Canada and global warming: a state of denial

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jerrym
Canada and global warming: a state of denial

On May 10th, the BC NDP government released The BC Flood and Wildfire Report on the wildfires and floods of 2017. The Report concluded: 

Disasters such as last summer’s wildfires, floods, lightning storms and landslides are “the new normal” consequences of climate change and British Columbia is ill-equipped to protect the public, according to an external review in response to last year’s floods and the wildfires that tore through the province.

The report dropped the same day that thousands of people were ordered to evacuate from South Central B.C. due to flooding.

Former cabinet minister George Abbott, who co-authored the report containing 108 recommendations on how to prepare for future devastation, said the province would need to allow the public to join the fight in future disasters....

The effects of the fires can still be seen — and felt — this year as residents are forced to evacuate due to flooding that’s been exacerbated by water-absorbing plants being wiped from the landscape. Already, thousands of people have been forced from their homes to escape rising waters and the flood risk has increased through April as more snow fell at higher elevations. ...

Warming temperatures and more extreme weather are predicted to increase the number of major wildfire-starting lightning storms — at the same time the changing climate causes more landslides, more wildfires and greater ice melt flowing over drier land that’s more susceptible to flooding. The fires torch water-absorbing plants from the landscape, worsening floods.

https://www.thestar.com/vancouver/2018/05/10/bc-unprepared-under-resourc...

While no single forest fire can be 100% directly attributed to climate change, the pattern seen in the 2003 Barriere wildfire that burnt the entire community down; the Slave Lake, Alberta, fire that burnt one third of the town down in 2011; Saskatchewan wildfires that created 13,000 evacuees in 2015; the 2009, 2011 and 2017 Kelowna wildfires that threatened the homes of thousands; and the 2016 Fort McMurray wildfire that caused the evacuation of 88,000 people and destroyed thousands of homes, leaves no doubt about how global warming is increasing the length of the fire season, the number and intensity of forest fires, as well as their social and economic costs to communities. 

Flooding has also become much more common as torrential downpours, as predicted by global warming models, and warmer spring temperatures lead to faster snow melts and flooding. This year there has been major flooding in central BC, the Chatam-Kent region of Ontario, and in New Brunswick and more is expected as the spring melt continues. Last year Ontario, Quebec faced major flooding. In 2015, 100 mm of rain in one day led to major flooding led extensive flooding in southwestern Alberta. 

In 2017, wildfires in BC burnt an area larger than PEI and caused the evacuation of 65,000 people. This year thousands have had to be evacuated in BC due to flooding, and thousands more in New Brunswick have suffered the same fate, with many homes in both provinces destroyed. 

Yet we continue down the fossil fuel road having already blown past our 2011 carbon dioxide emission targets, having had to admit we cannot possibly meet our 2020 targets, and most experts agreeing their is little chance we will meet our 2030 targets under both Conservative and Liberal governments. When NDP candidate Linda McQuaig said some of our oilsands, the second largest oil reserves in the world, may have to be left in the ground to prevent global warming, she was criticized extensively, including by some members of her own party. 

While I have focused on fires and flooding in this post, there are many problems associated with global warming. I submit that the entire country, not just BC, is ill-prepared to deal with the problems associated with climate change. At least BC has begun to look at mitigating some of these problems. It's not enough but it's a start.

 

 

Issues Pages: 
jerrym

Here is the full BC Flood and Wildfire Review, in case you are interested.

https://bcfloodfirereview.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/BC-Flood-and-Wil...

 

Rev Pesky

One quibble with the report. Several times they refer to 'Western science'. There is no such thing as Western science. There is science, and there is non-science. That is not to say that non-science cannot be useful, it is merely to point out that science is an activity carried on by people all around the world. And that science is the same, all around the world.

Perhaps it is more correct to say Western technology, which I'll grant is closely allied with science. On the other hand, science is also closely allied with mathematics, and we still use Arabic numerals, , as well as Arabic concepts such as algebra and algorithms.

jerrym

A second wave of flooding is now hitting the Sothern Interior of BC near Grand Forks due to the very hot weather melting the snow rapidly and rainfall. Similar flooding is also hitting the Fraser Valley near Vancouver and the Okanagan Valley. 

Melted snow brought on by unseasonably hot weather and sporadic rain is streaming into the Granby River at about four times the average rate, 30 to 40 millimetres per day.  At the crossroads of the Granby and Kettle Rivers is Grand Forks. It’s geography is one of the factors that makes it one of the province’s worst-hit areas this spring. ...

Around 1,500 homes in the region remain evacuated. More than 2,600 other homes are on evacuation alert throughout the province.  ...

Similarly, the Fraser Valley is waiting to see how it will be affected by high water that is making its way down the Fraser River. The Township of Langley has now placed an evacuation alert for unprotected flood plains. A high streamflow advisory is still in place for the Fraser River, which was measured at 5.5 metres in Mission. ...

Water levels on Okanagan Lake rose to 17 centimetres below full pool last week. Full pool is defined as the water level during normal conditions, anything above full pool is considered a high water event. Local emergency operations expect the lake to exceed those levels by the weekend, and are urging residents in low-lying and waterfront areas to take proactive and precautionary measures. 

http://vancouversun.com/news/local-news/waters-continue-to-rise-as-south...

 

jerrym

Experts are warning that the record-breaking flooding now occurring in New Brunswick foreshadows the province's future in a world that facing global warming. Too much of our federal, provincial and municipal planning is planning by disaster - start planning after a disaster occurs, followed by relaxing shortly after the emergency has passed. In a world of global warming where climate change caused disasters are becoming increasingly frequent, the costs of doing this in terms of the environment, economy, homes and lives is growing exponentially. 

New Brunswick's record-breaking floods are a jarring reminder climate change is bringing a watery future that will wash away old patterns of life and force many to higher ground permanently, say environmental scientists and hydrologists.

"The reality is that people expect the world to be the way it was, but it's not," said Louise Comeau, a professor at the University of New Brunswick and member of a national panel on climate change adaptation.

When the waters recede, the provincial and federal governments must frankly inform homeowners the future holds more of the same, says hydrologist John Pomeroy, director of the global water futures program at the University of Saskatchewan.

"Sometimes people, when they've been flooded out, it's a good time to offer to buy them out and remove the homes from the dangerous location," Pomeroy said in an interview.

New Brunswick is suffering through record flooding, with rising waters forcing the closure of the Trans-Canada Highway between Moncton and Fredericton and many people being forced out of their homes.

"The floods look like they're getting larger," said Pomeroy, who is working on a fresh models for mapping future floods, in tandem with a network of university scientists studying the nation's largest rivers.

The hydrologist says the public needs to understand historical levels of water flow are no longer guides to the future.

Sudden temperature flips from frigid April snowstorms to 26 C, as occurred during the spring runoffs in parts of New Brunswick, are a feature of climate change that encourage flooding, he said. ...

By 2100, New Brunswick's mean annual temperature will increase by as much as 5 C, while more intense rain and snow will increase the amount of moisture hitting the ground.

Those trends aren't the sole causes of river flooding, but higher seasonal temperatures and precipitation increase the risks, says Al Pietroniro, a senior hydrologist with Environment Canada. "Across the country there's an acceleration of what we call the water cycle, which means because the atmosphere is warming, we're seeing increased precipitation," he said in a telephone interview. ...

Comeau, who has authored studies on the impact of climate change in her province, says she suspects that floods once expected every 30 years are now more likely to be "once every five years or even every two to three years." Every region of New Brunswick now has flooding stories to share describing dislocation and disruption, she says. In addition, an ice storm on the Acadian Peninsula in January 2017 caused power, communication and transportation disruptions. ...

Blair Feltmate, the head of the Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation at the University of Waterloo, says that "New Brunswick has an attitude of management by disaster. New Brunswick seems to rush to address risk when it's happening, and then, after the event subsides, the province relaxes and waits for its next disaster."

https://atlantic.ctvnews.ca/record-floods-show-world-has-changed-and-n-b...

Martin N.

Fossil fuel demand is expected to surpass 100 million barrels per day soon and keep expanding. What is your solution to wean the world off fossil fuels, bearing in mind that eliminating all fossil fuel use in Canada will make no difference to climate changes globally.

Given the enormous cost, how will your solution be funded?

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
One quibble with the report. Several times they refer to 'Western science'. There is no such thing as Western science.

Agreed.  "Western science" is a dogwhistle for "corrupt, profiteering, did-I-mention-corrupt" science.  The way "Western" medicine means uninterested and unworthy doctors selling ineffective (or even harmful!) Big Pharma snake oils to the sick.

Rev Pesky

Mr. Magoo wrote:

Agreed.  "Western science" is a dogwhistle for "corrupt, profiteering, did-I-mention-corrupt" science.

I don't disagree with your statement, I think it is often used in that sense. But I also believe there is a more nuanced interpretation. That is, 'Western science' is offered as an opposite to 'folk lore, etc.', but the fact is, science accepts any and all knowledge, no matter the source. Science doesn't care where the original idea came from. If it works, it works, and that's that.

After all, aspirin, the most common pain killer on the planet was first known of by ancient Sumerians roughly 5000 years ago. They wouldn't have had any idea of why it worked, but it did. It took a few thousand years for someone to find a way to manufacture it, but originally it was a product of 'folk lore'.

So folk 'ways' and science are not opposites. The only real difference is that science asks for further proof, or at least a path to follow to further proof. When someone says something like, 'on this hand we have the folk knowledge and on this hand we have Western science' they are creating a rift that doesn't exist in reality.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Martin N. wrote:

Fossil fuel demand is expected to surpass 100 million barrels per day soon and keep expanding. What is your solution to wean the world off fossil fuels, bearing in mind that eliminating all fossil fuel use in Canada will make no difference to climate changes globally.

Given the enormous cost, how will your solution be funded?

Rev Pesky

Well, kropotkin1951, we know you're hiding your head in the sand, but that's not providing an answer.

Just to give a bit of context, Canada creates 1.54% of the total world CO2. So if we stopped producing CO2 completely, the total CO2 production of the world would drop by 1.54%. Unfortunately, as noted by Martin N. the rest of the world is producing CO2 at a faster and faster rate, so within a couple of years, that 1.54% would have been surpassed, and then some, by other CO2 producers. Which would make the net effect of Canada halting CO2 production pretty much zero.

Running around shouting, 'the sky is falling!, the sky is falling!' is kinda fun, and it does attract a certain amount of attention.  It does nothing to solve the problem of how to prevent the sky from falling. I think we're past the stage of recognizing the problem, and are now at the stage of finding a solution. Hiding your head in the sand isn't going to help.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
Unfortunately, as noted by Martin N. the rest of the world is producing CO2 at a faster and faster rate, so within a couple of years, that 1.54% would have been surpassed, and then some, by other CO2 producers. Which would make the net effect of Canada halting CO2 production pretty much zero.

What if we could build a wall around "our" bit of atmosphere, and make the Americans (and Chinese, and Indians) pay for it??

JKR

Martin N. wrote:

Fossil fuel demand is expected to surpass 100 million barrels per day soon and keep expanding. What is your solution to wean the world off fossil fuels, bearing in mind that eliminating all fossil fuel use in Canada will make no difference to climate changes globally.

Maybe Canada should just meet the targets of the Paris Climate Accord that the country signed?

Rev Pesky

Canada's apparent target agreed to in the Paris Climate Accord is to reduce CO2 emissions by 30% from 2005 levels by 2030. To give a little context, emissions were about 10% higher in 2007 - at a peak of economic activity - than they were in 2010, the lowest point after the crash of '08.

What that means is we will have to constrain the economy by at least three times the amount of shrinkage between '07 and '10. No one knows how that might be done without serious consequences for the poorest in our society. 

Doug Woodard

Rev Pesky wrote:

Just to give a bit of context, Canada creates 1.54% of the total world CO2. So if we stopped producing CO2 completely, the total CO2 production of the world would drop by 1.54%. Unfortunately, as noted by Martin N. the rest of the world is producing CO2 at a faster and faster rate, so within a couple of years, that 1.54% would have been surpassed, and then some, by other CO2 producers. Which would make the net effect of Canada halting CO2 production pretty much zero.

Running around shouting, 'the sky is falling!, the sky is falling!' is kinda fun, and it does attract a certain amount of attention.  It does nothing to solve the problem of how to prevent the sky from falling. I think we're past the stage of recognizing the problem, and are now at the stage of finding a solution. Hiding your head in the sand isn't going to help.

Personally, I think that showing the world how to do it would be very constructive.

JKR

Rev Pesky wrote:

Canada's apparent target agreed to in the Paris Climate Accord is to reduce CO2 emissions by 30% from 2005 levels by 2030. To give a little context, emissions were about 10% higher in 2007 - at a peak of economic activity - than they were in 2010, the lowest point after the crash of '08.

What that means is we will have to constrain the economy by at least three times the amount of shrinkage between '07 and '10. No one knows how that might be done without serious consequences for the poorest in our society. 

There do seem to be many improvements we could make during the next 12 years that include carbon pricing, cleaner sources of energy, more public transit, electric vehicles, reforestation, higher density housing, dietary changes, etc.... What do environmental economists say?

jerrym

There are obvious major problems with taking a purely economic approach with an ecological problem. The economy does not exist outside the environment but within it. So one has to look at the consequences for the local, provincial, national and global economies  of not dealing with global warming. 

 Canada emits 1.54% of global carbon dioxide emissions (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_carbon_dioxide_emissions), which means that per capita Canadian emissions are more than three times our 0.50% percentage of the world's population. (https://tradingeconomics.com/canada/population) So getting the rest of the world to reduce emissions if we plan to remain one of the worse per capita emitters by saying we won't reduce production, but instead increase it, is only likely to encourage at least some of the other nations to do the same, saying that they are simply following Canada's example.  

Of course, Canada is not only a carbon dioxide emitter, it is a producer of fossil fuels. Canada is the seventh largest oil producer, producing 3.663 million barrels of oil per day out of 80.822 million barrels of oil per day globally, or 4.53% of global production in 2016. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_oil_production), more than nine times our percentage of the world's population. Furthermore, the Alberta tar sands are some of the dirtiest oil in the world. If Kinder Morgan and/or other projects go ahead, our percentage of oil production will rise, further contributing to global warming.

Prime Minister Harper wanted to triple Canadian oil production by 2030. While not saying so publicly, Conservative leader Scheer seems equally disposed to a similar policy. After all, the Conservatives were and still are outraged when NDP candidate Linda McQuaig said in the 2015 election that Canada may have to leave some of its oilsands in the ground. With the third largest oil reserves in the world at 13% of global reserves, (26 times our percentage of the world's population) (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oil_reserves) that are very dirty, this would be catastrophic in terms of global warming. If Canada were to triple its oil production, as suggested by Harper in his vision of Canada as an energy superpower, the resulting 10.996 million of barrels per day would be greater than the current #1 global producer, Russia, whose output is 10.551 million of barrels per day.

jerrym

The statement that global oil production is increasing suggests that despite all our efforts there is nothing we can do about it. However, the Montreal Protocol on the global level and California's effective dealing with smog, starting in the 1970s, shows that environmental problems can be solved at the global and local levels. 

The Montreal Protocol, finalized in 1987, is a global agreement to protect the stratospheric ozone layer by phasing out the production and consumption of ozone-depleting substances (ODS). The stratospheric ozone layer filters out harmful ultraviolet radiation, which is associated with an increased prevalence of skin cancer and cataracts, reduced agricultural productivity, and disruption of marine ecosystems. ...

The Montreal Protocol has proven to be innovative and successful, and is the first treaty to achieve universal ratification by all countries in the world. Leveraging worldwide participation, the Montreal Protocol has sent clear signals to the global market and placed the ozone layer, which was in peril, on a path to repair. Full implementation of the Montreal Protocol is expected to result in avoidance of more than 280 million cases of skin cancer, approximately 1.6 million skin cancer deaths, and more than 45 million cases of cataracts in the United States alone by the end of the century, with even greater benefits worldwide.

https://www.state.gov/e/oes/eqt/chemicalpollution/83007.htm

When we see photos of Beijing shrouded in a veil of thick smog, we’re horrified. How can the Chinese live with such terrible air pollution? One answer is: Americans did. Back in the 1950s and '60s, people in Los Angeles breathed some of the dirtiest air in the world. Los Angeles still has smog, of course, but it’s not nearly as bad as it used to be. How did the city get its act together?

It took decades. Los Angeles had its first real smog attack during World War II, a smog strong enough that some people suspected a Japanese chemical attack. But it wasn’t until 1975 that the U.S. required new cars to have catalytic converters, “the key piece of technology that allowed everything to change,” according to Mary Nichols, chairman of California’s Air Resources Board. In between, there were frustrating years of scientific research, industry denial, politics, protest and an unwavering attachment to the automobile. ...

Arie Haagen-Smit, a biochemist who had been studying the flavor of pineapples at the California Institute of Technology, not only made that discovery, but fought hard to convince politicians, regulators and industry that cars were the biggest smog culprit in Los Angeles.

The oil and automobile industries pushed back on his research. Chip Jacobs, co-author of “Smogtown: The Lung-Burning History of Pollution in Los Angeles,” says a turning point came when the oil industry-funded Stanford Research Institute sent a member to Caltech to discredit Haagen-Smit’s findings. ...

Automakers were slow to respond, wary of any change that would add cost to their vehicles. “It’s like the stages of grief,” said Nichols. “At first you deny it. Then you fight against it. And finally you grudgingly accept it, embrace it and move on.” That process took almost two decades. ...

These rallies and media events were among the earliest “environmental” protests in the U.S. The word “environmentalism” wasn’t really in the vocabulary yet. ...

“The elected officials finally believed that cars were a big part of the problem and were going to regulate them, in spite of what the automobile manufacturers said,” James Lents said. ...

“It wasn’t until the Clean Air Act in 1970 that you had a law that said, 'we’re going to set an air quality standard based on a public health measurement, and then the government will go out and take whatever action is needed to reach those limits,'” Nichols said. “But that was a shift, and it was based on growing populist opposition to how bad the air was.” ...

Nichols says by 2030 California needs to “move people and goods” with zero emissions technology. That gives the state 15 years to get its act together. Can it do it again?

https://www.marketplace.org/2014/07/14/sustainability/we-used-be-china/l...

The problem globally is we don't have 15 years where we do little or nothing about global warming and then decide to tackle the problem. 

jerrym

Another problem with saying Canada can ignore what is going on in the rest of the world with respect to global warming, is that logic also leads individual provinces to take the same approach. 

For example, British Columbia gets relatively little out of increasing Alberta and Saskatchewan oil production that is routed through BC to the coast for export: a few thousand jobs that end in a few years when a pipeline is finished and then 50 to 100 jobs to keep the pipeline running and some more at the port. On the other hand, global warming already has had  and will continue to have massive negative consequences for the province. So following the logic of Canada ignoring the global consequences of global warming, BC should ignore Alberta's access to market problem because of the damage done and continuing to be done to its economy and environment by global warming. In the next few posts, I will outline what some of those problems are: 

The federal government’s Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s report, Pacific salmon research: facing the climate challenge, describes some of the changes the province is facing.

Climate change in this century may raise temperatures only a couple of degrees on Canada's west coast, but that will mean more than wearing lighter clothes. British Columbia could suffer worse floods, droughts, and forest fires. And far-reaching changes in the Pacific Ocean will affect both fish and people.

The west coast's foundation fish, Pacific salmon underlay the economy, art, and culture for First Nations. They provided the resources for a great commercial industry and growing sport fishery. But they may face major disruption from climate change. (http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/science/Publications/article/2005/01-04-2005-eng.htm )

jerrym

I have already described the catastrophic effects last years forest fires in BC. had in 2017 and earlier years in the first post of this thread, destroying an area larger than PEI in 2017 alone, destroying homes, greatly slowing the economy of the Interior of the province and costing more than $400 million to fight the forest fires. The destruction of forests also means long term destruction of part of the provinces forest industry. 

However, climate change is also brought about another major source of damage to its forest industry because global warming has permitted the exponential growth of the pine beetle population by enabling it to survive in large numbers during milder winters. 

In 2012, the BC government announced that pine beetle population growth due to warmer winters will reduce harvestable pine trees by up to 2/3, thereby costing thousands of forestry and related jobs by 2020.

A decade after billions of mountain pine beetles chewed their way through British Columbia’s lodgepole pine forest, the Interior timber supply has begun a dramatic drop.  ...

He said the beetle killed 54% of the merchantable pine that was to be harvested. But in some areas, specifically the central Interior, 80% to 90% of the merchantable pine was killed. “That’s where the impact is going to be felt more significantly,” Nussbaum said in a later interview. (https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/closed-bc-interior...)

Sawmills in Williams Lake, Quesnel, Prince George, and Houston are just a few of the many sawmills that have already closed. Climate change has cost thousands of jobs will be lost in the forestry sector because of climate change. 

The mountain pine beetle has crossed into Alberta and will spread across the country. 

The province (Alberta) has invested $484 million in decade-long fight against destructive bark beetle. 

In Alberta's drawn-out fight against mountain pine beetles, slowing the invasion is as close to winning as the province will get, researchers say.

"They're pushing eastward and they certainly are knocking on the door of Saskatchewan," research scientist Allan Carroll said about the destructive bark beetle." ...

Mountain pine beetles are chewing into the forestry industry, though Undershultz was unable to put a figure on the loss. Alberta's forest sector employs 19,600 people and contributes up to $6 billion annually to the provincial economy. Approximately six million hectares of pine are at risk of attack by the beetle, he said. More could fall victim if conditions are favourable.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/mountain-pine-beetle-alberta-moun...

Billions of mountain pine beetles from B.C. are expected to devastate forests in Ontario, Quebec and the Maritime provinces as they munch their way east over the next two decades, scientists predict in a new documentary.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/mountain-pine-beetle-poised-to-ravage-...

jerrym

In BC and globally freshwater glaciers and snow pack, an important source of drinking water in Vancouver and the rest of BC especially in the drier summer, are shrinking due to climate change, leading to water rationing, including the last few summers. In British Columbia

Evidence shows that our climate has changed over the past century, affecting both physical and biological systems.

  • Average annual temperatures have warmed by between 0.5-1.7 degrees Celsius in different regions of the province during the 20th century. In fact, parts of British Columbia have been warming at a rate more than twice the global average.
  • Over the last 50 - 100 years, B.C. has lost up to 50 per cent of its snow pack, and total annual precipitation has increased by about 20 per cent.
  • Faster melts and increased precipitation have resulted in floods in the Fraser Valley, Interior and throughout British Columbia. …
  • Communities have been experiencing longer summer droughts as weather patterns grow increasingly erratic. …
  • Glacier reduction could affect the flow of rivers, impacting tourism, hydroelectric power, and fish habitat. (http://www.livesmartbc.ca/learn/effects.html )

jerrym

The fact that the oil carried by the Trans Mountain pipeline or other pipelines is in diluted bitumen form makes it much more problematic.

While crude oil can be devastating to environments when spilled, diluted bitumen from the tar sands is even more difficult to clean up. When mined, tar sands bitumen is so heavy and thick that it can only travel through pipelines when combined with chemical diluents, including benzene (a human carcinogen). As officials discovered after the 2010 Enbridge pipeline spill in Kalamazoo, cleaning up diluted bitumen comes with a brand new set of challenges. When spilled in waterways, the heavy bitumen sinks to the bottom, so conventional clean-up techniques had little effect. At the same time, the chemical diluents such as benzene evaporate and cause toxic clouds in the air. (https://www.wildernesscommittee.org/frequently_asked_questions_regarding_the_kinder_morgan_pipeline_proposal )

 

 Although the April 9th 2015 spill of an estimated 2700 L bunker fuel by the bulk carrier cargo ship Marathassa into Burrard Inlet was tiny compared to a large oil tanker, it resulted in the closing of Metro Vancouver beaches, reduced tourism business, and caused health problems among some nearby residents, including nausea and headaches. Imagine what a large tanker spill could do.

For comparison, the 1990 Exxon Valdez disaster has been conservatively estimated at 416 million litres. In 2007, a Kinder Morgan pipeline spilled 234,000 litres, which triggered an evacuation of 50 homes and eventually soiled the shoreline of Burrard Inlet. The average tanker that would move bitumen from the Trans Mountain Pipeline would carry 750,000 barrels, or 119 million litres. (http://rabble.ca/news/2015/04/poor-response-to-toxic-spill-vancouver-warns-against-bitumen )

In fact, “Up to 100,000 birds could die in the case of a major oil spill in Burrard Inlet, according to a new report commissioned by the City of Vancouver.” (http://www.news1130.com/2015/05/18/massive-oil-spill-in-burrard-inlet-could-kill-up-to-10000-birds/ )

Furthermore, the company that was heavily criticized for its slow clean-up response was majority-owned by Kinder Morgan.

The failure to have a quick response by the Kinder Morgan-owned WCRC and the Coast Guard to the Marathassa oil spill into English Bay not only resulted in environmental damage to this beach but to many other beaches in Metro Vancouver, according to a forensic analysis of other beaches.

The response to the bunker fuel spill in Vancouver's English Bay was "very disappointing" says Anita Burke, an international expert in responding to and restoring ecosystems affected by industrial and natural disasters.

"We clearly have large gaps in our ability to respond and take care of our coast … it's embarrassing, frankly," said Burke, who worked with Shell and its subsidiaries on corporate responsibility and sustainable development for 17 years. 

Western Canada Marine Response Corporation — the company tasked with cleanup arrived on site more than four hours after the Coast Guard had been notified, and booms weren't fully secured around the cargo ship until more than 12 hours after the call. (http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/vancouver-oil-spill-response-embarrassing-says-international-expert-1.3053567 )

The scathing 90-page assessment, released by the 570-member Tsleil-Waututh First Nation of North Vancouver, includes separate scientific research that says Kinder Morgan has underestimated the environmental and public health risks of major and minor oil spills in Burrard Inlet. The report, noting the seven-fold increase in oil tanker traffic if the project proceeds, said it necessarily increases the likelihood of spills both large and small.

The scientific report from the two SFU academics, one of five cited in the appendix of the full assessment, said Kinder Morgan has underestimated the risk of a spill. Gunton and Broadbent assert that there is a 79- to 87-per-cent likelihood of a spill at the terminal or in the inlet over any 50-year period. (http://www.timescolonist.com/news/b-c/kinder-morgan-underestimates-risks-of-pipeline-expansion-report-1.1948311 )

 

jerrym

Now let's look at what a large tanker spill would do along the BC coast.  The Exxon Valdez tanker spill in Alaska, which was only the 34th largest oil spill in history, gives us some indication of what the human, environmental and economic tanker spill costs in Burrard Inlet could be:

The impact of an oil spill lasts for decades. In 1989, the Exxon Valdez crashed onto the shore of Prince William Sound in Alaska, contaminating 1,300 miles of coastline with 250,000 barrels (11 million gallons) of oil. The tourism industry immediately lost over 26,000 jobs and more than $2.4 billion in sales. By 2003, it still hadn't recovered completely.

Direct contact with the oil slick killed at least 140 bald eagles, 302 harbor seals, 2800 sea otters and 250,00 seabirds within a few days. Four people died as part of the clean-up efforts. …

Over 2,000 Alaskan Native Americans and 13,000 other subsistence permit holders lost the source of their food. This continues today, as many are afraid of being poisoned by contaminated fish. …

The tourism industry immediately lost over 26,000 jobs and more than $2.4 billion in sales. By 2003, it had recovered somewhat. This cost the state government $2.8 billion, and Alaska also has never fully recovered since vacationers still think of the area as contaminated. …

Twenty years after the spill, about 20 acres of Prince William Sound shoreline are still contaminated with oil. Two species have never come back, ten species haven't quite come back, and the fate of five is unknown. Until all species recover, the economy that depends upon them cannot fully recover, either. (http://useconomy.about.com/od/suppl1/p/Exxon_Valdez_Oil_Spill_Economic_Impact.htm )

With all the above risks to BC, if, as you propose Canada should just continue to ignore all the global problems associated with climate change in order to maximize economic development of fossil fuels, similar logic says BC should block the transmission of such resources through it, since the health, economic and environmental risks for BC far outweigh any benefits. In other words, ignoring the problem of global warming for short-term economic concerns on a local, provincial or national basis doesn't work. 

jerrym

Unfortunately, Canada has an extremely poor record when it comes to dealing with its emissions and fossil fuel production. 

A European report released to coincide with the United Nations conference ranks Canada 55th of 58 countries in terms of tackling greenhouse gas emissions, ahead of only Iran, Kazakhstan and Saudi Arabia.

A Washington-based group, the Center for Global Development, issued a separate report Monday that ranked Canada 27th on the environment out of the world’s wealthiest 27 countries.

(http://www.citopbroker.com/news/canada-ranks-worst-on-climate-policy-amo...)

This is due to our withdrawal from the Kyoto Accord, our high per-capita fossil fuel consumption, our cold climate and large land area, as well as continually rising carbon emissions - largely due to oil sands development.  On the international scene Canada is part of the problem, not part of a solution so far. (http://www.cbc.ca/newsblogs/technology/quirks-quarks-blog/2014/03/climate-change-report-the-good-and-bad-news-for-canada-1.html )

Of course switching to a non-fossil fuel economy will involve a transition period that will take time. There is rapid growth in renewable energy. Here's just one example: 

Boosted by a strong solar PV market, renewables accounted for almost two-thirds of net new power capacity around the world in 2016, with almost 165 gigawatts (GW) coming online. This was another record year, largely as a result of booming solar PV deployment in China and around the world, driven by sharp cost reductions and policy support.

Last year, new solar PV capacity around the world grew by 50%, reaching over 74 GW, with China accounting for almost half of this expansion. For the first time, solar PV additions rose faster than any other fuel, surpassing the net growth in coal.

https://www.iea.org/publications/renewables2017/

On Friday May 18, 2018, the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) announced it is looking at the risks associated with climate change and at renewable energy alternatives. It's late to the show, but at least it now recognizes the problem. 

Canada Pension Plan Investment Board chief executive Mark Machin pledged Thursday to step up the assessment of global climate change risks to make better investment decisions, as the fund he oversees posted an annual net return of 11.6 per cent.

“We’re going to make a huge push on it this year… We want to do a much better job of being able to understand the risks that we’re taking on in each investment and the risks we have embedded in the portfolio, and make sure we’re being paid for them,” Machin said in an interview. ...

He said much more work needs to be done on key questions including how quickly the “energy transition” from traditional sources to alternatives and renewables will take place. This will be influenced by a number of factors, from geography to government policy and regulation to social demands.

“Nobody’s cracked this, nobody’s got a great tool kit yet, so we’re having to develop it ourselves,” Machin said.

CPPIB, which invests money for Canada’s national pension scheme, is pairing its plan to build better ways to measure the risks inherent in sectors such as oil and gas with a concerted search for more investments in alternative and renewable energy assets.

The latest in a string of deals, announced last week, is a joint venture with Enbridge Inc. that will see CPPIB acquire holdings in North American renewable power assets and offshore European wind projects.

Last month, the pension organization signed a $741 million agreement to acquire a portfolio of six Canadian operating wind and solar power projects from NextEra Energy Partners LP. 

http://business.financialpost.com/news/cppib-pledges-huge-push-on-climat...

The question is can we transition fast enough nationally and globally to renewables to avoid the worst consequences of climate change.

Rev Pesky

JKR wrote:

There do seem to be many improvements we could make during the next 12 years that include carbon pricing, cleaner sources of energy, more public transit, electric vehicles, reforestation, higher density housing, dietary changes, etc.... What do environmental economists say?

Carbon pricing by itself does nothing. Well, yes, I suppose it does something. It makes things more expensive, which hits the poorest people first, and worst. But as the experience in BC shows, carbon pricing does not reduce production of CO2.

Cleaner sources of energy is one of those phrases that's easy to say, but difficult to do. In BC, where most of our electrical energy is hydro, the greens are opposed to Site C dam. The use of wind and solar for 'on demand' electricity is still years, if not decades away. Electric cars don't reduce CO2's, especially in places where electricity is coal generated. In those areas (most of the USA) you're burning more coal to power electric cars.

The problem is really a lot more intractable than anyone wants to admit.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

L.A. Votes to Explore Climate Emergency Mobilization Department

Big news out of Southern California: the L.A. City Council has unanimously voted to explore the creation of America’s first Climate Emergency Mobilization Department.

On Friday, the Council voted to direct the City’s legislative and budget analysts “to report within 30 days on the establishment of a Climate Emergency Mobilization Department with all powers to plan and coordinate all of the City's climate and resilience responses,” with the report to include consideration of emergency climate mitigation, resilience and adaptation programs, climate emergency public education efforts, an outreach stakeholder process, and an assessment of the proposed CEMD’s authority over other city departments.

This is a significant first step toward shifting the United States’ second largest city into climate emergency mode....

JKR

Rev Pesky wrote:

JKR wrote:

There do seem to be many improvements we could make during the next 12 years that include carbon pricing, cleaner sources of energy, more public transit, electric vehicles, reforestation, higher density housing, dietary changes, etc.... What do environmental economists say?

Carbon pricing by itself does nothing. Well, yes, I suppose it does something. It makes things more expensive, which hits the poorest people first, and worst. But as the experience in BC shows, carbon pricing does not reduce production of CO2.

Cleaner sources of energy is one of those phrases that's easy to say, but difficult to do. In BC, where most of our electrical energy is hydro, the greens are opposed to Site C dam. The use of wind and solar for 'on demand' electricity is still years, if not decades away. Electric cars don't reduce CO2's, especially in places where electricity is coal generated. In those areas (most of the USA) you're burning more coal to power electric cars.

The problem is really a lot more intractable than anyone wants to admit.

How do countries like Finland, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Denmark, Germany, and France, manage to have much lower levels of CO2 emissions per capita than Canada?

Rev Pesky

JKR wrote:

How do countries like Finland, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Denmark, Germany, and France, manage to have much lower levels of CO2 emissions per capita than Canada?

I don't think I can provide a definitive answer, but I can think of some reasons.

Geography. Canada is 6000 kms wide, and 150 kms deep. That translates into a very large amount of transport for a very small (relative) population. Leading us to...

Population: Very small population spread over a very large area. Transportation generated CO2 would be much higher per capita than almost any other country in the world.

Climate. While most of Canada's population lives pretty close to the USA border, a reasonable percentage live not only far from the border, but far north. Those people living in the far north would be generating a lot of CO2 per capita, and there's not much can be done about that. The overall emissions would be pretty small, but the per capita emissions would be pretty large.

The problem is apparent even in relation to Norway, a northerly country with a relatively small population. For instance, Norway has an area of 324 thousand square kms, with a population of roughly 5 million. Nunavut has an area of 2 million square kms, with a population of 36 thousand.

Norway is also an oil exporting nation, exporting roughly a third of what Canada exports, but with only about 1/7th the population. So the per capita 'effect' of their oil exports is quite a bit higher than Canada.

I'm sure there are other reasons for Canada's emissions (per capita), but there certainly is a question as to how much we could cut back without a serious economic recession.

Martin N.

"The question is can we transition fast enough nationally and globally to renewables to avoid the worst consequences of climate change."

Well, jerrym, my question is still 'how'.

If you wish, I can lead you toward the solution but it involves stuff like the 5 year forward oil futures price and less government intervention, not more.

Sorry, jerrym, but the solution involves long term strategy from a government that can't see farther than the next photo op.

It is a pleasing thought that Canada can become an example to lead the way, so to speak, in the meeting of arbitrary targets in the mitigation of 'climate change' but that same arbitrary target, a result of political expediency not scientific rigour, makes such a challenge impossible without destroying the fabric of the nation. This notion is empty virtue signaling at best and cynical political posturing otherwise.

Martin N.

JKR wrote:
Rev Pesky wrote:

JKR wrote:

There do seem to be many improvements we could make during the next 12 years that include carbon pricing, cleaner sources of energy, more public transit, electric vehicles, reforestation, higher density housing, dietary changes, etc.... What do environmental economists say?

Carbon pricing by itself does nothing. Well, yes, I suppose it does something. It makes things more expensive, which hits the poorest people first, and worst. But as the experience in BC shows, carbon pricing does not reduce production of CO2.

Cleaner sources of energy is one of those phrases that's easy to say, but difficult to do. In BC, where most of our electrical energy is hydro, the greens are opposed to Site C dam. The use of wind and solar for 'on demand' electricity is still years, if not decades away. Electric cars don't reduce CO2's, especially in places where electricity is coal generated. In those areas (most of the USA) you're burning more coal to power electric cars.

The problem is really a lot more intractable than anyone wants to admit.

How do countries like Finland, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Denmark, Germany, and France, manage to have much lower levels of CO2 emissions per capita than Canada?

Population density plus a governance structure that makes national decision making less convoluted than in Canada.

cco

Rev Pesky wrote:

Geography. Canada is 6000 kms wide, and 150 kms deep. That translates into a very large amount of transport for a very small (relative) population. Leading us to...

Population: Very small population spread over a very large area. Transportation generated CO2 would be much higher per capita than almost any other country in the world.

...Nunavut has an area of 2 million square kms, with a population of 36 thousand.

The issue of Canada's population density, which also comes up when Canadians complain about, say, mobile phone price gouging, is highly misleading. Over 80% of Canada's population lives in urban areas, higher than, say, Germany. Even in Nunavut, most of the population of Iqaluit isn't chartering a daily flight to Cape Dorset to go visit friends.

If you're a farm equipment salesman in Northern Ontario, of course you're going to do a lot of driving. Most Canadians aren't. Increased investment in transit, electric vehicles, and making grid production entirely renewable (already mostly the case in Québec, Manitoba, BC, and Newfoundland) would reduce emissions enormously.

There's another issue, though. Transportation only makes up about 25% of Canada's emissions. The biggest producer of emissions is the oil and gas sector. I don't mean downstream, when the oil and gas are finally burned by the purchasing customer. I'm talking about just the production. It may sound preposterous to say Canada should make oil and gas production as green as possible (electric trucks in the oil sands, refineries powered by hydro), but it makes up a huge chunk of emissions. Making those two sectors green(er) would cut Canadian emissions in half, without necessarily leading to a serious recession.

Emissions by province. Food for thought.

JKR

Martin N. wrote:

Population density plus a governance structure that makes national decision making less convoluted than in Canada.

If we got our political act in order we could have policies that favour increasing population density in large metro areas like Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, Ottawa, Winnipeg, etc... Here in metro Vancouver highrise neighbourhoods seems to be booming. High population density also makes it easier to expand public transit. Maybe governments should offer greater subsidies for highrise neighbourhoods?

It seems Manhattan has the smallest carbon footprint in the US:

https://www.treehugger.com/culture/5-reasons-new-yorkers-are-the-most-ec...

Quote:
Talk about lowering you carbon footprint: New Yorkers have the smallest carbon footprint in the nation -- 7.1 metric tons versus about 20 metric tons average for the nation, with manhattanites have even lower than the city as a whole. That figure compares favorably with those normal in Europe and Japan, by the way.

Population Density = Greener Without Thinking
The thing that's really important to remember about all these figures is that most of the stats aren't based out of personal conviction or effort. Rather, they are a necessary outcome of living in high density urban spaces, more than any other factor -- much in the same way that the average resident of Berlin, Zurich, Rome or Barcelona has a comparatively low carbon footprint.

As Owen says,

Population density also lowers energy and water use in all categories, constrains family size, limits the consumption of all kinds of goods, reduces ownership of wasteful appliances, decreases the generation of solid waste, and forces most residents to live in some of the world's most inherently energy-efficient residential structures: apartment buildings.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..there is no need flay about trying to determine where the problems lie. emission distribution is not equal so targets can be set. pdf file oxfam study.

quote:

EXTREME CARBON INEQUALITY

2 Lifestyle consumption emissions are highly unequal within and between countries

These new estimates can also help to dispel some of the myths that have long circulated around the UN climate change talks about who is responsible for driving climate change.

For years, developed countries have claimed they won’t go beyond incremental targets to cut their emissions unless and until rapidly growing developing countries step up to cut their emissions too.13

While it is absolutely critical to any chance of averting the most dangerous impacts of climate change that all developing countries play their part too, it is worth remembering that the lifestyle consumption emissions of citizens of even the developing countries in the G20 are far lower than those of their counterparts in the rich OECD countries, and that there are significant differences in the consumption footprints of rich and poor citizens among those countries too. That is, it makes little sense to treat them as though they are a single bloc (see Figure 4).

 

jerrym

JKR WROTE:

How do countries like Finland, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Denmark, Germany, and France, manage to have much lower levels of CO2 emissions per capita than Canada?

Martin N. wrote:

"The question is can we transition fast enough nationally and globally to renewables to avoid the worst consequences of climate change."

Well, jerrym, my question is still 'how'.

If you wish, I can lead you toward the solution but it involves stuff like the 5 year forward oil futures price and less government intervention, not more.

Sorry, jerrym, but the solution involves long term strategy from a government that can't see farther than the next photo op.

It is a pleasing thought that Canada can become an example to lead the way, so to speak, in the meeting of arbitrary targets in the mitigation of 'climate change' but that same arbitrary target, a result of political expediency not scientific rigour, makes such a challenge impossible without destroying the fabric of the nation. This notion is empty virtue signaling at best and cynical political posturing otherwise.

Trump's, Harper's, and Kenney's free market approach have and will continue to increase carbon dioxide emissions into the global atmosphere. While shifts in energy markets do play a role it won't solve the problem by themselves. You need government setting emission reductions and regulations, along with the attitude that emissions can be reduced. In fact, the fossil fuel industry has been highly resistant to moving away from fossil fuels, following the strategies developed by the cigarette industry of deny, doubt and delay the changes needed.

The European countries, including Germany and the Scandanavian countries that have similar climates to Canada, mentioned above are not succeeding in reducing their emissions by accident or simply by the free market's invisible hand. On the Climate Change Performance Index below, 13 of the the top 15 countries are European. Free enterprise Canada ranks 51st and the US 56th. 

  • These are the Overall Results of this year’s Climate Change Performance Index. The ranking results of this category are defined by a country’s aggregated performance regarding 14 indicators within the four categories GHG Emissions, Renewable Energy, Energy Use and Climate Policy.
  • The CCPI 2018 Results illustrate the main regional differences in climate protection and performance within the 56 evaluated countries and the EU. Despite decreasing growth rates in GHG emissions, still no country performed well enough to reach the rating “very high” in this year’s index and therefore the top three ranks remain left open. 
     

https://www.climate-change-performance-index.org (scrolling down the page will show you all the countries rankings)

 

jerrym

Here is what some of the European nations have done to reduce emissions:

The United Kingdom blew past previous wind power records in 2014 while Germany generated a record amount of electricity from wind in December, setting the stage for 2015 to bring more industry growth across Europe. Exactly how quickly it grows, however, is contingent upon several political and regulatory decisions to come.

Using statistics from the U.K.’s National Grid, the trade association RenewableUK found that wind generated enough electricity to power just over 25 percent of U.K. homes in 2014 — a 15 percent increase from 2013. Wind turbines provided 9.3 percent of the U.K’s total electricity supply last year, a 1.5 percent boost from 2013.  ...

In December, Germany generated more wind power, 8.9 terawatt-hours, than in any previous month. According to the IWR renewable energy research institute, this record will be overtaken in 2015 as more offshore wind farms come online.

After strong wind power months in October and NovemberScotland also set a monthly generation record in December. WWF Scotland stated that wind power generated enough power to supply electricity to 98 percent of Scotland’s households in 2014.

Scotland has even bigger plans for the future — and according to a new study, these plans can be met and even exceeded. Scotland hopes to generate the equivalent of 100 percent of its electricity from renewables by 2020 and to export non-renewable production from conventional power plants to countries like England.

Across Europe, 2015 will also be a big year for renewable energy policy. Late last year the bloc released plans to legally require member countries to cut greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent below their 1990 levels by 2030. ...

According to two consulting firms, the E.U. renewables market will add 8.7 GW of wind and 10.7 GW of solar this year.

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2015/01/05/3607904/wind-power-surges-in...

 

Denmark and Ireland are also moving towards using wind as a major source of energy instead of hydro or fossil fuels.  

Denmark set a new world record for wind production in 2014, getting 39.1 percent of its overall electricity from the clean energy source. The latest figures put the country well on track to meet its 2020 goal of getting 50 percent of its power from renewables.

Denmark has long been a pioneer in wind power, having installed its first turbines in the mid-1970s, and has even more ambitious aims in sight, including a 100 percent renewable country by 2050. Last year, onshore wind was also declared the cheapest form of energy in the country. ...

Ireland hits new record for wind energy

 Windy conditions in Ireland meant the country saw not one but two wind energy records set already this year. According to figures record by EirGrid on Wednesday (Jan. 7), wind energy had created 1,942 MW of energy, enough to power more than 1.26 million homes.

And while we are still only a week into 2015, this announcement marked the second time this year the country has seen this record broken. On the Jan. 1, wind energy output was at a previous high of 1,872 MW.

http://ecowatch.com/2015/01/09/countries-leading-way-renewable-energy/

 

jerrym

European governments were deeply involved in these successful reduction in fossil fuel emissions. One example is Germany and the resistance of to this successful coversion has come from the fossil fuel industry. So the marketplace has hardly been leading the way. 

In the early 1990s, Germany launched Energiewende, or "energy revolution," a program "to combat climate change, avoid nuclear risks, improve energy security and guarantee competitiveness and growth." Renewable energy grew from four per cent in 1990 to more than 27 per cent in 2014, including a significant increase in citizen-owned power projects, according to energy think tank Agora Energiewende.

Germany's greenhouse gas emissions dropped by 27 per cent during that time. Its goal is to reduce emissions 40 per cent from 1990 levels by 2020 and more than 80 per cent by 2050. Polls show that 90 per cent of Germans like the program -- even though it means paying higher rates for electricity.

There's good reason for this widespread support. The primary technologies of wind and solar have become cost-competitive with conventional energy sources. Variable renewable sources and "flexibility options" for conventional and renewable power generation are making baseload power obsolete -- which means the system is geared to wind and solar rather than nuclear or coal. It's one of the most reliable energy systems in the world. And it's created jobs and revenue.

Energiewende hasn't solved all of Germany's emissions and energy issues. Electricity rates are among Europe's highest, although they're expected to come down as more renewable energy becomes available, and efficient usage means "actual costs to households are comparable to countries with lower prices but higher consumption levels."

The country still gets more energy from coal than renewables, transportation and heating consume significant energy from conventional sources and heavy industry makes Germany one of Western Europe's highest emitters. Opposition from power utilities and coal companies, with consequent government compromises, has also slowed progress. But a range of initiatives and tools has put Germany on track to meeting its long-term climate commitments.

One tool Germany used to achieve its rapid progress was a feed-in tariff, which guarantees renewable energy producers -- individuals, businesses, community organizations and power companies -- access to the grid and payment from power utilities for energy they put into the system. At first, the tariff wasn't enough to cover costs, but in 2000 Germany introduced a law that guaranteed feed-in tariffs for 20 years at prices high enough for producers to profit. As renewable energy costs drop and more is brought into the system, tariffs go down.

http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/david-suzuki/2016/06/germanys-energy-rev...

 

In January 2018, the German government agreed to scrap its 2020 target of reducing greenhouse gases by 40% in 2020 from 1990 levels because the target was unreachable. However, the difference between Germany and Canada was that Germany had only reduced emissions by 31.7-32.5% instead of the target 40% by the end of 2017, although the German government continues to reduce emssions as much as possible in the remaining time. Canada, by contrast, has increased it emissions by 17% over 1990 levels by 2016. The Liberals under Chretien, Martin and Trudeau, as well as the Conservatives under Harper, have continued to pursue fossil fuel production growth with the support of the fossil fuel industry. The difference in attitude in which the Germans consider a 32% reduction in emissions a failure and Canadian governments and its fossil fuel allies tout their emission increase of 17% as a good plan, is revealing of their real goals, as is the ongoing resistance to change of the German fossil fuel companies. Without government action, Germany would be in the same boat as Canada.

Germany’s two biggest political parties have agreed to scrap the goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions 40% from 1990 levels by 2020. ...

“We will agree on a package of measures that will close the gap as far as possible and reach the target at the beginning of the 2020s,” the working group wrote. ...

A leaked government document in October warned without further action, emissions cuts were only forecast to reach 31.7-32.5% in 2020. That would be “a disaster for Germany’s international reputation as a climate leader,” the environment ministry wrote.

Despite a booming renewables sector, Germany still gets 39% of its power from coal. A cross-party commission has been established to create a phaseout plan for the dirty fuel, but it remains a politically charged subject, with utilities and mining unions playing for more time to transition.

http://www.climatechangenews.com/2018/01/08/germany-set-abandon-2020-cli...

Martin N.

JKR wrote:
Martin N. wrote:

Population density plus a governance structure that makes national decision making less convoluted than in Canada.

If we got our political act in order we could have policies that favour increasing population density in large metro areas like Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, Ottawa, Winnipeg, etc... Here in metro Vancouver highrise neighbourhoods seems to be booming. High population density also makes it easier to expand public transit. Maybe governments should offer greater subsidies for highrise neighbourhoods? It seems Manhattan has the smallest carbon footprint in the US: https://www.treehugger.com/culture/5-reasons-new-yorkers-are-the-most-ec...
Quote:
Talk about lowering you carbon footprint: New Yorkers have the smallest carbon footprint in the nation -- 7.1 metric tons versus about 20 metric tons average for the nation, with manhattanites have even lower than the city as a whole. That figure compares favorably with those normal in Europe and Japan, by the way. Population Density = Greener Without Thinking The thing that's really important to remember about all these figures is that most of the stats aren't based out of personal conviction or effort. Rather, they are a necessary outcome of living in high density urban spaces, more than any other factor -- much in the same way that the average resident of Berlin, Zurich, Rome or Barcelona has a comparatively low carbon footprint. As Owen says, Population density also lowers energy and water use in all categories, constrains family size, limits the consumption of all kinds of goods, reduces ownership of wasteful appliances, decreases the generation of solid waste, and forces most residents to live in some of the world's most inherently energy-efficient residential structures: apartment buildings.

Sure but in the case of Vancouver, it has an east- west urban sprawl that condemns commuters to long commutes if working in the core because they cannot afford to live in the core and soon, will not be able to afford the commute.

The problems to climate change and its shirttail environmental cousins are short term political horizons and long term nimbyism to solutions that impact individuals themselves as opposed to 'others'. Everyone want rapid transit, only not in their 'hood. Everyone believes in densification, just not where they live.

Martin N.

You certainly are a busy chap, jerrym. The CPPIB is a very competent steward of the country's CPP resources and I am very familiar with them as they are major lenders, shareholders and partners of financial arrangements in many oil and gas producers who I am also invested in.

Along with the Euros' commitments to climate change, you really need to dig deeper than simply appeasing your confirmation biases. The simplest response to public concerns on climate change is for large entities to greenwash their endeavours with a large dose of p.r.

CPPIB is a huge player in Canadian oil and gas. Germany is increasing their use of lignite ( brown) coal and dozing medieval villages to get at it. You and the rest of the activists are being played yet again because you swallow any news that plays to your confirmation bias as fact.

JKR

Martin N. wrote:

The problems to climate change and its shirttail environmental cousins are short term political horizons and long term nimbyism to solutions that impact individuals themselves as opposed to 'others'. Everyone want rapid transit, only not in their 'hood. Everyone believes in densification, just not where they live.

What solutions do you recommend to deal with climate change?

Would a fee on carbon be a good policy to deal with nimbyism?

Rev Pesky

There is a scheme for carbon reduction that would meet with general approval. That is, ration carbon emissions in such a way that everyone gets their carbon ration, and if they don't use it, can sell it back into the system. I can guarantee you that the general population would go for such a scheme.

It would take a bit to get it down pat, but really no more difficult than any other program. The beauty of it is that the poorest, instead of having to pay more for their home heat and car fuel, could reduce their consumption and get paid for it. 

jerrym

Martin N. wrote:

"The question is can we transition fast enough nationally and globally to renewables to avoid the worst consequences of climate change."

Well, jerrym, my question is still 'how'.

If you wish, I can lead you toward the solution but it involves stuff like the 5 year forward oil futures price and less government intervention, not more.

Sorry, jerrym, but the solution involves long term strategy from a government that can't see farther than the next photo op.

It is a pleasing thought that Canada can become an example to lead the way, so to speak, in the meeting of arbitrary targets in the mitigation of 'climate change' but that same arbitrary target, a result of political expediency not scientific rigour, makes such a challenge impossible without destroying the fabric of the nation. This notion is empty virtue signaling at best and cynical political posturing otherwise.

I never claimed the Liberal and Conservative Canadian governments led the way on this issue. What I noted in post #33 was that European government regulation had led to 13 of the top 15 countries in terms of reducing their carbon dioxide emissions being European governments involved in regulation of their fossil fuel industry. The Canadian and American governments have been too tied to the fossil fuel and financial sectors to deal with climate change. 

While I did note that the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) is now looking at investing in renewable resources and this is better than not doing anything, this is forty years after the problem was identified by scientists and even by the fossil fuel industry. The CPPIB is very late in dealing with the issue. I would also like you to recall that the global financial sector's major domos, despite your praise, just one decade ago almost brought down the collapse of the entire world economy because of the sector's focus on short term gains, such as quarterly profits, and promptly rewarded themselves with gigantic bonuses when governments bailed them out. The incentives to focus on the short term remain in both the financial and fossil fuel sectors for their executives.

We now know from the internal documents of the fossil fuel industry that it has known about fossil fuels being the major contributor to global warming, but instead engaged in climate change denial. Scientific American has an excellent article on this: 

Exxon was aware of climate change, as early as 1977, 11 years before it became a public issue, according to a recent investigation from InsideClimate News. This knowledge did not prevent the company (now ExxonMobil and the world’s largest oil and gas company) from spending decades refusing to publicly acknowledge climate change and even promoting climate misinformation—an approach many have likened to the lies spread by the tobacco industry regarding the health risks of smoking. Both industries were conscious that their products wouldn’t stay profitable once the world understood the risks, so much so that they used the same consultants to develop strategies on how to communicate with the public.  

Experts, however, aren’t terribly surprised. “It’s never been remotely plausible that they did not understand the science,” says Naomi Oreskes, a history of science professor at Harvard University. But as it turns out, Exxon didn’t just understand the science, the company actively engaged with it. In the 1970s and 1980s it employed top scientists to look into the issue and launched its own ambitious research program that empirically sampled carbon dioxide and built rigorous climate models. Exxon even spent more than $1 million on a tanker project that would tackle how much CO2 is absorbed by the oceans. It was one of the biggest scientific questions of the time, meaning that Exxon was truly conducting unprecedented research. 

In their eight-month-long investigation, reporters at InsideClimate News interviewed former Exxon employees, scientists and federal officials and analyzed hundreds of pages of internal documents. They found that the company’s knowledge of climate change dates back to July 1977, when its senior scientist James Black delivered a sobering message on the topic. “In the first place, there is general scientific agreement that the most likely manner in which mankind is influencing the global climate is through carbon dioxide release from the burning of fossil fuels," Black told Exxon’s management committee. A year later he warned Exxon that doubling CO2 gases in the atmosphere would increase average global temperatures by two or three degrees—a number that is consistent with the scientific consensus today. He continued to warn that “present thinking holds that man has a time window of five to 10 years before the need for hard decisions regarding changes in energy strategies might become critical." In other words, Exxon needed to act.

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/exxon-knew-about-climate-chan...

 

jerrym

We also know that the fossil fuel industry followed the cigarette industry lead in denying climate change. Just as the cigarette industry denied smoking's danger to one's health and engaged in a denial campaign, the fossil fuel industry has imitated the cigarette industry in its denial of climate change. In fact, the fossil fuel industry often used the same people to sway public opinion. 

Last week, Willie Soon was caught failing to disclose conflicts of interest in his climate research and congressional testimony after having received over $1.2 million in funding from fossil fuel companies. ...

Soon’s funding and failure to disclose conflicts of interest raises red flags, and upon further investigation, the underlying problem is clear. Willie Soon does really bad science, and yet is treated as a climate expert and used by members of Congress to justify opposition to climate policies.

The reason Soon can be treated as an expert is that he’s been able to publish climate-related research in peer-reviewed journals. To get bad science published in peer-reviewed journals, Soon has followed the same strategies as other climate contrarians with flawed research. He has submitted papers to relatively obscure, non-climate science journals, and he’s exploited “pal review” with friendly journal editors. ...

The fossil fuel industry has used the same tactics as the tobacco industry, which successfully prevented Congress from regulating its dangerous and harmful product for many decades. ...

Both industries funded their own scientists, like Willie Soon, who would produce research to cast doubt on the prevailing scientific consensus. Members of Congress then cite this shoddy research to claim the science isn’t settled, and to justify delaying legislative action. Industry-funded scientists like Willie Soon, and science in general, are just pawns in this effort.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/20...

 

jerrym

Here's more evidence of the links between the fossil fuel and cigarette industry using the same denial techniques and even people.

Oil companies bristle at the comparison. But overlap between both industries existed as early as the 1950s, new research details.

Documents housed at the University of California, San Francisco, and analyzed in recent months by the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group, show that the oil and tobacco industries have been linked for decades. ...

And Theodor Sterling, a mathematics professor known for research on smoking that was favorable to the tobacco industry—Philip Morris paid more than $200,000 in the 1990s for his work—also studied lead in gasoline for Ethyl Corp. in 1962. Ethyl was a joint venture between General Motors Corp. and Standard Oil.

“From the 1950s onward, the oil and tobacco firms were using not only the same PR firms and same research institutes, but many of the same researchers,” CIEL President Carroll Muffett said in a statement.

“Again and again we found both the PR firms and the researchers worked first for oil, then for tobacco,” he said. “It was a pedigree the tobacco companies recognized and sought out.”

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/tobacco-and-oil-industries-us...

 

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..in my experience change comes when it is forced. environment is a political issue more than it is anything else. politicians are political people bent on serving, for the most part, an economic system that is run for and by the rich and powerful. along side the discussions of what we face and what the alternatives are is the discussion of how to change the way decisions are made.

jerrym

Like the cigarette industry that faced and lost a number of lawsuits over its campaign to deny the health impacts of smoking, the fossil fuel industry is now facing a growing number of lawsuits over the damage caused by climate change denial.

A wave of legal challenges that is washing over the oil and gas industry, demanding accountability for climate change, started as a ripple after revelations that ExxonMobil had long recognized the threat fossil fuels pose to the world.

Over the past few years: Two states (New York and California) have launched fraud investigations into Exxon over climate change. Nine cities and counties, from New York to San Francisco, have sued major fossil fuel companies, seeking compensation for climate change damages. And determined children have filed lawsuits against the federal government and various state governments, claiming the governments have an obligation to safeguard the environment.

The litigation, reinforced by science, has the potential to reshape the way the world thinks about energy production and the consequences of global warming. It advocates a shift from fossil fuels to sustainable energy and draws attention to the vulnerability of coastal communities and infrastructure to extreme weather and sea level rise.

https://insideclimatenews.org/news/04042018/climate-change-fossil-fuel-c...

 

jerrym

In 2008, Shell Oil's internal documents proposed two future scenarios, called Blueprints and Scramble, for how the world might respond to climate change. Their own scenarios see government coordination of a global response to climate change as being needed to avoid the catastrophe of the Scramble scenario. 

Big oil companies believe in climate change. How could they not? Already, the melting Arctic is opening up new shipping lanes that could allow them to tap into vast deposits of oil and natural gas. ...

One problem, Funk finds: The people in a position to profit or protect themselves from climate change are, by and large, those who are already well-off. And the “fixes” they’re coming up with tend to come at the expense of those most vulnerable. As Funk puts it, “The hardest truth about climate change is that it is not equally bad for everyone.” ...

And then there’s Shell. Multinational businesses have a reputation for either denying or downplaying climate change. In fact, Shell has been preparing for it for decades. The company’s business depends on being able to anticipate and respond quickly to seismic shifts in the energy market. So it employs a team of big-thinking futurists, called scenario planners, to keep it a step ahead.

In 2008 the company (Shell) released a fresh pair of scenarios for how the world might respond to climate change over the coming decades. Both were predicated on what the company called “three hard truths”: that global energy demand is rising, that the supply of conventional energy will not be able to keep up, and that climate change is both real and dangerous.

One scenario, called “Blueprints,” envisioned an increasingly urgent and systematic global effort to cut emissions and develop cleaner technologies. Change would come from the bottom up, as individuals, corporations, and cities laid a foundation for national and international policies. The results would include carbon taxes, cap-and-trade schemes, electric cars, solar panels, and carbon-capture technology for power plants. Those actions wouldn’t stop climate change. The seas would rise, hurricanes would wreck cities, and so on. But the results wouldn’t be catastrophic.

A second scenario, called “Scramble,” envisioned the world continuing to balk at real action, because “curbing the growth of energy demand—and hence economic growth—is simply too unpopular for politicians to undertake,” as Shell’s scenario planners put it in an interview with Funk. Coal and biofuels would drive the growth of developing countries, choking the air and driving up food prices. While Indonesia and Brazil were mowing down rainforests to grown palm oil and sugarcane, Canada and the United States would turn their attention toward “unconventional oil projects” like Canada’s tar sands. ...

Climate activists would grow increasingly shrill, but the general public would suffer “alarm fatigue.” Rich and poor nations would deadlock over who should do what as emissions spiraled past 550 parts per million. (In 2013 they reached 400 ppm for the first time—a frightening milestone.) At that point the impacts of climate change would be too great to ignore—but it would be too late to do much about it. In the final stage of the Scramble scenario, the planners wrote, “An increasing fraction of economic activity and innovation is ultimately directed towards preparing for the impact of climate change.”  

http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/future_tense/2014/02/windfall_m...

 

jerrym

The pattern of major numerous forest fires in Canada that I mentioned in post #1 is also occurring around the world.  This pattern, seen in the 2003 Barriere wildfire that burnt the entire community down; the Slave Lake, Alberta, fire that burnt one third of the town down in 2011; Saskatchewan wildfires that created 13,000 evacuees in 2015; the 2009, 2011 and 2017 Kelowna wildfires that threatened the homes of thousands; and the 2016 Fort McMurray wildfire that caused the evacuation of 88,000 people and destroyed thousands of homes, is increasingly seen elsewhere and is not an accident. The following 2016 article discusses the Fort MacMurray fire in relation to what is happening elsewhere in the world. 

Alberta's unusually early and large fire is just the latest of many gargantuan fires on an Earth that's grown hotter with more extreme weather.

Earlier this year (2016), large wildfires hit spots on opposite ends of the world — Tasmania and Oklahoma-Kansas. Last year, Alaska and California pushed the U.S. to a record 10 million acres burned. Massive fires hit Siberia, Mongolia and China last year and Brazil's fire season has increased by a month over the past three decades. It got so bad that in 2009, Australia added a bright red "catastrophic" to its fire warning index.

"The warmer it is, the more fires we get," said Mike Flannigan, a professor of wildland fire at the University of Alberta. Last week, temperatures pushed past the mid 30s Celsius in Alberta, which is unusual for May in northern Canada.

Worldwide, the length of Earth's fire season increased nearly 19 per cent from 1979 to 2013, according to a study by Mark Cochrane, a professor of fire ecology at South Dakota State University. Fires had steadily been increasing, but then in the late 1990s and early 2000s, "we've suddenly been hit with lots of these large fires we can't control," Cochrane said.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/climate-change-fires-1.3576682

 

jerrym

Unfortunately, this forest fire pattern is repeating itself again this year and its only May. Four First Nations communities in Manitoba with more than 2,000 inhabitants have already been evacuated because of the threat of forest fires near their homes. 

More than 2,000 people have been forced from their homes, at least 600 from the Little Grand Rapids and Pauingassi First Nations, as dozens of wildfires blaze through Manitoba.

There are 51 fires currently active in the province. Eighty firefighters from Ontario and two water bombers from Quebec are helping local teams battle the blazes.

Four First Nations communities have already been evacuated. Little Grand Rapids, approximately 260 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg, is considered to be the hardest-hit among them. ...

Evacuation orders have also been issued for Pauingassi, Sapotaweyak Cree Nation and Jackhead.

https://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/2-000-people-forced-from-homes-as-51-fires...

 

Martin N.

JKR wrote:
Martin N. wrote:

The problems to climate change and its shirttail environmental cousins are short term political horizons and long term nimbyism to solutions that impact individuals themselves as opposed to 'others'. Everyone want rapid transit, only not in their 'hood. Everyone believes in densification, just not where they live.

What solutions do you recommend to deal with climate change? Would a fee on carbon be a good policy to deal with nimbyism?

Reduce global coal use by using oil

Reduce oil use by using natural gas

Reduce natural gas use by using renewables and, as they become commercially viable, emerging technologies.

Government needs to insulate 'the poor', who cannot reduce energy consumption except by freezing or starving. Consumption taxes on carbon should be directed toward facilitating installation of renewables at the homeowner level, even the municipal level.

Poor people drive clunkers because they can't afford better and need to drive because they can't afford to live closer. Make rapid transit options available. The lynchpin in rapid transit is the societal change required to obtain an occupancy rate that makes the system self-sustaining. Removing clunkers off the road and removing supports for private vehicle ownership such as 'free' use of road infrastructure where road use is paid out of general revenue will encourage such societal change.

The downside to any progress on this issue is politicians who much prefer to blather on uselessly and greenwash tax grabs. Nearest to their hearts is their own entitlements and the reelection required to maintain them so they blanch at the thought of irate villagers waving pitchforks because their tranquility is being disturbed.

Much better to focus on the big issues like saving the planet. Issues that can endlessly be kicked down the road without disruption to the election cycle. Making stout declarations at climate conventions in a fashionable city is much preferred.

jerrym

JKR wrote:

     

Quote:
What solutions do you recommend to deal with climate change? Would a fee on carbon be a good policy to deal      with nimbyism?

Martin N. wrote:

Reduce global coal use by using oil

Reduce oil use by using natural gas

Reduce natural gas use by using renewables and, as they become commercially viable, emerging technologies.

Government needs to insulate 'the poor', who cannot reduce energy consumption except by freezing or starving.  

Consumption taxes on carbon should be directed toward facilitating installation of renewables at the homeowner level, even the municipal level.

Poor people drive clunkers because they can't afford better and need to drive because they can't afford to live closer. Make rapid transit options available. The lynchpin in rapid transit is the societal change required to obtain an occupancy rate that makes the system self-sustaining. Removing clunkers off the road and removing supports for private vehicle ownership such as 'free' use of road infrastructure where road use is paid out of general revenue will encourage such societal change.

The downside to any progress on this issue is politicians who much prefer to blather on uselessly and greenwash tax grabs. Nearest to their hearts is their own entitlements and the reelection required to maintain them so they blanch at the thought of irate villagers waving pitchforks because their tranquility is being disturbed.

Nice job of trying to avoid discussing all the evidence that the fossil fuel industry has engaed in climate change denial and increasing fossil fuel demand when it's own research showed that was a major problem in the 1970s. Not only did the fossil fuel sector deny that climate change was primarily caused by fossil fuel production, it produced its own fraudulent research to back its denial up, which has resulted in them being sued by the states of New York, California, and most recently Massachusetts, as well as numerous cities and towns, for the resulting damage done to society. The fossil fuel industry was aided and abetted by the financial sector's financing of their coal, oil and natural gas projects.

 Just a reminder: while some politicians have been bought off by the fossil fuel companies, it takes two sides to engage in this. Of the top 15 countries measured on the Climate Change Performance Index for their carbon dioxide emissions reductions, 13 are in Europe  where governments have been heavily involved in develping policies to bring about emissions, while free enterprise Canada and the United States rank 51st and 56th (see posts 33 to 35). Posts 40 to 45 show how the fossil fuel industry went about denying climate change using the same strategies as the cigarette industry, and, as a result, now faces government lawsuits over the fraud involved the resultant damage.

In the United States in the late 1970s, President Carter began an alternative energy program that had it not been stopped by the fossil fuel funded Reagan administration would have meant we were much futher down the road in a transition like the one you described from coal to oil to natural gas to renewables. 

Carter faced a crisis from a combination of economic problems, failed policies of his predecessors and, finally, an Iranian revolution that cut access to some Middle Eastern oil.

Carter met the problems by starting sweeping oil-reduction reforms, including creation of the Cabinet-level Department of Energy.

He began spending millions of dollars researching alternative sources for electrical power, including solar power. He got utilities to cut their use of oil for electricity and ramp up their use of natural gas or coal. ...

“Up until Carter, we were getting about 20 percent of our electricity from oil generation,” said Jay Hakes, director of the Energy Information Administration under Carter and an authority on modern presidents and oil. “And post-Carter, it went down to about 3 percent.”

Carter insisted that U.S. automakers build more fuel-efficient cars, with a goal of 27.5 miles per gallon over the following decade – a requirement passed under Gerald Ford but put into force by Carter. ...

Reagan and Congress stopped aggressively pushing new auto efficiency standards, acceding to Detroit’s desire to leave them at Carter-era levels. They let the solar tax benefit expire, and the nascent solar industry went belly- up.

It was time to let the markets work their magic and stop all this government tinkering, Reagan and conservatives said.

Bad stuff? A recipe for the fix we’re in today? A number of environmentalists and conservationists say so.

https://www.resilience.org/stories/2005-10-12/was-jimmy-carter-right/

 

jerrym

The Union of Concerned Scientists do note that individuals, governments, and industry all bear some responsibility for the climate change crisis we now face, but put the primary blame on where it belongs, the fossil fuel industry. 

Major fossil fuel companies have known for decades that their products—oil, natural gas, and coal—cause global warming. Their own scientists told them so more than 30 years ago.

In response, they decided to deceive shareholders, politicians, and the public—you!—about the facts and risks of global warming.

They repeatedly fought efforts to move the country away from fossil fuels. They slowed progress on the most important challenge of our time. And some continue to spread disinformation and obstruct climate policies even today. All while being aware of the role their products play in climate impacts.

These companies should immediately stop funding climate deception. They should bear their fair share of responsibility for the damage caused by their products. ...

Their deceptive tactics—both individually and collectively through industry associations, think tanks, and front groups—are highlighted in The Climate Deception Dossiers, collections of internal company and trade association documents that have either been leaked, come to light through lawsuits, or been disclosed through Freedom of Information (FOIA) requests. ...

Governments, industry, and individuals all bear some responsibility for climate change. But major fossil fuel companies—including ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell, BP, ConocoPhillips, Peabody Energy, Consol Energy, and Arch Coal—are substantial contributors to the problem, and therefore must take responsibility for their actions.

At a minimum, society should expect fossil fuel companies to:

  • Reject disinformation on climate, including through their trade associations and other lobbying groups; they should also publicly disassociate themselves from such groups and their activities.
  • Support sensible climate policies to reduce global warming emissions.
  • Fully disclose the financial and physical risks of climate change to their business operations.
  • Align their business models with a carbon-constrained world consistent with keeping warming well below a 2°C increase above pre-industrial levels, as agreed by world leaders. 
  • Pay for their share of the costs of climate-related damages and climate change adaptation.

https://www.ucsusa.org/global-warming/fossil-fuel-companies-knew-about-g...

jerrym

The following report:

presents a comprehensive synthesis of the available evidence on what the oil industry knew about climate science, when they knew it, and what they did with the information. It combines that synthesis with an update on the latest developments in accountability research and science, which have dramatically improved our ability to identify the impacts of climate change on individuals and communities, the corporate actors that contributed to those impacts, and the nature of their contributions. The report presents this evidence in the context of the core elements of legal responsibility in tort and human rights law. It concludes that oil industry actors had early knowledge of climate risks and important opportunities to act on those risks, but repeatedly failed to do so. Those failures give raise to potential legal responsibilities under an array of legal theories.

http://www.ciel.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Smoke-Fumes-FINAL.pdf

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