CLIMATE CHANGE

Even though the science is clear and unequivocal about the reality and causes of climate change I am amazed as I’m sure many of you are at how many intelligent people fall into the camp of “not sure” about climate change and so just ignore the crisis. For whatever psychological reason a large chunk of our fellow citizens have allowed themselves to fall for the smoke and mirror arguments of climate change deniers that climate change is not real or if real is not caused by human behaviour. This well funded denier movement made up of so called think tanks, websites and blogs is dedicated to sowing doubt about the reality of climate change using false logic, discredited science and bully attacks on the creditability and honesty of individual scientists working in the climate field. In many ways these are the same tactics used by the tobacco industry not so long ago when they tried to discredit the science linking tobacco use to lung cancer and other unpleasant ways of dying. Their efforts are directed at downplaying the reality and seriousness of our situation in order to  distract people from paying attention to and accepting the message of the scientific community. To continue having a livable planet we need to reduce and eventually stop overloading our atmosphere with our green house gas emissions of CO2 and Methane.

There is no rational basis for not accepting the creditability of the work and conclusions of climate scientists and scientific organizations from around the world. Are these thousands of individual scientists and hundreds of national scientific academies all dishonest and corrupt?  For this would have to be the case if the deniers are seen to be correct with their accusations that climate change is some kind of conspiracy perpetrated by an international cabal of climate scientists. This is a totally absurd argument without a shred of evidence. These climate change denier people should be seen for who they really are–snake oil salesmen protecting the interests of the fossil fuel industries. Their job on behalf of the fossil fuel industry is to continually work on creating an atmosphere of uncertainty about the reality of climate change in order to cause us to doubt our own basic scientific knowledge and instincts about where the truth lies.

The basic message from climate science is that we are essentially slowly cooking the planet. It is a very simple scientific fact that as we increase our green house gas emissions we create an ever increasing hotter global greenhouse effect. The hotter the planet gets the greater will be our suffering and deprivation. According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the decade 2001 to 2010 was the warmest decade on record. The month of March 2012 saw over 2000 heat records toppled in North America alone. The historical global average temperature trend line is ever ascending. As we get hotter we will experience more extreme and destructive weather and climate patterns. Many a past civilization has bitten the dust due to adverse changes in weather and climate patterns but painful though such collapses were they were all essentially localized events caused by naturally unfolding planetary forces. What makes our present day situation so absolutely unique is that it is OUR conscious behaviour and choices which is driving us to the edge of permanently undermining the integrity of the very climate which has sustained us since the days of our ancient ancestors. The other major difference from the past history of failed civilizations it that this time the impact is not just local but global-there is no hiding from the crosshairs of a destabilized climate.

We need to ignore the siren call of the denier movement who want to divert our attention from the urgent task at hand which clearly is to work towards creating a sustainable green future for our planet which is not based on burning carbon. We are at a turning point, we either heed the message of our scientists and get on with the job of redirecting our future down a green path or we choose to listen to the paid propagandists of the fossil fuel industries which condemns our kids to a world of hurt.

WHAT THE CLIMATE SCIENTISTS SAY IN THEIR OWN WORDS

James Hansen has been a scientist at NASA for many years and in this video explains how he came to be a climate scientist and came to   conclude that we are in deep trouble and need to take action now to give the next generation a fighting chance to have a quality life.

Vicky Pope is the Senior Scientist at the UK Met Office who has this piece in the Guardian newspaper of London called “Do You Believe in Climate Change”.

William D. Nordhaus is an economist at Yale University who has written an  article in the New York Review of Books which takes issue  and refutes the major arguments of the denier movement or as they are more politely known, global warming skeptics. Kudos to the NY Review of Books for being one of the few mainstream publications which does not ignore the crisis of climate change.

Bill McKibbon founder of 350.org and author of many books including his most recent Eaarth gave this impassioned 5 minute speech recently in Vancouver.

Last word to Daniel Mittler who is a new mother and political director for Greenpeace International. Her words I’m sure ring true for the many of us who want an urgent global initiative started as soon as possible to get to a sustainable green future so we and future generations can enjoy a healthy planet.

NOW SOME GOOD NEWS

The most basic way of arresting the heating up of the planet is of course to work quickly to reduce and eventually eliminate  CO2 and Methane emissions. But a complimentary way to deal with this crisis is to develop means of removing CO2 from the atmosphere. This story and video care of Grist is about the invention of a French scientist who has come up with  lamp which is powered by absorbing CO2 from the atmosphere–a CO2 lamp. I’ll take a dozen!

Thanks to Bloomberg’s Business Week here is their story about the huge investment gamble Germany is undertaking to convert to renewable energy  in a very big way as they phase out their nuclear power plants. The investments are in wind and solar and innovative grid development. The scale of the investment and planning is monumental and what is equally amazing is how other European countries are planning to follow Germany”s lead.

This long article (still a quick read) on Solar Energy from the September 2009 edition of National Geographic illustrates the incredible potential for solar energy to be the very foundation energy source envisioned by Germany as they move forward to get off carbon.

The citizen climate change organization 350.org is organizing a citizen’s global day of action on Climate Change. Our chance to plug into a global effort on May 5th to show we care and are prepared to take action. Check it out here–the action is called Climate Dots, connecting the dots between climate change and extreme weather.

I’m taking a week off from the digital world and upon my return start work on updating the look and content selection of the blog–so see you in May.

Thank you for reading and please don’t be shy about sharing.

Barry Beaupre

Reviewer and Editor


CLIMATE CHANGE, DEMOCRACY,CRIME, U.S. POLITICS, GOOD NEWS

For those of you who noticed I apologize for the passage of time since the last post. At times one just gets overwhelmed by the sheer volume of online and print information which needs to be reviewed to prepare each new post and all to often the overriding impact is a bit depressing. We indeed live in the best of times and the worst of times with our very futures hanging in the balance. Will we wake up to the urgency of climate change early enough to leave behind an habitable planet for the next generation? The jury is still out!  Will we wake up to the urgent need to tackle with resolve the growing inequality and poverty in our society. This is also an uncertain outcome. But the wide spread push back by the Canadian people to the deliberate undermining  of our democratic processes by the Harper government is a great sign and hopefully an indicator that we citizens are awakening to the fact that in a democracy it is our will which rules and not the questionable interests of  professional politicians. If we can keep this democratic momentum going then we have a chance to positively affect the outcomes of the challenges of climate change and growing poverty.

CLIMATE CHANGE

Joe Romm of Climate Progress has a hard hitting article here about the deliberate lack of attention being paid to climate change by the mainstream media and how this is affecting the general public’s awareness of the seriousness of this issue. We cannot allow the media’s  deliberate inattention to climate change to blind us to our responsibility to the next generation to view climate change as an urgent matter needing our active attention.

DEMOCRACY

Amy Goodman, the voice of Democracy Now, has an article here courtesy of Rabble.ca about how the truth and it’s messengers are facing suppression and punishment respectively in the United States.

David McNally, professor at York University in Toronto, has this interesting short article in an online publication called The Bullet about the unfolding battle in Greece, the birthplace of the democratic ideal, between the forces of democracy and international finance. Brings to mind the observations and lessons in Naomi Klein’s book, The Shock Doctrine–The Rise of Disaster Capitalism.

Bruce Cox of Greenpeace brings to the attention of Stephen Harper that the the right to dissent is an essential element of a thriving democracy in this article in the Toronto Globe and Mail.

It is amazing to me how George Monbiot can write with such clarity and purpose about complex matters as he does in this piece: Plutocracy-Pure and Simple. He exposes the machinations of uncontrolled and unregulated right wing so-called think tanks which are completely dedicated to protecting the interests of the corporate elite at the expense of general society.

The last word in this section of this post goes to Christine at 350 or bust who has an excellent article here about the sorry state of present day Canadian politics.

CRIME

On September 10th,2011 a female teenager was gang raped in a rural area outside of Vancouver. This young woman was not only raped  but the rape was also captured on a smart phone and shared on social media. An absolute horror for this young woman. The crime remains unsolved because according to the RCMP no witness will step forward to speak up. On Feb.26th,2012 the Toronto Globe and Mail published an editorial entitled ” The Code of Silence”  denouncing the cowardice of the witnesses for not stepping forward on behalf of the victim. The editorial goes on to sound the alarm that the lack of cooperation by the witnesses to not come forward calls into question our presumed loyalty to one of the most fundamental principles of a civilized and democratic society and that is the rule of law and our presumed agreement with each other to live by this norm. This was a horrific criminal act with many witnesses and those witnesses have a moral and legal obligation to speak up. If they do not  then we have a serious problem. The Globe and Mail editorial is here.

U.S. POLITICS

Chris Hedges is an American journalist and writer  who is so pissed off at Barack Obama that he is suing the U.S.President. He is doing so because the U.S. President has signed into law authority  for the U.S. Army to indefinitely detain without trial any U.S. citizen they deem to be a bad guy. A severe blow to U.S. civil liberties. The website truthdig has this story here. P.S. –while you are on truthdig check out their story about Iran “10 Myths Driving the Push for War with Iran”.

GOOD NEWS

A pleasing story about exchanging polluting and harmful kerosene lamps for solar lights from the website grist–a real boon for children and their families living in poor circumstances.

A story from Environmental News Network indicates we maybe on the brink of a battery breakthrough for electric vehicles like the Leaf and Volt which will greatly expand their operating range making electric cars an affordable and smart choice for buyers and the environment. Don’t tell ESSO!

A Nation Of Sheep Begets a Government Of Wolves

Thank You for Reading

Barry Beaupre—-Reviewer and Editor


KLEIN, MONBIOT, HANSEN, SARAH VAN GELDER, GOOD NEWS

This post features four articles written by four very insightful individuals. The first piece is by Naomi Klein, author of The Shock Doctrine, writing on the  interplay between capitalism and it’s guardians and our need to challenge the hegemony of presently structured capitalism if we are going to be able to muster the political will and power to meet the threat of climate change. The second is by George Monbiot, journalist with the Guardian newspaper, about something we don’t give much thought to and that is the growing use of drone technology to kill people. These machines are designed to kill anybody, anywhere, anytime and the trigger finger answers to no one. Brings to mind the drone kill scene in the 2005 movie Syriana.  The third article is by James Hansen of NASA chronicling the court battle to expose the financial backers of a major British climate change denier group/website. The last article of note is by Sarah Van Gelder, editor of YES!Magazine, reminding us that though things may look a tad bleak the forces of positive change are gathering strength and now is not the time to lessen our efforts. Who knows, maybe 2012 will become known as the North American and European Spring.

NAOMI KLEIN

Her piece is called Capitalism vs The Climate and was published in November 2011 in the publication, The Nation. Don’t be put off by the length of the article as there are a number of natural breaks to allow you to come and go without losing sense of the flow. As usual with Naomi Klein writings she has the skill to break down complex issues into manageable bites. The reward of reading this article is well worth the reading investment. Courtesy of The Nation here is Ms.Klein’s article.

GEORGE MONBIOT

Mr.Monbiot’s chilling article about the increasing development and use of killer drones is called Divine Injustice and appears on his website here. There certainly is a case to be made that these stealth killing machines operating with little or no accountability are essentially weapons of terror and oppression. Should they not be just as illegal as land mines and cluster bombs?

JAMES HANSEN

His article courtesy of climateprogress.org which is here  offers an insight into the politics of climate change and the battle to expose the financial backers of the anti climate change propaganda machine. A real eyeopener to the behind the scenes fight to develop a unity of purpose to tackle climate change.

SARAH VAN GELDER

Her article found here  on Huffingtonpost.com entitled Corporate Rule Is Not Inevitable  is an uplifting and hopeful message that there is plenty of evidence that corporate rule and the legal construct  that corporations are people are quickly losing credence with the general population in the U.S. (Canada to??). She points to a road ahead which will help get us to a place where human needs and values take precedence over the greed of corporations and the international wealthy class.

VERY GOOD NEWS FOR WHALES

Ecojustice, has won a significant if not landmark court case before the Federal Court of Appeal. The court ruled that the Federal Government has an absolute duty and responsibility to protect the habitat of the whale population off the coast of B.C. The court had harsh words for the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. Read about this wonderful victory in Ecojustice’s own words here.

WE HAVE NOT INHERITED THE EARTH FROM OUR PARENTS BUT RATHER WE ARE BORROWING IT FROM OUR CHILDREN

Thank you for reading,

Barry Beaupre, Editor


NORTHERN PIPELINE—DEMOCRACY—CLIMATE CHANGE—CITIZENS CLIMATE LOBBY—IRAN/SYRIA—-GOOD NEWS

THE GLOVES ARE OFF

In a democracy the people have the right and responsibility to speak up on issues of importance. From time to time certain issues arise which generate a great deal of concern attracting wide spread active interest by individuals and organizations. Such an issue is upon us now and for we Canadians it is the Enbridge Gateway pipeline project. Many are speaking up publicly and at the environmental review hearing  expressing their concerns and opposition to this project. This is a very complex issue because it is not just about a pipeline. It also involves the environmental, health, political and economic consequences of an expanding Tar Sands, the implications for climate change, the potential for an environmental disaster at sea off the B.C. coast and the question of whether First Nations will be allowed to exercise their sovereign right to decide what happens on their land.  The Harper government has been very aggressive in it’s support for the project–so aggressive that the neutrality and creditability of the review hearings has now been thrown into doubt. Equally if not more troubling have been the attacks on those opposed to the project by the Harper government. The opposition has been vilified, demonized and accused of being radicals and enemies of the state. Environmental and public interests groups have had their charitable status and funding threatened. This is all very chilling. This seems more like the behaviour of certain nasty governments of the Middle East and not of a Western democracy. We need to be much more attentive to the health of our democracy. Let’s don’t allow our democratic right to speak out and dissent slip away due to the bullying of the Harper Government.

ENBRIDGE NORTHERN GATEWAY PIPELINE PROJECT

Gerald Amos of the Haisla First Nation of B.C. has written an incisive article published by terracedaily.ca wherein he directly addresses and confronts the undemocratic tactics used by the Prime Minister against those opposed to the Enbridge project. He does so with wisdom and eloquence.

Matt Price writing for huffingtonpost.ca links the great loss of manufacturing jobs in Ontario to the very high value of the Canadian dollar due to the ever expanding Tar Sands. He argues that we now essentially have a petro dollar which is undermining our export markets for manufactured goods causing the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs especially in Ontario and Quebec. He is of the few we now suffer from the Dutch disease. What say the Ontario Minister of Finance?

Caitlyn Vernon of Sierra Club B.C. courtesy of rabble.ca shares her passionate concern about the environmental, climatic and social impacts of this proposed project and her great unease about the attitude of the Harper government to those opposed to the project. She brings to our attention the need for us all to look at this project and the planned expansion of the Tar Sands in the context of our values and principles, determine what is right and then act accordingly.

DEMOCRACY IN CANADA

Will Oremus, reporter for Slate the U.S. online news organization, has written an interesting article about the potential fearful future of  Canadian politics as we come ever closer to becoming a petro-state. Mr. Oremus touches on all the nasty implications of what it means to be a petro-state for our democratic values and the overall health of our economy. A cautionary tale for we Canadians as the needs of Big Oil and the Tar Sands monopolize our politics and economy.

Rabble.ca, a Canadian online news organization, recently featured a hard hitting article by Murray Dobbin about the unfolding quasi dictatorship of the Harper government. The article offers a sobering view of what an unfettered Harper majority (in seats only– not popular vote) for the foreseeable future will mean for the state of our democracy. The article is not all doom and gloom in that he does suggest a strategy to counter the Harper agenda which we all need to think on if we want a different Canada than offered by the Harper government.

One of the significant impediments to having a House of Commons which is reflective of the popular vote is our antiquated electoral system. Our traditional and present electoral system was designed for a two party state which as we know is no longer the case. This antiquated electoral process is what  allowed  the Conservative party to get a majority of the seats in the House of Commons with a minority of the popular vote. This traditional electoral method called  “first past the post” is in desperate need of  transformation to some type of Proportional Representation which would allow for the House of Commons to be reflective of the popular vote. In fact a movement to Proportional Representation may well increase voter participation as people would feel that finally their vote really will count.  This article though a bit dated by Radha Jhappan, Professor at Carleton University, published by Rabble.ca this past April (one month prior to the last federal election) offers a good primer on this serious democratic deficit.

CLIMATE CHANGE

A timely reminder on how climate change can impact you and your neighbourhood can be found in this short PBS video chronicling the large number of extreme weather events in 2011 in the United States. A very rude awakening awaits when one adds to this mix the great floods and droughts which happened in 2011 in other parts of the planet.

Former U.S. Senator Ted Kaufman addressed the issue of Climate Change in an article for the Wilmington News Journal available here courtesy of huffingtonpost.com calling for 2012 to be the year that addressing Climate Change no matter how difficult becomes the urgent priority of all decision makers. He notes that a review of all the scientific evidence clearly shows we must act and do so now if we are to avoid an unpleasant future.

Ted Kaufman’s message has started to resonate for the organized environmental movement in North America as witnessed by the radical actions of the pipeline opposition this past year. But the forces of the Climate Change deniers and the free market adherents to Darwinian capitalism remain equally radicalized and entrenched in their positions that climate change is not caused by human behaviour and therefore no action need be taken to change our collective ways. Auden Schendler, V.P. of Sustainability at Aspen Skiing Company addresses this Gordian knot as he calls it in this short article for the Atlantic magazine. To quote Mr. Schendler, “we start 2012 with an unprecedented understanding of climate science and the consequences of warming, and at the same time seemingly irreconcilable differences on what to do, a Gordian Knot of a problem”. As with Ted Kaufman he notes the science is clear and unequivocal and now is the time for political acceptance across all boundaries that Climate Change is a real and present danger. Unfortunately he does leave us swinging in the wind on how we are going to break this great impasse.

CITIZENS CLIMATE LOBBY

Breaking this impasse and getting to a position where we really are taking the major steps needed to deal with this arriving crisis of climate change/warming is going to depend on the collective initiative and energy we the citizens bring to the table. We clearly cannot await on our politicians for leadership on this issue. The drive and leadership to rise to the challenge is going to have to come from ordinary people. If you have arrived at this same conclusion and  want to work with other ordinary people to meet this challenge you may wish to check out a group called Citizens Climate Lobby. This is a growing grass roots organization dedicated to offering regular people an organized way to work together in order  to take the lead on dealing with climate change. If interested go to http://citizensclimatelobby.ca

IRAN AND SYRIA

The War Drums are beating! We are told that Iran is a grave threat to Western civilization and Israel and must be attacked. The antidote to this propaganda is this article by Gerald Caplan in the Globe and Mail who does a great job of exposing the geo political machinations behind the Israeli government’s obsession with wanting to attack Iran and be damned the consequences. Even though other Israeli leaders and decision makers see the insanity of doing such a thing Obama and Harper apparently do not.

Leave it to Gwynne Dyer to shed light on the unfolding tragedy of an imploding Syria while the dysfunctional security council of the U.N. flounders about searching for a way to honour the U.N. pledge to protect innocent populations from their own murderous governments.

GOOD NEWS AND A LAUGH

Short article from thinkprogress.org about the commitment and planning by the State of Vermont to have 90% of their energy needs met by renewables by 2050. Let’s hope they become an example for other jurisdictions.

Thanks to 350orbust.wordpress.com for this link to a very funny Rick Mercer satirical retort to Harper’s fears of radicals.

THANKS FOR READING

Edited by Barry Beaupre


POST DURBAN–CRIME AND PUNISHMENT–ATTAWAPISKAT–STATE OF DEMOCRACY–CLIMATE–GOOD NEWS

MORE POST DURBAN COMMENT

The failure of meaningful progress at the climate conference in Durban will be with us for a long, long time. There appears to be plenty of blame to be shared for this failure judging from the following views. Gwynne Dyer is very straight forward with his condemnation that the conference was a total bust and points the finger at not only the rich north (that’s us!) but surprisingly also India. Thanks to Vancouver’s online news source straight.com for the Dyer article here. Amy Goodman, the voice of democracynow.org, writing for rabble.ca notes the creative anger of the youth delegates at the conference in the face of the intransigence of the major polluters to control their CO2 emissions which if left unchecked will doom Africa to climate disaster–she refers to it as climate apartheid. Amy Goodman’s article thanks to rabble.ca is here. Our third comment is from Graham Saunders of Thunder Bay, a well known environmentalist and writer on all things weather, about the shameful behaviour of the Canadian government at the conference. His article–Setting the Stage for Climate Chaos–is found here on the blog of John Bennett, the director of the Sierra Club of Canada. While you are there check out their work.

CRIME AND PUNISHMENT

Two recent articles in the Toronto Globe and Mail have interesting perspectives on the war on drugs and impact of the omnibus crime bill on Canadian society. The article on the futility of the so-called war on drugs and the need to think seriously about the legalization of marijuana by Neil Reynolds is here. Sandy White’s article is about how the omnibus crime bill of the Harper government is far to regressive even for many Harper supporters in that the abandonment of the working principles of rehabilitation and re-intergration  far outweigh any potential good in the legislation. The article is here.

ABORIGINAL ISSUES

The continuing to unfold story of Attawapiskat is all to often a story driven by the voices of non-natives and the propaganda machine of the  federal government. We hear very little of what the aboriginal community has to say about what is the history and present day reality  of Attawapiskat. Pamela Palmater’s article courtesy of Rabble.ca reveals the trail of broken promises and misinformation of the federal government contrasted with the actual history of what has unfolded over the years to this community. This is also a story of the bravery of the community members of this first nation and Chief Theresa Spence who are standing up to the Harper government and demanding justice and fair play. Dr. Palmater’s article is here. A second article also courtesy of rabble .ca is by Lorraine Land who contrasts the resources available on a per capita basis to the citizens of Toronto versus what is available to a small community like Attawaiskat. Ms. Land makes the amusing point that if Attawapiskat’s financial situation calls for third party management then the same should hold true for Toronto and even the Federal government both of which carry debt and operate in deficit. Lorraine land’s article is here.

OLDER THAN AMERICA  is a powerful film produced by a native film production company in the U.S. This feature length dramatic movie is about the tragic events that happened at an Indian Residential School and the courage of a native woman who unearths the truth. Well worth watching. The movie is available through itunes and netflix.

THE OCCUPY MOVEMENT

Naomi Klein gave a speech at Occupy Wall Street in New York this past October. She spoke about how important this movement is and that it is vital the struggle against inequality and the undemocratic power of the 1% be maintained. Her speech can be found on her website here. Bill McKibben, the author of Eaarth and founder of 350.org, has written an inspired article about our need to fight back against corporate greed and the highjacking of the democratic process by big money–this is a piece deserving to be shared far and wide with those who care about our collective future. His article is courtesy of truthdig.com and is here. Duncan Cameron writing at rabble.ca has an excellent review of the movie Margin Call. For those of you who have not seen this film it provides an inside look at the amorality and machinations of Wall Street financiers. In a way a dramatization of the documentary Inside Job. The review is here.

CLIMATE CHANGE

Wangari Maathai, founder of the Green Belt Movement, has an article here in the Guardian newspaper about the impact the drought in East Africa has had on the forest ecology of that part of the world contributing to widespread famine and great suffering.  The reality of climate change is not a matter of personal opinion or what we may find to be comfortable to accept but is rather an inevitable matter of scientific fact and logic. The accumulating impact of CO2 molecules in the atmosphere doesn’t give a fart what we wish to believe.  More CO2 means more heat which means a world of hurt will define our future.  The following two articles lay this premise out fair and square. David Roberts’ article in grist.org titled Logic of Climate Change just leaves you stunned about the enormity of the climate change challenge and our seeming inability to comprehend the great urgency we need to bring to the fore to reduce and limit our CO2 emissions RIGHT NOW! The second article on this same theme reflects the observations and evidence of a working scientist from the climate change field of study. Thanks to thinkprogress.org for this article about Lonnie Thompson’s work on climate change.

GOOD NEWS

For years we have been hearing a constant stream of bad news stories about the unbridled destruction of the Amazon rainforest. Well, according to this story from the BBC those days may well be behind us thanks to the aggressive work of the Brazilian government. For those of you who have an interest in solar energy as a technology and as a vital component of the growing green renewable energy mosaic  this story  courtesy of scienceprogress.org will no doubt be very pleasant news. Perhaps a green energy investment for your green portfolio?

The computer and social media industry use a lot of energy and south of the border a lot of that electrical energy comes from burning coal–not good for all living things and the future of human civilization. This very good story  covered by thinkis how Greenpeace is working with Facebook to help them “unfriend” big coal and start sourcing all of their energy needs from green renewables such as the above mentioned solar. You gotta give credit to Greenpeace for initiating this campaign and to Facebook for having the wisdom and business acumen to change their behaviour.

THANK YOU FOR READING

edited by Barry Beaupre


CLIMATE AND DURBAN–CRIME BILL–DEMOCRACY–ABORIGINAL ISSUES–GOOD NEWS

CLIMATE CHANGE AND THE DURBAN PLATFORM

The Durban U.N. Climate Change Conference concluded with a deal called the Durban Platform which was thrashed out after marathon last minute negotiations. This last minute deal making  literally happened in scrums on the conference floor as the delegates fought sleep deprivation and psychological exhaustion.

Below are  links to two short articles about the scientific and political urgency of the climate change challenge which was clearly known to all delegates and governments when the conference started. The two articles offer some context from which we can judge  whether the the representative governments were up to the task of meeting the urgency of the challenge before them at the conference. The first link is here from the BBC which outlines the scientific reasoning for why there needs to be a sense of great urgency about the need to reduce our CO2 emissions now and not at some future date. The second link is to a National Geographic synopsis found here  of a recent report from the International Energy Agency  which states very explicitly that we are on the verge of severe climate change impacts if we don’t bring down our emissions ASAP.

The following two links review and critique the outcome of the conference to see if the Deal met the challenge as outlined by the BBC and the International Energy Agency. The BBC provides an overview which is here of what was accomplished at the conference and a critique is offered here by David Carrington, an environment blogger for the Guardian. According to these two observers the conference missed the mark big time!

The last word for today on this topic is an interesting opinion piece in the Toronto Star by Stephen Scharper, a University of Toronto associate professor of environment on the behaviour or mind set of the wealthy with regard to the climate change issue. The article, Gated Ecology is here.

OMNIBUS CRIME BILL

As a follow up to our last posting regarding the Government’s Omnibus Crime Bill C-10 the following is the opinion of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association about this particular piece of legislation. The link to the CCLA opinion is here. In addition the Globe and Mail had a short article in their Dec.8th edition by Kirk Makin about the concerns a retired senior Department of Justice official has about this bill. The globe article is here.

DEMOCRACY

Thanks to thinkprogess.org for providing the following video on the state of Democracy by Bill Moyers of PBS fame-now retired. Bill Moyers makes the case that the U.S. is no longer a democracy  but is rather a Plutocracy–rule of the rich for the rich. The video is here.

ABORIGINAL ISSUES

In a recent article the Toronto Star reported on the surveillance and spying the RCMP has been carrying out against First Nation organizations as they carry out their democratic right to protect and advance their interests. The Star article is here.

The following is a dramatic video produced by Thunderstone Pictures of Thunder Bay chronicling the heartache and pain of a young Native woman as she recovers from addiction and then moves on to rebuild her life and become a community leader. Thanks to  netnewsledger.com of Thunder Bay for airing this video which is here. A visit to http://www.thunderstonepictures.com and netnewsledger is well worth the time.

GOOD NEWS

Cutting down on the destruction of our atmosphere by reducing the use of fossil fuels is dependent on the development of alternate and safer energy supply sources. The good news is the the work to develop and provide non carbon based alternative energy/fule sources appears to be growing quickly. An L.A. Times article found here reports that renewable energy investment in the U.S. is higher than investment in the fossil fuel industry. A recent report by IEA covered in a reuter’s report here is optimistic ( yes, not a mistake, optimistic) that the clean renewable energy sector is growing quickly and has the strong potential to start replacing our reliance on carbon based fuel systems. For Ontario I think it fair to say the renewable energy sector is growing and thanks is to be given to the Green Energy Act which does subsidize the emerging green energy industry through the feed-in tariff. This levels the playing field with the fossil fuel industry which receives many direct and indirect subsidies and still does not fairly cost out it’s products by incorporating into price the environmental damage caused by the CO2 emissions and other chemical pollutants released when their products are used.

If you are interested in being engaged with many other citizens of the Planet in the process of getting to a more equal, just and sustainable future culminating in a people’s summit in Rio in June 2012 check out THE FUTURE WE WANT.

Thanks for reading,

Reviewer and Editor—Barry Beaupre


IRAN–INEQUALITY–FIRST NATIONS–JUSTICE–CLIMATE CHANGE–GOOD NEWS&HUBBLE

THE WAR DRUMS ARE BEING DUSTED OFF–TARGET IRAN!

It’s that time again when capitalism needs a good war to try to get the economic juices and jingoism flowing again. Leave it to Gwynne Dyer, the international affairs writer to expose this very obvious “march to war” public relations campaign. His article is here.

THREE VIEWS ON THE  IMPACT OF ECONOMIC INEQUALITY

The drive behind the OWS movement is the awakening realization that economic inequality in North America is becoming ever deeper and increasingly entrenched. This widespread inequality and it’s attendant negative consequences are well illustrated in two articles by Alex Himelfarb on his blog at http://afhimelfarb.wordpress.com/. His article about taxes is a good reminder of that old adage that taxes are the fee we pay to live in a civilized society–it can be found here. He has also has a very good article here about the inevitable negative consequences of unchecked economic inequality to our collective quality of life.

Richard Wilkinson, co-author with Kate Pickett of the book The Spirit Level–Why Equality is Better for Everyone, has an 18 minute talk on the TED lecture series reviewing their research findings that  economic inequality is the breeding ground for lots of bad stuff we don’t want if we want to maintain a healthy, just and non-violent country. A well spent 18minutes. When I viewed it the counter was at 520,000 views. The video is here.

George Monbiot has an insightful article about the self deception of the rich that they deserve their incredible riches and political power because they have worked so very hard for it–Mr. Monbiot calls this the The Self-Attribution Fallacy and it is a good read here.

THE TOUGH ON CRIME LEGISLATION–WHERE’S THE JUSTICE?

The Toronto Star recently published this article by Kirk Tousaw called Targeting Mrs. B. illustrating the absurd impact the Harper  Government’s tough on crime legislation will have on the sentencing prerogatives of Judges which is an essential element of ensuring that each case is decided in a just manner. Mandatory minimum sentencing will lead to already over crowded prisons being filled to way over capacity with those convicted for non-violent or marginal crimes who presently are sentenced to perform community service or have imposed probation like restrictions but still remain within the general community and not behind bars. The impact of this legislation on youth and on the aboriginal community will be very hurtful. The over representation of aboriginal men and women in the present day prison system is already scandalize enough! If this matter is of concern to you check out the website http://www.whyprohibition.ca/. The good news on this front is that opposition is growing to this legislation.The Quebec Provincial government is very angry about the content of the legislation and the lack of consultation and is indicating that it has no intention of cooperating with the Harper government to implement the provisions of this proposed new law.

FIRST NATION STRUGGLES

First nations of Northern B.C. are in the front lines opposing the construction of pipelines through their territory designed to  bring natural gas  to Kitimat on the B.C. coast to be loaded on to huge LNG ships to be delivered to Eastern markets. The particular pipeline they are opposing is Pacific Trails Pipeline. Their struggle has already started with the eviction of pipeline construction workers from their land. Thanks to our friends at The Common Sense Canadian website for this story which is here.

While First Nations show leadership and courage fighting to protect their land their internal, community life on reserve can be very grim and difficult. This article in the Globe and Mail by Gloria Galloway chronicles the very grim story of the state of education in First Nation communities.The Globe and Mail article is here.

CLIMATE CHANGE

The process of climate change/global warming/climate destabilization (call it what you will) continues to evolve.  The news on this front ( weak pun intended) is not good. We continue to play Russian roulette with the very future of our species. It would appear greed, avarice and ingrained inertia continue to rule the day. We definitely need a political and cultural paradim shift in order centre all our creative energies on getting to a solar future/alternative energy future ASAP.

The two most recent wakeup calls about how serious our situation is are a CBC  story on the increasing propensity for extreme weather with dire consequences for those on the receiving end of these weather events and a recent report of U.S. Dept. of Energy sounding the alarm about a steep spike in the levels of green house gas emissions when in order to save our bacon we need to be lowering such levels ASAP. Just when you thought you could relax and all would be well!!!!!! CBC story here and thanks to AlterNet for the story here on the very troubling findings of the U.S. Dept. of Energy.

NOW SOME GOOD NEWS AND A WONDERFUL VIDEO FROM HUBBLE

Paul Krugman, columnist for the New York Times, has written a good news article about the growing viability of solar energy. He argues that solar energy is now very cost effective and very doable. You can read his opinion here.

Hydroponics is a growing industry which has the capacity to grow lots of food year round in an urban setting as this article about a large operation in New York City points out. Could this be a food production model for other urban areas and small isolated communities?

As we toil about on this small planet this youtube video called A Space Journey taken by the Hubble Space Telescope of  planet Earth and the universe brings some perspective and is quite humbling.

Until the next posting–all the best.

Reviewer and Editor–Barry Beaupre

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