Bill McKibben Talks About “Falter”

“One of the most positive things that’s happening now is the Green New Deal work, and also the school climate strikes—which I hope will spread to adults before long. The spread of the idea about the Green New Deal is a good thing. The more people talk about it and consider it and think about it, the closer we’ll get for people to understand the scale of action that we need. This is a crisis, as big as World War II or the Depression, and so the means that we need to fight it are going to be on the same scale.” — Bill McKibben


The climate action pioneer’s new book explores what it means to be human COURTESY OF NANCIE BATTAGLIA

Journalist and activist Bill McKibben is back with another book about the crushing realities of climate change.

The author of 1989’s The End of Nature, often acknowledged as the first book for a general audience about what used to be known as “the greenhouse effect,” McKibben has been writing about climate issues for three decades.

About 10 years ago, he cofounded 350.org, the first “planet-wide grassroots climate change movement.” 350.org has organized more than 20,000 rallies across the globe in protest of fossil fuels and has promoted the growing fossil fuel divestment movement.

In Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?, out last month from Henry Holt, McKibben surveys the state of havoc caused by climate change, identifies those institutions and individuals that ignore or actively abet it, and turns his attention to new technologies poised to change the very essence of what it means to be human. He also finds a measure of hope for the future, relying on the power of cheap energy and nonviolent resistance.

Sierra recently called up McKibben to discuss climate change, Ayn Rand, and artificial intelligence. MORE

 

At Vancouver’s Clean Energy Summit, Nuclear Is Making a Play

“Proposed sites for the deep geological [nuclear] repository in Canada are almost all on traditional First Nations land, in a practice that has been termed nuclear colonialism.”

Note to ministers from 25 nations: Prepare to be dangerously greenwashed.

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At this week’s Clean Energy Ministerial, a ‘high-level global forum’ to combat climate change, nuclear power will be on the table. Cooling towers of Dukovany nuclear power plant in Dukovany. Source: Wikimedia.

This week Vancouver is host to a summit of ministers from over 25 countries gathered “to accelerate progress toward a clean energy future.”

Created in 2010, the Clean Energy Ministerial describes itself as a “high-level global forum to promote policies that advance clean energy technology” and “to encourage the transition towards a global clean energy economy.”

As we face massive environmental challenges, a transition is clearly needed. The problem is that one significant focus of the CEM is to find ways of preserving the existing energy infrastructure while greenwashing it.

Case in point: the cleverly termed NICE Future, which stands for Nuclear Innovation: Clean Energy Future, that was set up in 2018 by the CEM initiative. Its stated aim is “to initiate a dialogue on the role that clean and reliable nuclear energy can play in bolstering economic growth, energy security and access, and environmental stewardship.”

In the case of nuclear energy, the most difficult environmental legacy is the radioactive waste produced by all nuclear reactors. Radioactive waste is inextricably linked to nuclear energy production, because each nucleus of uranium or plutonium gives rise to radioactive fission products as they break apart. Other radioactive “transuranic elements” are produced when uranium-238 in the fuel absorbs a neutron, again an inevitable occurrence in nuclear reactors.

The problem is that it takes hundreds of thousands of years before the radioactive materials decay to levels that could be considered relatively safe. For those long periods of time, this waste will have to be kept away from human contact — an unprecedented challenge for which there is still no demonstrated solution. MORE

RELATED:

No Nukes News, May 29

Canada’s amazing—and invisible—green energy sector

“While fighting climate change is frequently presented as a zero-sum game of environment vs. economy, the truth is that green technology innovation and the economy can get along like a zero carbon house no longer threatened by an increase in the severity and frequency of forest fires.”

Clean energy attracts billions in investment every year, employs many thousands of Canadians, and grows more than the rest of the economy. Why doesn’t Canada care?


Jason Andriulaitis checks a connection under a new solar panel installation in Scugog, Ont. on Wednesday, April 27, 2016. Installing solar panels already makes sense for most homeowners in Saskatchewan and Ontario but the abundance of cheap hydroelectricity in Quebec and Manitoba means solar power may never make much economic sense in those provinces. (Frank Gunn/CP)

This week, a barn burner of a report was released into an increasingly flammable world by Clean Energy Canada, a non-profit think tank based out of Vancouver’s Simon Fraser University. The report revealed that Canada’s clean energy sector is growing faster than the rest of the country’s economy. It turns out that the clean energy sector—arguably the unsexy sector that we don’t even notice—grew a full third, percentage-wise, more than the wider economy between 2010 and 2017.

On top of that, the clean energy sector is attracting tens of billions of dollars in investment every year, with investment rising by 70 per cent between 2010 and 2017, and $35 billion pouring in in 2017.

As of 2017, 298,000 Canadians (more than 26,000 in Alberta alone) were employed in Canada’s clean energy sector, which currently represents 3 per cent of Canada’s GDP,  or around $57 billion in 2017. For context, the direct contribution of agriculture, fishing, hunting and forestry to our nation’s economy was 2.1 per cent, and of the hotel and restaurant industry, 2.3 per cent.

In the words of Merran Smith, executive director of Clean Energy Canada, “Put simply,” the green sector is “made up of companies and jobs that help to reduce carbon pollution—whether by creating clean energy, helping move it, reducing energy consumption, or making low-carbon technologies.”

That criteria suggests a novel way of thinking. We’re basically learning a whole new classification system here because the green sector bands together a wide range of companies. Clean transport was the largest green employer, providing 58 per cent of those jobs in 2017. Renewable energy supply currently provides 40 per cent of the green sector’s GDP contribution, and while we might sort these businesses into the “transport sector” and the “energy sector” respectively and not invite them to the same parties, they are nevertheless both in the business of ensuring that Waterworld never becomes culturally relevant. MORE

RELATED:

At Vancouver’s Clean Energy Summit, Nuclear Is Making a Play

Note to ministers from 25 nations: Prepare to be dangerously greenwashed.

Canada’s clean energy sector is big, growing fast—and largely unknown

 

Greens surge as parties make strongest ever showing across Europe

“We have to decide: are we a Europe that will defend democratic values, or just a collection of strong national states?” 

Party could hold balance of power in EU parliament with projected 71 MEPs


 Ska Keller, one of the European Greens’ two lead candidates for the post of European commission president. Photograph: Hayoung Jeon/EPA

Green parties have swept to their strongest ever showing in European elections, boosting their tally of MEPs to a projected 71 compared with 52 last time. The result gives them every chance of becoming kingmakers in a newly fragmented parliament.

“Thank you so much for your trust in us Greens,” a delighted Ska Keller, one of the European Greens’ two lead candidates for the post of European commission president, told a press conference in Brussels.

“This is a mandate for real change: for climate protection, a social Europe, more democracy and stronger rule of law.” Above all, Keller said, the Greens “want to achieve climate action now – because if we wait any longer, it will be a disaster”.

Any parliamentary group that wanted Green support would have to “deliver on our three key principles: climate action, civil liberties and social justice”, she said. “For us it’s clear: this is all about content.” MORE

B.C. Appeal Court’s Trans Mountain ruling may not be quite the slam-dunk Alberta thinks it is

 

An undated stock photo of work on the Trans Mountain Pipeline Photo: Facebook
Photo: Facebook ​

The unanimous ruling Friday by the British Columbia Court of Appeal that the B.C. government does not have the constitutional authority to control what goes inside the federally regulated Trans Mountain pipeline is being hailed as a great victory in Alberta.

Church bells didn’t actually ring on Friday, but the general tone of media coverage of the decision by five justices of the B.C. Court of Appeal was that it was “a great victory for Premier Jason Kenney” and a “humiliating court defeat” for B.C. Premier John Horgan.

Both of the passages in quotation marks were actually written in Postmedia’s Calgary Herald, which may be limbering up for the Toronto-based corporation’s hoped-for new role as part of Kenney’s partisan “war room” anti-environmentalism operation.

The first statement is obviously untrue, beyond the fact the ruling was the one longed for by Kenney and his new United Conservative Party government. Kenney literally had nothing to do with it.

As for the second statement, a better case can be made for that given the unanimity of the court’s decision, but it is unclear whether Horgan’s government ever expected to win this case, the outcome of which was confidently predicted by most legal scholars.

Remember, B.C. brought this forward as a reference case, to see if its argument for its right to regulate the contents of modes of transportation passing through the province’s territory would pass muster. So, by losing and being prepared to try again, it can be argued it wins politically by demonstrating its good intentions to the Green Party MLAs propping up its tenuous hold on the B.C. legislature in Victoria, and to voters who might next time be tempted to go Green. MORE

Indigenous rights framework will eliminate nation-to-nation relationship with Canada, protestors say

“Don’t be fooled into thinking that the only way we’re going to be able to move forward is by having the foreign government recognize your place on our lands. We don’t need to be legislated to be recognized under Canada’s constitution.”

People rally against proposed Indigenous rights framework that would place inherent Indigenous rights and title under Canada’s constitution

James Hopkin/SooToday
 James Hopkin/SooToday

People gathered at the intersection of Highway 17A and 17B Monday to protest the Indigenous rights framework proposed by the federal government – an imposed framework, its detractors say, that will place inherent Indigenous rights and title under Canada’s constitution.

“The Canadian government is imposing on our people, based on 10 principles that they developed,” said former Batchewana First Nation Chief Vernon “Champ” Syrette while addressing the crowd Monday. “They never consulted our people, nobody come and ask me to have these things developed and imposed upon me and my grandchildren, your grandchildren – and this is who it’s going to impact.”

The protest in Sault Ste. Marie is part and parcel of a larger, national call to action that will see similar protests happening across Canada Monday.

Batchewana First Nation Chief Dean Sayers told onlookers that his First Nation rejected the proposed federal framework outright during a special chiefs-in-assembly meeting hosted by the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) in Vancouver last summer, arguing that the nation-to-nation relationship with Canada would be minimized by placing that relationship under section 35 of Canada’s constitution.

Quinn Meawasige, who also spoke during Monday’s event, calls the Indigenous rights framework a continuation of the ‘white paper’ – a policy paper introduced by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and Minister of Indian Affairs Jean Chretien back in 1969 that was designed to strip Indigenous peoples of their special legal status, convert reserve land to private property and abolish the Indian Act altogether, among other sweeping changes. MORE

Prince Edward County wordsmiths found somewhat lacking

Only in Prince Edward County does a climate emergency become ‘climate urgency’

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The World Was Just Issued 12-Year Ultimatum On Climate Change. Leading climate scientists paint dire portrait of years to come if we maintain carbon-emission status quo

Ignoring all public input, in what may be the silliest distinction of the year, Prince Edward councillors will ignore our climate emergency and vote to recognize a climate urgency.

Changing the name does not change the game. Still, councilors will consider  the following resolution at Shire Hall tonight at 7 p.m.:

1. WHEREAS, locally, the County is experiencing the early effects of climate urgency:

● increasing weather volatility: wind storms; increasingly frequent polar vortices and ice storms; hotter, longer droughts; unpredictable thaws and extraordinary flooding events and;

● predictable long-term effects of hotter climate and intermittent, sustained droughts and flooding like desertification, soil erosion and greater risk of grass and forest fires;

2. AND WHEREAS the land provides a living for many hundreds of families and individuals in Prince Edward County and we therefore have a duty to do all we can to protect that land;

3. AND WHEREAS the municipality has already invested time and resources in mitigating the direct effects of climate change in Prince Edward County;

4. AND WHEREAS this climate urgency and human activity that propels it is already having a devastating effect internationally on coastal communities, the polar caps, ocean habitats and biodiversity;

5. AND WHEREAS the social, economic and environmental costs will continue to rise on a local and global scale as this crisis grows;

NOW THEREFORE, The Council for The Corporation of the County of Prince Edward resolves:

To support other communities that have elected to ‘name and frame’ this global crisis by officially declaring a climate urgency;

To request that the Environmental Advisory Committee be re-stablished as a Council priority

and

To reach out to encourage other municipalities, as well as the provincial and federal governments, and urge them to commit to protect our air, soil and water and to commit to use all the tools available to reduce the human activity that is causing this climate urgency and to promote a safe and sustainable planet for future generations.