problems by facetiousness.” Brand: “We’re not going to solve them with the current system! At least facetiousness is funny.” – To detract from Brand’s point, there is still value in […]
EDMONTON – Alberta Opposition Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith is coming under fire for refusing…
We’ve all seen how terrible things can get when science fiction tries to tackle environmental issues. There’s The Day After Tomorrow, with its super ice-hurricanes, and The Host, starring fish monsters created by pollution. Still, there’s no reason yo…
An environmental message that’s hard to ignore
As the days get cooler and shorter, millions of salmon are making the arduous journey up the rivers and streams of British Columbia to the spawning grounds where they were born. Waiting for this rich pulse of life from the Pacific Ocean are bears, gulls, wolves, eagles, ospreys, crows, pine martins and dozens of other species. Communities and businesses wait, too. It’s fitting that this time of year also marks the first anniversary of the final report of the Cohen Commission of Inquiry into the Decline of Sockeye Salmon in the Fraser River.
The Sahara desert is about the driest spot in the world. It wasn’t always that way. It wasn’t always a desert. About 10,000 years ago it looked like the grasslands of other parts of Africa today. Then it changed and new research from the Horn of Africa shows it likely changed in a geological heartbeat. It should be a warning to us all.
What the scientists found was that, far from shifting gradually from wet to dry, the climate in the Horn of Africa changed in perhaps as little as 100 to 200 years, incredibly quickly in geological terms. The reason north Africa warmed up, they believe, was a cyclic change in Earth’s orientation toward the sun (called precession) which caused more sunlight to fall during the Northern Hemisphere’s summer. But the precession cycle is slow, taking 23,000 years to complete. So why was the changeover in the Horn of Africa so quick?
“It shows something really surprising,” says [Columbia University geologist Peter] deMenocal. “It’s evidence that climate doesn’t respond gradually to gradual forcing. It would be wonderful in global warming if everything just kept pace with the gradual rise in CO2, then we could plan for this, we would know what is going to happen, there would be some predictability in it.”
But what researchers like Tierney and deMenocal are increasingly finding is that climate doesn’t change in a linear fashion, but suddenly and seemingly unpredictably. That’s because there are positive feedback mechanisms that start to kick in and speed things up. For example, when the Arctic sea ice melts, as it has increasingly in recent years, the area of dark blue heat-absorbing ocean increases, raising temperatures, melting more ice, which in turn raises temperatures still further in an snowballing process.
There are among us plenty of people who think that a few degrees of warming would be just dandy. More golfing in February sort of thing. These types assume we can warm without destabilizing the climate with potentially very dangerous consequences. And, yes, these climatic triggers are measured in parts per million. Anyone who doubts that should read Peter Ward’s “Under a Green Sky” and look at the latest numbers on ocean warming and acidification. That might just jolt you out of your complacency.
As part of our continuing series of commentaries celebrating the 50th anniversary of Mel Watkins’ classic article, “A Staple Theory of Economic Growth,” we present the following commentary by Marc Lee, economist with the B.C. office of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. Marc considers the implications — both economic and environmental — of the current [...]
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its 2013 at the end of September. It said there is 95 per cent certainty that human activity is causing climate change. Dr. Christian Holz is executive director of Climate Action Canada. He speaks …
In today’s comments, we envied the polite small-talk abilities of the marmoset, looked up at the heavens with a mixture of awe and suspicion, and learned one more reason to fear the deep: hybrid sharks.Read more…
UPDATE: Please watch this wonderful message from Rick Mercer to Saugeen Secondary, which hosted a special 24 Hours of Reality event.
The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has released its most recent report. The blue ribbon group of scientists concluded that is 95 per cent certain that global warming is occurring, that it is caused mainly by our burning o…
“The War On Science: Muzzled Scientists and Willful Blindness in Stephen Harper’s Canada”, a new book by Canadian author Chris Turner, presents “a passionate and meticulously researched argument” against the Conservatives unrelenting war on Canadian science.
The post New book articulates Harper’s unrelenting war on Canadian science appeared first on The Canadian Progressive.
This is the text of remarks I made today to Vancouver city council on divestment. Earlier this year, Council requested that staff report back on how the city’s financial investments align with the city’s mission and values, and various ethical p…
A recent report from the European Environment Agency, a watchdog group, confirms that several countries are making good on their promises to reduce emissions and switch over to green energy. Read more…
This is the text of remarks I made today to Vancouver city council on divestment. Earlier this year, Council requested that staff report back on how the city’s financial investments align with the city’s mission and values, and various ethical programs like the city’s purchasing policy and the greenest city initiative. So the meeting was [...]
Those who think Canada’s global influence has plummeted since the Conservatives took power are not paying attention to what is happening in Europe. This is not really a success story. More a shameful example of the heroic efforts the Harper gove…
After one week filled with delicious recipes, hot gardening tips and helpful biking notes, our first Eat Local: food and sustainability challenge is over.
Thank you to everyone who participated in the challenge and contributed on babble, o…
A new book by journalist Alex Renton takes a short sharp tour of the cheap meat habit, its costs and solutions. Alex Renton is an award-winning journalist specializing in poverty and development and in food culture and food policy around the world. He …
OTTAWA — Despite significant and sustained investments since the turn of the century, Canada is still being challenged with new demands for “world-class” public infrastructure to sustain its economic growth. The Harper government has announced a renewed long-term infrastructure plan over […]
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change just released the first of four chapters of its Fifth Assessment Report. It shows scientists are more certain now than in 2007 when the Fourth Assessment was released that humans are largely responsible for global warming – mainly by burning fossil fuels and cutting down forests – and that it’s getting worse and poses a serious threat to humanity. It contains hints of optimism, though, and shows addressing the problem creates opportunities.
The IPCC was set up in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization and UN Environment Programme at the request of member governments. (Read more…)
1. “It’s like comparing apples and oranges.”
The difference between apples and oranges used to be so stark that to compare them would have been, well, fruitless. But thanks to the triumphs of agriculture and biotechnology, soon we’ll have apples that are oranges. No word yet on whether they’ll keep the doctor away.
Update: It’s like comparing apples to genetically modified apples.
2. “The early bird gets the worm.”
If wasted food became its own pungent country, it would be the world’s third biggest contributor to climate change.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization had previously determined that roughly one-third of food is wasted around the world. Now it has used those figures to calculate the environmental impacts of farming food that is never eaten, along with the climate-changing effects of the methane that escapes from food as it rots.
The results, published in a new report, were as nauseating as a grub-infested apple:
OTTAWA — Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s environment minister is casting doubt about scientific observations of melting summer sea ice in Canada’s north. In a short televised interview on CTV’s daily political show, Power Play, Leona Aglukkaq suggested the scientific observations […]
Without even an environmental assessment, oil giant Enbridge wants to use a 38-year-old pipeline to pump toxic tar sands through the most populated corridor in the country, promoting the tar sands and contributing to climate change. As Toronto e…
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change just released the first of four chapters of its Fifth Assessment Report. It shows scientists are more certain now than in 2007 when the Fourth Assessment was released that humans are largely responsible for global warming — mainly by burning fossil fuels and cutting down forests — and that it’s getting worse and poses a serious threat to humanity. It contains hints of optimism, though, and shows addressing the problem creates opportunities.
The world is running out of accessible clean water. Modern humans are polluting, mismanaging and displacing our finite freshwater sources at an alarming rate. Since 1990, half the rivers in China have disappeared. The Ogallala Aquifer that suppl…
Australians may have elected a climate change denier, Tony Abbott, as their prime minister but that’s not going to make their climate change problems go away. The Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank Corporation, better known as HSBC, has released a report that concludes Australia is rapidly moving up the ranks of G20 countries vulnerable to global warming.
Australia’s exposure to climate change has worsened more rapidly than in any other major economy in the past two years, with stresses on water supplies increasing and the cost of natural disasters running second only to China, a report has found.
Deterioration in water resources is also a major issue, with Australia, along with Saudi Arabia, experiencing the worst increases.
HSBC concluded that India, China, Indonesia, South Africa and Brazil are the countries most vulnerable to climate change, based on the challenges posed by climate change and their ability to respond to them.
However, Australia’s position appears to be worsening, with the country now placed as the fifth worst in the G20 for climate change exposure, down five places from HSBC’s last climate report in 2011. This separate ranking is based on a country’s exposure to temperature increases, water stresses and extreme events.
Australia’s water resources per capita have dropped 6.8 per cent in the past two years, according to the report.
Oh well, burn baby, burn, and pass the Foster’s.
Melbourne was hit by fierce winds overnight. Gust up to 140 kms./hr. ripped roofs straight off homes like this one.
Meanwhile the people of New South Wales have been warned to prepare for the arrival of more heavy windstorms.
A New Zealand court will hear a refugee-status claim from a Kiribati man who contends he had to flee not persecution but climate change.
Kiribati is a low-lying atoll in the South Pacific that will be among the first to be inundated by rising sea levels. There’s simply not enough high ground to support the population.
The 37-year-old and his wife left his remote atoll in the Pacific nation of Kiribati six years ago for higher ground and better prospects in New Zealand, where their three children were born. Immigration authorities have twice rejected his argument that rising sea levels make it too dangerous for him and his family to return to Kiribati.
Legal experts consider the man’s case a long shot, but it will nevertheless be closely watched, and might have implications for tens of millions of residents in low-lying islands around the world. Kiribati, an impoverished string of 33 coral atolls about halfway between Hawaii and Australia, has about 103,000 people and has been identified by scientists as among the nations most vulnerable to climate change.
Yes the case will be watched closely elsewhere, especially in the United States and in Europe, two places facing the very certain prospect of waves of climate change refugees. Europe already has a problem with human migration out of Africa. Military planners in the United States foresee a similar migration threat from Central America. The irony is that the countries that perceive themselves most threatened by climate change refugees tend to have been the major emitters of greenhouse gases that rendered the migrants’ homelands uninhabitable.
Somenos Marsh Society organized a meeting last Friday evening to look into North Cowichan Council’s minding numbing plans to continue development in the Somenos Marsh flood plain area.
Fortunately Cowichan Conversations contributor Don Maroc appeared as a panelist.
His report appears below and I should add that now that the rains have come Mr. Maroc has hinted that he just might be sending more of his observations, thoughts and opinions this way and that it just fine.
Let it rain folks.
As Maroc mentions below, only Councillors Barb Lines and Kate Marsh bothered attending the meeting.
That should be noted by (Read more…)
This week, Deutsche Welle Living Planet broadcast the first of my audio diaries from the Students on Ice 2013 Arctic Expedition. This first audio postcard captures the reflections of Canadian high school student Gerrit Wesselink as he travels up the western coast of Greenland and across the Davis Strait to Baffin Island and the eastern Canadian Arctic. Gerrit talks about his experiences on the trip, which include polar bear sightings, zodiac cruises in a field of giant icebergs and witnessing first-hand the impacts of climate change in the Arctic.
DW Living Planet is an award-winning international program that explores environmental (Read more…)
OTTAWA – The latest international report on climate change confirms that global warming is amplified in Canada and the trend is going to continue, the David Suzuki Foundation said Monday.
The report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which was partially released Friday before being unveiled Monday in its entirety, confirms the planet is heating up and that it’s likely human activities are to blame.
The Suzuki foundation, however, said the detailed report shows that climate change hits harder in northern countries such as Canada. Global warming is magnified at or near the polar regions, largely due to the (Read more…)
Political commitments on climate action, to the extent they exist, are usually pitched in terms of targets and timelines. B.C., for example, has a legislated target of 33 per cent below 2007 levels by 2020; Canada’s official target is a 17 per c…