Climate Change Primer

What you are about to read is not a fairy tale or a love story. I am a cynical optimist, and I will not lie to our children. It is time to stop telling them that our environmental efforts are going to, as one local eco-organization states, “reverse Global Warming for a brighter world for our kids.”

Today, April 1, 2019, is officially dubbed “Fossil Fool’s Day” in honour of Premier Doug Ford’s cancellation of our international Cap and Trade program for carbon pricing. As a result of his government’s environmental illiteracy, all Ontarian’s will have to pay more for carbon based fuels. The planet will have to pay more in the long run.

The premier is not worried. The fuel for his new pimped-up SUV, dubbed “Car Farce One”, is taxpayer subsidized. But Dirty Doug is really only an extreme example of our failure to deal with a planet under stress. The real issue is our inability to understand the scope of the issues and to address them realistically.

First, we are dealing with accelerating climate change, of which global warming is only one component. Secondly, nothing we as humans can do now will reverse accelerating climate change. If we had seriously wanted to do that, we should have started decades ago when the World Meteorological Association announced in 1988: “Humanity is conducting an unintended, uncontrolled, globally pervasive experiment, whose ultimate consequences are second only to global nuclear war.

The most we can do now is mitigate the impacts of that experiment.

The total sum of our environmental efforts right now will be to set a good example for surviving future generations, to leave a legacy that at least we tried to be intelligent beings on Earth. In the cosmic scale of things, the tiny flicker of time that is our human existence means nothing to the planet. Earth has gone through global cycles of freeze and thaw for millennia before humans appeared. The only difference now is that we did this one to ourselves.

This current state of climate change has not been caused by meteoric impact or volcanic eruption, but by one species consumption of stored solar energy from fossilized plants. A species whose population soared from 7 million to 7 billion in the blink of a cosmic eye – in my lifetime alone from 1946, the world’s population of humans has almost quadrupled. We are a species whose consumptive habits may have bankrupted the resources of life for future generations of all living things. Then again, Earth has kicked back from previous pre-human Extinction Events. The planet will correct our abuses all on its own.

We need to stop telling our children that it’s going to get better. Thanks to the Internet they know we are lying. It’s not going to get better if we continue consuming like 1%er trophy hunters. Start teaching them how to live elegantly with less. All the Prius drivers in the world won’t reverse global warming but at least we’ll look honourable trying. The planet will go into the next cooling phase regardless of our meagre efforts. In the interim, the goals of teaching our children to seek a brighter future should be about living happily in a caring conserver society in whatever time we have left. Period.

The pot of gold isn’t at the end of the rainbow – it is the rainbow.

The way I see it.

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Skid Crease, Caledon

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*image from, ironically, axethecarbontax.ca

Aggravating Aggregates

Well, just when you thought it was safe to go back on the Oak Ridges Moraine and hike in Ontario’s Protected Greenbelt … the day was Friday, March 29, a sunny cool morning …

There I was riding my trusty old bike in for a spring tune-up at the North Hub Bike Shop on Healey Road when I came across a quiet meeting being held at Bolton’s Hampton Inn.  A small group of environmentally concerned citizens were out in front protesting a meeting going on behind closed doors between politicians and industry representatives, apparently with the goal of opening up the Moraine and Greenbelt to unfettered aggregate extraction. Rumours ran wild.

Those pesky “red tape” items like the Endangered Species Act, and the Clean Water Act, and any Act that might interfere with Doug Ford’s “Open For Business” mantra were said to be on the “exemptions for extractors” list.

In attendance were Caledon’s Mayor Allan Thompson, and Susan Foxton, Mayor of North Dumfries, and Sylvia Jones Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services (MPP for Dufferin-Caledon), , and John Yakabuski Minister of Natural Resources (MPP for Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke), and his Parliamentary Assistant Toby Barrett (MPP for Haldimand-Norfolk), and Steve Clark Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MPP for Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes), and Dave Smith (MPP for Peterborough-Kawartha), and a couple of aggregate industry representatives, a few government and corporate staffers, and some police. There was no public admission to these discussions.

That’s 2 Municipal Mayors, 5 Conservative MPPs, 4 Ministers, and aggregate industry lobbyists/representatives behind closed doors in a private meeting in little old Bolton. My spidey senses were tingling, but not having my Press Pass with me, I only talked briefly with the very well behaved “protesters”, let the hotel staff know that I was passing on a hello to our Mayor, and left. On foot. My bike won’t be ready until Tuesday. That I know for sure. What I may never know for sure are the details of that meeting.

Those details should be made public. That is the best way to avoid the ridiculous rumours that back room handshake deals were being concocted at secret meetings. I mean, seriously, what idiots would compromise the integrity of the Greenbelt Act and the sanctity of the Oak Ridges Moraine. Seriously.

But just in case, keep an eye on this one, Caledon. When Schedule 10 was exorcised from Bill 66, I predicted the end runs would begin. At this point, no one knows what was discussed behind closed doors at the Hampton Inn in Bolton, so follow the money. Regardless, the citizens of Caledon need to make crystal clear to government and industry: you can develop and extract all you want … within the strictest of environmental guidelines, honouring that “red tape” that prevents rape and pillage, and protects our waters and land and all species for seven generations to come.

Caledon is Open for Environmentally Literate and Ethical Sustainable Development. Period.

The way I see it.

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Skid Crease, Caledon

  • image from inthehills.ca

Balancing the Egginox

Two decades ago when I met my wife, she introduced me to a ceremony of balancing eggs on their ends at the exact moment of equal day and night in our portion of the northern hemisphere. I scoffed internally, but, out of love and half asleep, went along with the 2:00 am ceremony.

When at the exact moment of the Equinox, my egg snapped to attention, upright and perfectly balanced, almost like a gravitational field had pulled it upright, I was blown away. I became a believer. For every year since on the equinox in spring and fall, I have balanced my eggs.

Sometimes they stand for several days before toppling over, as usually happened when our then young son ran through the dining room. But never a year when the eggs did not balance.

Now some have suggested that, with extreme patience and a little glue, you can balance an egg on its end at any time of the year. Heresy! Consider the science of this. The axis of Earth is at 90º to the sun only twice a year in our tiny part of the world. Balance is perfect. No wonder the ancients took this time to cleanse, restore balance in their lives and begin to spin stories of the rebirth of the Sun King. It’s all geography.

That’s why the federal government released its budget this week … everything in balance, Well, for sure by 2023 … on the egginox.

You may laugh, but this afternoon, at exactly 5:58 p.m. eastern time, I will be at our dining room table, balancing our free-run, organic, Omega 3 enriched Golden Girl  eggs. I may not have faith in Conservative politicians, or in organized religions, but I have seen the Egginox light. And I believe!

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p.s. You think we don’t have Passover eggs and Easter eggs for a reason? Really?

 

* image from snopes.com

 

Yellow Vests, White Pests

 When the Yellow Vest Convoy rolled across Canada under the disguise of protesting an atmosphere saving price on carbon, every sane citizen in the country should have thrown their bodies across the highways to block the trucks. This climate change denying, xenophobic parade of pollution spewing  fossil fools should have been turned back to sink in the tar sands.

Instead, they will idle their trucks for a few days in the nation’s capital, get their undeserved CBC talking heads exposure, sensational front page headlines in the Sun for a few days, and two thumbs up from Andrew Scheer as he bottom feeds for votes.

Yes, wearing their true blue MAGA (Make Alberta Great Again) caps, the “United We Roll” mob will stomp and puff out their chests and chant until the diesel fuel runs out, at which point most of the audience will have passed away from toxic fumes. Just mention the words “Liberal and National Energy Program” in the same breath to a pre-Paleolithic Albertan, and you will spawn a Convoy.

Now, keep in mind that some of my favourite memories and old friends are from Alberta, and probably much of the fossil fuel I burned for years driving around the country. That was then and this is now. Alberta can’t hold the country hostage for wasting the legacy that Peter Lougheed saved up in the Heritage Fund.

Also keep in mind that the Yellow Vest organizers acknowledge that there were more than Albertans in the United We Roll Convoy as confirmed by Ontario’s Sault Ste. Marie  Yellow Vest organizer who referred to Canada’s immigration Minister as an “ugly n*****” responsible for flooding Canada with useless n***** muslim terrorists.” You get known by the company you keep, good truckers everywhere.

Nor does anyone deny that Alberta should be resurrected as an energy giant in Canada, If half the “energy” that the organizers put into this convoy went into transforming the oil extraction and pipeline sector into high tech renewables, the problem would be solved. Like when the blacksmith’s shops became mechanics garages that became computer analysis workstations. Change is inevitable.

However, the resistance to this change requiring job retraining and infrastructure transformation is at least more palatable than the white nationalist and white supremacist core of the Yellow Vest Convoy. Yellow Vests Canada bears little resemblance to the movement that started in France to protest growing fuel prices. In Canada, the Great White North, its goal is to quell immigration, not sign the United Nations’ migration pact, and stop carbon taxes and a sustainable development agenda.

In other words it is racist, environmentally illiterate, and dangerous.

It’s one thing to cheer for the good old roughneck who has to go back to school; it’s totally another thing to cheer for the fascists carrying the tiki torches.

The way I see it.

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Skid Crease, Caledon

*image from jwnenergy.com

Himalayan Meltdown

The latest NASA Climate briefing contained the usual news about ocean warming, and sea level rise, and Arctic sea ice reduction, and polar vortex surges and more violent storms expected. But tucked away in all of this good news was an item that bothered me the most.

The Himalayan glaciers are disappearing at an increasing rate and expected to be gone by the end of the century. This is the tallest mountain range on the planet, the child of a great tectonic plate shift eons ago. The fresh water that flows off these glaciers doesn’t just inspire National Geographic calendars and yuppie expeditions.

To quote from the National Academy of Sciences Atmospheric Sciences and Climate Board: “The Hindu-Kush Himalayan region extends over 2,000 km across South Asia and includes all or parts of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Nepal, and Pakistan. The region is the source of many of Asia’s major rivers, including the Indus, Ganges and Brahmaputra.”

Beyond concerns for planetary ecology, those waters and rivers replenish wells and irrigation systems for millions of people.

Teachers: here’s a good math lesson for your class. How many people live in those countries? Or a health question: What are the four basic needs of life? Or a geography/history question: What caused the collapse of the Fertile Crescent civilizations, the French Revolution, the Arab Spring uprisings, and the Syrian civil war?

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to calculate the social upheaval caused by millions of  hungry environmental refugees seeking water, food, shelter, and empathy on the remaining high dry lands of our Home Planet.

Add into this mix the news that 2018 was the fourth hottest year on record, and all five of the hottest years have occurred in the last five years. Stir in the United Nations Annual Food Security report that chronic hunger continues to be on the rise for millions of the world’s population. The conclusion is that if we exceed a 2ºC rise in global temperature, accelerating climate change will push us to a point of overshoot. In biological terms that means a whole lot of people are going to die from famine and the social chaos that follows.

The far religious right loves this scenario. Taking the world into Armageddon will only hasten the Second Coming and won’t The Rapture be delightful. However, speaking for all of the billions and billions of organisms on the Planet not enrolled in organized apocryphal religions, I’d rather not take the chance. We’ve been through serious mass extinctions before and the road to recovery is long and hard.

We have had all the information we needed to act wisely and well way from back in June of 1988 when the World Meteorological Organization announced: “Humanity is conducting an unintended, uncontrolled, globally pervasive experiment on the atmosphere of Earth whose ultimate consequences could be second only to a global nuclear war.” Yes, my friends, that was the conclusion of the Our Changing Atmosphere Conference in Toronto focused on global security thirty years ago.

Now, my friends, we have Doug Ford dumbing us down with his populist slogan about the “Job-Killing Carbon Tax.” As the humourous take on the lawn sign says, “Beware of Doug!” Putting a price on carbon is an absolute necessity. And strong environmental regulations. And a Polluter Pay Principle. Short term pain for seven generations gain.

I wrote several years ago that Earth is telling us, “You can pay me now, or you can pay me later.” When the bill comes, it won’t matter what our religious belief systems are. The Planet is agnostic and operates on the very simple rules of geography and ecology.

And you don’t have to take my word for it. I am just a citizen scientist and journalist. But the good people at NASA (the National Aeronautics and Space Administration), NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), the WMO (the World Meteorological Organization) and the IPCC (the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) seem to know what they are talking about. Or you can trust Doug Ford and Jason Kenney and Andrew Scheer and Donald Trump.

I’ll pass the deck, it’s your deal.

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Skid Crease, Caledon

  • image from dhakatribune.com