Deniers deflated as climate reality hits home

Image: Dunk/Flickr

Climate science deniers are becoming desperate as their numbers diminish in the face of incontrovertible evidence that human-caused global warming is putting our future at risk. Although most people with basic education, common sense and a lack of financial interest in the fossil fuel industry accept what scientists worldwide have proven through decades of research, some media outlets continue to publish inconsistent, incoherent opinions of people who reject climate science.

Over the past few weeks, Canada’s Postmedia chain has run columns denying or downplaying the seriousness of climate change, by Fraser Institute senior fellow Ross McKitrick; defeated politician Joe Oliver; and fossil fuel executive and Fraser Institute board member Gwyn Morgan, who is also former chair of scandal-plagued SNC-Lavalin.

McKitrick, an economist, has also signed the Cornwall Alliance Evangelical Declaration on Global Warming, which says, in part, “We believe Earth and its ecosystems — created by God’s intelligent design and infinite power and sustained by His faithful providence — are robust, resilient, self-regulating, and self-correcting, admirably suited for human flourishing, and displaying His glory. Earth’s climate system is no exception.” Other prominent deniers, including Roy Spencer and David Legates, have also signed.

South of the border, the Heartland Institute, a leading U.S. denial organization with ties to Canadian organizations such as the misnamed International Climate Science Coalition, still holds its annual denial-fest. But even that organization is feeling hard times in the face of evidence — similar to the proof that made it walk back its previous support for the tobacco industry to the point that its members now admit smoking is bad but defend vaping and other “smokeless” tobacco industry products.

Heartland’s 13th International Conference on Climate Change — held at the Washington, D.C., Trump International Hotel — was down from three days to one. It once attracted more than 50 sponsors, but this year drew just 16 — and one was fake! Fossil fuel companies have also cut funding, realizing denial is not an effective way to gain social licence. Attendance was limited to a couple hundred mostly older white men.

As usual, the conference speakers’ reasons for denying climate science were all over the map.

Some simply rejected all evidence. According to British eccentric Christopher Monckton, who has no scientific credentials, droughts, wildfires and hurricanes are decreasing; sea levels are falling, not rising; and rising carbon dioxide emissions are improving life on Earth!

Others argued that CO2 levels aren’t rising, while some claimed the planet is cooling. In other words, the arguments were mostly easily debunked, contradictory nonsense in service of the most profitable and polluting industry in human history.

You’d think Heartland would be riding high under a government that shares its anti-science views. But even holding the conference in a Trump hotel blocks from the White House didn’t gain it the profile organizers would have liked. Tom Harris, a discredited Canadian fossil fuel promoter who works with Heartland and the International Climate Science Coalition, penned a sad article with fellow denier, Heartland “science director” and convicted criminal Jay Lehr, crying, “no one from the Trump administration will be in attendance,” which, they whined, is “a huge loss since ICCC-13 will reveal that neither science nor economics back up the climate scare.”

Lehr, a groundwater hydrologist by training, also worked for The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition, an organization founded by Phillip Morris and by PR firm APCO Worldwide to cast doubt on the scientific evidence regarding harms caused by tobacco. Harris also worked for APCO Worldwide.

It’s getting harder for anyone to deny the reality staring us in the face. Those who continue to spread doubt and confusion about climate science are starting to look even more ridiculous with their many conflicting, insubstantial arguments.

Even some prominent deniers have come around. Political consultant Frank Luntz — who once advised the U.S. government to cast doubt on scientific certainty around climate change and to use the term “climate change” rather than “global warming” because it sounds less scary — now says, “I was wrong in 2001.” In recent testimony before the U.S. Senate, Luntz said, “Rising sea levels, melting ice caps, tornadoes, and hurricanes more ferocious than ever. It is happening.”

Yes, it is happening. And it’s time for deniers to accept evidence and reason or get the hell out of the way. SOURCE

How the world’s dirtiest industries have learned to pollute our politics

The fossil-fuel lobby is threatened by public concern over the climate crisis. So it’s buying influence to get the results it wants

A fracking rig in the US. Photograph: grandriver/Getty Images

The tragedy of our times is that the gathering collapse of our life support systems has coincided with the age of public disservice. Just as we need to rise above self-interest and short-termism, governments around the world now represent the meanest and dirtiest of special interests. In the United Kingdom, the US, Brazil, Australia and many other nations, pollutocrats rule.

The Earth’s systems are breaking down at astonishing speed. Wildfires roar across Siberia and Alaska – biting, in many places, deep into peat soils, releasing plumes of carbon dioxide and methane that cause more global heating. In July alone, Arctic wildfires are reckoned to have released as much carbon into the atmosphere as Austria does in a year: already the vicious twister of climate feedbacks has begun to turn.

Torrents of meltwater pour from the Greenland ice cap, sweltering under a 15C temperature anomaly. Daily ice losses on this scale are 50 years ahead of schedule: they were forecast in the climate models for 2070. A paper in Geophysical Research Letters reveals that the thawing of permafrost in the Canadian High Arctic now exceeds the depths of melting projected by scientists for 2090. 

While record temperatures in Europe last month caused discomfort and disruption, in south-west Asia they are starting to reach the point at which the human body hits its thermal limits. Ever wider tracts of the world will come to rely on air conditioning, not only for basic comfort but also for human survival: another feedback spiral, as air conditioning requires massive energy use. Those who cannot afford it will either move or die. Already, climate breakdown is driving more people from their homes than either poverty or conflict, while contributing to both these other factors.

What we see here looks like the denouement of the Pollution Paradox. Because the dirtiest industries attract the least public support, they have the greatest incentive to spend money on politics, to get the results they want and we don’t. They fund political parties, lobby groups and thinktanks, fake grassroots organisations and dark ads on social media. As a result, politics comes to be dominated by the dirtiest industries.

We are told to fear the “extremists” who protest against ecocide and challenge dirty industry and the dirty governments it buys. But the extremists we should fear are those who hold office. MORE


Saying No to BP and Shell Today: Hard Choices Have to be Made


Get ready for the Extinction Rebellion to start shaking things up in British Columbia and across Canada

This Extinction Rebellion banner recently hung from an overpass in Wellington, New Zealand.
This Extinction Rebellion banner recently hung from an overpass in Wellington, New Zealand. HEAPSRICH

On Thursday (August 8) evening, Vancouver members of the Extinction Rebellion will gather at St. James Community Square (3214 West 10th Avenue) to discuss the latest climate science and discuss solutions.

For those unaware of the Extinction Rebellion, it’s a nonviolent, radical, and loosely affiliated international group of climate-justice advocates who disrupt everyday activities with direct action to draw attention to the crisis. The local chapter held its first gathering late last year.

Its demands are three-pronged:

1. Governments must tell the truth by declaring a climate and ecological emergency, working with other institutions [including the media] to communicate the urgency for change.

2. Governments must act now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025.

3. Government must create and be led by the decisions of a Citizens’ Assembly on climate and ecological justice.

In April, the Guardian posted this video about a weeklong series of Extinction Rebellion protests in the United Kingdom.

Many of those who’ve participated in the Extinction Rebellion’s direct actions know that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports are quite conservative.

That’s because computer models forecasting rising average global temperatures often don’t take into account feedback loops.
Those include ocean acidification that can lead to huge releases of carbon. Then there is the potential of mass escape of methane from melting permafrost in Arctic, as well as the release of huge amounts of carbon from soils degraded by forestry, agriculture, and other activities.
To put it bluntly, we’re in deep shit.
The Extinction Rebellion is going to be taking action to bring this to Canadians’ attention, just as it has done in other countries since its creation last year. SOURCE
Members of the global warming Extinction Rebellion group confront politicians at US Capitol

‘Deliberate extinction’: extensive clear-cuts, gas pipeline approved in endangered caribou habitat

Scientists warn another B.C. caribou herd could disappear as the provincial government approves 78 new logging cutblocks in critical habitat for the Hart Ranges herd, while construction of a pipeline for LNG industry takes out another chunk of boreal forest


Standing near the summit of a clear-cut mountain in B.C.’s interior, overlooking the brown and emerald green Anzac River valley, scientist Dominick DellaSala has a bird’s eye view of why the Hart Ranges caribou herd is at risk of extinction.

Only a fringe of forest remains around the distant mountain peak where the declining herd seeks protection from wolves and other predators in ever-shrinking habitat northeast of Prince George.

“The difference between this and Borneo is that there aren’t any orangutans behind me,” says DellaSala, pointing to extensive clear cuts covering much of the mountain side.

“You’ve got caribou at upper elevations. That’s their habitat out there. And they’re being squished to the top of the tallest mountains because all the habitat’s been taken out down below. The species is migratory, it goes up and down.”

DellaSala, chief scientist and president of the Geos Institute in Ashland, Oregon, is touring parts of B.C.’s ancient inland temperate rainforest as part of an Australian-led study documenting the world’s most important unlogged forests.

Scientist Dominick DellaSalaScientist Dominick DellaSala stands at the fringe of a clear-cut in B.C.’s interior. DellaSala, who has studied forests and logging in countries such as Brazil and Borneo, describes clear-cutting in B.C.’s northern forests as some of the worst he’s ever seen. Photo: Taylor Roades / The Narwhal

The rare inland rainforest, with cedar trees more than 1,000 years old, is part of an ecosystem called the interior wet belt that includes the Anzac valley bottom, a hodgepodge of green far below where DellaSala stands with Michelle Connolly, director of the Prince George-based organization Conservation North.

But there will soon be significantly less green in the lower reaches of the Anzac valley, whose old-growth spruce and subalpine fir trees are draped in hair lichen, a crucial winter food for caribou.

Since October, the B.C. government has granted approval to forestry giant Canfor for six new logging cutblocks in the valley, according to Geoff Senichenko, research and mapping coordinator for the Wilderness Committee. The cutblocks total 332 hectares, making them a little smaller than Vancouver’s Stanley Park in size.

Those permits are among 78 logging cutblocks the government approved over the same period in the Hart Ranges herd critical habitat, with 62 of them going to Canfor, Senichenko’s research shows.

“This seals the caribou’s fate,” says Connolly, a forest ecologist.

Caribou were given a very small amount of habitat,” Connolly says. “It’s not enough … There’s very little chance of that habitat recovering in those cut blocks below the tops of the mountains, and therefore of those areas serving caribou the way they used to.”

The Hart Ranges caribou herd also faces another new threat: the Coastal GasLink pipeline, which will transport fracked gas from the province’s northeast to Kitimat, where it will be liquefied by LNG Canada and shipped overseas. MORE


Letter: When will Ontario end the Nuclear Energy fiasco?

OPG’s Pickering Nuclear to operate until 2024

Premier Ford, Ministers Rickford & Smith,

The entire world is realizing what an economic and environmental disaster that Nuclear energy has become and are turning away from it towards renewable energy sources from the sun, wind , geothermal and tides/waves.

Tell me how you can justify your ongoing and increasing support for this outdated relic of 20th century technology , nuclear, while destroying our 21st century technologies for clean electricity generation? You are on a course that will set our province back in time and cause economic ruin.

You have 3 years remaining in your term to correct this mistaken strategy by completing the White Pines windfarm to as it should have been, restoring the progress that was being made with renewable energy projects, jobs & industries, and moving us forwards rather than backwards.

We will be holding you and your party accountable for your actions and inactions from now until the next election in 2022. Please read this following report. Thank you.

Don  & Heather Ross  Milford, Ont

Nuclear power ‘seven decades of economic ruin’, says new report


No Nukes News, July 9, 2019


Image result for tim holtz: CANADIAN ECOCIDE

Ecocide /ˈēkōˌsīd,ˈekōˌsīd/ Noun. Acts or omissions committed in times of peace or conflict by any senior person within the course of State, corporate or any other entity’s activity which cause, contribute to, or may be expected to cause or contribute to serious ecological, climate or cultural loss or damage to  or destruction of ecosystem(s) of a given territory(ies), such that peaceful enjoyment by the inhabitants has been or will be severely diminished.

The human species is facing an unprecedented disaster in the form of ecological breakdown due to anthropogenic global warming. This is often referred to as the climate emergency or the climate crisis. There is no reasonable doubt about this fact.

A brief word about climate-change deniers: they are all either lying, ignorant, or suffering from a mental disturbance. There are no exceptions. The vast majority are lying. You might well ask why someone would do that. Sometimes the reason for the lie is obvious, as in the case of ExxonMobil, but it isn’t always. In some cases, shills masquerade as legitimate journalists while being paid to lie by the petroleum industry. Whether they are motivated by fatuitydepravity, or both, climate-change deniers are implicated in a criminal conspiracy to defraud the public

Others have told you not to worry, or that we shouldn’t do anything to mitigate the cataclysm. These people are spreading falsehoods so insidious that many people consider their actions criminal. If you have believed the lies, that’s not your fault, especially since they are routinely published not just in down-market tabloids and far-right propaganda websites, but also by outlets with a lingering veneer of respectability. Now you know better, and you would be right to demand an explanation from the people and publishers who have deceived you.

In light of the incipient calamity, Tinholts is committed to the establishment of ecocide as the fifth crime against peace by way of an amendment to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. This work is the continuation of that begun by Scottish barrister Polly Higgins. Ecocide may be thought of as an analogue to genocide, which is already prohibited in international law. A key difference between ecocide and genocide is one of degree in that genocide is relatively benign: whereas genocide is a crime against one group of people, ecocide is a crime against the entire human species (not to mention all non-human life that we know of in the universe), including all humans not yet born.

Unfortunately, it’s already too late to avert the ecological catastrophe in which billions of people will suffer and die, mostly from starvation and other consequences of mass displacement. However, as the crisis continues to develop, a legal framework will be needed whereby humanity can hold to account those responsible for the wanton destruction of the human life-support system. The perpetrators of ecocide will face justice at an international tribunal much like the Nuremberg Trials or the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. Defendants may also be tried in the courts of states parties to the Rome Statute, as has already been done in Canada. The defendants in the proceedings will largely fall into two categories: the corporate officers and directors who devised and carried out ecocidal policies; and the government ministers and regulators who were responsible for protecting us, had the power to do so, but chose not to. Due to  the phenomenon of regulatory capture, many defendants will fall into both categories. A third category of defendant will likely comprise persons and publishers who functioned as propagandists for climate-change denial.

Persons convicted of crimes against peace have, in the past, been subject to the death penalty. Tinholts is strongly opposed to the death penalty in all circumstances and supports life in prison as the appropriate penalty for persons convicted of the crime of ecocide.

For more information or on the topic of ecocide, see here


Ontario government may ditch blue box program after report finds 30% goes in trash

Up to 30 percent of what is put into blue boxes is sent to landfill, according to a report.

Up to 30 percent of what is put into blue boxes is sent to landfill, according to a report. The Canadian Press Images-Mario Beauregard

The Ontario government is considering the value of the province’s blue box recycling program after a report was delivered to the government with some significant findings.

David Lindsay, appointed in June as a special advisor on the management of recycling and plastics, gave his report to Environment Minister Jeff Yurek on Tuesday after six weeks of research and meetings on the issue.

“It’s clear that Ontario’s current Blue Box Program is unsustainable,” Yurek said in a statement.

WATCH: (April 29) Is Canada’s recycling industry broken?

Play the video

Lindsay’s report notes that recycling rates have stalled for 15 years and up to 30 percent of what is put into blue boxes is sent to landfill.

No uniform standards currently exist for blue box contents, and Yurek says that is a problem.

“Over 240 municipalities have their own separate lists of accepted recyclable materials, which affects cost savings and contamination,” Yurek said. “Program costs are expected to increase by approximately $10 million per year after 2019.”

Overhauling the program could take years but Yurek believes there will be cost savings for municipalities.

“Hopefully by the end of the day we create a new economy of recycled products here in Ontario because of the program that’s going to be put in place.”

The recycling costs currently incurred by cities and towns will eventually be borne by producers, says Yurek.

“The cost of the program will be transferred over to the producers of the waste, the businesses and industries creating the waste they will be the ones who will be paying for the recycling program when this change occurs.”

WATCH: (April 29) Canadian cities are coming to terms with a bleak new reality for the recycling industry


Green Party unveils plan to transition oil, gas workers to renewable energy jobs

Leader Elizabeth May says workers should not fear for their future as she ramps up pre-election campaign

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May held a press conference Wednesday to unveil the party’s plan to support workers in the fossil fuel industry as they transition to a renewable energy economy. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May has unveiled a multi-pronged plan to help workers in the gas and oil sector transition to a renewable energy economy, working to allay fears that her climate action plan would bleed jobs as she ramps up pre-election campaign efforts.

The Green worker transition plan, which includes skills retraining programs and massive retrofit and cleanup projects designed to create employment, fleshes out details from the Green Party’s climate action plan called Mission: Possible, that was released in May.

Making the announcement in Vancouver on Wednesday, May said she understands the anxiety among workers in the fossil fuel industry and wants to take an “all-hands-on-deck” approach to transform Canada’s economy.

“It’s critical that workers in fossil fuel industries and fossil fuel-dependent communities not fear for their future. We are not at war with fossil fuel workers. We are not at all willing to leave any part of Canada or any community behind.”

Platform priorities

Along with climate action, she said the key platform priorities will be democratic reform, pharmacare and real conciliation with Indigenous people.

The Green Party plan to transition fossil fuel workers includes:

    • Investing in retraining and apprenticeship programs to refocus the skills of industrial trade workers for jobs in the renewable energy sector.
    • Start a massive cleanup of “orphaned” oil wells; some of which can be transformed to produce geothermal energy.
    • Create a national program to retrofit all buildings to optimum energy efficiency.
    • Establish a transition framework to factor in the unique resources and circumstances of each province.
    • Form partnerships with Indigenous people to ramp up renewable energy development in First Nations communities and on Indigenous lands.