Cancel Culture Comes For Michael Moore

Socialist filmmaker Michael Moore is used to fawning media coverage. It started when he unveiled his debut documentary “Roger and Me” and never let up – despite creating a ream of fact-challenged films, including the abominable 2018 “documentary” “Fahrenheit 11/9.”

Until now.

Moore’s newest project, “Planet of the Humans,” is a dire look at climate change and the so-called heroes trying to save the planet.

Falling under the banner is Al Gore, considered an enviro-prophet second only to Greta Thunberg by most global warming advocates.

Not in Moore’s film, a project which excoriates the green movement. And that’s a key reason why some on the Left are all too eager to cancel “Humans.”

Literally.

The most prominent “Humans” denier is Josh Fox. The Oscar-nominated director of “Gasland” declared war on “Planet of the Humans” recently on social media.

Fox didn’t stop there.

Fox, whose work has come under heavy fire from documentary filmmaker Phelim McAleer, crafted a petition to force YouTube to remove “Humans” from the platform.

The film debuted for free late last month on the video service, and it’s racked up more than five million views since then.

Fox teamed with The Nation, which called Moore the “new flack for oil and gas” in blasting the film:

Because the film is so dangerous, so wildly off-track and full of misinformation, fossil fuel industry taking points, and unfounded, wacky statements you could be forgiven for thinking it was created by Breitbart News or Steve Bannon and not the erstwhile bastion of progressive bombast that is Michael Moore.

Several high profile liberals, including climate scientist Michael Mann and Naomi Klein, signed Fox’s petition to “retract” the film as it currently stands. Adding insult to injury? Moore must apologize for letting it loose on the unsuspecting planet.

Among the petition signees include documentary filmmakers Steve Liptay and Gregory King.

Yes, Moore’s fellow artists want to ban a film with an opposing point of view.

YouTube, which happily yanks down content by medical professionals sharing contrarian pandemic views, hasn’t yielded to the woke mob.

Yet.

Moore, whose tales of death threats have never been investigated by the mainstream media, does have one august body in his corner.

Pen America shared a blistering message attacking those eager to censor Moore’s movie.

“Calls to pull a film because of disagreement with its content are calls for censorship, plain and simple. Those who take issue with the film have every right to make their concerns and arguments heard, but first and foremost, the public also has the essential right to view Moore’s film and make their own judgements,” the message states.

That’s a sound argument for any work of art, even if Pen America has stood down during recent Cancel Culture battles.

Moore, whose marketing instincts far exceed his directorial chops, jumped in with a chest-thumping declaration of his own.

“How quickly the values of an open society – freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and the freedom to be wrong (or right), vanish when some people’s sacred cows – or should I say, sacred solar panels – are challenged,” Moore said.

He’s right, of course, even if Moore has been as quiet as Pen America regarding other Cancel Culture-style attacks. This one, apparently, hit too close to home to ignore.

A good way to expand the army against Cancel Culture is to invite liberals to join the battle.

The Left is none too eager to defend free speech today, but when it personally nips them in the butt, they have a change of heart.

That happened last year when both Jim Gaffigan and Sarah Silverman got pulled over by the PC police.

Will Moore get “red pilled” by this experience? It’s doubtful. He remains first and foremost a political creature, and the next time a conservative artist comes under attack, it’s likely he’ll retreat to his cone of silence. SOURCE


The Daily Wire, headed by bestselling author and popular podcast host Ben Shapiro, is a leading provider of conservative news.

The world is on lockdown. So where are all the carbon emissions coming from?

Tayfun Coskun / Anadolu Agency / Getty Images

Pedestrians have taken over city streets, people have almost entirely stopped flying, skies are blue (even in Los Angeles!) for the first time in decades, and global CO2 emissions are on-track to drop by … about 5.5 percent.

Wait, what? Even with the global economy at a near-standstill, the best analysis suggests that the world is still on track to release 95 percent of the carbon dioxide emitted in a typical year, continuing to heat up the planet and driving climate change even as we’re stuck at home.

A 5.5-percent drop in carbon dioxide emissions would still be the largest yearly change on record, beating out the financial crisis of 2008 and World War II. But it’s worth wondering: Where do all of those emissions come from? And if stopping most travel and transport isn’t enough to slow down climate change, what will be?

What rock-bottom natural gas prices mean for Canada’s aspiring LNG industry

10 things you should know as the coronavirus pandemic ‘implodes’ the already-shaky economics of exporting Canadian liquefied natural gas

LNG tanker

Oversupply and the COVID-19 pandemic have delivered a one-two punch to the liquefied natural gas industry. Photo: VladSV / Shutterstock

The headlines in oil and gas industry publications say it all. “LNG: From Hero to Zero.” “Giant LNG projects face coronavirus death or delay.” “The LNG market is ‘imploding.’ ”

As most people focus on the oil price collapse, scant attention has been paid to the similarly poor fortunes of another fossil fuel — one in which B.C. is heavily invested through the LNG Canada project. The project would ship fracked gas from northern B.C. to Kitimat via the Coastal GasLink pipeline, where it would be cooled and liquefied for transport to Asia on tankers.

The liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry was taking a hit even before the COVID-19 pandemic, with a glut in supply and several years of unusually warm winters reducing demand. But now the far-reaching global recession kindled by the pandemic has driven LNG prices to new rock-bottom lows, with prices falling faster than Brent crude.

The LNG equivalent of a barrel of oil — in terms of energy — can now be purchased for US$11 on the Asian spot market, costing less than two pints of beer at your local pub (if drinking establishments were open, that is).

That’s an 80 per cent drop from the price LNG fetched on the Asian spot market in October 2018, when LNG Canada announced its final investment decision.

LNG carriers now idle off the west coast of India and Europe, unable to unload. Buyers have declared force majeure in efforts to wriggle out of contracts for LNG deliveries they no longer want.

European LNG storage could be full in July instead of in the autumn, when it’s usually full, according to Robert Ineson, executive director of global LNG for IHS Markit.

“The entire supply chain is clogging up,” Ineson told The Narwhal. “We’re seeing cargos cancelled, so they’re not getting into ships in the first place — in part because the price spreads don’t justify economically making the transaction but also, as you have cargos sitting in tankers, those tankers are not available to take on new cargos.”

In April, less than four months into the year, the industry publication Natural Gas World pronounced 2020 a “catastrophic” year for LNG sellers, saying, “demand is declining, supply is growing and this will continue for some time.”

Even in the unlikely event a vaccine is rapidly developed for COVID-19 and economies quickly rebound, analysts say a bonanza of new LNG projects around the world will keep a lid on prices, making some LNG export projects uneconomical.

It all poses huge challenges for Canada’s aspiring LNG industry, which is still four years away from exporting a drop of liquefied natural gas.

What do the pandemic and the rapidly changing global market mean for the LNG Canada project, which was only economically viable with an initial infusion of $5.35 billion in subsidies from the B.C. government?

And what will happen to Canada’s other planned LNG projects, including the Woodfibre LNG project in Squamish, owned by Indonesian billionaire Sukanto Tanoto?

Here are 10 things you should know as the pandemic takes a hit on the overlooked fossil fuel sitting in the shadow of the oil price collapse.

1. What exactly is LNG anyway?

LNG is natural gas that is cooled to liquid form, in an energy-intensive process, so it can be condensed and shipped in tankers. Once chilled to -162 C, the gas shrinks to about 1/600 of its previous volume.

When LNG reaches its destination, it’s converted back into gas so it can be redistributed via pipelines. Unlike oil, which is primarily used for transportation — think planes, trains and automobiles — natural gas is most often used for heating, electricity and industrial production.

Natural gas is often touted as a “clean” source of energy compared with other fossil fuels such as coal. But new research published in the journal Nature suggests natural gas is a much dirtier fossil fuel than previously thought, with emissions that can be comparable to coal.

The LNG Canada project will be one of Canada’s largest single sources of carbon pollution, on par with Teck’s recently mothballed Frontier oilsands mine in terms of greenhouse gas emissions.

2. Why are LNG prices falling?

To understand why LNG prices were tumbling even before the pandemic, think of the basic supply-and-demand tenet of economics. When there’s not much of something and demand is high, prices rise. But when stores are teeming with a product and everybody has more than enough to satisfy their needs — say, zucchini in August — then prices drop.

The world was already awash in LNG when COVID-19 cases were first reported in the Chinese city of Wuhan in late December , leading, just a few months later, to the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, with no end in sight.

“Even if you take away COVID-19, the world already had a lot of LNG,” said Kaleem Asghar, director of LNG analytics for ClipperData, which provides commodities analytics.

A big wave of LNG has rolled into global markets over the past four to five years, in tandem with unusually mild winters in Europe, which have reduced the amount of gas required for heating.

Dredging activities at the marine offloading facility in the Douglas Channel for LNG Canada’s project in Kitimat. Photo: JGC Flour

Australia has significantly boosted capacity, recently overtaking Qatar — the world’s most cost-competitive source of LNG — as the global leader in production, while export capacity has also surged in countries such as Russia, Algeria and Egypt.

On the U.S. Gulf Coast, LNG capacity has almost doubled over the past five years, according to Allan Fogwill, president and CEO of the Canadian Energy Research Institute.

“In the time that Canada has taken to discuss the LNG Canada project, [LNG companies] have built four [export facilities on the Gulf Coast] and they’re building four more,” Fogwill said in an interview.

“There’s been a significant investment in LNG in the United States and that, combined with the existing capacity in other jurisdictions, has meant that the market is well supplied at this point. You can see why the spot price would go down. No one’s building anything unless they’ve got a substantial portion of their capacity that’s under long-term contracts.”

3. What impact has the pandemic had on LNG prices?

In January, before the pandemic took hold, Asian spot market prices for LNG had already dipped to US$5.50 per one million metric British thermal units (mmBTU).

That was already a 50 per cent reduction from the spot price in October 2018, when LNG Canada announced its final investment decision. The spot market indicates what an LNG buyer is willing to pay for a cargo in the short term.

The unthinkable happened on April 28, as the impacts of the pandemic reverberated around the world. Platts Gas tweeted the news: “benchmark price for spot #LNG in Northeast Asia slumps to record low of $1.90/MMbtu.”

“I’ve never seen it like this,” Asghar said. “It’s historical low prices.”

“The economics of LNG is just imploding,” Seattle-based energy finance analyst Clark Williams-Derry told The Narwhal.

“There’s so much supply, so little demand … the price has fallen well below the break-even point for pretty much any LNG producer.”

4. What the heck is an mmBTU?

Oil is measured in barrels, which are easy to envision. Thinking about gas volumes is a bit trickier. Natural gas is measured in gigajoules (metric) or what’s much more commonly known as one million metric British thermal units, or one mmBTU for short (the imperial measure).

One barrel of oil is the equivalent of six gigajoules of gas in terms of energy.

A new, average-sized, single detached home in Canada needs about 100 gigajoules of natural gas to heat it for one year, according to Natural Resources Canada.

That’s the equivalent of about 9.5 mmBTU — which means it would cost $25 to heat the average new Canadian home for a year at current northeast Asian spot prices for LNG.

5. What does the oil price collapse have to do with LNG?  

About 70 per cent of the world’s LNG is sold through long-term contracts, with the remainder offered on the spot market.

Details of long-term, locked-in supply contracts are confidential, but analysts say the contracts have traditionally had a price mechanism linked to oil, such as Brent crude or what’s known as the Japanese Crude Cocktail, a weighted average.

Enter the oil price collapse.

When oil prices fall, the contract price for LNG that’s tied to an oil price falls, too, Ineson said. “But assuming the oil market recovers, those prices will go back up again.”

 Ineson said long-term contracts are “a bit of a bet” but ensure long-term supply for buyers. “If the market gets really tight and you don’t have a contract, you may find yourself high and dry. And that’s what they’re trying to avoid.”

LNG Canada consortium members have signed a handful of long-term contracts with buyers, including one with Japan’s JERA, the world’s largest purchaser of natural gas, for 1.2 million tonnes of LNG a year.

Trading house Vitol has signed a contract for 0.8 million tonnes of gas from LNG Canada annually. And Asian utilities Tokyo Gas, Toho Gas and Korea Gas Corp (Kogas) are also committed buyers for the project, for a total of about 2.4 million tonnes a year collectively, including the Vitol contract.

But all of those contracts combined account for just one-quarter of the 14 million tonnes of LNG that will be produced annually during the first of two phases of the $40 billion project, according to the LNG Canada website.

The Narwhal contacted LNG Canada for comment, but the consortium — a joint venture of Royal Dutch Shell, Petronas, PetroChina, Mitsubishi and Korean Gas  — did not respond.

6. What does COVID-19 mean for the LNG industry?

At least 10 global LNG projects, including projects in Australia, the U.S., Mozambique, Qatar, Mauritania and Senegal, have been put on hold over the past month.

“They don’t quite recognize that their economic heart has stopped beating,” Williams-Derry said, noting that none have officially been cancelled.

On March 30, Royal Dutch Shell — the company with the biggest share in LNG Canada at 40 per cent — announced it would pull out of a proposed LNG project in Lake Charles, Louisiana, leaving the project in the hands of a second investor.

In most cases, project delays were pinned on the novel coronavirus, “while ignoring the fact that LNG prices were already deflating long before the worst impacts of the pandemic were being felt,” Williams-Derry wrote in an analysis for the U.S. Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis.

“The LNG industry thought it had a clear crystal ball,” he said in an interview. “LNG demand was rising. Asian demand was rising. And that gave them a clear pathway to profits.”

“Now there are more risks and more uncertainty than anybody had anticipated.”

7. What impact has the pandemic had on Canada’s LNG projects?

Thirteen LNG export facilities are currently proposed for Canada — seven in British Columbiafour in Nova Scotia and two in Quebec. The LNG Canada project is the only one that has begun construction, building an export terminal in Kitimat and the Coastal GasLink pipeline that will feed it.

But the COVID-19 pandemic is tarnishing project aspirations in Canada as well as abroad.

On April 16, Calgary-based Pieridae Energy Ltd. said it would delay making a final investment decision for its proposed $10-billion LNG export facility in Nova Scotia because of depressed markets for LNG and the pandemic.

Pieridae CEO Alfred Sorensen said the company will continue to lobby the federal and provincial governments for $1 billion in financial assistance to help build its Goldboro LNG project on the eastern shores of Nova Scotia, which would liquefy Alberta gas for export.

Construction of the Cedar Valley Lodge, worker housing at the LNG Canada project in Kitimat, B.C. Photo: Bird-ATCO

And in late March, American business magnate Warren Buffett, citing concerns about infrastructure and the Coastal GasLink railway blockades, pulled out of a proposed $9-billion LNG project in Quebec, leaving GNL Quebec, the company behind the project, searching for new investors.

On March 24, Woodfibre LNG announced another delay in construction for its proposed export facility in Howe Sound on the southern B.C. coast, this time for one year, citing the pandemic as one factor.

The project would see LNG offloaded from floating storage tanks near Squamish to LNG carriers that would traverse the waterways of Howe Sound three to four times a month.

“Like many other Canadian companies, we are attempting to adjust timelines as the effects of COVID-19 unfold,” Woodfibre LNG said in a statement, reported by Offshore Energy, noting the virus “has had implications” for a vendor’s Chinese manufacturing facilities and fabrication yards.

Also in March, Woodfibre LNG applied to the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office for a five-year extension to its environmental certificate, set to expire in October after several project delays.

LNG Canada has scaled back its workforce due to the pandemic but says the project is still on track.

8. How long will the LNG market be saturated?

Ineson said things may worsen for the LNG industry over the summer, with storage inventories of gas already well above normal in all major markets.

“You’ve lost a lot of demand with China slowing down and, even as they come back, they’re finding the markets for the things they manufacture are not there because the countries they would sell to are under lockdown of some sort.”

As oversupply continues, analysts also note that LNG Canada is far from the only new horse in the race.

According to the International Energy Agency, 2018 — when the LNG Canada project reached a final investment decision — saw a big uptick in final investment decisions for liquefaction facilities around the world.

Then 2019 set a new record for the most liquefaction capacity ever sanctioned in a single year, with enough new LNG infrastructure announced to meet the needs of the entire European Union that year, the agency reported.

9. Could the price of LNG become negative?

Ineson said it’s unlikely LNG prices will become negative like oil prices, meaning companies would have to pay a buyer to take cargos off their hands.

Instead, he said gas flows to LNG terminals will be curtailed, less gas will be liquefied and LNG tankers won’t sail as often.

“The LNG business is going to test its limits of flexibility and will ultimately have to balance by shutting down some capacity,” he said.

Already, gas flowing to U.S. LNG export facilities is down by almost one-third, Ineson noted.

10. Will the LNG Canada project have a rosier future after the pandemic subsidies?

Ineson said the LNG Canada project faced hurdles regardless of the pandemic.

“It was a challenging future to begin with — not impossible, but challenging.”

That’s largely because LNG Canada will be competing with other new LNG export facilities under construction and buyers are increasingly reluctant to sign long-term contracts, he said.

Clark also said the project’s viability hinges largely on how its long-term contracts are structured.

“If they are structured as oil-linked contracts then Shell might be in for a rough time financially with that investment. … I think that Shell could potentially find itself with an expensive asset that doesn’t actually withstand the test of time.”

The LNG Canada project’s break-even point is about US$8 per mmBTU, according to Williams-Derry. That’s four times the current Asian spot price for LNG and 45 per cent higher than the spot price was before the pandemic.

Although prices in the US$2-per-mmBTU range won’t last forever, the maximum price China is willing to pay in the long term will likely be in the range of US$7 per mmBTU, Williams-Derry noted.

“That leaves LNG Canada in a tough spot.” SOURCE

Five reasons why Michael Moore’s Planet of the Humans is a bad mistake

 Image source: AAP Images.

The new film ‘Planet of the Humans’ was written, directed and produced by a self-styled environmentalist called Jeff Gibbs, but unfortunately Michael Moore has lent his name to it as executive producer.

Moore is one of my heroes, but this time he has made a bad mistake. In summary, the film’s content on renewable energy is out-of-date, superficial, simplistic and misleading.

It makes many of its points by interviewing people whose principal commitment is to fossil fuels or fossil fuelled electricity, it cherrypicks atypical environmentally damaging projects, uses hearsay (e.g. to criticise Bill McKibbin), and recycles half-truths and myths produced by the fossil fuel and nuclear industries that have been refuted again and again by experts.

The bias is appalling. Specific examples follow:

Example 1: Alleged need for fossil fuel backup

It creates the false impression that large-scale electricity systems powered mostly by renewable energy need “fossil fuel back-up 100% of the time”. This is refuted by experience in countries and states that have:

(i) large hydro-electric contributions (e.g. Iceland, New Zealand, Bhutan, Tasmania);

(ii) little hydro but large wind and/or solar contributions and strong transmission interconnections with neighbours (e.g. Denmark with about 50% wind; the North German States of Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern with 100% wind net; Scotland with 76% renewables, mostly wind); and

(iii) large wind/solar contributions, little or no hydro, and weak interconnections with neighbours (e.g. South Australia with about 55% wind and solar). In the past year, South Australia has operated reliably during three breakdowns of its interconnection with Victoria, the last occasion for more than a fortnight. Denmark runs on 100% renewables for over 300 hours per year (not consecutive) and yet has one of the most reliable electricity systems in Europe.

This myth is also refuted by simulation modelling of 100% renewable systems in which wind and/or solar supply the majority of annual demand: Australia (simulations by several groups including our group at UNSW — Elliston, McGill, Diesendorf, Riesz); USA (Mark Jacobson et al.), Europe, Germany, Denmark, etc.

These simulations — spanning one to six years of hourly (or less) data on wind, solar and demand — show that baseload power stations (e.g. coal; nuclear) are unnecessary and, in some regions such as Australia, the amount of storage required is small.

A good storage combination in Australia, in addition to existing hydro, could be a combination of batteries and off-river pumped hydro.
Example 2: False argument

The film uses the false argument that an industry that’s connected to the grid cannot rely on 100% renewable energy. This is the naive notion that the industry (or country or state) has to generate all its renewable energy locally, e.g. from its own roof.

In reality, large corporations (e.g. Apple, Tesla) may generate part of their electricity locally and the remainder by purchasing renewable electricity via the grid, either through a Power Purchase Agreement from a wind or solar farm (e.g. Bluescope Steel in Port Kembla) or by building or purchasing part of a wind or solar farm (e.g. Oz Minerals; Element 25).

The North German states mentioned above trade electricity with their neighbours; on average over a year they use 100% renewables.

Example 3: Energy return on energy invested

The myth that life-cycle energy invested (and carbon emissions) in building renewable energy technologies is comparable with the lifetime energy generation, is false.

Solar panels generate the energy required to build themselves in 1-2 years of operation, depending on type of panel and location, and their lifetime is about 20 years; large wind turbines in 3-12 months, depending on size of turbines and location, and their lifetime is 25-30 years.

Example 4: Misleading out-of-date material

Solar panels with 8% efficiency were on the market decades ago; nowadays 20% panels are available.

My home is totally powered by just 5 kilowatts of panels with 20% efficiency and with 10 kilowatt-hours of battery storage — my usage is low and I sell the majority of my rooftop electricity back to the grid.

Incidentally, on a rainy day, my system is still generating 10-15% of its rated power.

The Chevy Volt was superseded many years ago.

Example 5: Simplistic, misleading treatment of bioenergy

The film’s treatment of bioenergy is simplistic, because some methods of production are environmentally damaging (e.g. ethanol production in the USA) while others are environmentally sound (e.g. ethanol production from waste starch from the wheat industry in Australia).

The film’s treatment of bioenergy is also misleading, because it creates the false impression that environmentalists and renewable energy proponents envisage a large contribution from bioenergy to future renewable energy systems.

The truth is that some see it playing a minor role while almost all the others reject it entirely. Hardly anyone sees it as playing an important role.

The bigger picture

On one general, obvious point, I agree with Giggs: infinite growth on a finite planet is impossible. We must transition to a steady-state socio-economy, that is, one with no growth in the use of energy, materials, land and population. The choice is not either technology or ending growth — we must do both.

However, based on my research and that of others, I believe that the technological transition is the most urgent. SOURCE


Mark Diesendorf is honorary Associate Professor in the Environment & Governance Group at the School of Humanities & Languages at UNSW Sydney

We Had to Do Something’: Trying to Prevent Massive Food Waste

Some producers acknowledge the efforts are “just a drop in the bucket” of what farmers can’t sell and are destroying instead.

Credit…David Ryder/Getty Images

While millions of Americans are worried about having enough to eat and lines at food banks grow, farmers have been plowing under vegetable fields, dumping milk and smashing eggs that cannot be sold because the coronavirus pandemic has shut down restaurants, hotels and schools.

Now, the destruction of fresh food on such a scale has prompted action by the Trump administration and state governments, as well as grass-roots efforts like a group of college students who are renting trucks to rescue unsold onions and eggs from farms. But they most likely won’t be enough to address the problem if businesses remain closed for months.

Over the next few weeks, the Department of Agriculture will begin spending $300 million a month to buy surplus vegetables, fruit, milk and meat from distributors and ship them to food banks. The federal grants will also subsidize boxing up the purchases and transporting them to charitable groups — tasks that farmers have said they cannot afford, giving them few options other than to destroy the food.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s office has said New York will give food banks $25 million to buy products made from excess milk on farms in the state; the state is working with manufacturers like Chobani, Hood and Cabot to turn the milk into cheese, yogurt and butter. Some of the state subsidy can also be used to buy apples, potatoes and other produce that farms have in storage.

Nationally, the Dairy Farmers of America, the largest dairy co-op in the United States, has diverted almost a quarter of a million gallons of milk to food banks.

“It’s just a drop in the bucket,” said Jackie Klippenstein, a senior vice president at the co-op. “But we had to do something.”

The closure of restaurants, hotels and school cafeterias wiped out huge sources of demand for fresh food, leaving farmers with millions of pounds of excess. While increased sales at grocery stores have made up for some of that, not since the Great Depression has so much fresh food been destroyed. (In the 1930s, the problem was that people could not afford to buy all the crops farmers were producing, which led the federal government to establish an early food stamp program.)

“These are not insolvable problems,” said Marion Nestle, a food studies professor at New York University. “These are problems that require a lot of people, sums of money and some thought. If the government were really interested in making sure that hungry people got fed and farmers were supported, they would figure out a way to do it.”

There are some signs that the waste is starting to dissipate. At the beginning of April, farmers were dumping 3.7 million gallons of milk each day, draining it into manure pits, where it mixed with fertilizer used in the fields. Now, the waste is closer to 1.5 million gallons, according to the dairy co-op, as farmers scale back production and restaurant chains like Papa John’s heed the industry’s call to add extra cheese to every pizza.

Credit…Rodrique Ngowi/Associated Press

 

Even as the waste declines for some food, other farmers are scrambling to find new buyers. California strawberry growers, for example, are reaching peak harvest season in May.

“Time is not on our side,” said Mary Coppola, a vice president at the United Fresh Produce Association, a trade group of fruit and vegetable growers and processors. “In my own personal opinion, we are not coming up with the supply-chain logistical solutions as quickly as produce is growing.”

 Some people, upset by all the food waste when families are running low, are trying to come up with other solutions.

A group of university students have started an online site, FarmLink, seeking to connect farmers with food banks. James Kanoff at Stanford and Aidan Reilly at Brown founded the group last month with donations from family and friends.

So far, it has diverted 50,000 onions that were about to be destroyed on a farm in Oregon and paid for their transportation to Los Angeles, where they were distributed to food banks. The students also bought 10,000 eggs from a California farm, rented a truck and drove them to a large food bank.

Credit…Aidan Reilly

FarmLink, which now includes about 20 students from several colleges, has been cold-calling hundreds of farms to find surpluses.

“Just getting through to the farmers is the hardest part, because they are so busy,” said Jordan Hartzell, a Brown student.

The need at food banks is only increasing as the economic crisis intensifies. There are still long lines outside many food banks, as the charities struggle with a surge in need and a scarcity of volunteers because of stay-at-home orders.

While the details are being worked out, the New York subsidy may allow dairy companies like Chobani to drive trucks of their products into neighborhoods with the most need and hand them out in a public park.

At the small food pantry she runs in Casper, Wyo., Mary Ann Budenske has seen shortages of staples like milk and eggs. On Thursday, a shipment of about 200 gallons of milk that arrived at 2:30 p.m. was half gone by 5. She has sent more than 20 emails to farmers and trade associations, offering to drive her 1998 Ford pickup truck to retrieve the leftover food herself.

“Pretty much I’m getting the bureaucratic ‘We’re looking into that — we’ll get back in touch with you,’” Ms. Budenske said. “The whole thing makes me sick.” SOURCE


Michael Corkery is a business reporter who covers the retail industry and its impact on consumers, workers and the economy.  @mcorkery5

David Yaffe-Bellany reports on the food industry and general business news. He graduated from Yale University and previously reported in Texas, Ohio and Connecticut. @yaffebellany

 

Canada should follow example of Denmark, France to crack down on tax havens

At least $8 billion in tax revenues are lost every year to international corporate tax dodging

OTTAWA – As France, Denmark and Poland announced they will refuse COVID-19 aid for companies using tax havens, the Canadian government must do more to ensure our public funds are not spent on tax-dodging corporations.

“Canada loses at least $8 billion a year to corporate offshore tax dodging. While we need to deliver supports to workers who have been affected, Canada should take steps to ensure federal funding doesn’t pad the profits of companies and corporate executives that have avoided paying their fair share,” said Toby Sanger, director of Canadians for Tax Fairness.

France and Denmark will also introduce rules to prevent corporations that receive funding from engaging in share buybacks and issuing dividends. Canada should follow suit to make sure support goes to those who need it, and not to wealthy shareholders and executives.

Canadians for Tax Fairness has urged the federal government to take the following measures:

      • Deny funding to corporations that abuse tax havens to avoid Canadian taxes, or to numbered and anonymous companies that don’t reveal their real owners
      • Require large corporations that receive funding to publicly disclose their finances on a country by country basis
      • Publicly report details on all federal funds dispersed
      • Prohibit corporate stock buybacks, executive bonuses, golden parachutes and shareholder dividend payouts for at least one year for corporations receiving funding
      • Consider measures such as an excess profits tax to recover funds from companies that ultimately don’t need this funding
      • Proceed with measures to stop multinational corporations and wealthy individuals from exploiting tax havens to avoid Canadian taxes

“The financial toll of COVID-19 will be significant. We can’t expect Canadians to bear the brunt of this cost while allowing corporations to collect federal funding without contributing to our nation’s recovery,” Sanger said. “Earlier this month, Canada quietly marked the four-year anniversary of the Panama Papers without a single conviction. Clearly, our government can do more to bring our tax dollars home.” SOURCE


Canadians for Tax Fairness is a non-profit organization that advocates for progressive taxes to fund important public services, reduce inequality and strengthen the economy.

City of Brampton announces first citywide Backyard Garden Program in Canada in response to COVID-19

20-0605 Backyard Garden Program social media tiles

The City of Brampton has launched the Backyard Garden Program, a new eco-friendly initiative to help support food security in the city, and encourage residents to get active at home during the COVID-19 emergency.

The City of Brampton is the first municipality in Canada to launch a citywide initiative to support residents in growing their own gardens in response to COVID-19.

“Supporting our residents and community groups during this pandemic is our main priority. Our Social Support Task Force is working hard to provide the necessary food supports to Brampton’s vulnerable communities and empowering residents to join in this cause and grow fresh produce in their backyards,” said Mayor Patrick Brown. “With the support of Brampton residents, we aim to launch 1,000 new backyard gardens through this program. Together, we can help alleviate the pressure on our food banks, while staying active and fostering community pride.”

The new Brampton Backyard Garden Program is chaired by City Councillor Doug Whillans, Wards 2 and 6, in partnership with the City’s Parks Maintenance and Forestry division, and will include community partners as required.

With physical distancing measures in effect, this program encourages residents to grow produce and herbs from the comfort of their own homes, and donate their homegrown crops to local food banks and community organizations. In order to ensure food is equally distributed to those in need, a request form will made available for food banks and organizations to complete.

This initiative supports the Mayor’s Social Support Task Force’s focus on food security and reaffirms Brampton’s priority of being a sustainable Green City.

“Our Community Gardens program has been very successful, and although we may not be able to operate community gardens in the same way due to physical distancing measures in place, it is only fitting that we bring the program to residents directly,” said Doug Whillans, City Councillor Wards 2 & 6. “This program encourages all residents to get into gardening, enjoy the outdoors while isolating, and give back to the community to our seniors and those in need.”

The new Backyard Garden Program, through which residents can continue to stay active and green, is an extension of the existing Community Gardens program.

Residents can request free supplies (soil and seeds) by emailing BramptonGreenCity@brampton.ca. We will also share tutorials and tips on how to maintain gardens on our website at http://www.brampton.ca/parks.

With the 50th anniversary of Earth Day just around the corner (Wednesday, April 22), this is the perfect opportunity for residents to contribute to urban agriculture, give back to the community, and help Brampton become a more healthy, resilient, and environmentally sustainable city.

“The City of Brampton is well known as the Flower City,” said CAO David Barrick. “During this challenging time, city staff are committed to implementing a Backyard Garden Program to support residents remaining active while they stay at home, developing Brampton as a Green City which is a key Term of Council priority, and contributing to food security in Brampton.”

For the latest updates on what the City of Brampton is doing during the COVID-19 situation, visit www.brampton.ca/COVID19.

 

The New Great Depression Is Coming. Will There Be a New New Deal?

After the coronavirus, political transformation may be inevitable.

Credit…Bettmann/Getty Images

Until very recently, Andrew Yang thought that the need for a universal basic income would be a big issue in the 2024 election, as “many of the trends that I campaigned on were going to become completely clear to more and more Americans” over the next four years. He was arguing, for example, that between now and then, “30 percent of our stores and malls were going to close because of Amazon.”

After more than a month of coronavirus lockdowns, Yang’s prediction looks quaintly optimistic. “That obviously happened not in four years, it happened in four weeks,” he told me. “And it wasn’t 30 percent, it was virtually 100 percent.”

Many of those stores will come back — some have already — but analysts predict that thousands won’t. Jobs lost to automation during this time — in warehouses and supermarkets, among other places — are especially unlikely to return. Americans, increasingly desperate in lockdown, are going to emerge from this period into a transformed and blighted world.

Yang used to believe that we were five or 10 years away from seeing some version of his signature policy enacted. “Now I believe this is very immediate and could happen this year,” he said. Representative Justin Amash, who’s exploring running for president as a libertarian, is calling for a U.B.I. for the next three months. The House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, recently said a guaranteed minimum income is “perhaps” worthy of attention. Last month Pope Francis spoke warmly of the idea.

Several candidates campaigned for the Democratic presidential nomination on what Senator Elizabeth Warren called “big structural change,” and lost. Yet in a hideous historical irony, the end of the primaries has coincided with a calamity that necessitates an enormous federal response.

Covid-19 has killed more Americans than died in the Vietnam War and led to unemployment numbers that are likely worse than those during the Great Depression. Implicit in Joe Biden’s campaign was a promise of a return to normalcy. That may have always been illusory, but now it’s been revealed as an impossibility.

As we approach this year’s election, we’re looking at an abyss. The question is what will fill it. Societal disaster can have horrific political consequences: Around the world, despots are using the pandemic as an excuse to grab ever more power. But the need to rebuild the country comes with opportunities.

At this point, even many Republicans acknowledge that the era of small government is over. (“Big-Government Conservatives Mount Takeover of G.O.P.,” said a recent Politico headline.) In such an environment, ambitious progressive ideas that once seemed implausible, at least in the short term, start to become more imaginable.

“I do think there’s an F.D.R. moment,” said Senator Edward Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts and co-author of the Green New Deal resolution, which calls for a huge new public works program to build environmentally sustainable infrastructure. “Like 1933 — which would be 2021 — we can see that it is now time to discuss universal child care, universal sick leave and a guaranteed income for everyone in our society.”

Senator Edward Markey, right, with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other members of Congress, unveiling the Green New Deal last year.
Credit…Pete Marovich for The New York Times
Unsurprisingly, mass unemployment — a particular catastrophe in a system in which most people’s health insurance is tied to their jobs — seems to have made Americans more supportive of New Deal-like policies. Figures from the left-leaning polling firm Data for Progress show that support for a Green New Deal has risen from 48 percent last May to 59 percent this spring. Backing for “Medicare for all” went from 47 percent in November to 53 percent in March, when coronavirus layoffs were just starting.
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We Convert People’s Yards Into Food-Growing Gardens. You Can Transform Yours Too.

As urban farmers, we want to help our community be less reliant on our fragile food system.

City Beet Farm owners Maddy Clerk, left, and Elana Evans, right. KAI LANI RUTLAND

Neither of us grew up farming. Truthfully, up until a few years ago we couldn’t even tell you what a pepper plant looked like! Now, we grow vegetables and cut flowers across 15 residential front and backyards in East Vancouver, where we’ve helped nurture our community for the past four seasons.

In 2013, two young women much like us were faced with the biggest obstacle to aspiring farmers: access to land. Katie and Ruth, City Beet’s founders, canvassed neighbourhoods with the idea of farming people’s yards. It was then that City Beet Farm took root across six lawns, all within biking distance of one another.

We purchased the business when it went up for sale in 2016, and put our combined backgrounds in business and soil science to work.

ELANA EVANS
We trade homeowners vegetables for the use of their front and back lawns.

Growing food, for us, feels like a hands-on, tangible way to exercise our commitment to the land and to building community. We take great care of the soil to grow nutritious food that our communities can feel good about feeding their families. Like all the best gifts, food is best fresh and from hands you recognize.

Responding to the COVID-19 crisis

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the fragility of our food system. Many folks who live in urban centres across the country have never before experienced walking into a grocery store and finding shelves upon shelves bare. As the cracks show in our dependency on imported food, there is renewed inspiration for “victory gardens” and Grow Your Own.

We are encouraging folks to get their hands in the soil or connect with their local farmers and decrease their reliance on the global supply chain. Our farm has responded to the crisis by seeding earlier in the season than past years and growing as much food as is within our capacity. We also provide educational content to inspire folks to grow their own food and decrease their reliance on the complex food system.

We are hopeful that after learning more about this lifestyle – and trying a bit of farming themselves — folks will continue to eat locally and support small farms long after this pandemic.

How we feed our neighbours

City Beet Farm’s six original yards fed roughly 20 households weekly from June to October. Today, with 15 yards totalling 0.5 acres, we are able to feed over 100 households every week. While some homeowners are part of City Beet to support young farmers, others are simply happy to not have to mow their lawn — and through their generosity, we are able to grow over 35 different crops.

ELANA EVANS
What our community members don’t take away, we sell.

We trade these homeowners vegetables for the use of their land, and sell the rest through a ”community supported agriculture″ (CSA) model, which sees 82 members pick up a freshly harvested veggie box weekly when crops are in season. Anything left over is sold through pop-up markets in collaboration with a local Vancouver coffee shop, The Federal Store.

What to grow in an urban garden

The goal when growing food in an urban setting isn’t to grow everything in your diet. Space-intensive crops like corn, potatoes, grains, onions, dry beans and other pulses are slow to mature and unlikely to be worthwhile where space is limited. Focus your resources on quick-turnover crops and those that can be harvested over a long period of time, like kale, Swiss chard, parsley, tomatoes and perennial herbs.

There are many vegetables that can be planted densely together to produce lots of yield. These include greens like spinach, arugula, lettuce and mustards. Radishes can also be planted densely and mature quickly, so it is very possible to produce three to four harvests over the course of a summer.

Many crops, like snap peas, cucumbers or zucchini, bear loads of fruit growing vertically if you build them some support. If you live in an apartment, this could be as simple as growing them in a planter with a supporting trellis.

A greenhouse provides ideal conditions for certain young vegetables as they mature. A covered porch will do in a pinch. MADDY CLERK

We seed some crops, like carrots and salad greens, directly into the garden. Others, like tomatoes or peppers, we start under grow lights before transferring them to an old carport-turned-greenhouse until they are mature enough to be transplanted. Many people have great success with a single grow light indoors and a small greenhouse on their patio. No matter your method, you want to ensure your plants get adequate light to avoid becoming “leggy” (excessively long), and have good airflow and warm-enough temperatures.

Preparing a garden space

A few hundred square feet of garden — about the size of a parking spot — with seven to eight hours of unobstructed sunlight a day is sufficient to grow vegetables for a household. When planning where to grow, think about how sunlight travels across the space, and where shadows will form as plants grow taller, and plan your garden layout around that. For those of us that are not lucky enough to access full sunlight, consider more shade-tolerant crops such as lettuce, parsley or kale.

We maximize our planting space by making long, 36-inch-wide planting beds with 12 to 18-inch pathways between them. When planting more than one crop in a single bed, we group them in blocks.

Maintaining an urban garden

Watering a garden seems like a simple task, but it is actually quite an art. Water must reach deep into the soil, so do your best to ensure you are not just watering superficially. But too much water will drown your plants. Test soil with the tip of your finger to gauge moisture — it should feel moist, but not soggy. Remember that shadier gardens tend to dry out more slowly, while sunny yards will require more frequent watering.

There is no substitute for careful observation and spending time in the garden with the plants — we take a close look a couple times a week at minimum. Checking the underside of leaves for little eggs or larvae is one way to tell if there are any potential pests.

Pests and disease pressures are a concern if you grow the same crop, over and over, in the same bed. You can avoid this by organizing with neighbours and concentrating on growing two to five crops each, then rotating who grows what every season. You will boost your yield, maintain good diversity in your space, and can take advantage of each yard’s unique characteristics, like shading or soil type.

Don’t fear failure

Although it’s always disappointing, we try not to be discouraged when things fail. Farming is full of failures, even for the very experienced among us. We seed a minimum of 30 per cent more than we expect to harvest to suffer losses we know will occur. This is the humble reality of growing food.

While we don’t expect urban farms to feed a whole city, front-yard farming connects people closer to their food and their farmers, and gives them a chance to try it out for themselves. Whether you feel inspired to take your lawn from grass to harvest in as little as 14 weeks, or to support your local small-scale farmer, the pandemic provides the opportunity to decrease our reliance on a complex global food system and reconnect with our land. SOURCE


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