Friday, November 20, 2009

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Evergreen Co-operatives

Evergreen Co-operatives is a model for worker owned economic development in Ohio. Hat tip to Jojo Geronimo from the Labour Education Centre.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

New climate change study: 2007, IPCC worst case scenario likely...

I wasn't able to actually find this 17-scientist study at Nature Geoscience mentioned in the article. The debate to date has been about the relationship between reduction of GHGs and mitigation strategies in the context of a 2°. This article suggests that the discussion is shifting to mitigation versus utter disaster.

World on course for catastrophic 6° rise, reveal scientists - The Independent

The world is now firmly on course for the worst-case scenario in terms of climate change, with average global temperatures rising by up to 6C by the end of the century, leading scientists said yesterday. Such a rise – which would be much higher nearer the poles – would have cataclysmic and irreversible consequences for the Earth, making large parts of the planet uninhabitable and threatening the basis of human civilisation...

Meanwhile, the scientists have for the first time detected a failure of the Earth's natural ability to absorb man-made carbon dioxide released into the air.

They found significant evidence that more man-made CO2 is staying in the atmosphere to exacerbate the greenhouse effect because the natural "carbon sinks" that have absorbed it over previous decades on land and sea are beginning to fail, possibly as a result of rising global temperatures.

6C rise: The consequences

If two degrees is generally accepted as the threshold of dangerous climate change, it is clear that a rise of six degrees in global average temperatures must be very dangerous indeed, writes Michael McCarthy. Just how dangerous was signalled in 2007 by the science writer Mark Lynas, who combed all the available scientific research to construct a picture of a world with temperatures three times higher than the danger limit.

His verdict was that a rise in temperatures of this magnitude "would catapult the planet into an extreme greenhouse state not seen for nearly 100 million years, when dinosaurs grazed on polar rainforests and deserts reached into the heart of Europe".

He said: "It would cause a mass extinction of almost all life and probably reduce humanity to a few struggling groups of embattled survivors clinging to life near the poles."

Very few species could adapt in time to the abruptness of the transition, he suggested. "With the tropics too hot to grow crops, and the sub-tropics too dry, billions of people would find themselves in areas of the planet which are essentially uninhabitable. This would probably even include southern Europe, as the Sahara desert crosses the Mediterranean.

"As the ice-caps melt, hundreds of millions will also be forced to move inland due to rapidly-rising seas. As world food supplies crash, the higher mid-latitude and sub-polar regions would become fiercely-contested refuges.

"The British Isles, indeed, might become one of the most desirable pieces of real estate on the planet. But, with a couple of billion people knocking on our door, things might quickly turn rather ugly."

Thursday, November 12, 2009

London's cycling mayor to the rescue...

In a convergence of environmental themes, London's (England) Mayor, Boris Johnson, assisted "The Age of Stupid" director Franny Armstrong who was attacked by 3 muggers late one night (not sure of the date).

Cycling London Mayor saves Enviro Pedestrian from Oikes!!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Good green jobs for all conference a big success

The Good Green Jobs for All conference went off without a hitch on Saturday. There were close to 600 people registered who came from labour, environmental, community and social justice organizations. There was a lot of positive energy, excellent speakers and good discussion.

OPSEU was a platinum sponsor of the conference and I was privileged to be part of the planning committee. All those evening pizza meetings paid off.

Allstream Centre - the GGJ4A conference was one of the first users of the renovated Automotive Building at the CNE. The Allstream Centre is a silver LEED certified building.

OPSEU display

There were a lot of great moments at the conference. One of the best for me was the end of the day speech by Clayton George Thomas-Muller, an organizer with the Indigenous Environmental Network, currently working on the Indigenous Tar Sands Campaign. It was a comprehensive analysis and rousing call to action.

Muller called for shutting down the tar sands and challenging the economic development model of capitalism itself as part of a road map to a greener, more equitable society.

Other keynote speakers included Tonika Morgan and Peter Tabuns. Each of the three workshops had panel presenters to help focus the discussion and to formulate a short list of priority campaigns.

I took part in the Infrastructure workshop. Priorities included support for Transit City and Metrolinks, education & training and some focus on how to make the Pan Am games (which had been awarded to Toronto the night before) work for the community.

All participants were asked to fill in the blank - "A good, green job is...." and then have their pictures taken. Check it out.

Unfortunately, there wasn't much coverage of the conference in the media but here's one story from the Canadian Press.

Hundreds brainstorm on making economy green at Toronto conference
How to stimulate Ontario's economy while protecting the environment at the same time was the focus of the Good Green Jobs for All conference in Toronto on Saturday

About 550 environmentalists, members of the labour movement and people interested in social justice attended the sold-out conference which featured speeches and workshops.

Statistics Canada said Friday Canada's struggling economy shed 43,200 jobs last month for a national jobless rate of 8.6 per cent, up from 8.4 per cent in September. Ontario's unemployment rate rose a tenth of a point to 9.3 per cent in October.

Climate change deniers gaining ground

I think we can all feel this as we read the papers, watch tv and listen to the radio. Big Energy's relentless campaign to protect its profits at the expense of the planet has been gaining traction in the US over the past year. Canada is no better I fear. Damn the science. To hell with the scientists. We are living in truly scary times.

The climate change talks in Barcelona went almost nowhere last week - at least not as far as people were saying they needed to go in order for a new deal to be hammered out next month in Copenhagen. So we may need another year before a comprehensive deal can be negotiated.

George Monbiot takes a look at the regrowth of the cancerous climate change deniers.

Death Denial
There is no point in denying it: we’re losing. Climate change denial is spreading like a contagious disease. It exists in a sphere which cannot be reached by evidence or reasoned argument; any attempt to draw attention to scientific findings is greeted with furious invective. This sphere is expanding with astonishing speed.

A survey last month by the Pew Research Centre suggests that the proportion of Americans who believe there’s solid evidence that the world has been warming over the past few decades has fallen from 71% to 57% in just 18 months(1). Another survey, conducted in January by Rasmussen Reports, suggests that, due to a sharp rise since 2006, US voters who believe that global warming is the result of natural causes (44%) now outnumber those who believe it is caused by human action (41%)(2)...

It certainly doesn’t reflect the state of the science, which has hardened dramatically over the past two years... The debate about global warming that’s raging on the internet and in the rightwing press does not reflect any such debate in the scientific journals.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

"Stand up for me"

Hat tip to Jackie Larkin for this video. From Moms Against Climate Change.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Our Times Magazine: Climate Change is a Union Issue

Check out the latest issue of Our Times, Canada's Independent Labour magazine at the bookstore if you can. The focus of this issue is on climate change and features a couple of different unions, including OPSEU. There's even a couple of pictures of me in it.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Barcelona climate change talks...

The last five days of negotiations before the December Copenhagen climate change talks got underway this week in Barcelona, Spain. The entire African delegation walked out of the talks and have just agreed to end their boycott. Meanwhile, no expenses are being spared by Big Energy to ensure that the Copenhagen talks go down in toxic flames.

Monday, November 2, 2009

My contract at OPSEU has come to an end...

This is an email that I sent out to green supporters in the union. Being the blogging type, I will continue to post interesting stories when I see them.

Dear OPSEU Green Stewards and Green Staff,
Just wanted to let you know that my contract at OPSEU is over (after a couple of renewals) and that I'll be returning to my job in the OPS in November. It has been an honour and privilege to have had the opportunity to help OPSEU move forward with our environmental program.

The support I have received from members, staff and elected leaders has been tremendous. My heartfelt thanks to everyone. Greening OPSEU is a process, so keep up the good work in whatever capacity that you are contributing.
In solidarity,
Gary Shaul

Fishing trawler sunk by giant jellyfish

From the bizarre file, so bizarre that I had to check to make sure it wasn't a hoax, a 10 ton Japanese fishing trawler capsized when pulling in its catch of giant Nomura's jellyfish.

A 10-ton fishing boat has been sunk by gigantic jellyfish off eastern Japan

Each of the jellyfish can weigh up to 200 kg and waters around Japan have been inundated with the creatures this year. Experts believe weather and water conditions in the breeding grounds, off the coast of China, have been ideal for the jellyfish in recent months.

One of the largest jellyfish in the world, the species can grow up to 2 meters in diameter. The last time Japan was invaded on a similar scale, in the summer of 2005, the jellyfish damaged nets, rendered fish inedible with their toxic stings and even caused injuries to fishermen.

Relatively little is known about Nomura's jellyfish, such as why some years see thousands of the creatures floating across the Sea of Japan on the Tsushima Current, but last year there were virtually no sightings. In 2007, there were 15,500 reports of damage to fishing equipment caused by the creatures.

Experts believe that one contributing factor to the jellyfish becoming more frequent visitors to Japanese waters may be a decline in the number of predators, which include sea turtles and certain species of fish.

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