The world is facing a climate emergency (but, of course, not in Prince Edward County)

Prince Edward Councillors should hang their heads in shame.

Todd Smith photo
Todd Smith, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, whose claim to fame is stifling employment and sustainable development in Prince Edward County by shutting down the White Pines Wind Project that consists of 9 wind turbines with a nameplate capacity of 18.45 megawatts (MW) of emissions-free renewable energy .

Climate emergency?  What climate emergency?

Where is the county’s climate emergency plan? Where is the coordinated leadership to address climate mitigation and to inspire conservation, green growth and climate action? Where is the County’s New Green Deal?

”You are not mature enough to tell it like it is. Even that burden you leave to your children.” @GretaThuberg

While  100+ Cities Commit to Clean with 100% Renewable Energy and cities are leading the fight against climate disaster–not in Prince Edward, where councillors sleep the good sleep after filling potholes. Time for leadership? Not so much.


Save The White Pines Wind Project

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Public Lands Are Critical to Any Green New Deal

America’s public lands can help solve the climate crisis instead of contributing to it

public lands

The Green New Deal resolution—the grandest gesture Congress has made toward climate action in decades, even if it is largely symbolic—is astonishing in its boldness. It calls for no less than weaning the country off fossil fuels within ten years, while ensuring a “just transition” for coal, oil, and gas workers into clean-energy jobs. Critics on both sides of the aisle have derided the resolution, which maintains that everyone should have “clean water, clean air, healthy and affordable food and access to nature,” as naive, overly ambitious, and vague. But some energy-policy experts see another, little-discussed shortcoming: while about a quarter of U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions come from federal lands, the resolution barely mentions them; the closest it comes is in a trio of short declarations, one that calls for “ensuring that public lands, waters and oceans are protected,” another that calls for “restoring and protecting threatened, endangered and fragile ecosystems through locally appropriate and science-based projects that enhance biodiversity and support climate resiliency,” and a third that advocates “restoring natural ecosystems through proven low-tech solutions that increase soil carbon storage” to pull more carbon out of the air.

If the goals of the Green New Deal are to be met, public lands will need to play a central role while the resolution’s concepts are turned into detailed, actionable blueprints, energy-policy experts say.

“The Green New Deal should be about replacing fossil-fuel energy with clean energy, and the public lands are an essential tool for doing both,” says David Hayes, who served as deputy secretary of the Interior Department during the Obama administration and is now a law professor at New York University. “One-third of the land mass in the U.S., and all of the offshore [land], is in federal hands. So the federal government is uniquely situated to lead.”

Federal lands hold tremendous untapped potential for unleashing a renewables boom and sucking down the carbon dioxide that’s warming the globe, Huntley and other energy-policy experts say. While federal lands hold significant oil, gas, and coal reserves, they also have some of the nation’s best solar and wind resources.  MORE

Glaciers and Arctic ice are vanishing. Time to get radical before it’s too late

No one should be annoyed when schoolkids start leaving class en masse or surprised that Green New Deal advocates call for dramatic overhaul of American society. We should be grateful


‘The respectable have punted; so now it’s up to the scruffy, the young, the marginal, the angry to do the necessary work.’ Photograph: UPI/Barcroft Images

Forget “early warning signs” and “canaries in coalmines” – we’re now well into the middle of the climate change era, with its epic reshaping of our home planet. Monday’s news, from two separate studies, made it clear that the frozen portions of the Earth are now in violent and dramatic flux.

The first, led by the veteran Greenland glaciologist Jason Box, looked across the Arctic at everything from “increased tundra biomass” to deepening thaw of the permafrost layer. Their conclusion: “the Arctic biophysical system is now clearly trending away from its 20th century state and into an unprecedented state, with implications not only within but beyond the Arctic.” To invent a word, the north is rapidly slushifying, with more rainfall and fewer days of hard freeze; the latest data shows that after a month of record temperatures in the Bering Sea, ocean ice in the Arctic is at an all-time record low for the date, crushing the record set … last April.

The other study looked at the great mountain ranges of the planet, and found that their glaciers were melting much faster than scientists had expected. By the end of the century many of those alpine glaciers would be gone entirely; the Alps may lose 90% of their ice. From the Caucasus to the South Island of New Zealand, mountains are losing more than 1% of their ice each year now: “At the current glacier loss rate, the glaciers will not survive the century,” said Michael Zemp, who runs the World Glacier Monitoring Service from his office at the University of Zurich.

…For the moment, though, don’t worry about the “effects”, just focus on what it means that some of the largest systems on Earth are now in seismic shift.

What it means, I think, is that no one should be shocked when Extinction Rebellion activists engage in mass civil disobedience. No one should be annoyed when school kids start leaving class en masse. No one should be surprised that Green New Deal advocates are now calling for dramatic overhaul of American society. In fact we should be deeply grateful: these activists, and the scientists producing these reports, are the only people on the planet who seem to understand the scale of the problem. MORE

COULD A GREEN NEW DEAL MAKE US HAPPIER PEOPLE?


Photo illustration: Soohee Cho/The Intercept, Getty Images

FOR AS LONG as climate change has been a part of America’s national consciousness, it’s been talked about in dire terms, evoking images of some hellish, Mad Max-style dystopia. The title and much of the content of David Wallace-Wells’s recent book is a variation on the same theme, stirring up hundreds of pages of images worth of an “Uninhabitable Earth” to make the case that the conversation has not been dire enough.

In describing the nature of the problem, drastic terms are of course necessary. Annihilation looms, and the chaos it threatens to bring about — stronger storms, more fearsome floods, unbearable heat — is truly the stuff of nightmares. But the apocalyptic framing of the problem has also shaped how we talk about solutions to it. From carbon taxes to consumption cuts, climate policy has long been framed as an issue of stiff-lipped sacrifice: What will we have to give up to save our skins? The right takes this characterization to extremes, accusing climate hawks of wanting to ban cars and hamburgers and throw civilization back into the Dark Ages.

While its critics like to pretend otherwise, the Green New Deal — an economy-wide mobilization to decarbonize the United States as soon as possible — turns that question on its head, asking instead where we need to invest society’s vast resources.

But could a plan to curb emissions also make us happier? Could the things we cut back also be the things that make us miserable?

A growing body of research, though, points to some more unexpected reasons why a Green New Deal could make us more cheerful.

If you buy scientists’ claims that an economy-wide mobilization is the only thing that can stave off full-blown catastrophe, there are some obvious reasons to believe that a Green New Deal — the only call for that on the table — will make us happy, at least in the long run. Averting civilizational collapse, that is, is a happier outcome than the alternative. Provisions like a federal job guarantee, improved public transportation, and reining in pollution could improve millions of lives in the shorter term. A growing body of research, though, points to some more unexpected reasons why a Green New Deal could make us more cheerful. MORE

Canada is warming faster than we thought. What can we do about it?

While global temperatures have increased 0.8 C since 1948, Canada has seen an increase of 1.7 C — more than double the global average. And in the Arctic, the warming is happening at a much faster rate of 2.3 C, the Changing Climate report says.

A large stack from the Sault Paper Mill. Photo: Billy Wilson/Flickr
Photo: Billy Wilson/Flickr

new report leaked one day early from Environment and Climate Change Canada shows that Canada is experiencing warming at twice the rate of the rest of the world, with Northern Canada heating up at almost three times the global average.

The changing climate report was prepared in a similar way to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports, as a synthesis of hundreds of peer-reviewed studies. It included details on a familiar catalogue of the impacts we can expect, not limited to increases in precipitation (particularly in winter), “extreme fire weather” and water supply shortages in summer, threatened freshwater systems, marine ecosystem collapse and a heightened risk of coastal flooding. As the Toronto Star noted, the report concluded that “even if countries around the world stick to their commitments under the 2016 Paris Agreement, Canada is still likely to experience a range of consequences like rising sea levels, shrinking glaciers and Arctic ice cover, increased risk of summertime water shortages and more frequent droughts, floods and wildfires.”

In some ways, this information is new — the degree and scope to which this land has and will be impacted has never been collated with this much certainty before. The idea that Canada will be impacted more than average by climate change may alert some people who have bought into the selfish and false talking point that we will not be terribly adversely impacted by this crisis, that it could even be a good thing for us. It may jolt others out of complacency. But for people who are already grappling with the full scale of the climate crisis, there’s been more than enough scientific evidence and Indigenous knowledge shared to indicate that this is an emergency. As the Northwest Territories Chapter of the Council of Canadians wrote, “We’ve seen the changes; now we have the data. But still there are people crying ‘fake news.’ Those of us wanting a livable planet need to step up the push for a Green New Deal for Canada and the NWT.”

We wrote about our takeaways from the special IPCC report on 1.5 C late last year for people interested it fighting for climate justice, and thought we would reiterate some of them in the wake of this Canada-specific report.

The most important thing to remember it’s still within our reach to avoid most of the future impacts the report describes. We have the solutions. We have many roadmaps for a fair transition on the necessary timeline, but to get there we will need to multiply the people power pushing for them. MORE

 

A Green New Deal for Food and Farming

Agroecology field farming

To address climate change, we’ve got to end chemical-intensive agriculture. Why?

Because globally, today’s food and agriculture systems are responsible for more climate-change contributing emissions than the world’s cars, trucks, planes, and trains combined. At the same time, we’re confronted with evidence that climate change is unravelling the systems of the natural world that have evolved over millennia to create a habitable planet.

The Green New Deal, a non-binding resolution that calls for a shift in energy production and public resources to carbon-neutralize the U.S. by 2030, highlights “working collaboratively with farmers and ranchers in the United States to eliminate pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from the agriculture sector.” This is a good idea.

Agriculture & the Climate Crisis

Here at PAN, we support a just transition to food and agriculture systems that put power back in the hands of the farmers, workers, and communities growing food—and the Green New Deal is one way to help us accomplish this.

Much of agriculture’s contribution to climate change is from chemical intensive farming’s reliance on fossil fuel-based inputs. Deforestation and conversion of grassland to commodity crop production reduces acres of diverse, carbon-sequestering ecosystems globally, and reliance on petrochemical inputs for monocrop production is on the rise. This includes synthetic nitrogen fertilizers and pesticides derived from petroleum-based hydrocarbons.  MORE

Cities and states are modeling what a Green New Deal could look like

Smaller-scale efforts show local governments are prepared to act on climate change.


CREDIT: DIANA OFOSU

Lawmakers in Washington, D.C., have spent the past two months engaged in a war of words over the Green New Deal resolution. Many argue its ambitious goals aren’t feasible within the short timeframe it lays out. Others say there’s simply no alternative.

While they’ve been sparring, however, cities and states across the country have been moving forward with their own ambitious plans, showing how elements of the radical proposal could take shape at a local level.

“I think at the state and local level, we’ve got the capacity to do it,” Alan Webber, mayor of Santa Fe, New Mexico, told ThinkProgress.

Webber’s city has been moving swiftly on climate action over the past few years. Part of that is necessity: New Mexico already suffers from water shortages, something the 2018 National Climate Assessment (NCA) warns will only grow worse in the Southwest as climate change intensifies droughts. With no time to waste, Santa Fe is jumping in head first.

“We are on land that belongs to the Pueblo,” Webber said, noting that indigenous communities in the area have paved the way for the “sustainable life” Santa Fe is now pursuing. MORE

Why ‘Green New Deal’ Has Washington in Such a Lather

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President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal created a sprawling range of public-works programs to address the Great Depression. Eighty years later, some present-day members of his party say a program no less grand in scope is needed to address a new crisis — the existential threat of global warming. A band of self-described progressiveDemocrats energized by the party’s successes in last year’s midterm elections have unveiled a wish list of government actions they’ve packaged as the “Green New Deal.” It’s long on ambition but short on details.

1. What is meant by ‘Green New Deal’?

The term has kicked around for more than a decade among advocates of a concerted government effort to turn environmentalism into an economic engine. Thomas L. Friedman of the New York Times, in a 2007 column, called for “a Green New Deal — one in which government’s role is not funding projects, as in the original New Deal, but seeding basic research, providing loan guarantees where needed and setting standards, taxes and incentives that will spawn 1,000 G.E. Transportations for all kinds of clean power.” In its most recent incarnation, Green New Deal is the name adopted by Democrats led by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts in a bid to dramatically shift the U.S. away from fossil fuels and other sources of the emissions that cause global warming.

2. What would it do?

The group’s manifesto, in the form of a non-binding resolution offered in both chambers of the U.S. Congress, calls for a “10-year national mobilization” to shift the nation to 100 percent “clean, renewable, and zero-emission energy sources” — a highly ambitious goal, given that fossil fuels (petroleum, natural gas and coal) accounted for 80 percent of U.S. energy consumption in 2017. Weaving together what had been a hodgepodge of progressive proposals and aspirations, the plan calls for upgrading “all existing buildings” for maximum energy efficiency and removing pollution and greenhouse gas emissions “as much as is technologically feasible” from manufacturing, agriculture and transportation. For good measure, the program calls for steps to expand educational opportunities, increase “high-quality union jobs” and provide health care and housing for all Americans — a progressive wish list not directly connected to renewable energy.

Image result for U.S. Energy Information Administration; graphic by Bloomberg QuickTake

3. How would the plan accomplish all that?

Answers to that question, and how much it would cost, are largely absent for now. Green New Deal proponents say their immediate goal is to change the debate about the climate, to inject a greater sense of urgency and ambition. What’s been put down on paper is akin to a “request for proposals,” Ocasio-Cortez explained on Twitter. “We’ve defined the scope and where we want to go. Now let’s assess + collab on projects,” she wrote. MORE

RELATED:

The Green New Deal Can Work – Here’s How

Re: The Green New Deal: First, Shoot the Economists


Photograph Source Senate Democrats

Soon to be released research from the United Nations is expected to place species loss, a/k/a mass extinction, as an environmental threat equal to or greater than climate change. Industrial agriculture— vast expanses of monoculture crops managed with chemical fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides, will feature prominently as a cause. This plant agriculture supplies people with increasingly toxic and processed food and antibiotic and hormone dependent factory farms with animal feed.  Together, these link the model of capitalist efficiency economists have been selling for the last two centuries to environmental crisis.

Understanding the theoretical precepts of Western economics is crucial to understanding these crises. Capitalism is scientific economic production, a method in search of applications. Its object is to maximize profits, not to growth nutritious food sustainably. As industrial agriculture has demonstrated, these objectives are antithetical. Crop yields have increased as the nutritional value of the food produced has declined. But far more troublingly, the narrow focus on profits has led to a form of environmental imperialism where interrelated ecosystems are viewed atomistically.

Mass extinction is largely attributable to the drive for economic control— the expansion of industrial agriculture to feed factory farm animals has been both geographic and intensive. The annihilation of insects through pesticide use on crops has led in turn to the annihilation of the species that feed on them. Interrelated ecosystems are systematically destroyed through a logic that does not ‘work’ otherwise. Leaving ecosystems intact upends it. When value is granted to what is destroyed, industrial agriculture ceases to earn a profit. In a broader sense, this means that it never earned a profit in the first place.

Unlike the narrow technocratic fixes being put forward to resolve global warming, mass extinction points to the systemic problems within capitalist logic. Within it, reconfiguring pieces of the world has a limited impact— so small in fact that the impact is considered ‘external’ to production processes. In an interrelated world, reconfiguring pieces— including annihilating or favoring them, impacts the broader relationships within the system. Were capitalist production not rapidly killing the planet, such esoterica could have remained within the purview of academia.

But it is killing the planet, suggesting that the organizing logic of capitalism is fundamentally flawed. MORE

RELATED:

The Green New Deal and the case against incremental climate policy

The Generational Backlash to Europe’s Climate Activists

From Germany to the United States, some of the angriest reactions to demonstrators are from older citizens.


Activist Luisa Neubauer at a Berlin FridaysforFuture protest (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Fourteen-year-old Franzi, who helps organize the climate-oriented Fridays for Future marches in Berlin, prefers angry responses from onlookers—like the father who shouted “fuck you” at a Munich demonstration blocking traffic in front of a school last month. “It shows that people are scared,“ she said. Now, after complaints, the kids have to protest peacefully on the side of the road under police supervision and the same father flashes them a thumbs up whenever he drives by.

In October 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published a report estimating that the world has 12 more years to radically reduce carbon emissions in order to avoid climate catastrophe. Since then, inspired partly by ninth-grade Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, who in early fall 2018 skipped school to protest climate change outside the Swedish parliament, European-led climate protest movements Fridays for FutureYouth Strike 4 Climate, and Extinction Rebellion have gained traction, spreading across continents and oceans, and motivating ever-more people to disruptive nonviolent protest such as skipping school or blocking the roads. On March 15, it resulted in a climate strike featuring young activists in some 112 countries.

While headlines jump between Donald Trump and Brexit, these protests are designed to inconvenience, to force people to confront the current scientific research, and to offer a voice to children who can’t yet vote, but who will soon pay the price for climate inaction.

The language of the father that day in Munich is symptomatic of the increasingly frank—and frustrated—rhetoric around the issue. “If we don’t respond to this crisis as if it’s an emergency now, we are (very nearly) totally fucked,” British activist Liam Geary Baulch wrote to me via email.

Governments, so far, have not responded with similar urgency. In the face of an estimated 30,000 student protesters, including Franzi, across Germany in January, the German government’s coal commission still only agreed to quit coal by 2038—a date activists say violates Paris Agreement targets by being too far in the future. And while, in the United States, ambitious proposals such as the Green New Deal grow ever more prominent, they seem no nearer to being passed into law. MORE