Thursday, September 29, 2011

Study Debunks Myths on Organic Farms

By Paul Hanley, Special to The StarPhoenix September 27, 2011
The results are in from a 30-year side-by-side trial of conventional and organic...Read more here.

Paying the Price: The Economic Impacts of Climate Change for Canada

National Round Table on Environment and Economy
Global emissions will have a price tag for Canada. Details here.
                                  The campground at Manipogo Provincial Park, still flooded after months of high water on Lk. Manitoba. PLT photo.  

"Pipe Dreams" - Why the Keystone XL Pipeline Will Be a Job Killer

Tara Lohan - Alternet Se 29-'11
Dirty energy can't hide under the false cover of jobs anymore. Details here.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Is Rex Murphy About to Damage the CBC's Reputation?

by Larry
Rex Murphy, that pompous darling of the CBC's flagship TV newscast, "The National" and CBC Radio's "Cross-Country Checkup," seems about to jump into the murky waters of climate denial.

The dishonestly named "Friends....." is actually dedicated to sowing doubt and discrediting peer-reviewed science surrounding global warming. 

According to the painstakingly-researched book, "Climate Cover-up," "Friends of Science" had its origins in the Calgary oil patch, among geologists and oil industry PR types determined to discredit the Kyoto Protocol.

The main sponsor of the event on the 29th is the "Frontier Centre for Public Policy," a conservative "think-tank." It has long been associated with Tim Ball, arguably Canada's best-known (and most infamous) climate-denier. Ball is widely believed to have been compensated by oil industry interests for his speaking tours. The same book, "Climate Cover-up" questions Ball's credentials as a climate scientist and points to his lack of peer-reviewed research into the very topic he claims to specialize in.

For Murphy to enter the fray as another "climate crank" comes as no surprise to me, personally. As a regular CBC viewer and listener, I've noticed for a long time now how he studiously ignores this pressing issue of our time, obviously holding our very climate crisis and those who support the science, in contempt.

His foray into the shark-infested waters of climate denial, peopled by cranks, contrarians, vested interests and charlatans,  will do nothing but lower the esteem many now hold for our national broadcaster.

Perhaps it's time for the CBC to sever its ties with this broadcast dinosaur, and move on!
FOOTNOTE: Someone suggested I should give Rex the benefit of the doubt and wait to hear what he has to say on the 29th. So, I did remove this post, for awhile,  until I read this. Unless the "Frontier Centre" is taking some elaborate liberties with what Rex stands for, there's little doubt, now! 
UPDATE: In its wisdom and for whatever reason,  the Frontier Centre has seen fit to remove the story to which I provided a link to, above. 

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Winnnipeg Free Press Gives Green Party Leader Top Marks in Political Leaders' Debate

Free Press Online - Sept 24 - '11 (Emphasis by PLT)
James Beddome  - What he needed to do:
When you’re largely an unknown, it’s good to make a good first impression. Most Winnipeggers are probably wondering what the Green Party of Manitoba stands for other than an obvious desire to protect the environment.
James Beddome, Leader, Green 
Party of Manitoba photo by PLT
What he accomplished:
Beddome played the perfect foil to the other three leaders and was the best performer of the night. He also got more one-liners in than the others — some were stinging.
Plus, getting equal time with the three other party leaders on provincewide television was in itself a victory.

Best sound bite:
"The reason why our (hydro) rates are being driven up is because of new developments. I’ll point out to Mr. McFadyen it’s not just Bipole III," Beddome said to Selinger. "Gary Filmon was smart enough to say no to Conawapa because he knew it would drive up our energy rates. Are you?"
Post-debate spin:
For anyone doubting the Greens, Beddome made it loud and clear they are a force to be recognized.
"I think we could change the tone of the legislature," Beddome said. "I really do. I’m hoping we can get in there. It’s going to be a push, but we’re not going anywhere one way or the other."

Read the newspaper's analysis of ALL the leaders' performances here.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Governments and the Climate Challenge - Leadership Failure Bordering on Madness

I wrote this story almost three years ago. I am re-posting it because, with the return of a "300 year-flood" like we had in 2011 - THREE YEARS AGO in Manitoba - I continue to be struck by how little things change. So-called rational leaders (and ordinary people) remain in a stupor - an unexplained state of mass delusion and denial - approaching our climate crisis from every direction but the right one. 
by Larry Powell

If a shrink were to examine the brains of North America's political leaders, what do you suppose she would find?

What parts of what lobes would be addressing the cataclysmic changes our planet's climate is undergoing?

Are the neurons of these leaders' brains actually transmitting, making them aware that Earth is going through a monumental crisis that needs their immediate attention? Or are they somehow "shorting out," as if each leader was sticking a finger in a light socket?

Here are just a few examples of what I mean.

Earth's foremost climatologist, James Hansen recently warned that it will be "game over for the climate" if the Keystone XL pipeline, planned to carry massive amounts of dirty, corrosive, dangerous tar from Alberta to the Texas Gulf Coast, goes ahead.

A group of Nobel laureates even got into the act, calling for a halt to the project.

In a sane world where science is respected, the obvious response would be, "No thank you. That's just lunacy!"

Yet, in the wacky world of politics, *President Obama actually seems poised to approve the scheme! If he does, he will surely be writing the final chapter in a book of betrayal in which he spits in the faces of all the progressive, caring people who once formed his "base." Many worked hard to actually get him elected in the first place, based on his pledge to help build a cleaner, greener world, less dependent on fossil fuels! 

Before taking office, Obama promised to reverse Washington's lack of leadership in fighting climate change, a problem he described as urgent!  Far from fulfilling that lofty promise, he now appears quite prepared, not just to dash the hopes of his political faithful, but to let the tar sands genie out of the bottle and into the lungs of a planet already under siege.

Canada's Role Also Proves Less-Than-Rational

As President Obama becomes increasingly obsessed with appeasing Republicans, Tea-Partiers and the religious right in their crusade to degrade Mother Earth herself, Canada, sadly is rushing in to prey on that weakness.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper's "operatives," are busy at work, behind the scenes, lobbying to have the President and his fellow Democrats weaken what resolve they have left to  protect America's air, water and soil.

Take Gary Doer, for example.

Acclaimed as an environmentalist when he was Premier of Manitoba (he liked to pose for photo opportunities with Arnold Schwarzenegger), Doer (now Harper's Ambassador to the US),  is selling the Keystone Pipeline with all he's got. In an interview with Canadian Press, Doer actually implies the President would be playing politics, if he rejects it! 

 (Perhaps you should look into a mirror before making such a suggestion, Mr. Ambassador!)

Meanwhile, back In Canada, we are seeing examples of behaviour on this issue which range from deceptive, at best, to corrupt, at worst. A former Canadian Ambassador to the US, Derek Burney, ranted in an interview on CBC Radio this summer against environmental groups opposed to the pipeline as being "emotional," even "violent!" He conveniently neglected to inform the CBC he is a Director of Trans Canada Pipelines, builders of the project! (After I complained to the CBC ombudsman, the Corporation apologized for the oversight.)

Then, there's Pamela Wallin.

Wallin is an un-elected member of the Canadian Senate, appointed by Stephen Harper. She was in the forefront in media interviews earlier this year, defending the Senate's move to defeat the "Climate Accountability Act" (which would have set targets for greenhouse gas emissions), without so much as a debate. It turns out, she, too is an officer in a company exploring for tar in Saskatchewan! This outrageous conflict of interest has prompted formation of a Facebook page, "Canadians Demanding the Resignation of Pamela Wallin."

Is the Climate Crisis Somehow Different in Canada? Not Really

Another of the world's top scientists, Andrew Weaver of the University of Victoria, told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation recently, "While climate change can't be blamed for specific events, the general trend is now unmistakable." Weaver warns, severe weather, including floods, once considered "100-year events," will  become more common.
Cabins on Lake Manitoba. This flood has lasted for 3 seasons now -
agonizingly long for the people who once lived or vacationed here.
(PinP photo).
Here in Manitoba, my own province, catastrophic floods have, indeed become more frequent in recent decades. 

The flooding this year, 2011, is being officially described as "unprecedented,"in terms of physical size, crop losses and duration and damage to infrastructure. Hundreds of homeowners, cabin owners, fruit, vegetable and cattle producers have lost their homes, vacation places, pasture for their herds, millions of hectares of valuable food crops and in some cases, even livelihoods. Several months after floodwaters forced evacuation of their reserve, hundreds of First Nations people are still being put up in hotels in Winnipeg.  Now "environmental refugees," they face little hope of returning to the lives they once knew, hundreds of kilometres away.

The dollar cost of "the floods of 2011" in terms of government compensation, will run into untold billions, undoubtedly a record amount.  In terms of both the depth and duration of human misery - that cost is immeasurable.

Yet, the role which climate change has almost certainly played in all of this, has gone without a mention in the campaign now underway, leading up to the provincial election here in Manitoba on October 4th! Not a mention. Political discourse has been confined to the effectiveness or otherwise of flood control dams and diversion ditches. The government's main response has been to dig a $100 million dollar ditch to relieve high water levels on Lake Manitoba. 

If this had just been part of a broader, co-ordinated attack, including an assault on greenhouse gas levels, such a response might be more rational. As a stand-alone measure, it once again points out the bankruptcy of ideas in the halls of power and a total inability to "get" the complexity of global warming.

Admittedly, Manitoba is a small jurisdiction in the overall scheme of things.

But leadership must begin somewhere. Why not here?

Manitoba - Just a Microcosm of a Worldwide Crisis
Earth is now rushing down an unknown path. Cataclysmic droughts, wildfires, floods, blizzards, hurricanes, vanishing ice-caps and glaciers, rising sea levels and heat waves, almost certainly being fuelled by man-made climate change, are becoming "the new normal."  Yet the people we elect to lead us, are nowhere to be found.

The warnings of climate scientists, now decades old, are coming true, one by one. Yet those leaders who should be "at the helm," steering us on a different path, are missing in action - **like rats from a sinking ship.

As record floods on the Canadian prairies and drought in the horn of Africa deprive millions of needed food - just as the science has foretold - our Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, is off to exotic places signing free-trade agreements or in our melting Arctic, tilting at imaginary enemies and the need for more military muscle to assert our "sovereignty." (And, of course - now that Mother Earth is being laid bare of snow and ice, the Canadian Arctic is "open for business! Send in those machines to extract the rest of the oil, gas  and minerals which lie beneath.)

And what are we to make of all of this puzzling behaviour? Two things come to mind.

Start listening to the science.

And stay away from light sockets!
*Mr. Obama has until the end of this year to say "yay" or "nay" to this misguided venture. So, it is within the realm of the possible he will still do the right thing. Go ahead, Mr. President! Make my day! Prove me wrong! I'd like nothing better!

** If exceptions can prove the rule, the province of British Columbia, which introduced a carbon tax in 2008, reports greenhouse gas emissions have decreased 2-5 % since then (although the government itself admits, complicating factors such as the worldwide recession of 2008), means those figures ought to be treated with caution. 
And regulations in California made definite improvements in pollution and GHG emissions, as well. These "exceptions," however, are way too rare.

Game Changer: Tzeporah Berman (Radio Podcast - The Current)

As a leader in the fight to save BC's Clayoquot Sound, environmentalists rallied around her while government and corporate officials called her an eco-terrorist. 

Christina Craft Photography   
And then Tzeporah Berman did the unthinkable. She negotiated with the very companies she once vilified, securing groundbreaking deals to save Old Growth Forests. Now some environmentalists consider her a sellout. Today we talk to the woman credited with changing Environmental Politics in Canada. Listen to Podcast here.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Talisman Energy Donated Big Money to a University of Calgary Climate Skeptic Fund

By Mike De Souza, Postmedia News Sept 13, 2011

OTTAWA — A major Alberta-based oil and gas company helped to kick-start an elaborate public relations project designed to cast doubt on scientific evidence linking human activity to global warming....Details here.

PLT; Below is an email I sent to Barry Cooper, an individual mentioned in the story, followed by his angry response & my own rebuttle. 
Dear Dr. Cooper,
How could an institute of higher learning, devoted to truth and justice, have become involved in such a scheme? I'd very much like to hear back from you, so I can report your response on my blog.
Thank you
Larry Powell

Hi Larry,
Who are you? Does your reference to truth and justice mean you are you an ironist? Do you know nothing at all about universities? Have you never heard of the so-called Climategate scandal? Do you know anything about the reporter who provided the story? Or are you just another boring  greenie religious fanatic? You can , of course report my report on your blog, whatever that is.

I don't pretend to represent truth & justice. But I do go for my articles to sources which are most honest & authoritative. On matters of climate, they are the Nobel-prize winning scientists of the IPCC, not the vested interests of the oil patch. 

The "climategate issue," as you really should know by now, is a dead horse. No less than two independent panels have found that nothing done there detracts from the science. 

Do you hold a degree in atmospheric science? Or is your claim to fame that you are a golfing buddy of Stephen Harper?

That you are anywhere near an institution that shapes the minds of our young people, gives me a chill.

Also, you seem to have anger issues. Perhaps you need help.

Have a green day!
Larry Powell

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Tar Sands Civil Disobedience Action on Parliament Hill, Sept. 26

By Brent Patterson, Council of Canadians - Se 15th, 2011
On Monday September 26, people from across Canada will be gathering on Parliament Hill in a large demonstration and non-violent civil disobedience action calling for an end to the destruction caused by the tar sands.

Victory! Canada's Minister of the Environment, Peter Kent says, Maxim Coal Won't be Allowed to Skirt the Rules

Climate Action Network Canada -  Sept. 15'11

 Environment Minister Peter Kent gave an interview last week in which he pointedly stated that he is going to close the loophole in new federal coal regulations that would allow Maxim Power to build a new, unregulated coal plant. This is wonderful news for everyone who sent messages to Kent voicing their outrage over the coal plant! We made ourselves heard, but the fight isn't over yet. Canada still needs to eliminate all coal-fired electricity if we want to stop catastrophic climate change. Stay tuned for more action alerts so we can make sure Minister Kent stays true to his word. 

Related story here.

Canada's Agriculture Minister Ignores Farmers

By Simon Enoch, The Leader-Post September 14, 2011
With the results of the Canadian Wheat Board's plebiscite now in, farmers have given the single-desk for wheat a rousing endorsement...Details here.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Texas Drought and Wildfire Losses Continue to Mount

Manitoba Co-Operator Sept 14'11
About 5,500 miles of fence and 2.6 million acres of pasture have been lost. Details here.

PLT: So how are the prayer vigils going, Gov. Perry? Let's face it, Sir. You've got nothin'!

Photo courtesy of PortableFarm

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Climate Change Deniers Can't Refute "24 Hours of Reality"

David Suzuki - Huffington Post
Most reality TV has little to do with the real world. But here's an online show that will reflect what is happening in and to our world: Details here.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Give Farmers the Vote

Bruce Johnstone, Regina Leader-Post 910/11
Regardless of the results of the Canadian Wheat Board's plebiscite, which are expected Monday, the federal government says it will ignore them and….Details here.

"The House" Apologizes Over an Interview on the Keystone Pipeline

by Larry Powell

This morning,"The House" apologized over an interview done on that CBC Radio program on July 23rd. In the interview, Derek Burney, once Canada's ambassador to the US, sung the praises of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline and attacked critics in the environmental movement as "emotional" and even "violent."

In the process of responding to that interview, I discovered Burney is a Director of TransCanadaPipelines, the company building the project. He did not disclose this in the course of the interview.

After complaining twice to the CBC ombudsman, I received an apology from "The House," yesterday, saying it was unaware of Burney's vested interest at the time. It ran this clarification on its program this morning (Sept 10th).

"On July 23rd we aired a conversation with former ambassadors Derek Burney & Gordon Giffin about Canada-US relations. Part of the discussion was about the Keystone XL pipeline project. We failed to inform you that Derek Burney sits on the board of Trans Canada, the company behind the project. We apologize for that."

And below is a copy of the response I received yesterday from the senior producer of "The House" &, in turn, my answer to him.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Extreme Wildfires & Drought Strike Texas, a Stronghold of Climate-Deniers

Zachary Shahan - Planetsave - Sept. - '11
If you haven’t heard, Texas has been fighting massive wildfires this week. Details here.

A Texas National Guard helicopter flies 
through smoke this week near Bastrop. 
Photo by Staff Sgt. Malcolm McClendon

Thursday, September 8, 2011

EU Court Puts Limits on Modified Honey

ABC News
Honey that contains traces of pollen from genetically modified crops needs special authorization before it can be sold, the European Union's top court said Tuesday, Details here.

PLT honeybee photo

Al Gore: Obama Isn't "Relying on Science"

CBS News
Al Gore has posted a note entitled "confronting disappointment" in which he takes President Obama to task for "[bowing] to pressure from polluters" in ordering the Environmental Protection Agency not to seek a tightening of air-quality standards. Details here.

A Canadian pulp mill
PLT photo

Nobel Peace Prize Laureates Urge Obama: Reject Keystone XL Tar Sands Oil Pipeline

Nobel Women's Initiative
Archbishop Tutu and the Dalai Lama call on President to build clean energy legacy. Details here.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Manitobans Urged to Vote "Green"

Winnipeg Free Press - 09/7/2011

The Green Party of Manitoba wants you to hear what they have to say.
Details here.

James Beddome, Leader, Green
Party of Manitoba (PLT photo)

Tar Sands Pipelines: Our Moment of Truth Featured

Rafe Mair - The Common Sense Canadian
I reflect. We are, I think, at the moment of truth. Either we stop these pipelines or the environmental movement becomes…. Details here.

Drought Intensifies in U.S. South, No End in Sight

Manitoba Co-Operator - Kansas City | Reuters

Triple-digit heat breaks records, prolongs misery...Details here.

Rupture in Planned US Pipeline Could Release 7m Gallons of Oil (Tar?), Study Warns

Environmental engineers say pipeline operators TransCanada Corp have significantly underestimated the chances of a Keystone XL spill. Details here.
PLT: Apparently we are to believe spills 
like that of another company, into the Yellowstone R. recently, 
simply won't happen quite as much with Keystone! 
yeah, right!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Help the World Stand up to the Climate Crook, Rupert Murdoch! Please Sign the Petition!

Australia is about to pass a law that would slash carbon emissions and get polluters to pay. This is the front line in the fight for our planet's future -- if we win, it could spur bold global action. But Rupert Murdoch and big polluters are fighting hard to kill the bill, spreading messages of fear across the country. We can help drown out Murdoch's mantra with messages of hope from across the world and help pass the law -- join in now:  

Swollen Lake Winnipeg Slowly Killing Wetland

Bartley Kives - Winnipeg Free Press - 08/31/2011
People and vegetation disappearing, too. Details here.

Courtesy of 

The Arctic may be sea-ice-free in summer by the 2030s

  Nature Communications                                                 Photo by Patrick Kelley   The Arctic could be sea-ice-free during th...