LETTER: Comments concerning climate emergency require clarification

Image result for white pines wind farm
“If we are serious about making changes here that will help with the climate change emergency,  you cannot be an unwilling host for a green energy wind farm and tear it down.”

I want to thank the Picton Gazette for their on going coverage of the White Pines wind farm  saga;  the most recent article published in the June 20, 2019 edition of the Picton Gazette was  really appreciated and well written.

I was however a bit taken aback when I read the last part of the article.

Since the reporter , Desiree Decoste  and I were talking casually about the situation for at least an hour  as she enjoyed the tour of the wind farm, it seems some of the comments need further clarification by me.

There are a huge amount of wind energy supporters in Prince Edward County and beyond, so when I read the line saying  that I was going to the East coast to live by a wind farm where people care,  it sounded like I meant that nobody in the County cares, which couldn’t be further from the truth.

So many people have called me to thank me for my ongoing efforts and have been clear on where they stand in the wind debate, there are far more wind farm supporters than there are  anti -wind people.

When I was talking about the climate emergency that the County of Prince Edward just declared, I certainly did say the County was an embarrassment when it comes to that because we say the words but don’t act the part.

If we are serious about making changes here that will help with the climate change emergency,  you cannot be an unwilling host for a green energy wind farm and tear it down. The devastating environmental impact of such actions would be huge. also, we can’t keep approving and building non-stop on wildlife habitat and agricultural land, caring only about a dollar and not the lives these decisions are destroying.

So yes, if this County makes choices against the environment and for the economic growth by destroying our natural resources, then this place is an embarrassment to the rest of Canada.

How can a person not feel  ashamed to be a part of a place that works against the need to change?

A place that ignores the warnings of climate change  and destroys a wind farm that should  have been producing clean energy for months now.

The other clarification needed in the article was about the leadnow petition which was completed months ago so people can not sign there.

There are 19,000 names and comments from people who care about their children’s future and the fate of all that share this suffering  planet, but the best thing we the supporters can do is to keep voicing your opinion to MPP Todd Smith and Premier Doug Ford.

If this wind farm comes down  I don’t know how any one who fought against it can feel good when they look in their children’s eyes and tell them ‘I am proud to be a part of destroying your healthy future and taking away your hope’.

Jen Ackerman


Climate Emergency debate: Don Chisholm’s Presentation to PEC Council

The following is a presentation to Prince Edward Council by Don Chisholm, in the Climate Emergency debate.
In times of climate emergency
Without the Wind in our sails

Performance, Turbine, Wind, Electricity, Sky, Energy

Thank you for the opportunity to address council in these times of general acceptance that ‘civilization’ has a serious problem.  Roots of the problem, as I see it, are:  

Root One:  Governments of nations, of provinces/states and counties pursue the goal of infinite ‘growth’.   But what is ‘growth’?  

Those who govern the various jurisdictions want to have ‘more humans doing more things’, collectively referred to has human-activity

Root Two: We use monetary flow rates to measure all of this human-activity.  Today’s money is created, not by our government, but by banks using high leverage fractional reserves.  The supply of money is limitless but the physical goods that money can access are finite. 

Root Three:  The laws of physics explain that whenever anything physical happens, energy is expended.  In our complex civilization ships, cars, trucks and airplanes enable a lot of things to happen.  Each human-activity requires an energy expenditure. 

Globally, about 70 % of civilization’s energy is based on fossil fuel – oil, gas and coal.  And there is also a fossil fuel component within the other 30%.  The concentrated energy of fossil fuel was created over billions of year by life-cycles and burial of plants.  Energy for this plant growth came from sunshine mixed with wind and rain.  

According to NASA scientist James Lovelock, in his book, ‘The Ages of Gaia’, our planet started out 4.5 billion years ago as a satellite of the sun.  It had a high level of carbon dioxide (Co2) in the atmosphere.  The Co2 concentration caused a high surface temperature.  Early lifeforms that thrived in a warm Co2 Climate emerged and multiplied.  Ironically these early critters (cyanobacteria) expelled oxygen as their pollutant.  After billions of years their oxygen output polluted the planet’s atmosphere to a degree that they began to die-off.  As that was happening oxygen breathing critters evolved. Charles Darwin explained in ‘the origin of species, how billions of years of evolutionary cycles eventually produced us humans.  

Unfortunately, we humans seem to be reversing this historic natural process as the pollutant Co2 from our fossil fuel based civilization is now putting nature’s historic carbon back into the atmosphere.  There have been many warnings about the dire consequences of our fossil fuel addiction, including the 1972 ‘Limits To Growth Report’.

Today’s adults have grown up in the era of inventions and growth and finding new ways to spend energy.  Leaders have refused to collectively acknowledge the gravity of our situation, even in the past couple decades as we simply say, we have, ‘A new norm’.  

It has taken the message of a teenage girl Swedish girl called Greta Thunberg to finally get adults to listen as she points out that, “We are running out of time”.   

Fortunately, many national and other levels of government had declared that, yes!  We are in a climate emergency!

PEC leadership could show that we have understood and we will take whatever action is available to us.  Energy is central to our problem, energy it is central to its resolution. We are in one of the best areas of Ontario to capture the free flowing wind energy.  Surely it’s time for PEC leaders could reverse unfortunate decisions of the past and to state: 

1: We acknowledge the climate emergency

2: We are now willing hosts for wind energy development;

3: We petition our province to re-engage the intent of the Green Energy Act.  

After all, our children of grandchildren are in the same predicament as Greta and all others who inherit the Earth when we are gone.


Calls to action: exploring and understanding Indigenous life in Canada

One way to decolonize this Canada Day

Slideshow image

July 1 is here again and I’m still unable to celebrate Canada’s birthday so long as celebrations ignore the reality that the creation of this nation meant the demise of the Indigenous nations that were living and thriving here for generations before first contact and colonization. And because Canada and Canadians continue to journey down a path that fails to acknowledge our history of genocide, systemic racism, broken treaties, and dearth of meaningful remedial action that’s needed before true reconciliation can happen.

This year, I encourage Canadians to spend the next 17 days exploring and understanding Indigenous life in Canada. Lived experience makes someone an expert and only they can tell their true story, but by hearing and seeing glimpses into First Nations, Inuit, and Metis lives, settlers can begin to understand their long journey out of the darkness of colonization and into the light of reclamation.

Urban. Indigenous. Proud is the National Film Board’s (NFB) latest collection of short films focusing on the role Friendship Centres play in the lives of urban First Nation, Inuit, and Metis peoples.

“Friendship Centres show that we are still here! They are places where we can be Indigenous, can be urban, and that is what the films show. The stories shared in these films are about the re-emergence of culture as urban development occurred and demonstrate how Friendship Centres contribute to a positive vision of Indigenous people,” said Sylvia Maracle, Executive Director of the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres (OFIFC).

Since the 1950s, Friendship Centres have been a little bit of home, community, and sense of belonging for First Nations, Inuit, and Metis living in urban settings. As of 2016, 85 per cent of First Nations people lived in cities across this country. The history of this migration from the land can be traced directly to the residential school system, which severed ties with traditional communities and ways of life.

Full Circle takes us inside the Toronto Council Fire Native Cultural Centre, where the urban Indigenous community feels safe to learn and grow. Council Fire uses cultural teachings and creates space to restore Indigenous identity, especially for its youth. At the core of Council Fire’s history and teachings is the drum, which they refer to as “our mother.”

We get to know members of the Toronto Council Fire Youth Program as they embark on new journeys. We meet a drum group that lays down tracks at a professional recording studio and a group of young dancers who showcase their moves at a dance studio.

Places to Gather and Learn shares the lives of Indigenous students at N’Swakamok Alternative School. Run in partnership with the N’Swakamok Indigenous Friendship Centre, and as a satellite of Sudbury Secondary School, N’Swakamok Alternative School offers students a supportive and culturally activated space to learn life skills while pursuing their academic and personal goals.

The school focuses on the needs of students, some of whom are also parents, and creates an accessible learning environment that welcomes their children. Students are also encouraged to take part in the Friendship Centre programs, through which Indigenous culture and values are put into practice and nourished, ensuring the students’ and the school’s continued success.

Some Stories… follows a group of young Indigenous artists in Nipissing (Nbisiing) First Nation territory, North Bay, Ontario, as they share stories about family, community, place, and all things related to life. Young artists explore the challenges and celebrations of rural and urban Indigenous life through written and oral stories, poetry, rap and drawing. Even though these young people come from different home communities and backgrounds, their stories and friendships have built a strong sense of community at the North Bay Indigenous Friendship Centre.

That Old Game Lacrosse recounts this ancient game being gifted to the First Nations by the birds and four-legged animals from the time of creation. Through lacrosse, children and youth learn responsibility and conflict resolution. Their coaches are teaching far more than simply how to win a game, they’re ensuring the next generations learn humility, respect, and how to become good members of the community. The medicine game, passed down from generation to generation by the Haudenasaunee at the Fort Erie Native Friendship Centre, is helping to revive their cultures, restore their communities, and reinforce the collective nature of the Indigenous view of the world that is inclusive of settlers.

We also learn that the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action make space so Canadians can recognize they are better than their past and can live up to the expectations of who they can be.

Zaagi’idiwin, one of the Seven Grandfather Teachings which refers to the unconditional love between all of creation from yesterday, today and tomorrow, takes viewers through a day at the United Native Friendship Centre in Fort Frances, Ontario.

By engaging in ceremony and celebrating their language, culture and land, the people are creating “Zaagi’idiwin” — “a symbol of their truth, their story and their own reconciliation, which is community-defined, beautiful and inspiring.”

Each ten-minute film is a glimpse into a present and future filled with reclamation, hope and happiness. They make a wonderful segue to the CBC Gem Series Future History. Each 20-minute episode is jam packed with well researched and documented information about the history of First Nations, Inuit, and Metis living in Canada. But it also shows what life is like and how much better it could be in the future.

Each episode is co-hosted by Kris Nahrgam and Sarain Fox. Nahrgam is an archeologist and artist whose Anishinaabe grandmother survived residential school and then chose to hide her indigeneity. He is on a personal journey to recover his Indigenous heritage. Fox is Anishinaabe from Batchewana First Nation who is shifting colonial narratives by harnessing Indigenous knowledge.

This amazing series will introduce you to people and ideas that will rock your colonial world. People like Cindy Blackstock of the Gitxsan Nation and executive director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society; Mohawk activist and author Russ Diabo; Metis artist and water warrior Christi Belcourt; Anishinaabe water activist and grandmother Josephine Mandamin, who passed away this February 22 at the age of 77; cultural educator and storyteller Lenore Keeshig of the Shippewa Nation; Sage Paul artist, designer and member of English River First Nation; as well as historians, dancers, chefs, traditional healers, and lawyers.

You’ll gain an understanding of the intergenerational impact of the residential school system, the Sixties Scoop and the current child welfare system; the Indian Act; the importance of water as a human right; and a better understanding of cultural exploitation and appropriation.

You’ll also get to share in the celebrations of today and indelible hope for the future that includes reclaiming, rematriating, and revitalizing the knowledge, languages, and culture that is being cultivated and shared as Indigenous people decolonize.

This July 1, I’d like to say “chi miigwech” in Anishinaabemowin, or big thank you in English, to those settlers who make the time to watch the Urban. Indigenous. Proud collection of short films as well as the first season of Future HistorySOURCE

Life in Plastic? Not Fantastic

It’s an emergency, requiring a solution that for some (including me) is hard: stop shopping.

851px version of FutureOceansPlasticBottles.jpg
From Future Oceans, a campaign aimed at raising awareness of plastic impacts on the ocean. Photo courtesy of National Geographic

…Take a trip to a supermarket, Canadian Tire or, worst of all, a dollar store where the off-gassing reek of cheap plastic creates a palpable atmosphere of despair. You will see a veritable sea of the stuff, with more being created every minute.

…Female consumers are responsible for the majority of household purchases (some 70 to 80 per cent, according to estimates). Buying new things is equated with happiness, satisfaction, pleasure, friendship and fulfillment. And it’s so damn easy. But if the market will not solve the problem — indeed, if the market is the problem — an entirely new approach is needed, preferably one that doesn’t involve shopping.

Changing the consumerist mindset is almost as challenging as ridding the ocean of plastic. I know this because I’m trying to do it, and it’s really hard.

The answer to the climate emergency isn’t 11 million new shoes from old materials from Adidas. It’s fewer shoes. It’s less growth, less stuff, less plastic, lest we lose it all.

As a number of studies have indicated, plastic waste isn’t simply unsightly and polluting, it’s dangerous. In a single year the production and incineration of plastic added 850 million metric tons of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere according to a new report entitled Plastic & Climate: The Hidden Costs of a Plastic Planet.

It’s all horrifically interconnected, and disastrous.

“Whether measured by its impacts on the climate, environment, or human health, the rising flood of disposable plastic creates risks humanity can no longer accept,” as the Guardian noted.

The ultimate — nay only — solution is to cap plastic production at its source and put an end to fossil fuels.

In the meantime, if you would like to donate to the Future Oceans, you can visit this link and throw your five bucks into the pool. Or better still, grab a bucket and head to the beach and start collecting plastic trash.  [Tyee] MORE

Canada’s Chance to Save Our Oceans from Choking in Plastic

A deepsea ‘oasis’ is slated to become Canada’s biggest protected area

An area four times the size of Vancouver Island is home to smoking vents, volcanic islands just under the water and a staggering abundance of life

Image result for the narwhal: A deepsea ‘oasis’ is slated to become Canada’s biggest protected area
A shortspine thornyhead at Dellwood seamount. Photo: Ocean Exploration Trust/ Northeast Pacific Seamount Partners

Slowly and deliberately, two scientists and a pilot were lowered into the water in a submersible about the size of a shipping container.

The sub, Alvin, was there to confirm what a 1982 bottom-dredging expedition had accidentally stumbled across: deep down, chimneys were spewing volcanic heat and gases into the ocean. Scientists had discovered the first deepsea vents in the world seven years prior, along the Galápagos Rift, inspiring a flurry of research and public interest into what became one of the greatest biological discoveries of the 20th century. Alvin had been there, too.

Alvin had recovered hydrogen bombs and would later dive on the wreck of the Titanic, but many of its most valuable contributions have been to science. This day would be one of the latter.

Alvin is prepared for launch off the deck of Atlantis. Photo: Taollan82 via Wikipedia

It took Alvin two hours to descend the 2,200 metres to the sea floor.

“It’s just a long way down,” says chemical oceanographer John Lupton, who was aboard the Wacoma that day. The discovery was startling: six-storey towers looming over the ridge, two kilometres down, one after another after another.

“In my experience, it’s the most active 15 kilometres anywhere,” Lupton says.

That activity fuels an alien ecosystem. The gas emanating from the sea floor is rich in sulphides, which can only be converted to food by extremely specialized organisms. Creatures that host these microbes in their gut dart in and out of the superheated water in a dance with death, gathering enough of the life-giving gas to feed their microbes without being cooked alive. A dozen species would eventually be discovered there that exist nowhere else on the planet, even at other vent sites — including the record-holder for the upper temperature limit for life, 121 degrees C.

On a normal patch of sea floor you could find a handful of worms or brittle stars in a square metre. A plot of the same size at what became known as the “Endeavour vent field” could hold up to half a million animals. The sheer volume of creatures is comparable to what would be found in a tropical rainforest.

This explosion of life exists far below where any light can reach. Hydrothermal vents are the only known ecosystems on the planet that exist completely independent of the sunlight that directly or indirectly feeds every other living thing. MORE

Mythical oil markets, shovels in the ground. Debunking Trudeau’s claims on the Trans Mountain Pipeline approval

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a photograph by Alex Tétreault

From Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s claims that Canada needs the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion to reach new oil markets in Asia (they’re mythical!) to his statement that there will be “shovels in the ground” this summer (the pipeline route isn’t approved!), here are the claims worthy of debunking from Trudeau’s pipeline approval speech.

“We see [the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion] as critically important in ensuring that we have access to international markets.”

Some economists have questioned Trudeau’s claims that expanding the Trans Mountain pipeline would help Canada reach new oil markets in Asia, instead of simply expanding into existing U.S. markets in California and Washington. Canada already has the ability to ship oilsands crude to Asia via the existing pipeline.

At the same time, the world is swimming in lighter crude oil that’s easier to refine.

According to a 2018 Greenpeace report, over the last five years, two-thirds of tankers loaded with crude oil from the existing Trans Mountain pipeline went to California. And a spur of the existing Trans Mountain pipeline — called the Puget Sound Pipeline — splits into two destinations in Washington state, supplying U.S. refineries.

But U.S. opposition to the Trans Mountain pipeline is heating up, with legislation on oil spill prevention and oil spill cleanup regulations for heavy crude oil either already on the books in Washington, or proposed in California. In Washington, a group of mayors, city and county council members, and state senators sent a letter to the state environment department expressing their concerns over heavy oil spills from the Trans Mountain pipeline. In California, community opposition is growing for a refinery expansion proposal that would allow one refinery to be able to process oilsands, which could lead to a tenfold increase in the amount of oilsands processed in the Bay Area.

“Every dollar the federal government earns from this project will be invested in Canada’s clean energy transition.”

Forget about one cent from the pipeline going to fund any clean energy projects, unless the federal government can find a buyer to take on this risky project. MORE

The serious $70 BILLION climate plan you’ve heard nothing about

Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna and Equiterre co-founder Steven Guilbeault attend an announcement at global Clean Energy Ministerial meetings in Vancouver on May 29, 2019. Photo by Jennifer Gauthier

When the prime minister’s long-awaited announcement approving the twinning of the Trans Mountain pipeline finally came, few citizens concerned about environmental hazards and climate change could cheer it.

Nor could many Indigenous communities applaud ⁠— so many of those that signed agreements with the project felt enormous pressure to salvage at least some benefit, skinny as it might be.

The whole exercise has both exhausted and galvanized opponents, and few minds will be changed by any commentary.

‘For many Canadians, blocking TMX became synonymous with winning the climate war. If you support the pipeline, you’re a sellout. If you don’t, you’re a climate hero. If only things were that simple,’ writes @garossino #opinion

And yet.

There’s an extraordinarily compelling case to be made for Trudeau’s climate plan, and how the TMX pipeline fits into the bigger picture.

We have to do better than rally around symbols. We have to do the much harder work of changing the game.

The fight we can’t afford to lose

The real front line in the climate war is our transition to clean energy, as demand for all forms of energy, including oil, continues its inexorable rise.

This is the fight the world can’t afford to lose, and we’re losing it.

In 2018, the International Energy Agency issued a stark warning that governmental neglect of renewable energy constitutes a grave threat to the Paris Accord. The IEA estimates that clean energy will only account for 18 per cent of world consumption by 2040, well below the 28 per cent needed to meet the Paris goals, and global investments have stalled.

The chart below, from Natural Resources Canada, tells the story: only eight to 11 per cent of our energy production is in clean energy.

This is the chart we must change dramatically, and very quickly.

It’s here, in the fight for clean energy transition, that the Canadian government has amassed a stunning war chest of more than $60 billion, with billions more on the way.

Source: Natural Resources Canada

The plan is to add up to $10 billion in TMX-generated tax revenue to this fight. In a nutshell, the government aims to help provide consumers and industry with affordable clean alternative options to complement and accelerate carbon tax impacts, while supporting jobs and investor confidence.

The $70-billion plan

Here’s what the Canadian government has already committed to do, according to the Department of Finance: MORE

James Hansen: Saving Earth

The case for a third party in the United States

Image result for time scales of change

I must finish Sophie’s Planet this year, so I am writing few Communications. However, I make the draft of Chapters 31-34 available here, because my perspective of and conclusion about events in the 1980s differs from that of Nathaniel Rich in Losing Earth. I kept careful notes during that era and
subsequent years, so I am confident that what I write is accurate, but I would welcome corrections.

Earth was not “lost” ln the 1980s. Earth is not lost today, but time for action is short. Climate concerns in the late 1980s led quickly to the 1992 Framework Convention: all nations agreed to limit greenhouse gases to avoid ‘dangerous anthropogenic interference’ with climate. The problem was that neither the 1997 Kyoto Protocol nor the 2015 Paris Agreement directly addressed global energy policies. For the sake of young people, we must understand that failure and take appropriate actions.

It is wonderful that more people are waking up to the fact that we have a climate emergency. The emergency was clear more than a decade ago when it was realized that the long-term safe level of atmospheric CO2 was less than 350 ppm.

Already, we were well into the dangerous zone. Good policy-making requires an understanding of the time scales of change. The public tends tofocus on extreme weather and climate events, because of their great practical importance. However, the ‘existential threat’ of climate change derives from long-term underlying climate change that affects sealevel and the habitability of parts of the world, as well as the magnitude of extreme events.

In Sophie’s Planet I argue that the climate system’s inertia, i.e., its slow response to human-made changes of atmospheric composition, provides us the possibility to avert the existential threat of climate change. But to achieve that end we need to understand not only the climate system, but the time scales for change of the energy and political systems.

Why do I include political systems? My training in physics is relevant to climate and energy systems,but politics? I have witnessed a lot, and I took careful notes. The period includes the Clinton and Obama Administrations, which supposedly tried to address climate change. We need to understand the mistakes.

Political polarization makes solution of the climate problem more difficult. I doubt that political extremes represent most people. I make a case in Sophie’s Planet for a third party in the United States,aimed at making America America again. American leadership is needed to address climate change.

It will be a lot of work. Polarization did not come about instantly, and it cannot be fixed quickly. Groundwork includes changing to a ranked voting system, so third party candidates are never ‘spoilers.’ That requires changing some state Constitutions. The party should decide whether/when it is ready to field a presidential candidate. A third party with even a few representatives in Congress can begin to have a big impact. Initially it may be only a force for changing the major parties, but that is a lot. MORE