Archive for November 2011

Redefine Progress

17 November 2011

I browsed to an article on about Canadian opposition MP’s not being part of Canada’s official delegation to upcoming climate talks in Durban, South Africa. (Not surprising. Opposition MPs tend to think we should do something about climate change and would likely embarrass the government) The first thing that caught my eye on the web page was an animated ad, screenshot below. There’s our flag on there. Not sure who we’re going to kill with these things, but isn’t it great to be part of the ‘in’ crowd!

screenshot of f-35 ad I saw on
“A Partnership For Progress” it says. It would be nice if we could partner with other countries for progress at the Durban talks. It is regrettable that Canada goes to those talks represented by a government that vows to oppose action on climate change. Ours is the only government to ratify Kyoto targets and then publicly reject those targets.

Canada signed the Kyoto Protocol in 1998 and ratified in 2002 with a target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 6% below 1990 levels by 2012. With 2012 almost upon us and no real action taken to reach that target, the Harper government changed the goalposts, setting a new target of 17% below 2005 levels by 2020. This target lowers the bar by 90%, yet the 2011 report by the commissioner of the environment and sustainable development says that it is doubtful that Canada will reach even that weak target.

Canada goes to Durban having stated that it will not support an extension of the Kyoto agreement and will only support a new agreement that is ratified by all major emitters, something that is widely thought to be near impossible at these talks.

Canada is not entirely without action on climate change though. Environment minister Kent recently pledged $150 million over five years for climate change adaptation. $150M/5 = $30 million per year.

Meanwhile, Canada has announced that it will purchase 65 F-35 fighter jets. According to the airforce website the F-35 is an “affordable, sustainable, multi-role and stealthy fighter aircraft”. Ottawa’s cost estimates put these aircraft at $70 to $80 million each. These numbers are controversial with current unit costs of F-35’s over $100 million and concerns that the U.S. might reduce the number they order thereby raising unit costs. Compare Canadian estimates to the Israeli budget of $137 million each and $80 million seems rather optimistic. Let’s call it an even $100 million per aircraft. That puts Canada’s commitment for these fighters at $6,500 million with delivery over the years 2016 to 2023. $6,500M/8 = $812.5 million per year.

Canada also recently awarded a $25 billion contract to Halifax’s Irving Shipbuilding to build 21 new warships. The minister of public works and government services stated that this contract would provide jobs over 30 years. $25B/30 = $833.3 million dollars per year.

We can spend over $800 million a year on fighter jets and over $800 million a year on warships, but only $30 million a year on adapting to climate change? (Note the change of language from the days when they used to talk about ‘fighting’ or ‘preventing’ climate change. Now we talk about ‘adapting’.)

The latest weapons are considered affordable and sustainable while action to fight climate change is not.

We really need to redefine “progress”.

CCPA on Fracking

9 November 2011

fracking imageThe Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives Climate Justice Project today released “Fracking Up Our Water, Hydro Power and Climate — BC’s reckless pursuit of shale gas”.

Read it.
Consider that BC Liberals and NDP want more fracking.
Vote Green.

World Energy Outlook 2011 — It Ain’t Pretty

9 November 2011

Best science currently indicates that we need to limit the global average temperature increase to 2°C above pre-industrial levels. This is referred to as the 450 Scenario.

The executive summary of the International Energy Agency’s “World Energy Outlook 2011” says that existing new government policies, if implemented, have us on course for more than 3.5°C increase. If these new policies are not implemented we are headed for 6°C or more.

Quoting the executive summary;

If stringent new action is not forthcoming by 2017, the energy-related infrastructure then in place will generate all the CO2 emissions allowed in the 450 Scenario up to 2035, leaving no room for additional power plants, factories and other infrastructure unless they are zero-carbon, which would be extremely costly. Delaying action is a false economy: for every $1 of investment avoided in the power sector before 2020 an additional $4.3 would need to be spent after 2020 to compensate for the increased emissions.

By 2017! We all know the Harper government is a government of climate change deniers and Friedmanites. So whoever we elect in 2015, assuming we manage to dethrone Harper, will have their work cut out for them turning around the causes of CO2 emission increases we make by then and making the structural changes to carry Canada forward as a responsible member of the world community.

Meantime, what can people who actually care about the environmental conditions we live in do?

Some suggestions;

  • Stop the Northern Gateway Project.
  • Stop the twinning of the Trans Mountain pipeline.
  • Stop the Keystone XL pipeline.
  • Vote carefully in local and provincial elections.
  • Write your MP.

(Yeah that last one is pretty futile, but if nothing else you’ll be able to say “I informed you thusly!”)

Canada’s Ethical Oil?

6 November 2011

The argument rolls around that Canada’s tar sands oil is ethical oil and therefore preferable to conventional oil from countries such as Saudi Arabia. Proponents of our ethical oil point to such things as the Saudi record on women’s rights.

Setting aside the fact that residents along the Athabasca River may have a very different view than most Canadians of human rights in Canada, let’s consider Saudi women.

Saudi women can not drive or vote. However, the king has said that in 2015 women will be able to vote and run in local elections, and be on the king’s advisory council. Saudi women require permission of a male guardian for many things, though the requirement of such permission to seek employment was dropped in 2008 (and some Saudi women argue that this guardianship is a right of women). From a western viewpoint, work needs to be done and is being done in the area of women’s rights in Saudi Arabia.

Against that is weighed the higher greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental impacts of Canadian tar sands oil, where work is also being done to improve but benefits are far outweighed by growth in volume of production. Our numbers with respect to tar sands greenhouse gases are so embarrassing that the Canadian government left tar sands data out of our 2009 National Inventory Report to the U.N.

In the area of climate change, Canada is seen as obstructionist. We as a nation are climate change deniers, pushing ahead with tar sands, fracking, pipelines and increased tanker traffic.

Global CO2 levels are already high. In a best case scenario people will be feeling the effects of climate change for many decades to come. That best case scenario is not going to happen.

Globally our greenhouse gas emissions have increased more than the worst case predictions of only four years ago. We are on course for much more damaging climate change. Effects will include;

  • sea level rise, and with it not just flooding of coastal cities, but salination of fresh water and coastal agricultural soil
  • More and stronger extreme weather events, bringing direct loss of life, economic impacts and agricultural losses
  • Rapid ecosystem changes with resultant loss of species and potential disruption of entire food chains as evidenced by the approximately 40% loss of phytoplankton in the northern hemisphere since 1950.
  • Changes in disease patterns such as the appearance of West Nile virus in Canada

Phytoplankton by the way are not only at the base of the ocean food chain, but are also critical to the world’s carbon cycle and produce about half of the world’s oxygen. Rather important to Saudi women and everyone else who breaths air.

The list of possible climate change effects goes on and on. No one really knows what may ultimately happen if we don’t stop increasing CO2 levels. We do know it will be bad.

Climate change will impact Saudi women just as it will impact people around the world. To avoid a world where the struggle just to meet our basic needs takes up a growing proportion of human capital, Canada must stop promoting CO2 increases.

Canada should be leading the charge to a post-carbon future where greater proportions of people have the quality of life that allows time and energy to pursue education and to further human rights. To do otherwise, to do as we have been with the global implications that it carries, is a worse violation of human rights than any violation within any one nation or culture.

There is nothing ethical about tar sands oil.

Canadian Veterans National Day of Protest

5 November 2011

Canada Maple LeafVeterans and supporters gathered today to march on the Strahl Constituency office in Chilliwack and express dissatisfaction with both actions and inactions of the federal government in it’s duty to care for Canada’s veterans.

Unlike 2010 when the previous Strahl did not attend, Mark Strahl was present and addressed the crowd. I wondered whether it was good strategy to tell this crowd what a good job the government is doing for veterans. Aside from points raised by other speakers, the very fact that veterans feel the need to protest suggests quite a different story. However, MP Strahl — a member of the Defense Committee — did also assure those present that he would listen to their concerns and work to resolve them.

I wish MP Strahl all success in this area. Certainly on any list of people a nation must not fail, veterans have earned a place at the top.

Learn more and show your support for our veterans at the Canadian Veterans Advocacy site.

“Was it the same cat?”

4 November 2011


On Tuesday Nov 1 at 13:59 PT I posted a link on Facebook to a CTV story re Canada’s funding to UNESCO following the vote on a Palestinian seat. The text that auto-appeared on Facebook read “Canada is putting a stop to future support for UNESCO now that the United Nations agency has accepted the Palestinian Authority as a full member.

I looked at that web page again today, Nov. 4, and the story seemed different. As a test I posted the link to Facebook again. The same text appeared on the new Facebook post, but that text does not appear on the CTV web page either as rendered in the browser or in the page source. The date on that web page currently reads “Date: Tue. Nov. 1 2011 9:40 PM ET”. That would be 18:40 PT, 4 hours and 41 minutes after I first posted the link to that web page on Facebook.

Here’s the link

Here’s how it appeared on Facebook.
Original Facebook post

A Google search for the text that auto-appeared on Facebook does return stories from other news sources that contain that text and read as I recall the story from Tuesday.

I haven’t had any déjà vu lately, but I think they changed something in the Matrix. If CTV is going to change a story after it’s posted they should make that clear on the web page and maybe provide a link to the original as a courtesy to people who commented on the original.

Below is the text of an email I’ve sent to CTV.
Will post if I get a reply.


I read a story on on Tuesday Nov 1, and posted a link to that
story on Facebook at 13:59 PT.

Looking at that story now, it is different from what I recall and has a
date line “Date: Tue. Nov. 1 2011 9:40 PM ET” That would be 18:40 PT, 4 hours and 41 minutes after I posted to Facebook.

The story is at

If it was posted and later changed I think it should say so on the web
page (and perhaps a link to the original text could be provided) as a
courtesy to people who commented on the original story.

Am I mistaken, or did the story change rather significantly after I
first read it Tuesday?

Ian Stephen

Leaked CFIA Report Confirms ISA in BC Wild Salmon

2 November 2011

Government say they’re waiting for Canadian Food Inspection Agency confirmation of ISA in BC wild salmon. Seems they won’t have to wait long.

Will we finally see some action to protect wild salmon?

Yellow Fraser River Pink Salmon