Saturday, September 27, 2008

Jackson Browne on nuclear power

Jackson Browne Nails Nuke Power on Colbert

Singer-songwriter Jackson Browne nailed the nuclear power industry on the Colbert Show. Browne is in New York touring for his new album "Time the Conqueror." He is also suing the John McCain campaign for the illegal use of his "Running on Empty...."

Browne is a long-time opponent of atomic energy. In 1978 he joined Pete Seeger and Arlo Guthrie before 20,000 opponents of New Hampshire's Seabrook Nuclear Power at what was until that time the biggest demonstration against a reactor in U.S. history...

Browne has continued to do benefit concerts for safe energy groups over the years. In the fall of 2007 he helped form with Bonnie Raitt and Graham Nash. They came together to oppose a proposed Congressional $50 billion loan guarantee package meant to fund new reactor construction. After an October 23 media conference and lobby day in Congress, the bill was withdrawn, marking what may be remembered as a critical landmark turning point in the fight against nuclear power.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Video - Wake up, freak out, then get a grip

Must see. Thanks to Jackie Larkin for the link.

Wake Up, Freak Out - then Get a Grip from Leo Murray on Vimeo.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Economy to collapse if Prez debate goes ahead

Just wanted to say that. At least that's how "conservative" columnist Bill Kristol frames the issue. Pretty much everyone else seems to be critical of McCain's bold move to delay his first debate and to scuttle the vice-presidential debate. McCain is evoking "9/11" and "patriotism" to justify his "bold" move. And yes, the environment is suddenly off the agenda.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

McCain, Palin, creationism, the environment & rapture

The Evolution of John McCain
Why He Picked Sarah Palin, Carbon Queen

Another good read about why we shouldn't expect any serious action on the environment if McCain wins.

....her willingness to put Creationism up against the teaching of evolutionary science in the classroom on a he-says-she-says basis, that's far more revealing of just who our new Republican vice presidential candidate is than we generally assume....

Whether we know it or not, we should now be duly warned: The Palin nomination is the equivalent of launching a "surge strategy" in the Republican war on the environment...

If you believe that a look-alike God made the world for you to dominate and use, that you are among God's chosen few, and that He will provide for you no matter what you do to your surroundings, then you are likely to see yourself as above the natural order. If you believe that the world will be ending soon anyway, that you will be "raptured" while non-believers are "left behind" (as fundamentalist Tim LeHay so vividly describes the process in his bestselling novels), then precaution and restraint are moot...

Evolutionary theory shapes and informs the ecological sciences that are the very basis for our environmental laws and policies...

We need environmental science in our schools more than ever. An ecologically illiterate generation of students will be ill-prepared to meet our real, less than rapturous future...

The Evolution vs. Creationism debate appears to be an argument over the distant past. But it's actually about the future. It's about, in fact, who will define the cultural mindset that will generate that future. Let us pray it is not defined by a pit bull with lipstick who thinks she is "tasked by God" to drill for oil.

Monday, September 22, 2008

$$ crisis - forget the environment...

This just in. The Canadian oil industry has decreed that the environment will no longer be a priority issue in the upcoming elections. You'd think that this would take a lot of nerve but the oil industry has never been known for being shy. They've declared themselves and politicians off the hook.

Environment will take back seat to economy, says oil patch czar

CALGARY -- The United States will likely soften its stance on environmental issues tied to the much-criticized oil and gas industry as that country faces tough economic times, according to the new face of Canada's energy lobby organization.
"Soften its stance"? Can it get much softer than it already is?
Dave Collyer, who took the helm of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers last week, on Monday said the all-important U.S. market will put the economy on the top of its priority list rather than the environment.
I'm sure Dave is feeling really terrible about that.
While CAPP represents producers large and small, cleaning up the oil sands' dirty image is a priority.
Of course cleaning up the oil sands is not a priority - just the image.

So both McCain, Harper and who knows else are supposedly off the hook because of the financial crisis. At least that's what the oil industry and their pundits are saying. This article from UPI talks about some of the latest polling which show the environment as the 3rd priority for Canadians (slipping) as if being 3rd in a country with dozens of issues, somehow proves that Canadians no longer care.

But back getting to the bottom line, according to this report from Greenpeace UK, the tar sands are a risky investment. But so were sub-prime mortgages. That never stopped anyone from selling them.

How many cars is enough?

The McCain family has got 13 including a number of foreign-built cars. Obama & Michelle have one. Here's what the UAW had to say.

" 'Buy American' can't just be a slogan that John McCain rolls out when he is in Michigan. It's insulting to our members. We need a president who's committed to rebuilding the auto industry here in America, not a president who buys foreign cars and then lies about when he thinks autoworkers are watching."
I'm suppose we'll be hearing a lot soon about how 3 of his cars are electric.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

"Who will lead by example?"

Worth reading.

On Climate, Who Will Lead by Example?

"Americans must make strategic choices both in their individual lives and collectively as a nation - from the local community to national levels - in order to balance the increasing pressures of human activity and their climate change impacts."

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Genetically engineered food moratorium?

Federal Elections - Call for a moratorium on GE crops and foods

Greenpeace and a number of other organizations are banded together in the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network. They are

calling on all candidates and Parties in the federal election to support an immediate moratorium on all new genetically engineered (GE) crops and food approvals until the government’s procedures for GE risk assessment have be reviewed and strengthened to meet strict international and scientific standards.
The issue of labeling is a big one in which Canada is tailing after the US and food giants like Monsanto.
Canada and the U.S. are currently the only two countries in the developed world that refuse to impose mandatory labeling of GE food. “Monsanto’s excessive influence in Ottawa explains why the Harper government and a majority of MPs voted against Bill C-517 last May that would have labeled GE foods and given Canadians the right to know ,” said Tony Beck, steering committee member with the Society for a GE Free B.C..

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

California: Is clear-cutting in the equation?

An interesting look at the role played by forests in absorbing carbon & releasing CO2 in the context of California's Global Warming Solutions Act and its carbon caps.
The Sierra Forests Can Prevent Global Warming

Imagine a grand formula that somehow left out - cars. Or industrial manufacturing. Leaving out one of these huge emissions sources would render any climate legislation toothless.

Fortunately, both will likely be accounted for. But will forests?....

Deforestation and logging account for one-fifth of all global carbon emissions - more than all trains, planes and, yes, automobiles combined. Any serious attempt to address California's contributions to climate change must include an understanding of what's happening in the forests of the Sierra Nevada.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Federal election links

Here are a couple of handy links for green-related and other election issues.

NUPGE Election Blogs
Sierra Club of Canada

Monday, September 15, 2008

Greenpeace activists acquitted in Britain

Interesting story about the acquittal of 6 Greenpeace activists in Britain, arrested for damaging a coal plant in order to prevent a greater crime - global warming.

Greenpeace Kingsnorth trial collapse is embarrassing for Gordon Brown

Six activists admitted trying to shut down the station and painting "Gordon" down the chimney in a protest at EON's plans to build an even bigger coal-fired station next door...

But a jury of nine bought the activists' argument, supported in person by James Hansen, the US climate scientist and director of Nasa, that Greenpeace were legally justified because they were trying to prevent climate change causing greater damage to property around the world.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Tree Free Paper - Invention of the year?

Very interesting development on the paper front.

Recently launched on the market by GPA, a Chicago paper company, Ultra Green paper is 100% tree free. And of equal importance; the paper is produced without any water.

Layton - Moratorium on new oil sands projects

Hats off to Jack Layton and the NDP for coming out in support of a moratorium on all new Alberta oil / tar sands projects "until emissions are capped". Personally, I'd support even more drastic action considering that the tar sands oil extraction is probably the world's largest greenhouse gas producer. Why? To provide cheap oil to the United States.

Meanwhile the story gets even more interesting as Harper and the Conservatives try to position themselves as the defenders of "good, union jobs". Check out this story in today's Globe & Mail.

The Conservative Party of Canada, well-known bastion of the working class, is concerned about the loss of "good union jobs" across the country if NDP Leader Jack Layton succeeds in his quest to quell further expansion of Alberta's oil sands because of the onetime dinosaur haunt's huge impact on the environment.

A Tory election press release entitled "Just the Facts" lists 20 unions that it says would be affected by an oil sands moratorium
Meanwhile, in the same article, it's noted that former BC Federation of Labour President Jim Sinclair is running as a candidate for the Green Party. Other interesting contradictions are pointed out as well.
It's getting strange out there, isn't it?

Peter Lougheed and Jack Layton agreeing on the oil sands. Stephen Harper, Carole James and Jack Layton on the same side of the carbon-tax issue. Vancouver Centre Conservative hopeful Lorne Mayencourt supporting Gordon Campbell's carbon tax while a member of the provincial Liberal caucus, but days later agreeing with his new party's attack on the very idea of such a tax.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Federal election - Sierra Club Voters Guide

With the federal election entering the end of the first week, many people will be thinking about environmental policies and solutions for global warming. The Sierra Club has issued a Voters Guide and report card for each of the major political parties. Here are their initial scores (from best to worst):

Green Party - A-
Liberal Party - B+
New Democratic Party - B
Bloc Quebecois - B
Conservative Party - F+

In terms of pricing carbon, here's what the Sierra Club has to say,

Under the current economic system, the negative effects of greenhouse gas emissions are not borne by the polluter, but by all Canadians and the world at large through long-term changes in global climate. As a result, the market is distorted; the prices of goods and services do not reflect their true value to society, today and in the future. The solution is to put a price on carbon. Carbon pricing embodies the ‘polluter pays principle’: “the polluter should bear the costs of activities that directly or indirectly damage the environment.” The atmosphere’s ability to absorb carbon dioxide – without causing harmful climate change – is a finite and (globally) shared resource that must be regulated.

When comparing the two forms of carbon pricing, a carbon tax system and a cap and trade system, we should not see them as mutually exclusive options. One could adopt a ‘hybrid’ approach: implement a carbon tax immediately and a cap and trade system within a few years. Because Canada has delayed action until now, it is critical that the government does not wait the two to three years that it would take to set-up a cap and trade system in order to put a price on carbon, as the urgency of the climate crisis requires that we reduce our emissions as soon as possible.
Karen Hawley, NUPGE's environmental point person, will be posting up to date information on environmental issues related to the election on the NUPGE website.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Sarah Palin - Climate change not caused by humans

Republican Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin is no friend of the environment. She does not believe that climate change is caused by human activity although she established a commission in Alaska to look at the impact of warming in Alaska. One of her most celebrated accomplishments as governor has been to sue the U.S. Department of Interior to overturn its May preliminary ruling to list the polar bear as a threatened animal. Palin is also a big supporter of expanded oil drilling in Alaska and offshore. The Republicans are playing a cynical game by enticing voters with the idea that drilling everywhere possible in the US will bring immediate relief at the gas pumps.

And speaking of oil prices, anyone notice that while the price of crude dropped to $100 a barrel yesterday, the price of gasoline (in Toronto anyway) rose about 13 cents a litre last night? Why? Because of a storm in the Gulf of Mexico that might disrupt oil production. Might.

And let's not forget that Stephen Harper is cut from the same conservative oil company cloth as Dick Cheney, George W. Bush, John McCain and Sarah Palin. "Drill, drill, drill, drill".

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Upcoming environmental events

Check out Planet Friendly's calendar of conferences, concerts and events related to the environment. There are lots of upcoming events around the province and around the country including events this weekend in North Bay, Woodbridge, Caledon, Mississauga, Toronto, Niagara Falls, Fort Erie, Orangeville and Ottawa.

Monday, September 8, 2008

GreenUnion is back from vacation

Spent two wonderful weeks on vacation - good weather and all - on Manitoulin Island and Algonquin Park.

First I went up to the Island with my son for a few days. Living in Toronto, where the pace of life is always pretty fast, it's great to get away to a quieter and slower pace. No Tim Hortons in site. Water at every turn. Most things shut down by 9:00. We stayed on the M'Chigeeng First Nation at a small cottage court/campground. M'Chigeeng translates from the Ojibway as "village enclosed by stepped cliffs". The stepped cliffs of course are part of the Manitoulin Island section of the Niagara Peninsula which takes a dip in the water at Tobermory and reappears on the Island. No trip to Manitoulin is complete without a hike up to the "Cup and Saucer". Unfortunately, we left the Island (via the Chichimaun Ferry) before the annual big Powwow. Lots of interesting birds including a pair of pileated woodpeckers.

The following week I went on a to Algonquin Park on a camping trip with three other guys. I've been going on canoe trips in the park for close to 40 years now and am always stunned by the beauty and serenity of the park. This year, I joined my brother-in-law and two other guys who take a water taxi to a campsite on the East Arm of Lake Opeongo. That certainly makes things a lot easier. First, no paddling necessary although we brought along my canoe for day trips and emergencies. Second, with a water taxi, you can bring a lot more stuff so we let the tax lug our lawn chairs, cooler and other gear. I'd never seen anyone string a cooler from a tree but with the right branch, it can be done :).

While we didn't see much in the way of mammalian life (i.e. no bears), there were still plenty of birds around and we lucked out in the fishing department and enjoyed a small-mouth bass dinner on the last night. With spectacular end of the summer weather, swimming was in order daily. On our first day, 6 castaways and a dog landed on our campsite with their broken motor boat. We loaned them my canoe and three of them paddled back to "civilization" to get help which arrived just before dark to tow their broken boat back and get them back to their car.

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