Councillors: We Need an Extreme Temperature Emergency Plan

Image result for extreme temperaturesCredit: Hokkaido University

Our 4.57-billion-year-old planet is divided into geological periods, typically lasting more than three million years. Now just 11,500 years into the current epoch, the Holocene, we are apparently crashing headlong into a new epoch, the Anthropocene–the era of rising atmospheric carbon and chemical pollution caused by humans.

The change is a result of industrial activity beginning in the 1800s, aided by automobile exhausts in the 1900s. In Canada, one of the world’s highest per capita polluters, average temperatures have risen a whopping 1.7 degrees Celsius just since 1948.

The clock is ticking. The UN Special Report on Global Warming warns that globally we have until 2030 to decarbonize to keep total global emissions to a moderately safe level of 1.5 degrees C. The hope is that this will avoid a catastrophic future of extreme natural disasters.

During the last year, we have seen lives lost in droughts, floods, forest fires, and heat waves. With rising temperatures, many plant and animal species are experiencing unprecedented collapse. To date, the IUCN Red List, the preeminent global directory of extinction threat, has examined less than 10 percent of known plant species. Plants have always been the source for many of our medicines.

The threat of widespread extinction includes 1 out of 8 birds; 1 out of 4 mammals; 1 out of 4 conifers; 1 out of 3 amphibians; 6 out of 7 marine turtles. 75% of genetic diversity of agricultural crops has been lost. 75% of the world’s fisheries are fully or over exploited. Up to 70% of the world’s known species risk extinction if the global temperatures rise by more than 3.5°C. 1/3rd of reef-building corals around the world are threatened with extinction. Over 350 million people suffer from severe water scarcity”

And mankind? The longevity in both men and women is falling simultaneously in 18 high-income countries. The journal Human Reproduction Update reports that the concentration of sperm in semen, also known as sperm count, has halved in the West since the 1970s. In Ontario, because of a lack of basic protections from chemical pollution, twice as many girls are being born as boys in Aamjiwnaang First Nation.

“A heatwave that affected Ontario and Quebec during the beginning of July resulted in at least 90 heat-related deaths as temperatures with humidex factor reached the into the 40s.” The Carbon Reality Project warns, “days of extremely high temperatures and poor air quality are only becoming more frequent and pose a threat to vulnerable populations the hardest – specifically, babies, children, and seniors, as well as people who work outdoors or are already ill.”

In Prince Edward County we can learn from these tragedies.

With careful preparation there is much County Council can do to minimize heat-related deaths if proper preparations are made now.

We have to be able to identify individuals at risk from severe heat events and identify the resources available to cope.

We need to be able to ask and answer:

      • Who are they?
      • Where do they live?
      • Do they have access to air conditioning?
      • Can they cope in the event of an electrical outage?
      • Do they have neighbours or health professionals who could come to their aid/or monitor their ability to cope.
      • Can they be contacted by phone?
      • If not, how can we contact them?
      • Do they have transportation available?
      • Does the County have in place appropriate cooling/heating areas for an extreme temperature event?

    We are living in a new epoch–a dangerous epoch that will tax our ability to cope.

    Mayor Ferguson and councillors, advance planning can save lives. We need an Extreme Temperature Emergency Plan. Without it, check the obits..

15-minute approvals: Alberta plans to automate licences for new oil and gas drilling

“We’ve seen the announcements about fast-tracking [licences] and saving money, but where are the systems that incorporate the science and data into these automated decisions, which they’ve promised for years?” — Nikki Way, a senior analyst with the Pembina Institute

Pumpjacks Alberta wheatfield
Under a new system, the Alberta Energy Regulator will approve the vast majority of applications to drill for oil and gas within minutes via an automated process, according to documents obtained by The Narwhal. Photo: Shutterstock

Lobbying records obtained by The Narwhal show that as Alberta’s new government has pledged a ‘rapid acceleration of approvals,’ the province’s energy regulator has been moving ahead with plans that mean the vast majority of new wells will be approved by a computer in a matter of minutes

The Alberta Energy Regulator confirmed to The Narwhal by e-mail that it expects to begin implementing automated approval for routine well licences later this year, though lobbying records indicate the system could be rolled out as early as next month.

With the change, staff will no longer review most applications from companies seeking to drill a new oil or gas well.

In lobbying records obtained by The Narwhal through a freedom of information request, Richard Wong, manager of operations with the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), said the association anticipates 90 per cent of routine well applications could soon be automatically approved by OneStop, the online tool used to submit requests for permits and licences to the Alberta Energy Regulator.

The Narwhal was charged $643.95 by the Alberta Energy Regulator — an industry-funded corporation in charge of overseeing Alberta’s energy industry — to access the documents. The fee was paid by readers who donated specifically to cover these costs.

When asked for details, CAPP told The Narwhal by email that these approvals refer to applications that are “anticipated to be low-risk and, as such, the approval of each of those applications would be expedited.”

Over the past year, concerns have been raised about industry’s ability to pay for the cleanup of the hundreds of thousands of wells already drilled in the province, with internal estimates pegging the bill at $100 billion. MORE


An Early Voter’s Guide to Trudeau (Bad) and Scheer (Worse)

“Voters may suspect the Shiny Pony is phoney. But if they think that makes Andy dandy, they have forgotten something. Answered prayers are often a special brand of nightmare. Could it be time for change with risk? Could it be time to elect a government committed to saving the planet, rather than four bucks on a fill-up of gas?”

Don’t let negative partisanship trick you into backing Harper lite.

ScheerPlatformComic.jpgCartoon by Greg Perry.
Nothing the Conservatives have done so far has been remotely as effective in that cause [to elect a Conservative federal government this October] as Trudeau’s remarkable, and mystifying, blundering.

Take the environment. Everyone wants to claim this baby, but no one wants to raise it. Trudeau began as the champion of the blazing issue of our times. But these days, the prime minister looks less like the climate guy from Paris than he does a Texas oil man with gushers on his mind. When he gives the green light to the Trans Mountain pipeline in June, that impression will only deepen.

Apart from his much-ballyhooed carbon tax, there is not much to celebrate on this file, despite all the right words and excellent photo-ops. As Canada stumbles towards missing the modest emission targets of Paris, Stephen Harper’s targets, this PM acts more like Jason Kenney than David Suzuki.

 As disappointing as Trudeau has been to many voters, the traditional alternative, the official Opposition, is far, far worse.

Trudeau overpays for a pipeline carrying dirty oil through pristine rivers and forests in British Columbia;

He exempts certain tarsands projects from new environmental assessment rules in a crude trade-off with Alberta;

He considers loosening restrictions on the pollution of major rivers with toxic effluent from tarsands tailing ponds;

He allows the unregulated use of seismic blasting to explore for oil and gas on Canada’s east coast, right whales be damned;

And he has nothing to say about a pulp and paper mill building a 10-kilometre pipe to carry and dump hastily treated toxic effluent into prime fishing grounds in the Northumberland Strait. MORE

Clean energy one of Canada’s fastest-growing industries


Prince Edward County could easily become carbon emissions free by 2030, add 3,5018.45 megawatts of carbon free energy at no cost to taxpayers, create life-enhancing  local jobs, add tax revenue, and open the County to green energy investment. What’s lacking? Political  imagination and leadership.

Merran Smith, Executive Director of Clean Energy Canada, speaks about the provincial government’s CleanBC plan aimed at reducing climate pollution, during an announcement in Vancouver, on December 5, 2018. File photo by The Canadian Press/Darryl Dyck

Canada’s clean-energy sector is growing faster than the economy as a whole and is rivalling some of the more well known industries for jobs, a new report shows.

Clean Energy Canada, a think-tank at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, is releasing a study today it commissioned to try to paint the first real picture of an industry it feels nobody knows much about but that is critically important to the future both in terms of climate change and the economy.

“Other countries actually keep this data and Canada doesn’t,” said executive director Merran Smith.

People talk about the clean-technology sector often but clean energy encompasses more than high-tech firms making hydrogen fuel cells and electric cars, said Smith.

She said clean energy includes everything from the production and transmission of renewable electricity to transit workers and construction workers making buildings more energy-efficient. So a hydroelectric-dam operator, a bus driver, and the person who installs a high efficiency furnace would all be included in Clean Energy Canada’s job count.

All told, the study concluded, nearly 300,000 Canadians were directly employed in clean energy in 2017, nearly 100,000 more than Statistics Canada data said worked in mining, quarrying, and oil-and-gas extraction. There are 7.5 times as many people working in clean energy as in forestry and logging.

Smith said the goal of the report is to show Canadians just how big a piece of the economic pie clean energy represents. MORE

Prince Edward Council to ponder climate urgency and leadership

(Gazette file photo)

When Councillor Kate McNaughton introduced a motion to have Prince Edward Council declare a climate emergency (like 30 other communities across Canada)  Council changed the motion to officially declaring a climate urgency. But changing the name does not change the game.

At present we are gobsmacked  with profound  environmental and technological changes. Change is not an option. We can either opt for business-as-usual and ignore the existential threat posed by climate disruption or we can choose to move towards  life-affirming commitments for Prince Edward.

The Picton Gazette reported,

“Councillor Bill Roberts urged council to be mindful of using language that would help to unite the community, rather than divide, questioning  the degree to which council would be involved in mitigating climate change on a municipal level, citing his doubts they would urge farmers to adopt oxen as opposed to tractors, close the cement plant and stifle the tourism industry if the matter was a full blown emergency.”

Councillor Roberts has a point. After all, change can be disastrous if the wrong choices are made. Choices can either enhance life or bad choices can destroy the very society we are trying to protect.

The solution, of course, is to make life-affirming choices that enhance life and protect the air, water, and land on which we all depend. That should be the litmus test.

“By declaring a climate emergency, we pivot with hopefulness and positivity towards our survival or we take no action and declare a point of no return.” — Page Wentworth

Declaring an emergency (by any name) presupposes that actions will follow . David Suzuki writes, “Decision-makers who care about the people they represent and understand science, social trends and technological potential know that a low-carbon future offers better health, livability and economic resilience.”

The motion will come up for further debate and potential ratification at the May 28 regular Council meeting. MORE

With flood levels approaching 2017 high Council considers climate change motion