Adaptation isn’t enough. We’ve got to throw everything at the climate crisis

Jonathan Franzen is the latest figure to preach the gospel of adaptation. But without cutting emissions, it won’t work


Illustration: Eva Bee/The Guardian

When we’re faced with threats of inundation, our reaction has traditionally been to build walls. Sea-level rises, storms and floods have been held back with solid barriers, seawalls and dykes. We have used walls to keep out people, too: the fact that this has failed throughout the ages has not stopped its recent revival in the United States.

The climate crisis threatens global sea-level rises of well over half a metre if we fail to act, while tidal storm surges will reach many times that height. Fiercer and more frequent hurricanes will batter us, and millions of people who live in areas where crops have failed and wells run dry will be forced to flee their homes. But walls will not work with the climate crisis, even if the temptation to try to keep out the consequences, rather than dealing with the causes, is as strong as ever.

The prospect of a “climate apartheid”, in which the rich insulate themselves from the impacts of the climate emergency while the poor and vulnerable are abandoned to their fate, is now real. According to the UN, climate-related disasters are already taking place at the rate of one a week, though only a few of them – such as Hurricane Dorian – get reported.

Nowhere on Earth will be untouched, with the number of people facing water shortages set to leap from 3.6 billion today to 5 billion by 2050. At least 100 million people will be plunged into poverty in the next decade, and in the decades following that, rising sea levels will swamp coastal cities from Miami to Shanghai, wiping $1tn a year from the global economy. Agriculture will become increasingly difficult, with more people displaced as a result, searching for liveable conditions elsewhere.

The Global Commission on Adaptation, headed by Bill Gates and Ban Ki-moon, warned this week that we have failed to plan adequately for a crisis that is now upon us. At a series of high-level meetings beginning in the next few weeks, and continuing into next year, world leaders and representatives of civil society and businesses will try to devise a better response. Among the questions they face will be how to set new targets, secure new funding and take more effective action to help the world not just prevent further warming, but to adapt to the impacts already being felt.

Currently, 20 times more is being spent on reducing emissions than building resilience to the effects of rising temperatures and extreme weather, according to the Commission on Adaptation. That seems patently unbalanced, and neglecting adaptation is putting millions of people and their livelihoods in danger now, as well as storing up problems for the future.

What’s more, money invested today will pay dividends in the near future. Spending less than $2tn by 2030 would result in more than $7tn saved in damage avoided and better economic growth. These sums sound huge, but are a fraction of the amount the world will spend on infrastructure in the next decade.

And modern adaptation means more than building seawalls. Restoring natural features, such as mangrove swamps and wetlands, can do far more to protect coastal regions, as well as nurturing biodiversity and tourism. New technology will play a key role, as early warnings of extreme weather give people time to take shelter or protect their property. Engineering climate-ready infrastructure encompasses everything from porous pavements to urban trees to provide shade.

What’s clear is that we need to adapt and build resilience now, because climate change is no longer a comfortably faraway problem. The predicted ravages have come sooner than expected: heatwaves over much of the northern hemisphere last year, floods and extreme weather in south-east Asia, Arctic ice melting at unprecedented levels this summer, and Hurricane Dorian, one of the strongest ever recorded. Worse still, some of these effects are likely themselves to increase temperatures further, in a series of feedback loops. The fires in the Amazon are destroying a vital “carbon sink”. Shrinking ice reveals darker water that absorbs more heat than highly reflective snow. Melting permafrost releases methane, a greenhouse gas many times more powerful than carbon dioxide.

It is tempting, in the face of these events, to suggest that the game is up for trying to prevent climate change. The emissions reductions needed to stop it are so vast, and the changes to our way of life so total, that it may seem like all we can do is adapt to the consequences. The hastening prospect of a “climate apartheid” is morally revolting as well as politically alarming, and could lead to a kind of paralysis.

The view that adapting to inevitable climate change should be our priority, over futile and ruinously expensive attempts to cut emissions, has been spread by those who want to continue to emit CO2, come what may. Fossil fuel companies saw adaptation, along with the idea that we could geo-engineer our way out of trouble, as a way to keep selling oil while paying lip service to the climate science. Now it is gaining traction among more respectable thinkers. Jonathan Franzen, the American novelist and nature lover, whipped up a storm when he suggested in the New Yorker that: “In the long run, it probably makes no difference how badly we overshoot 2C … Every billion dollars spent on high-speed trains … is a billion not banked for disaster preparedness, reparations to inundated countries, or future humanitarian relief.”

It’s true that spending on adaptation is a good deal. It saves lives, and if used wisely could stave off the climate apartheid that experts foresee. But setting up adaptation versus emissions-cutting as an either-or choice is a grave mistake. Trying to adapt to the consequences of climate change while continuing to burn fossil fuels is like trying to mop up an overflowing sink while the taps are still running. As long as we continue to pump CO2 into the air, we are fuelling rises in temperature. We cannot outrun global heating any more than we can hold back the rising sea with dykes. And the fires blazing through the Amazon show that without action, things could easily get much worse.

It can seem that in a world of finite resources, we need to make a binary decision about where to put our efforts. That is an illusion. The truth is that dealing with the climate emergency requires an across-the-board approach, for the simple reason that all of our resources – economic, physical, social – are at stake. If we do not throw everything we can at the problem, there won’t be much left anyway. In short, there is no wall high enough to keep out the consequences of inaction on emissions. SOURCE

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Elizabeth May: We have had decades to stop the climate crisis. The era of procrastination must end

Federal Green Party leader Elizabeth May meets with the Toronto Star editorial board on Tuesday.
Elizabeth May is the leader of Canada’s federal Green Party

For all my life I have had a deep connection to the natural world. And I do mean all my life.

My mother used to tell me that when I was about 2 I told her I hated airplanes. As I had never been in one, she asked why. “Because they scratch the sky.”

When I was 13, I set my course to become an environmental lawyer. This path was interrupted by my parents’ somewhat impetuous decision to move the family from Hartford, Conn., where my father was a senior insurance executive, to a tiny village on Cape Breton Island. Almost as an afterthought, my parents made a financially disastrous decision to buy a restaurant and gift shop. Instead of pre-law university in my late teens to late 20s, I worked as a waitress and cook in the family business. And every winter I ended up fighting the local pulp mill over its plans to spray pesticides over our island.

My life got back on track when I discovered I could go to law school without an undergraduate degree. I was known as an activist, described by CBC’s The Fifth Estate as “the 23-year-old waitress who stopped the pulp company dead in its tracks.” Without knowing it was even possible, my activism helped me gain admission to Dalhousie University law school.

Which brings me to why climate change is personal: In 1986, the minister of the environment decided he needed someone in his office with a reputation for environmental activism. I was practising law with the Public Interest Advocacy Centre in Ottawa when he asked me to join his staff. I was an unlikely choice — not a supporter of his party and, as I warned him against hiring me, “I am the kind of person who would quit on principle.”

I will be forever grateful for that chance to be the minister’s senior policy adviser. Even though, sadly, I did end up quitting on principle, I learned the workings of government — when it works — and I learned the science of climate change.

Those were heady times for anyone wanting to see government act on the side of the planet. I was part of Environment Canada’s work to stop acid rain, create national parks, clean up the Great Lakes, develop new environmental legislation and negotiate the treaty that saved the ozone layer.

I was also educated about climate change by Environment Canada scientists. In the last week of June 1988, Toronto hosted the world’s first publicly accessible international climate science conference. I was one of the organizers.

It ended with a call to reduce our emissions by 20 per cent below 1988 levels by 2005.

This is the point in this little story when I want to weep. We knew. We promised. In 1992, I was at the Rio Earth Summit, holding my infant daughter in my arms, watching our prime minister sign the treaty to save the climate.

The horrible reality is that since making the promises to curb greenhouse gases, emissions have grown. We have emitted more greenhouse gases since 1992 than between the beginning of the Industrial Revolution until 1992. MORE

Fossil Rebellion

In the midst of climate breakdown, governments around the world are funding and protecting the fossil fuel industry

Climate activists from the Extinction Rebellion group demonstrate during protests outside the Bank of England in London last week © Bloomberg

The tragedy of our times is that the gathering collapse of our life support systems coincides 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. Wild fires 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 15°C temperature anomaly. Daily ice losses on this scale are 50 years ahead of schedule: they were forecast by 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 Southwest Asia they are already 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.

recent paper in Nature shows that we have little hope of preventing more than 1.5° of global heating unless we retire existing fossil fuel infrastructure. Even if no new gas or coal power plants, roads and airports are built, the carbon emissions from current installations are likely to push us past this threshold. Only by retiring some of this infrastructure before the end of its natural life could we secure a 50% chance of remaining within the temperature limit agreed in Paris in 2015. Yet, far from decommissioning this Earth-killing machine, almost everywhere governments and industry stoke its fires.

The oil and gas industry intends to spend $4.9 trillion over the next 10 years, exploring and developing new reserves, none of which we can afford to burn. According to the IMF, every year governments subsidise fossil fuels to the tune of $5 trillion: many times more than they spend on addressing our existential predicament. The US spends 10 times more on these mad subsidies than on its federal education budget. Last year, the world burnt more fossil fuels than ever before.

An analysis by Barry Saxifrage in Canada’s National Observer shows that half the fossil fuels ever used by humans have been burnt since 1990. While renewable and nuclear power supplies have also risen in this period, the gap between the production of fossil fuels and low carbon energy has not been narrowing, but steadily widening. What counts, in seeking to prevent runaway global heating, is not the good things we start to do, but the bad things we cease to do. Shutting down fossil infrastructure requires government intervention.

But in many nations, governments intervene not to protect humanity from the existential threat of fossil fuels, but to protect the fossil fuel industry from the existential threat of public protest.

In the US, legislators in 18 states have put forward bills criminalising protests against pipelines, seeking to crush democratic dissent on behalf of the oil industry. In June, Donald Trump’s government proposed federal legislation that would jail people for up to 20 years for disrupting pipeline construction. MORE

 

BC Government Frets Over Climate Change While Heavily Subsidizing Fracking Companies

Worse, the giveaway probably isn’t needed, with the global industry desperate for new gas fields.

Fracking-Pipes.jpg
Fracking does not need subsidies to be profitable. But we still hand ’em out. Photo via Shutterstock.

We’re in a climate crisis. So why did the B.C. government give oil and gas companies $663 million in subsidies last year so they would produce more fracked natural gas?

The NDP government hasn’t declared a climate emergency. But it commissioned a report that warns of more severe wildfire seasons, water shortages, heat waves, landslides and more.

Despite that, the government handed almost two-thirds of a billion dollars to fossil fuel companies — $130 per person in the province — so they’ll extract more methane, more quickly. (The numbers are all from the always-interesting Public Accounts released last month by the province’s auditor general.)

Which is perverse in a time when we’re warned of climate disaster.

British Columbians own the oil and gas under the ground. Companies pay royalties to the government for the right to extract and sell it.

Since 2003, the B.C. government has been putting natural gas on sale. It has cut royalties to subsidize the industry’s road construction and reward any operators who drilled in the summer.

And most significantly, it started offering the gas at a deep discount for companies that drilled “deep wells.” The industry argument was that they were riskier and more expensive; the government had to sell the gas more cheaply to encourage companies to drill. It increased the discounts in 2009 and 2014, giving even bigger breaks to the fossil fuel companies. (Who were also big BC Liberal donors.)

The discounts — subsidies from taxpayers who have to pay more to make up for the lost revenue — have enriched fossil fuel companies for more than a decade. MORE

Teck’s Frontier oilsands project heads to McKenna for review


Workers are pictured next to heavy machinery in an undated photograph in a Teck Resources document about its Frontier oilsands project.

A massive new oilsands project is inching closer to getting built in Alberta, despite serious concerns about its detrimental effect on bison herds and the rights of Indigenous people living nearby.

Only the federal environment minister’s approval stands in the way of Teck Resources’ $20-billion, 260,000-barrel-per-day Frontier project, which would be the first new open-pit petroleum-mining construction in the country’s oil patch in many years.

But approval this year will be a tricky undertaking, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government struggling in its eagerness to present itself as capable of both protecting the environment and boosting the economy.

A joint review panel from the Alberta Energy Regulator and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency last week deliveredits verdict on the Frontier project to the minister, Catherine McKenna, who must now choose whether to approve or reject the project before an October election or risk not getting to make the decision at all.

That extensive report says the 292-square-kilometre site north of Fort McKay is in the public interest despite “significant adverse project and cumulative effects on certain environmental components and Indigenous communities.”

A map showing the location of Teck Resources’ Frontier project. Photo supplied by company

 

“We find that the project is likely to result in significant adverse environmental effects to wetlands, old-growth forests, wetland- and old-growth-reliant species at risk, the Ronald Lake bison herd and biodiversity,” it says.

The Ronald Lake bison is a small population of disease-free wild bison that Indigenous Peoples in the area hunt for food. According to the report, the animals’ range includes the project’s almost 30,000-hectare footprint, and there is concern the project could prompt the herd to move northward into Wood Buffalo National Park, where they could come into contact with herds known to carry bovine tuberculosis or brucellosis.

“It would have significant consequences for the herd and the asserted rights, use of lands and resources, and cultural practices of Indigenous communities who are connected to the herd,” the report says.

McKenna to review panel’s verdict

McKenna thanked the panel for “their diligent work through an exhaustive review process” in a statement supplied by her office, which repeated assertions that the government was serious about protecting the environment, fighting climate change, and advancing reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, as well as supporting good jobs and economic opportunities for middle-class Canadians.

Teck says the project will create 7,000 jobs during construction and require up to 2,500 workers during operation.

A schematic of Teck Resources’ planned operation at its Frontier project in northern Alberta. Photo from company website

The company, Canada’s largest diversified miner, mostly produces copper, metallurgical coal and zinc worldwide, but has recently built some Canadian oil and gas exposure. It expects the project to produce about 3.2 billion barrels of bitumen over four decades of life. The company expects to pay around $12 billion in federal taxes during that time, as well as $55 billion to Alberta in taxes and royalties and $3.5 billion in municipal property taxes.

If McKenna decides the risks outlined in the report are too great, it will be up to cabinet to determine whether those effects are justified. The federal government has until Feb. 28 to make its decision. MORE

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Climate change: The Trillion Tree Solution

Photo by Jim Bradbury

I’ve got a confession. Like a lot of people, I suffer from a mild version of what botanists call “tree blindness.” Sure, I can tell an oak from a gingko, but most of the hundreds of varieties of trees that grow here in Northern California remain, to me, just trees.

I couldn’t help but think about how we take trees for granted when I read about new research that found that planting a lot more of them could reduce climate pollution. Scientists examined areas around the globe where we could reforest and figured out that, even after you exclude agricultural and urban lands, we have room for another 1 trillion trees. For reference, the planet currently has about 3 trillion — which is only about half of what existed before human civilization. What’s more, adding back 1 trillion trees, it’s calculated, could capture up to 25% of global annual carbon emissions.

That’s important because in addition to slashing carbon emissions, we must find ways to remove and store the excess carbon that’s already in our atmosphere. Plenty of smart people are trying to develop economically feasible, scalable technologies to do just that, and we should all be (pardon the expression) rooting for them. Meanwhile, though, behold the tree, which has been efficiently accomplishing this task for millennia. All we have to do is stop destroying the ones we already have (which should be priority number one) and get seriously ambitious about planting new ones.

To be clear, reforestation alone won’t be enough to solve the climate crisis. It can, though, be one of our single most effective strategies, provided we do it responsibly (by avoiding monoculture forests, for example, and by scrupulously respecting the rights of indigenous people). In fact, whenever possible, reforestation should be part of a broader effort to restore whole ecosystems.

Like the trees themselves, reforestation is a solution that has been hiding in plain sight. There’s nothing technologically difficult about planting trees, but to be effective as part of a climate strategy it will require massive and multinational ambition. Unfortunately, although many countries around the world have begun reforestation efforts, even the most ambitious ones have a long, long way to go. According to the Trillion Tree Campaign, China is currently in the lead, with about 2.4 billion planted, and India’s not far behind, with 2.1 billion. The US? Currently in 10th place, with around 300 million trees planted. That’s progress, but the reality is that we have room for 1,000 billion trees, and we need them as soon as possible. Instead, we’re still losing billions of trees each year, including in some of the places where we need them most, such as the Amazon rainforest.

Once again, the real challenge of the climate crisis isn’t a lack of solutions. Whether it’s 1 trillion trees or 100% clean, renewable energy, the solutions are right in front of us. The question facing humanity is whether we are prepared to recognize and implement those solutions intelligently, equitably, and rapidly. What do I see when I look at a tree now? A marvel of nature, a reason for hope, and a call to action. SOURCE

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WASTE ONLY: How the Plastics Industry Is Fighting to Keep Polluting the World

Image result for the intercept: How the Plastics Industry Is Fighting to Keep Polluting the World
A portion of plastic bottle found on Mothecombe Beach at the mouth of the Erme Estuary in South Devon, England, on May 30, 2019.Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

THE STUDENTS AT Westmeade Elementary School worked hard on their dragon. And it paid off. The plastic bag receptacle that the kids painted green and outfitted with triangular white teeth and a “feed me” sign won the students from the Nashville suburb first place in a recycling box decorating contest. The idea, as Westmeade’s proud principal told a local TV news show, was to help the environment. But the real story behind the dragon — as with much of the escalating war over plastic waste — is more complicated.

A week after Westmeade’s dragon won the contest, the APBA got its own reward: The plastic preemption bill passed the Tennessee state legislature. Weeks later, the governor signed it into law, throwing a wrench into an effort underway in Memphis to charge a fee for plastic bags. Meanwhile, A Bag’s Life gave the Westmeade kids who worked on the bag monster a $100 gift card to use “as they please.” And with that, a minuscule fraction of its vast wealth, the plastics industry applied a green veneer to its increasingly bitter and desperate fight to keep profiting from a product that is polluting the world.

In this Nov. 2, 2014 photo provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, a black footed albatross chick with plastics in its stomach lies dead on Midway Atoll in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. The remote atoll where thousands died is now a delicate sanctuary for millions of seabirds. Midway sits amid a collection of man-made debris called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Along the paths of Midway, there are piles of feathers with rings of plastic in the middle - remnants of birds that died with the plastic in their guts. Each year the agency removes about 20 tons of plastic and debris that washes ashore from surrounding waters. (Dan Clark/USFWS via AP)In this photo provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, a black footed albatross chick with plastics in its stomach lies dead on Midway Atoll in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands on Nov. 2, 2014. Photo: Dan Clark/USFWS via AP

At stake for them [the plastics industry] is not just the current plastics market now worth hundreds of billions of dollars annually, but its likely expansion. Falling oil and gas prices mean that the cost of making new plastic, already very low, will be even cheaper. The price drop has led to more than 700 plastics industry projects now in the works, including expansions of old plants and the construction of new ones by Chevron, Shell, Dow, Exxon, Formosa Plastics, Nova Chemicals, and Bayport Polymers, among other companies, according to a presentation from the regulatory affairs director of the BASF Corporation at the plastics industry conference.

The growing output of new cheap plastic further undermines the industry’s own argument that recycling can resolve the waste crisis. It’s already impossible for most recycled plastic to compete with “virgin” plastic in the marketplace. With the exception of bottles made of PET (No. 1) and HDPE (No. 2), the rest of the waste is essentially worthless. Around 30 percent of both types of plastic bottles were sold for recycling in 2017, though some of those may have wound up being landfilled or incinerated. The recent fossil fuel boom makes it even cheaper to make new plastic and thus, even more difficult to sell the recycled product. This, in turn, makes the plastics companies’ push for recycling that much more implausible — and their battle to kill efforts to limit plastics production even more desperate. MORE

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David Suzuki: Fracking is neither a climate solution nor an economic blessing

Getty

The rush to exploit and sell fossil fuels as quickly as possible before the reality of climate disruption becomes too great to deny or ignore has generated some Orwellian rationalizations. Somehow a bitumen pipeline has become part of Canada’s plan to tackle the climate crisis. Another fossil fuel, fracked gas, is being touted as a climate solution.

It’s twisted logic that exposes a lack of honesty, imagination, and courage from many of those we elect to serve us. Pipeline proponents say we need the money to fund the transition to green energy. That’s like saying we have to sell cigarettes to fund lung cancer research. It’s also premised on the idea that “we can’t get off fossil fuels overnight”—something I’ve been hearing since I started talking about climate change decades ago, during which we’ve done little to get off them at all.

Natural gas, which now almost always means liquefied fracked gas, is being vaunted as a climate remedy because it burns cleaner than coal. In Canada and the U.S., governments are so intoxicated by the dollars that they’re helping industry build as quickly and massively as possible. As research in Canada and the U.S. shows, it’s not a climate solution; it’s another way to keep fossil fuels burning.

Natural gas is mostly methane, a greenhouse gas about 85 times more potent than carbon dioxide over a 20-year period. It’s responsible for about a quarter of atmospheric warming, and emissions are rising. Scientists estimate about 40 percent is from natural sources, while 60 percent is human-caused—from agriculture, landfills, coal seams, and oil-and-gas-industry leakage. Even some natural emissions are indirectly caused by human activity. For example, human-caused global heating is causing permafrost to melt, which releases methane.

Research by the David Suzuki Foundation and St. Francis Xavier University revealed methane pollutionfrom B.C.’s oil-and-gas industry is at least 2.5 times higher than reported by industry and government. Studies in Alberta and the U.S. reached similar conclusions.

New research from Global Energy Monitor, a U.S. nongovernmental organization that tracks fossil-fuel development, found even greater problems with the recent fracking frenzy. Its report, The New Gas Boom, found that the 202 LNG terminal projects being developed worldwide—including 116 export terminals and 86 import terminals—represent warming impacts “as large or greater than the expansion of coal-fired power plants, posing a direct challenge to Paris climate goals”. Canada and the U.S. account for 74 percent of these developments.

The report also questions the long-term viability of this gas rush, cautioning that many developments could become “stranded assets”, given rapidly falling renewable-energy costs. It points out that because only eight percent of terminal capacity under development has reached the construction stage, “there is still time to avoid overbuilding”.

Beyond its climate impacts, fracking comes with a range of environmental and health problems, including earthquakes, contaminated water, excessive water use, and health issues. A recent review of more than 1,500 scientific studies, government assessments, and media reports by the Concerned Health Professionals of New York and Physicians for Social Responsibility concluded that fracking contaminates air and water with chemicals that can cause serious health problems—especially in children, pregnant women and other vulnerable people, as well as industry workers—including cancer, asthma, and birth defects.

MORE

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The Koch Brothers and the Tar-Sands

I encourage you to read the entire article by John McMurtry. This is the BIG STORY never investigated by Canada’s media — one that should definitely influence how you vote.

Big Lies and Ecocide in Canada

As we know, big lies can run free across borders with few people joining the dots. For example, no media has been reporting that China’s growing dispute with Canada is based on Canada’s enforcement of the Trump administration’s unilateral embargo against Iran. This is what politicians called ‘the rule of law’. In fact, it is assisting the US takedown of China’s superior IT competition – Huawei – for not obeying the illegal US embargo.

One lie builds on another. Repetition institutionalizes it. Then that becomes the truth that sells. As explained long ago by Edward Bernayes, the founder of public relations, democracy is “the manufacture of consent.” What he did not say is that only system-supporting lies may be on offer.

So, the imprisonment of Huawei’s vice-chairwoman and CFO Meng Wanzhou, continues as justified by ‘the rule of law’ and China is at fault for not recognizing it. Official Canada again reverts to type. It attacks the designated US Enemy, in junior partnership with its global corporate command.

Yet this time there is a new twist. Canada is attacking itself on all levels without knowing it. China has imprisoned two Canadian citizens and blocked long-standing major agriculture imports to our increasing public humiliation. The US, the actual cause of the problem, has done nothing to resolve it, and all the while, a deeper self-destruction of Canada unfolds to serve US Big-Oil demands.

The usual leaders of Canada’s branch-plant culture in politics, media news and ‘expert’ commentary just continue their barking.

Great Canada

A US Big-Oil backed juggernaut of Conservative provincial governments and the federal Opposition have been advancing for months in a campaign to reverse longstanding parliamentary decisions, environmental laws, climate action initiatives, Supreme Court directions, and First-Nations negotiations, with the goal of bringing down the current government of Canada. Yet no-one in public or media circles has joined the dots.

Canada’s vast tar-sands deposits are world famous as surpassing Saudi Arabia oil-field capacities in total barrels of potential yield. Great Canada! Yet few notice that over two-thirds of the entire tar-sands operations are owned by foreign entities sending their profits out of Canada, and that almost all its raw product is controlled for US refining and sale from which Canada is cut out.

What is particularly kept out of the daily news is the incendiary fact that the infamous, election-interfering and oft-EPA-convicted Koch brothers – who are behind Trump’s destruction of the US Environmental Protection Agency – have a dominant stake in the Alberta tar-sands as well as the massive BC-pipeline with its toxic sludge heading to tidewater while new colossal tankers plough through and pollute the BC coast.

Koch-owned industries have already extracted countless billions of their now $100-billion fortune from the Alberta tar-sands and have deployed their well-known voter-manipulations to change the balance of power in Canada as they have done in the US.

The objective is the same in both cases – ever more tax-free, publicly subsidized and state-enforced control by US Big Oil of Alberta’s massive oil resources with no public or government regulations or interferences in the way. This is called the ‘free market’. MORE

 

 

We Can’t Get Beyond Carbon With Gas

In B.C., Andrew Weaver, the leader of the Green Party, has said he will never support natural gas. This leaves John Horgan and the NDP with its support of a massive gas development with a dilema, especially when the federal NDP does not support natural gas development.


Photo by iStockphoto.com/Yerbolat Shadrakhov

Everyone knows the telltale smell of a gas leak. Except, because fossil gas is almost odorless, the smell that alerts us to danger actually comes from an added compound (tert-Butylthiol).

Unfortunately, there’s no malodorous chemical to warn us about the dangers of relying on fossil gas as an energy source. Yet, as The New York Times reported last week, utilities have a decision to make as they replace polluting coal plants: adopt clean, renewable energy or build plants that burn fossil gas.

It’s crucial that they make the right choice. That’s why the second goal (after finishing the job of eliminating coal-fired power) that former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg listed when he announced his $500 million Beyond Carbon initiative last month was this: “We will work to stop the construction of new gas plants.”

What makes it so important that we stop the so-called gas rush? After all, an unfortunate number of people (including some who know better), still claim that fossil gas “burns cleaner” than coal, as if that somehow makes it palatable. I’m sorry, but even if fossil gas were less polluting than coal (which it isn’t), saying that it “burns cleaner” is like insisting that a switchblade “kills quieter” than a machine gun. Either way, you’re still pumping daisies. Exactly how you ended up there is kind of beside the point.

Here’s where the stubborn reality of math kicks in: In order to prevent a worst-case-scenario climate disaster, we can’t afford to even use all of the fossil gas reserves that we already know about — much less find and extract new ones. What’s more, even if the entire world were to swear off coal right now, burning gas in its place would still leave us in a very bad place. Again, exactly how we got there will be beside the point.

Yet instead of backing away from disaster, fossil fuel companies (with shameful assistance from the Trump administration) actually want to frack more shale gas — and build the pipelines, power plants, and export terminals that go with it.

That’s far Beyond Foolish. But the kicker is that it’s not even necessary. It’s already more economical to use wind, solar, and storage instead of gas for large-scale power generation in many places, and that will soon be true everywhere. Already, cities like Los Angeles are stopping new gas plant construction in favor of renewable energy. So instead of investing in gas infrastructure that will be obsolete economically and technologically before the paint is dry, we need to be doing the opposite: developing a plan for replacing fossil gas everywhere in a way that’s both fast and fair — and by “fair” I mean it shouldn’t put any unjust economic burden on low-income and frontline communities.

Done right, the transition to an energy economy based on electricity from clean, renewable power will not only avoid a climate catastrophe but also bring about a healthier, more prosperous future. That’s the ultimate overarching goal of moving beyond carbon, and it’s why the Sierra Club and our allies are working hard every day to stop fracked gas. And when the valve on that last gas pipeline finally is closed? The only odor left will be the sweet smell of success. SOURCE

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