Archive for Scaremongering

Durban climate negotiations update

I’ve been following the COP17 climate change conference in Durban, South Africa from right here in Riverdale.  This will be a long, rambling omnibus post on my thoughts and concerns.     Read more »

From the grandparents

The Toronto-based group For Our Grandchildren has produced this wonderful video:

For Our Grandchildren – Something Must Be Done from Stephen Best on Vimeo.

If the video stutters, click on the HD in the lower-right-hand corner.  Even in “low-def”, it’s quite high-definition.

Wide agreement that energy must be expensive

Today, Ontario’s Environmental Commissioner Gord Miller slammed the Liberals for cutting hydro bills by ten percent, identifying the measure as a perverse subsidy.  He stated:

The problem with the 10 per cent (cut) is it means the people who use the most energy get the most money back and that is a disincentive, a perverse incentive.  It rewards and encourages increased consumption.

He then went on to criticize both the NDP and Conservatives for pledging to remove the HST from hydro bills.     Read more »

Bill McKibben’s alarming new video

If you watch through to the end of this short video, it covers why I entered politics. What is now at stake is food security, water security, and the ability to deliver the fundamentals of decent civil society. All of these are already stressed and becoming more so. Concerns about things like gas prices, while important in our current state of addiction, nonetheless need to be contextualized in a world of threats that are far, far greater.

More nuclear woes

The news from Japan keeps getting worse.  Now it is reported that not only did the reactor core melt down, not only did it breach the pressure vessel, but it now appears that the material has penetrated the reactor building itself and seeped into the ground.  That is close to the worst case scenario.  Clean-up costs are now estimated at $250 billion, and that will not bring things back to normal.  It will still mean living with elevated cancer rates, particularly in Japan, but spreading all over the world.  And Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan has asked to close Hamaoka, another nuclear power plant that has been deemed not to be earthquake safe.

All of the costs for this disaster are being borne by the public.  The Japanese government will absorb all the costs of clean-up, relocation and health impacts.  Governments throughout the world will also be paying for the elevated health care costs arising from the increased rates of cancer in their countries.  These will continue for many decades.  Every other form of power generation is self-insuring.  The nuclear industry clearly does not deserve this free ticket as nuclear power is inherently dangerous.

The problem with the NDP

The NDP have now grown up into a mainstream, increasingly centrist party nickel-and-diming the poor for their vote and misleading on the environment.  I’m deeply disturbed by their success in Toronto-Danforth.

Over a week has passed since the night while I watched in horror as the Harper government got its majority coupled with the relatively minor shock of seeing the Green vote collapse in Toronto-Danforth despite the widely acknowledged strongest campaign we have ever had.

Nationally I am most concerned about a majority government which clearly caters to oil industry priorities.  In Toronto-Danforth specifically, I’m concerned about the success the NDP has had with convincing voters with timid and contradictory policies that will do little for climate change and will hurt the constituents the party has professed to care about in the past.  I ran a campaign promoting the positive aspects of the Green plan without challenging the obvious defects of NDP policies.  But it’s clear to me now that these need to be made explicit.

I had never expected to win in the NDP leader’s riding this time around, but I did hope for a strong Green vote to pressure Jack Layton and the NDP to improve their climate change policies and address some of the priorities of Green voters.  That didn’t happen, so I need people who care about the Green Party, the thousands who told me that they were considering voting Green, to help put the pressure on the NDP to get it right.

It’s time to stop mincing words.  The stakes are simply far too high.     Read more »

The dangers of fracking

Further to a discussion with someone who was convinced that hydraulic fracturing for shale gas was perfectly safe (see comments here), there is now a peer-reviewed study linking the practice with methane in the drinking water supply nearby.

We are so screwed

International Energy Agency Chief Fatih Birol has stated that the IEA now believes that global crude oil production peaked in 2006.  It’s all downhill from now.  We can expect the kinds of supply discontinuities and price rises that led up to the 2008 economic downturn with regularity from now on.

So what is the US response?  Shoot the messenger.  They have cut funding to their own national energy agency and specifically ordered that agency not to prepare data on oil and gas reserves.  Keep us in the dark, that’s the ticket.  I expect the Harper government to follow suit shortly.     Read more »

Hope amid the gloom

I’m a worrier. For most of my life, I’ve fretted over my children like many mothers do. Their health, their grades, their social development. The last few years I’ve been worried at a whole new level. When I was a young woman, analysts predicted a clean future powered by the sun and wind. They pointed out the urgency of starting this great transformation because a few decades later it would be too late. For multiple reasons including climate change, the imminent decline of oil and the stress on vulnerable but critical water and other resources, delay would bring on miserable results. That was a now a few decades ago. We are more dependent than ever on oil, our emissions keep rising, water tables are declining all over the world and food stresses are leading to riots in countries all over the world. Governments in North Africa are tumbling to populations that demand to be fed.

I remain hopeful that by investing in a green economy, we may still turn things around in time and deliver a future not too unlike the present for our children. That is what I’m working for, that is what I want to see – a Canada much like the Canada we all know, but moving boldly into a transitional economy from which we will emerge into a more permanent economy that’s more efficient and respectful of our limits.     Read more »

Food crises ahead

I’ve just been alerted to an article by Gwynne Dyer, who anticipates increasing food riots globally.  We may be sheltered from actual rioting in Canada for a while, though we won’t be spared the rising prices.  And of course, the global destabilization involved will have inevitable impacts on Canada long before we face actual shortages here.