Greta Thunberg’s full speech to world leaders at UN Climate Action Summit

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg chastised world leaders Monday, Sep. 23, for failing younger generations by not taking sufficient steps to stop climate change.

“You have stolen my childhood and my dreams with your empty words,” Thunberg said at the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York. “You’re failing us, but young people are starting to understand your betrayal. The eyes of all future generations are upon you. And if you choose to fail us, I say we will never forgive you,” she added.

Thunberg traveled to the U.S. by sailboat last month so she could appear at the summit. She and other youth activists led international climate strikes on Friday in an attempt to garner awareness ahead of the UN’s meeting of political and business leaders. SOURCE


Illustration for article titled It's Kids vs. the World in a Landmark New Climate Lawsuit
Photo: Mark Lennihan (AP)

It’s Kids vs. the World in a Landmark New Climate Lawsuit

UNITED NATIONS—On Monday, Greta Thunberg and 15 other young people filed a potentially world-changing lawsuit. On an abnormally steamy day in New York, when sweat built on the brows of the dark-suited diplomats funneling into the United Nations for a major climate summit, the group of teens cranked up the heat even further.

They announced that they’re suing five of the world’s major carbon polluters on the grounds that the countries are violating their rights as children. If the suit is successful, the United Nations would classify the climate crisis as a children’s rights crisis. And more importantly, it would compel Argentina, Brazil, France, Germany, and Turkey—the five countries named in the suit—to work with other nations to forge binding emissions’ reduction targets, a sharp change from current international efforts that have so far basically rearranged the deck chairs on the Titanic.




Image result for elephant in the room

I ran into the “carbon elephant in the room” while researching the book Making Better Buildings. In the book, I was attaching “embodied carbon” figures to a wide range of building materials as one means of comparing environmental impacts.


Embodied carbon is the total greenhouse gas emissions from harvesting, transporting and manufacturing building materials.

As I learned when I began to use embodied carbon factors for materials, these emissions can be very significant. In fact, by some estimates, as much as 11% of global emissions come from manufacturing building materials! And on a per-building basis, it’s not unusual to have over 500 kg of emissions per square meter of building!

I called this the carbon elephant in the room because in 2013, hardly anybody was accounting for this significant amount of emissions. Instead, all the focus was on making buildings more energy efficient.

While efficiency is important, reductions in material emissions are immediate and therefore more impactful in reducing atmospheric carbon concentration now, rather than in the future.


My research also led me to realize that building materials made from plant material (and especially waste or residue plant material) typically has extremely low embodied carbon AND is made from 30-60% carbon that the plants drew out of the atmosphere while they were growing.

By putting those materials into long-term storage in buildings, it is possible to create a building with zero net embodied carbon or even a carbon-storing building… drawdown buildings!

I am a passionate advocate for using building materials as carbon capture and storage mediums… we can turn buildings from a major climate change problem into a climate drawdown solution!

You can download my Master’s thesis, Opportunities for CO2 Capture and Storage in Building Materials, by clicking on the link below…





Smoke billows from an Aramco oil facility in Abqaiq about 60km (37 miles) southwest of Dhahran in Saudi Arabia's eastern province on September 14, 2019. - Drone attacks sparked fires at two Saudi Aramco oil facilities early today, the interior ministry said, in the latest assault on the state-owned energy giant as it prepares for a much-anticipated stock listing. Yemen's Iran-aligned Huthi rebels claimed the drone attacks, according to the group's Al-Masirah television. (Photo by - / AFP)        (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)
Smoke billows after drone attacks sparked fires at two Saudi Aramco oil facilities in Saudi Arabia’s eastern province on Sept. 14, 2019. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

ANYONE WHO WAS still questioning whether climate change can exacerbate violent international conflicts has only to look at Saudi Arabia, where drones struck oil installations in the eastern part of the country on September 14. While the Trump administration is blaming Iran, Houthis in Yemen claimed responsibility for the attack on Saudi Aramco, the state-owned oil company, which is both the source of the kingdom’s vast wealth and, as the world’s largest corporate emitter of greenhouse gases, one of the primary drivers of the climate emergency making life increasingly difficult throughout the region.

Rising temperatures have exacerbated water shortages in Yemen, where some 19 million people already lacked access to clean water and sanitation due to mismanagement and drought. Saudis have weaponized this water scarcity in their war in Yemen, targeting areas for their proximity to fertile land and destroying water infrastructure.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia is also facing some of the worst risks from soaring temperatures. This summer, the temperature in Al Majmaah, a city in central Saudi Arabia, reached 131 degrees Fahrenheit, while rapid desertification was reported throughout the Arabian peninsula.

Saudi Aramco, the most profitable corporation in the world, released more than 40 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases between 1992 and 2017, the equivalent of almost 5 percent of industrial carbon dioxide and methane. The company, closely held by the Saudi royal family, is now confronting the challenges of climate change in ways that mirror many western fossil fuel giants: by launching a rebranding effort that positions the firm as an environmental leader. MORE

Scheer says he’d fast-track pipeline challenges straight to Supreme Court

Conservative leader proposes circumventing lower court appeals ‘so that we can get certainty’ on projects

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer listens to questions during a campaign event in Ottawa on Sept. 14. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

A Conservative government would overcome legal objections to building new petroleum pipelines by fast-tracking any cases right to the Supreme Court of Canada, party leader Andrew Scheer says.

Scheer and other Conservatives have for years said Ottawa has to “assert federal jurisdiction” to get important projects built, but he has not until now explained what that would mean in practice.

At a campaign stop Wednesday, Scheer was pushed on comments he made in recent days about asserting jurisdiction in the face of objections from Indigenous communities or provincial governments, including Quebec.

“It’s about fast-tracking some of the questions that have been raised by people who oppose the project,” he said.

“Fast-tracking those cases to the Supreme Court — referring those types of jurisdictional questions to the Supreme Court right away so that we can get certainty, instead of watching these court cases move slowly up and up, being appealed. We would have taken that directly to get finality on those decisions.”

Construction at the Trans Mountain tank farm in Burnaby, B.C., in June 2019. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

The inability to get pipelines built has become a major source of frustration and anger in Alberta, where politicians from all parties believe other jurisdictions and communities are deliberately landlocking Alberta oil, harming its economy.

The Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, in particular, has been hit by court challenges from provincial and municipal governments, Indigenous communities and environmental groups.

Indigenous communities and environmental groups challenged federal approval of the expansion and won in a federal Court of Appeal case. After the federal government re-did consultations and approved the project again last spring, the same groups filed new objections. The court has agreed to hear Indigenous complaints, but rejected those brought by others.

Those cases could eventually make their way to the Supreme Court.

Construction at the Trans Mountain tank farm in Burnaby, B.C., in June 2019. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

The Supreme Court is expected to hear an appeal early next year from the British Columbia government of a B.C. Court of Appeal opinion that the province couldn’t restrict what flows through the pipeline, which is considered federal jurisdiction because it crosses provincial borders.

The B.C. case was seen as the final nail in the coffin for former pipeline owner Kinder Morgan’s plans to proceed with the project.  MORE


School children hold placards and shout slogans as they participate in the Strike for Climate Change protest outside the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh, Scotland on March 15, 2019. Photo: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

ORGANIZERS ARE EXPECTING huge numbers to turn out for the Global Climate Strike, beginning on September 20 and continuing through September 27. It builds on the first global climate strike, which took place on March 15, and attracted an estimated 1.6 million young people, who walked out of class at schools on every continent.

But this week’s strike will be different. This time, young organizers have called on adults from all walks of life to join them in the streets. So in addition to schools in over 150 countries, almost 1,000 workers at Amazon’s headquarters in Seattle have pledged to walk out, as have some faculty unions, Britain’s Trades Union Congress, and many others. There is a plan to shut down Washington, D.C. on September 23.

This diversity of the groups involved may well prove to be a new stage in the climate movement, with many more movements and constituencies seeing themselves in the struggle against climate breakdown — as well as in the emerging vision for an intersectional justice-based Green New Deal.

And it’s a good thing too, because as Donald Trump spews racist hate at Bahamian refugees fleeing the wreckage of Hurricane Dorian and growing numbers of far-right killers cite environmental damage as a justification for their rampages, there is a pressing need to confront the ways in which the fires of climate breakdown are already intersecting with the fires of white supremacy and surging xenophobia globally.

These are themes I explore in-depth in my new book, “On Fire: The (Burning) Case for a Green New Deal,” from which this essay is excerpted.

An Eco-Fascist Massacre
9781982129910-On-Fire_book-cover-1568407104Image: Courtesy of Simon & Schuster

In Christchurch, New Zealand, the March 15 School Strike for Climate started in much the same way as in so many other cities and towns: Rowdy students poured out of their schools in the middle of the day, holding up signs demanding a new era of climate action. Some were sweet and earnest (I STAND 4 WHAT I STAND ON), some less so (KEEP EARTH CLEAN. IT’S NOT URANUS!).

By 1 p.m., about 2,000 kids had made their way into Cathedral Square, at the city center, where they gathered around a makeshift stage and donated sound system to listen to speeches and music.

There were students of all ages there, and an entire Maori school had walked out together. “I was so proud of the whole of Christchurch,” one of the organizers, 17-year-old Mia Sutherland, told me. “All of these people had been so brave. It isn’t easy to walk out.”

Just as Sutherland was psyching herself up to deliver the final testimony of the day, one of her friends gave her a tug and told her, “You have to shut it down. Now!” Sutherland was confused — had they been too loud? Surely that was their right! Just then, a police officer walked onto the stage and took the mic away from her. Everyone needs to leave the square, the officer said over the sound system. Go home. Go back to school. But stay away from Hagley Park.

A couple hundred students decided to march together to City Hall to keep the protest going. Sutherland, still confused, went to catch a bus — and that’s when she saw a headline on her phone about a shooting 10 minutes away from where she was standing.

It would be several hours before the young strikers grasped the full horror of what had transpired that day — and why they had been told to stay away from a park near the Al Noor Mosque. We now know that at the very same time as the students’ climate strike, a 28-year-old Australian man living in New Zealand drove to that mosque, walked inside, and, during Friday prayers, opened fire. After six minutes of carnage, he calmly left Al Noor, drove to another mosque, and continued his rampage. By the end, 50 people were dead, including a 3-year-old child. Another would die in the hospital weeks later. An additional 49 were seriously injured. It was the largest massacre in modern New Zealand history. MORE


Review: Naomi Klein’s ‘On Fire’ urges us to quit hitting the snooze button on climate change

Trudeau’s Brownface Is a Symptom of a Much More Dangerous Disease

We live in a racist society, and outrage over each new incident won’t change it. Here are 12 things that will.

‘We are missing the point if this story becomes about Trudeau being unveiled as a racist.’ Photo by Sean Kilpatrick, the Canadian Press.

Yesterday, most Canadians likely saw a photograph of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in brownface while a teacher at a Vancouver private school in 2001.

I’m not in any way surprised by the image.

And we are missing the point if this story becomes about Trudeau being unveiled as “a racist.” Let’s take this opportunity to think more deeply about the situation and what allows it to be so.

North American society is quite focused on identifying people as “racists” or “not racists.” Being called racist is considered one of the worst labels you could apply to someone. And yet, we all live, breathe and swim in a soup of structural racism reinforcing racist beliefs.

The reason for the crisis is that Trudeau’s image is one of a “good person” who identifies as feminist, welcomes immigrants, and preaches reconciliation. So his defenders rush to say he’s not a “racist,” because this is impossible for someone who is a “good person.”

The problem is that this dichotomization of racist and not racist with good and bad causes huge barriers to very important conversations that must happen about how our whole society is racist, and we have all been taught, and likely think and express, racist feelings and ideas.

We are constantly exposed to films, shows, books, ads, magazines, etc. that portray racialized people in two-dimensional ways, usually because people in positions of power in the institutions that produce them are unlikely to be themselves racialized.

And growing up as a cisgender, straight, able-bodied white male who was the son of a prime minister is pretty much the epitome of privilege. This by definition means Trudeau is probably the least surprising person to have engaged in something so insensitive.

This is not a means to excuse Trudeau’s white privilege or ignorance. Rather, it’s an important reflection of the society we live in, which has been intentionally created by those people in positions of power. Trudeau’s actions are a symptom of a much more dangerous disease.

Talking about Trudeau being exposed as a racist completely misses the point. Instead, we need a conversation about the structural and interpersonal racism that exists in this country, impacting the lives of racialized, especially Black and Indigenous people.

And while we’re at it, let’s talk about the structural white privilege that allows such actions, as it holds an implicit entitlement to the lives, culture, land and bodies of racialized people. (See: All of history).

In case it’s unclear where to begin, here are some things we can start to address to support the approximately 20 per cent of the Canadian population that is racialized.

  1. Disproportionate policing of racialized communities leading to criminalization.
  2. Disproportionately harsh sentencing for Black and Indigenous people.
  3. Disproportionate rates of Black and Indigenous children apprehended from their families. The last two contribute to ongoing intergenerational trauma through family separation.
  4. Immigration policies that keep migrants, especially Latinx, Black and Filipino, working in low-wage, precarious jobs with limited pathways to permanent immigration status and therefore “membership rights” in our country.
  5. Political spaces that continue to be disproportionately white and male, thereby shaping policies impacting the lives of racialized people through privileged lenses that don’t actually reflect our country.
  6. Media spaces that continue to be disproportionately white and male, especially in management, shaping the narratives we hear, often reinforcing harmful stereotypes and perpetuating interpersonal and structural biases.
  7. Barriers to employment, such as a lower likelihood of being interviewed if you have an “ethnic” sounding name, requirements of “Canadian experience” or barriers to career advancement because you don’t look like or sound like the people at the top.
  8. Corporate boardrooms that are disproportionately white and male, and powerful special interest groups that lobby to maintain the status quo or further entrench economic systems that disproportionately benefit white people.
  9. Health care spaces rampant with implicit bias that endangers the lives of racialized people (among various groups) who may not feel they can trust providers or systems to heal or care for them as they do for others.
  10. Economic policies that continue to worsen income inequality through corporate and personal tax policies that benefit the wealthiest among us, who due to the history of this country, are disproportionately white.
  11. Relationships with Indigenous communities that claim to be built on reconciliation while not engaging with them as equal partners deserving of rights over their land and lives, dignity, and basic services like clean water.
  12. Barriers to higher education due to increasing tuition rates that disproportionately exclude racialized people from entering halls of power and professions such as medicine and law, continuing the cycle.

Power begets power. Structural racism in our society is not an accident. Any cursory look at the history of colonization, cultural genocide of Indigenous people, restriction of immigration for “certain groups,” and active efforts to criminalize certain communities demonstrates this. MORE


The ‘advanced’ nuclear power sector is dystopian

don't nuke the climate
The ‘advanced’ nuclear power sector is dystopian because of its connections to fossil fuel mining and nuclear weapons proliferation.

A documentary called New Fire was released promoting ‘advanced’ nuclear power concepts last year. The heroes of the film were young entrepreneurs Leslie Dewan and Mark Massie, founders of a start-up called Transatomic Power that was developing a ‘Waste-Annihilating Molten-Salt Reactor’.

Problems arose during the long gestation of New Fire. Transatomic Power gave up on its plan to use nuclear waste as reactor fuel after its theoretical calculations were proven to be false, and the waste-annihilating reactor was reinvented as a waste-producing, uranium-fuelled reactor.

Worse was to come: just before the release of New Fire, Transatomic Power went broke and collapsed altogether. An epic fail.


The Australian parliament’s ‘inquiry into the prerequisites for nuclear energy‘ is shaping up to be another epic fail. The conservative chair of the inquiry claims that “new technologies in the field are leading to cleaner, safer and more efficient energy production.”

But the ‘advanced’ nuclear power sector isn’t advanced and it isn’t advancing.

The next ‘advanced’ reactor to commence operation will be Russia’s floating nuclear power plant, designed to help exploit fossil fuel reserves in the Arctic ‒ fossil fuel reserves that are more accessible because of climate change. That isn’t ‘advanced’ ‒ it is dystopian.

Russia’s enthusiastic pursuit of nuclear-powered icebreaker ships (nine such ships are planned by 2035) is closely connected to its agenda of establishing military and economic control of the Northern Sea Route ‒ a route that owes its existence to climate change.

China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN) says the purpose of its partly-built ACPR50S demonstration reactor is to develop floating nuclear power plants for oilfield exploitation in the Bohai Sea and deep-water oil and gas development in the South China Sea.


‘Advanced’ nuclear reactors are advancing climate change. Another example comes from Canada, where one potential application of small reactors is providing power and heat for the extraction of hydrocarbons from tar sands.

Some ‘advanced’ reactors could theoretically consume more nuclear waste than they produce. That sounds great ‒ until you dig into the detail.

An article in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists ‒ co-authored by Allison Macfarlane, a former chair of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission ‒ states that “molten salt reactors and sodium-cooled fast reactors – due to the unusual chemical compositions of their fuels – will actually exacerbate spent fuel storage and disposal issues.” MORE

Climate researchers launch online tool to help local governments set carbon targets


Researchers are using the latest climate science to help local authorities calculate their carbon budget and cut down on emissions in the midst of the current climate crisis.

Scientists from The University of Manchester and the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research have developed an online tool which is now being used by local authorities including Manchester to understand their role in meeting the climate change objectives set by the UN.

The unique new tool, announced today, allows users to calculate a carbon budget for any UK administrative area larger than local authority scale, and set climate change targets which meet the objectives of the United Nations Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

The tool is based on latest synthesis report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on how quantities of carbon dioxide emissions from human activities relate to global warming.

Dr Chris Jones from The University of Manchester who helped develop the tool said: “Our approach applies principles from the Paris Agreement to scale this global carbon budget down to the UK and a set of clearly stated allocation principles to share the carbon budget between local areas.

“This is a practical and straightforward way for local and devolved governments in the UK to translate the implications of the Paris Agreement into carbon reduction commitments based on the latest science.”

The Tyndall carbon budget tool is a particularly relevant resource for local authorities who have declared a climate emergency. By using the tool authorities can better understand the scale of the challenge when addressing climate change through local action.

…“Having seen the carbon budgets, the important thing now is to work with all of our stakeholders in a concentrated effort to develop and undertake action to move us forward.”

The tool calculates a maximum carbon budget for the selected area, as well as projected emissions reduction pathway, interim carbon budgets and average emissions reduction rate. The tool provides a downloadable PDF covering the method, results and recommendations for the carbon budget. The tool is free to use and is compatible with the SCATTER carbon footprint tool  and CDP sustainability reporting. MORE

Leaked document reveals PC government’s plan to privatize health services: NDP

Watch the video

The Ontario NDP says it obtained a leaked internal document Wednesday night that shows the PC government is aiming to privatize health services, including hospitals and family doctors.

The draft bill reveals a plan to dissolve Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) and create a “super agency” with a mandate to privatize, according to the NDP.

“While the Ford government is publicly pretending to consult on health care, in the back room, legislation designed to privatize our health care system is already being drawn up,” NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said at Queen’s Park Thursday.

“We’ve obtained internal documents, including a complete piece of government legislation that lays out the Ford government’s plan to create a new … super agency with a specific mandate to privatize our health services.”

Richard Southern


– NDP leader Andrea Horwath says leaked Ford Government health care bill opens door to privatization of hospitals. Watch.

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Tiny changes might seem insignificant. But they are how we save the planet

Greta Thunberg and her Extinction Rebellion peers remind us that activism is not just about lobbying for change, but doing it ourselves

 ‘Small changes can transform societies’: a young climate striker with a tiny placard reading ‘Use less paper’ in London on 20 September 2019. Photograph: Gareth Fuller/PA

There is a celebrated line in Jared Diamond’s Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive, his bestselling study of ecocide and sudden social implosion. Referring to the “self-inflicted environmental damage” on Easter Island by deforestation, Diamond asked: “What did the Easter islander who cut down the last palm tree say while he was doing it?”

While there has been much academic controversy about the accuracy of his shorthand for what happened on Easter Island, what remains, however, is a powerful and affecting metaphor, one ever more resonant in the midst of the escalating global climate emergency.

The question “What on earth are we thinking?” is, today, no longer an experiment in supposition. We can see the shape of the calamity and measure our responses and the hypocrisies and contradictions inherent in them. Confronted by a climate emergency on a vast scale, and with the widespread failure of our political leaders, we continue to behave as if someone else – anyone else – will solve the problem, rather than tackling it ourselves.

So we worry. And we continue to consume. And sometimes we consume as a way of escaping the worry of consuming – even as we struggle to step back and see the wider, and blindingly obvious, picture.

It is a cycle that has placed a well-founded sense of anxiety about humankind’s future, perhaps not experienced so viscerally since the depths of the cold war and the fear of nuclear annihilation, against a profound sense of powerlessness. Solutions can seem beyond our reach as individuals and, if solvable at all, are in the hands of governments.

There are, then, deep and pressing reasons to be desperately worried. But there are also reasons for optimism. Alongside a wider democratic crisis, last week’s climate strike – and the wider Extinction Rebellion represented by figures such as the teenage climate campaigner Greta Thunberg – exists as a potent reminder that activism is not simply about lobbying the seats of power but about our power. As individuals, we can shape the culture, societies and politics we live in and drive them towards better results. 

While it is easy to be cynical about the impact of protest in an age of populism, where politicians seem determined to find ways to become ever less accountable, the global reach and scale of last week’s strike suggest a shifting of public opinion. Where once events such as Climate Camp could attract a few thousands, mainly committed activists, the climate strike has attracted vast numbers across the world, many of them protesting for the first time. If we need leaders such as Thunberg, it is as a reminder of the importance not only of organised action but of what we can and should do for ourselves….

Some reject the notion that individual action – recycling or changing how much meat we eat or how we travel – is a sufficient response to the sheer scale of the problem confronting the planet. But this misses a key point about how we live our lives. In the heat of political debate, we forget sometimes the importance of individual acts. What we put in our breakfast bowl, small issue as it is, became – for me at least – something that made me think about the sustainability and provenance of what I ate when a friend pointed out that huge amounts of water are used to produce my once favourite almond milk.  MORE