Showing posts with label Climate Change. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Climate Change. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Record 2021 heat wave could become once-per-decade event

A study offers new insights into the record 2021 Western North America heat wave

Combined unusual weather systems, supercharged by climate change


The heat wave that hammered western North America in late June and early July 2021 was not just any midsummer event. Over nine days, from British Columbia through Washington and Oregon and beyond, it exceeded average regional temperatures for the period by 10 degrees C and, on single days in some locales, by an astounding 30 C. Among many new daily records, it set a new national benchmark for all of Canada, at 121.3 F in Lytton, British Columbia. The next day, the entire town burned down amid an uncontrollable wildfire—one of many sparked by the hot, dry weather. Across the region, at least 1,400 people died from heat-related causes. More here.

Thursday, August 11, 2022

North American boreal trees show a decline in the survival of saplings in response to warming or reduced rainfall.


Four separate papers exploring how forests and tree species respond to global changes — such as rising temperatures — are published in Nature this week. The studies highlight some of the challenges forests in North America and the Amazon may face in response to climate change.

Temperate deciduous tree with a dendrometer band, of the type used in the study, in the ForestGEO plot at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, VA.
Credit: Kristina J. Anderson-Teixeira

A study of nine North American boreal tree species, including maples, firs, spruces and pines, shows a decline for all species in the survival of saplings in response to warming or reduced rainfall. In a five-year open-air field experiment, Peter Reich and colleagues found that fir, spruce and pine species abundant in southern boreal forests had the largest reductions in growth and survival due to changes in climate. 

Temperate deciduous tree with a dendrometer band, of the type used in the study, in the ForestGEO plot at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, VA.Credit: Kristina J. Anderson-Teixeira

However, the species that experienced lower rates of mortality and were more likely to experience growth in response to warming, such as maples, are rarer in southern boreal forests and are unlikely to expand their distribution in this region fast enough to compensate for regeneration failure of the current dominant species.

 An otherwise barren, unnamed valley in the west-central Brooks Range of Alaska, USA, supports a population of boreal white spruce that likely provides the seeds carried many kilometers away by winter wind to germinate in Arctic tundra. Credit: Roman Dial

In another paper, Roman Dial and colleagues describe the northward migration of a North American population of white spruce (Picea glauca) into the Arctic tundra, unoccupied by this species for millennia, at a rate of more than 4 km per decade. The authors found that increasing temperatures together with winter winds, deeper snowpack and increased soil nutrient availability have supported this treeline advance. They argue that increasing Arctic tree cover could lead to a decrease in the habitat available for migratory species and a redistribution of carbon stores.

Two white spruce trees, each probably under 30 years old, overlook a remote tundra valley in northwest Alaska, USA. Recent climate warming, winter winds, and an increasing deep snowpack are facilitating the colonization of Arctic tundra by this boreal species. The trekking pole is one meter long. Credit: Roman Dial

Kristina Anderson-Teixeira and colleagues paired dendrometer band measurements with 207 tree-ring chronologies from 108 forests across temperate deciduous forests of eastern North America. They found that warmer spring temperatures advance the timing of stem growth but have little effect on total annual stem growth. The authors suggest that barring rapid acclimation of these forests to warming conditions, they are unlikely to sequester increasing amounts of carbon as temperatures rise.

In this picture at the Ely site (one of two of the experiment) we see one of the ambient plot in the foreground and some heated plots in the background.  All plants are in the process of fall senescence with slowly developing differentiation in plant senescence between ambient (and the research plots surrounding vegetation) and warmed plots due to the effect warming has on plant phenology.

Finally, Hellen Fernanda Viana Cunha and colleagues show that limitations in the availability of phosphorous directly impact the productivity of the Amazon forest by restricting its responses to CO2 fertilization. This may potentially affect forest resilience to climate change.

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Takin’ it to the bank

The National Observer

Trouble’s brewing for RBC. Canada’s climate movement is converging on the bank as its common target for pressure campaigns. Details here.


How Ethical are Ethical Funds? "Conscientious" investments & the tar sands connection.

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Unsettling currents: Warm water flowing beneath Antarctica’s ’Doomsday Glacier'

Science Daily

The calving front of Thwaites Ice Shelf looking at the ice below the water's surface as seen from the NASA DC-8 on Oct. 16, 2012. 

Data from underneath Thwaites Glacier, also known as the Doomsday Glacier. Story here.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Greener northern landscapes under climate change no help to endangered caribou

Proceedings of the Royal Society

The Woodland Caribou. Photo by Steve Forrest.

Globally, climate change and habitat loss are increasing “global greening.” While these changes benefit some species, animals such as woodland caribou may suffer in a greener world. We studied links between habitat alteration (e.g. forest cutting), primary productivity, moose, wolves and caribou across part of the Canadian Boreal forest. By studying all these components simultaneously, we found that habitat alteration led to more productivity, which in turn produced more moose and wolves, and precipitated caribou declines. Species like caribou, which are adapted to low productivity environments, however, are not expected to do well in a greener world.

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Someday, even wet forests could burn due to climate change


A wet "sclerophyll" mixed forest. Might even it be vulnerable in a warming world? 
Photo by Hagasfagas.

Millions of years ago, fire swept across the planet, fuelled by an oxygen-rich atmosphere in which even wet forests burned, according to new research by CU Boulder scientists. Story here.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Global carbon emissions decline during COVID-19

NATURE RESEARCH - Climate sciences: 
Empty streets are the order of the day now that Covid-19
has forced lockdowns in many places.

Daily global CO2 emissions fell by 17% by early April 2020, compared to mean 2019 levels, as a result of governments’ policies to prevent the spread of COVID-19, suggests a paper in Nature Climate Change

Policies implemented by governments to prevent the spread of COVID-19 have had a significant impact on energy demand globally. With much of the world’s population confined to their homes and international borders closed, consumption and transportation rates have fallen. However, the lack of real-time global emissions data has made it difficult to quantify the impacts.

Corinne Le Quéré and colleagues reviewed a combination of energy, activity and policy data available up to end of April 2020 to estimate the changes in daily CO2 emissions compared to 2019. Changes in CO2 emissions were estimated across six economic sectors — power, surface transport, industry, public buildings and commerce, residential and aviation — under different confinement scenarios. The authors found that total CO2 emissions decreased by 17% by early April 2020 relative to 2019, and that average daily emissions decreased by 26% per country. Emissions from surface transport and aviation fell by 36% and 60%, respectively. Surface transport, power and industry accounted for 86% of the total decline in emissions.
The authors also estimated the impact of this decline on total emissions for 2020. They suggest that if pre-crisis activity levels return by mid-June, there might be a 4% total average decline by the end of year. If some restrictions remain until the end of 2020, average total emissions may decline by 7%.


Thursday, March 5, 2020

The hand of man shows through once again in a major weather catastrophe.

 by Larry Powell
The Green Wattle Creek bushfire moves toward the Southern Highlands township of 
Yanderra, Australia as police evacuate. Dec. 2019.
Photo by Helitak 430.

A new study finds, manmade climate change did, indeed, worsen the bushfires which ravaged much of southeastern Australia late last year and early this year. An international team of seventeen scientists has just concluded, the probability of conditions developing like the ones which kindled the catastrophic blazes “has increased by at least 30% since 1900 as a result of anthropogenic climate change.” 
And that figure could be much higher considering that extreme heat, one of the main factors behind this increase, is underestimated in the models used. The heating of the planet, largely due to human extraction and burning of fossil fuels, has, for some time been shown to be the main factor behind the development of storms that are more intense and frequent than before.

Looking to the future, the study predicts, if the temperature rises 2 ºC over 1900 levels, the kind of fire risk which existed during the recent bushfires "will be at least four times more likely." 

Last year was both the hottest and driest in Australia since records began around 1900. Not only were the fires more frequent and intense, they started earlier than usual. They claimed the lives of more than a billion wild animals, thousands of livestock and 34 humans. Almost six thousand buildings were destroyed. And the smoke - which produced air quality hazards some 20 times beyond what were considered levels safe for humans - lingered for months over much of the country.

To quote from the report, "It is well-established that wildfire smoke exposure is associated with respiratory morbidity. Additionally, fine particulate matter in smoke may act as a triggering factor for acute coronary events (such as heart attack-related deaths) as found for previous fires in southeast Australia. Increased bushfire-related risks in a warming climate have significant implications for the health sector."

The research was done by the scientific group, “World Weather Attribution” (WWA). It's a relatively new, international effort to analyze and communicate the possible influences of climate change on extreme weather events.

Monday, March 2, 2020

Climate Change: Life’s a beach - a disappearing one!

A Pexels photo.
Half of the world's beaches, many of which are in densely populated areas, could disappear by the end of the century under current trends of climate change and sea level rise, suggests a paper published in Nature Climate Change

Sandy beaches occupy more than one third of the global coastline and have high socio-economic value. Beaches also provide natural coastal protection from marine storms and cyclones. However, erosion, rising sea levels and changing weather patterns threaten the shoreline, its infrastructure and populations.
Michalis Vousdoukas and colleagues analysed a database of satellite images showing shoreline change from 1984 to 2015. The authors extrapolated historical trends to predict future shoreline dynamics under two different climate change scenarios. They determined the ambient shoreline change, driven by physical factors (geological or anthropogenic) and shoreline retreat due to sea level rise. They also examined how erosion from storms may change under climate change and impact shorelines.  

The results of these analyses indicate that around 50% of the world’s sandy beaches are at risk of severe erosion. The risk for erosion is particularly high in certain countries under both climate scenarios, including The Gambia and Guinea-Bissau, where over 60% of sandy coastline may be lost. When the total length of sandy beach projected to be lost is analysed, Australia would be the worst affected with nearly 12,000 km at risk. Canada, Chile, Mexico, China and the United States would also be greatly affected. Additional research could further improve these estimates, which may be impacted by human intervention.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

New research shows, human exploitation of fossil fuels may be playing an even bigger role in our climate crisis than earlier thought.

Extraction of Earth's oil, gas and coal reserves is probably unleashing vastly more methane (CH4) into the air than is currently being estimated. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas and significant contributor to the dangerous heating of our planet. 
by Larry Powell.
Pump jacks extract crude oil from the Bakken field southeastern Saskatchewan, Canada. Are such operations releasing even more methane than we once thought? A PinP photo.

Using the largest ice drill in the world (below), the researchers “looked back in time” to the 17 hundreds, by drilling deep into the ice in Greenland and Antarctica.  

The Blue Ice Drill, used to collect 
the cores used in this study. 
Photo by B. Hmiel.
                                                                       By analyzing air bubbles trapped, both in the ice cores and the snow, they were able to measure how much methane was escaping into the air at the time. Since this was the “pre-industrial era,” before major human expansion of fossil fuel development began, those emissions would have virtually all come from natural sources like natural gas seeps from beneath the ocean floor and mud volcanoes (below) and ancient, but mostly undisturbed deposits of fossil fuels.
Mud volcanoes on the Nahlin Plateau, BC, Canada. 
Are such sites not quite the "climate culprits" 
they were once considered? Photo by Hkeyser.
The findings were surprising. Methane originating from those natural sources were shown to be minimal - only about 1.6 teragrams per year, or 5.4 teragrams, at most. (A teragram is equal to one trillion grams.) As the study concludes, that was "an order of magnitude lower than the currently used estimates." Put another way, those estimates are probably some ten times higher than these new test results show.

Ice cores from the 1870s, however, tell a different story. They show significantly higher methane levels. By then, the industrial revolution had begun, with major extraction of fossil fuels well under way. While fossil fuel extraction would have been the main factor in the increase, other human activities such as rice farming and domestic livestock production would likely also have played a part.

So, the lesson learned from all of this? Emissions due to human activity have been underestimated by anywhere from 25% to 40%. In other words, they are much larger than previously suggested.

Regardless of whether it springs from manmade or natural origins, methane is still a potent greenhouse gas (GHG), capable of trapping heat and impacting the climate. And it's up to 36 times more efficient at doing so than is carbon dioxide (C02), the most common GHG. Atmospheric concentrations of methane have more than doubled since the pre-industrial era. 

"The Global Carbon Project" refers to rising methane levels as "an increasingly important component for managing realistic pathways to mitigate climate change. It's an umbrella group of scientific organizations gathering together a common knowledge base in order to "slow down and ultimately stop the increase of GHGs in the atmosphere."

The lead author of this latest research, Dr. Benjamin Hmiel of the University of Rochester tells PinP that, even after methane is combusted, it still has an impact. While it no longer exists as methane, it transforms into carbon dioxide, the most common greenhouse gas.

Dr. Hmiel's international team consisted of 19 scientists from eleven institutions.

The researchers hope their findings will "emphasize the human impact on the atmosphere and climate and will help inform strategies for targeted emissions reductions to mitigate the effects of climate change."

The findings were published in the journal Nature today. 


Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Climate change to create farmland in the north, but at environmental costs, study reveals

High Alpine Tundra in Noatak National Preserve, Alaska. 
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
In a warming world, Canada's north may become our breadbasket of the future - but this new "farming frontier" also poses environmental threats from increased carbon emissions to degraded water quality, according to the first-ever study involving University of Guelph researchers.  Story here.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Australian blazes will ‘reframe our understanding of bushfire’

Science Magazine
Fire on Cape Barren Is. Australia, 2016. Photo by Planet Labs, Inc.

Australia is on fire like never before—and this year's "bushfire" season, which typically peaks in January or February, has barely begun. Driven in part by a severe drought, fires have burned 1.65 million hectares in the state of New South Wales, more than the state's total in the previous 3 years combined. Six people have died and more than 500 homes have been destroyed. As Science went to press, some 70 uncontrolled fires were burning in adjacent Queensland, and South Australia was bracing for potentially "catastrophic" burns. David Bowman, a fire geographer and director of the Fire Centre Research Hub at the University of Tasmania in Hobart, spoke with Science about the unprecedented crisis. The flames have charred even wet ecosystems once thought safe, he says. And the fires have become "white-hot politically," with Prime Minister Scott Morrison's Liberal government drawing criticism for refusing to acknowledge any link to climate change.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Carbon bomb: Study says climate impact from loss of intact tropical forests grossly underreported

Science News - Wildlife Conservation Society
A tropical forest in Guatemala.
Photo by Chixoy.
A new study says that carbon impacts from the loss of intact tropical forests has been grossly underreported. Story here.

Friday, November 1, 2019

Agricultural impacts of our climate crisis are becoming more apparent

Photo credit - IPCC.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change presents a sobering analyses addressing the substantial contributions of agriculture to climate change and the ways the climate crisis is projected to jeopardize global food security if urgent action isn't taken. Story here.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Glacial rivers absorb carbon faster than rainforests, scientists find

The Guardian
Ellesmere Island, northern Canada. Satellite photo by NASA.
‘Total surprise’ discovery overturns conventional understanding of rivers. Story here.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Trump’s Justice Dept. Sues California to Stop Climate Initiative From Extending to the Province of Quebec.

The New York Times
The Trump administration took another legal shot at California on Wednesday, suing to block part of the state’s greenhouse gas reduction program and limit its ability to take international leadership in curbing planet warming emissions. Story here.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Busting more carbon tax myths. A letter-to-the-editor.

by Dan Soprovich.

Conservative politicians lie about the carbon tax.  Jason Kenny, Doug Ford, Andrew Scheer … you know who the rest are.  And Conservative politicians have been lying about the carbon tax for more than a decade.  When the Stephane Dion Liberals proposed a carbon tax in 2008, Prime Minister Stephen Harper lied about it.  At the time, my dear departed Uncle Jack, who made millions of dollars from the oil industry, sent me an Internet article indicating that a poor retired couple in New Brunswick would be terribly impacted by the Liberal’s proposed carbon tax.  However, that was simply not true.  The proposed carbon tax included a rebate so that folks at the lower end of the economic spectrum would not be hurt (very similar to the carbon tax implemented by the Trudeau Liberal government).  The Stephane Dion Liberals also provided an online calculator at the time.  When I applied the circumstances of the retired couple within the calculator, the inconvenient truth was that the couple actually came out ahead under Dion’s proposed carbon tax, just as the great majority of Canadians come out ahead under the Trudeau government carbon tax.  This example demonstrates the critical importance of ‘testing’ information, at all times, to get to the truth of a matter.  This is particularly true for information from the Internet, where anyone can write almost anything.

Lying is a strong word and I do not use it lightly.  However, in the era of US President Trump, it has become evident that the honest and objective observer must call a lie for what it is.  It is more important than ever in today’s environment to speak truth to power, and this is particularly so when politicians lie.

Why do Conservative politicians lie about the carbon tax?  In my view, the reason is simple.  It is because they believe that many or most people will not check the facts, and because their ‘Taxes bad, no taxes good’ mantra is an easy sell for these cynical politicians.  Conservative politicians like Andrew Scheer and Doug Ford never tell Canadians about the carbon tax rebate that is received by the great majority of Canadians, and therefore effectively lie by consciously omitting a fundamental piece of critical information.  A serious discussion requires serious people applying information and facts.  By distorting the truth and not engaging in an evidence-based discussion, these Conservative politicians, who know that they are spreading misinformation, can pick up votes in an attempt to get themselves elected.  As one example of the vulnerability of people to misinformation, some months ago I had a good and lengthy discussion with a local businessman and farmer who, at that time, opposed the impending carbon tax.  By the end of the discussion, it was clear that the individual had absolutely no understanding of the mechanics of the carbon tax, or its demonstrated effectiveness in reducing emissions.

So, what are some of the inconvenient truths?  

First and foremost, economists almost universally support the view that a carbon tax/price on carbon is the most efficient and cost-effective means to address emissions.  The economic basis is simple.  Pricing carbon drives businesses and individuals to reduce emissions and innovate, because by doing so they can reduce costs.  It is for this reason that fiscal conservatives support carbon pricing, like Reform founder and former leader Preston Manning who strongly supports putting a price on carbon.  Similarly, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce supports carbon pricing, having stated in December of 2018 that “when done right, carbon pricing can equip businesses for the transition to a lower-carbon economy, and reduce the overall regulatory burden.” 

Despite assertions to the contrary by Conservative politicians, a carbon tax/price on carbon has been demonstrated to be an effective means to reduce emissions. The Ecofiscal Commission was “formed by a group of experienced, policy-minded economists from across the country”, and conducts objective analyses on carbon pricing.  In a recent article (SIXPLACES Where Carbon Pricing is Working), Don Drummond and his co-authors stated that the carbon tax in British Columbia led to “Reduced gasoline use by at least 7% per capita over the first four years.” Don Drummond is hardly a left-wing radical, having earlier in his career served as Chief Economist and Senior Vice President of the Toronto-Dominion Bank.

Conservative politicians lie about the impact of a carbon tax/carbon pricing on jobs and the economy, when they tell us that the “economy will tank”.  Our common sense can be applied to refute this lie.  The Trudeau government carbon tax returns the great majority of the revenue to individuals via the rebate.  When money is returned to people, particularly those on the lower end of the economic spectrum, they will generally spend it.  And how does that spending of money impact the economy?  Of course, it creates jobs.  Subject to how a carbon tax is designed, there will be a variable number of lost jobs. But because jobs will also be gained, one must determine the net impact.  When one looks at British Columbia, which has had a carbon tax since July of 2008, one finds that BC’s Gross Domestic Product between 2009 and 2018 increased by 29.26%, second only to Alberta’s increase of 29.41%.  In the Ecofiscal Commission article “10 MYTHS About Carbon Pricingin Canada”, the authors stated “Analysis of British Columbia’s carbon tax suggests it led to a 2% increase in the total number of jobs in the province between 2007 and 2013—an average of 5,000 jobs per year (Yamazaki, 2017)” 

The carbon tax is effective because it rewards good behaviour (reductions in emissions) and penalizes bad behaviour (increases in emissions or a disregard for emissions).  In the fall of 2018, while discussing the harvest, a local farmer/professional man told me that a lot of farmers were out on the land practising “recreational tillage." In other words, there was no need to till but they were still out there tilling, perhaps out of habit.  This is the kind of bad behaviour that a carbon tax/carbon pricing should attempt to penalize.

I could go on relative to the lies perpetuated by Conservative politicians, but you get the picture. 
While Conservative politicians lie about climate change, it is also clear that those who support the Conservative Party of Canada generally do not believe that global warming is real, or believe that it is not caused by humans.  This provides further evidence as to why Conservative politicians lie, as they align with the views of their base.  A 2018 Angus Reid survey found that only 35% of past Conservative voters believed that climate change was real and caused by humans.  35% of these Conservative voters believed that climate change was happening but was mostly caused by natural changes, and 21% believed that climate change was a still unproven theory. 

There are a number of moral aspects to the global warming issue.  By any independent analysis, Canada is an extremely rich country and Canadians are generally very well off when compared to people from other countries.  We are lucky and blessed in many ways, simply by having had the good fortune to be born in Canada or to have immigrated to Canada.  And within Canada, people in some provinces are extremely well off (e.g., in Alberta, where wages continue to be high and taxes low, despite the downturn in the oil and gas industry).  Why is it, when we are generally so well off, and particularly so among old ‘white’ men like me, that we are often so greedy?  We certainly can’t take it with us.  At the same time, many Canadians who are among the wealthiest people in the world ignore the effects of climate change on the young and the Indigenous.  

It is immoral for well off Canadians to ignore how climate change will impact on our Nation’s children and grandchildren.  No wonder we observe a disconnect between older generations and the young on this matter.  It is immoral for well off Canadians to ignore the effects of climate change on the culture, health, and welfare of the Indigenous.  While the wealth of Canada and other rich Nations is due in very large part to the extraction and use of fossil fuels, it is often the poorest of Nations that will suffer the consequences of our contribution to climate change, despite their often insignificant contributions to the problem.  For example, Island Nations like Kiribati and Tuvalu are expected to be severely damaged by the rising ocean levels and altered storms that result from climate change.  Indeed, islands have already been lost, including one in Kiribati where a village once thrived. Canadians can just say ‘bad luck' as Conservative politicians demonstrate by their words and actions (e.g., some of the cutbacks in Scheer’s election platform), or we can take responsibility for our actions.  As it is rich Nations like Canada that are primarily responsible for the problem, it is immoral for Canadians to not address climate change so as to minimize its effects on these Nations, and to not support the adaptation measures that can help them continue to exist. 

There is a fundamental religious element to the response of Canadians to global warming.  Religions across the spectrum, including those of Christians, incorporate a responsibility for stewardship of the earth. This stewardship focus and the social justice aspects are why many religions and religious leaders strongly endorse the need to combat global warming. For example, see Interfaith Power & Light.

Climate has changed in the past.  But it has never changed at the extremely fast rate that we are observing today.  Biological scientists are so concerned respecting the impact of climate change on the extinction rate of species because, among other reasons, mammals, birds, and other species will have relatively little time to adapt.  The extinction rate will increase and species distribution will change.  For example, a recent study predicted that blueberries, sweetgrass, and Labrador tea will be almost eliminated from southern Manitoba by 2071-2100, and that the core distribution of white birch will be considerably changed.  

A recent issue of the scientific journal Nature noted that, while Canada contributes some 2% of the global greenhouse gases, most importantly Canada is the tenth largest contributor among countries. And Canadians, at an average of 15.3 tonnes CO2 per capita, are the third highest contributors of greenhouse gases in the world, after Saudi Arabia and the United States. It is not debatable that our great wealth and very high standard of living are due to the very high per capita past and current levels of greenhouse gas emissions by Canadian families and businesses. If Canadians, who are among the very wealthiest in the world, cannot do their share to address their contribution to climate change, who can?  Should we make the poor pay for a problem largely created by wealthy countries like Canada?    

How do the federal parties stack up in terms of their platforms on addressing climate change?  The Conservative Party of Canada Climate Plan was evasive in that it did not provide how much less CO2 would result from the Plan, or what the cost would be. Consequently, in their examination of the Conservative Plan,EnviroEconomics and Clean Prosperity had to make a number of assumptions.  The assessment found that the Conservative Plan “would increase emissions by 9.1 Mt in 2022, relative to the current and announced measures being planned by the federal and provincial governments, as described in the most recent “additional measures” scenario from Environment and Climate Change Canada.  The Plan would have a net cost of $3.8 billion by 2022 accounting for savings from removing existing measures including the carbon tax in benchmark provinces (regulatory charge) and the Clean Fuel Standard.  This translates into a cost of $295 per household in Canadian provinces and territories that currently have the federal carbon tax.”.  The main carbon-reducing component of the Plan, by far, is to use tax credits to fund energy conservation measures like energy efficient windows and more insulation.  The assessment estimated that this would cost $439 per tonne of CO2.  Compare this to the $46 per tonne of CO2 for the Liberal carbon tax.  So we observe, for this measure, that the Conservative Plan would cost about 10 times as much per tonne of CO2 as the carbon tax that Scheer and other Conservative politicians rail against.  And where will the money for this inefficient Conservative measure come from? … you guessed it … your tax dollars.  Again, this is part of the Scheer/Conservative Party of Canada lie on carbon pricing, in that the Conservative Plan did not include carbon emission effects and costing, because doing so would have demonstrated that the Plan was not cost-effective.  Under the Conservative Plan, industry would be allowed to emit more CO2, with emissions increasing by 0.83 Mt (megatonnes) for industries that emit 10 kt (kilotonnes) or more per year.  

It is also important to consider whether we can trust Scheer and the Conservative’s on this.  I suggest that we cannot, because I remember that Prime Minister Harper promised to regulate the oil and gas sector in 2007 (under a minority government) and then went back on his commitment in 2014 (when he had a majority).  The Conservative Plan also proposes to decrease emissions by funding the development of new technology, where the private sector would be expected to provide more than double the contribution by Canada.  While certainly of value, there is nothing new here, as this is the type of policy that climate change ditherers always trot out … to some extent, it is the “no worries, be happy” approach that assumes we will invent our way out of the problem.  The technological solution has been proposed for decades, and we find ourselves in a much worse condition today.  Although today’s technology can be applied to address climate change, the assessment attributed a decrease of 2.48 Mt to the measure, while stating “we give the Plan the benefit of the doubt”.  The assessment noted that this type of measure has been demonstrated to be a poor means to reduce emissions, in terms of cost-effectiveness.  The report stated “This abatement cost is high relative to other policies; a recent comparison of the cost-effectiveness of various policy levers designed to incent innovation and technology diffusion ranks R&D subsidies low”.  The assessment estimated the cost of this measure at $272 per tonne CO2.  The final component of the Conservative Plan that might measurably reduce greenhouse gases is its Green Construction Options component.  The assessment estimated that this measure would reduce emissions by 1 Mt of CO2 via an increase in the use of low-carbon cement; however, the authors also stated “the Plan is not clear on the policy approach to incent usage of low emitting cement”.  In other words, the Conservative Plan indicates that it will reduce emissions without demonstrating how it will do so.  That is not a plan, rather it is simply a goal and just more Conservative ‘smoke and mirrors’.   Other elements of the Conservative Plan are very questionable, and are addressed within the assessment.  The Conservative Plan is very costly (e.g., $439 and $272 per tonne of CO2 for the two measures that would result in 11.50 Mt, or 92%, of the reduction in emissions).  Compare this to two already existing and in the works measures of the Liberal government that the Conservatives would eliminate (i.e., $46 per tonne of CO2 for the carbon tax and $142 per tonne of CO2 for the Clean Fuel Standard, which collectively would reduce emissions by 20.81 Mt).  The Conservative Plan would eliminate cost-effective measures and replace them with high cost measures.  The bottom line is that the Conservative’s Plan will cost the average Canadian household far more to achieve far less (e.g., for 2022, a cost of an extra $295 per household excepting for Quebec, BC, and Newfoundland where it would be an extra $187 per household).

Climate atmospheric scientist Katherine Hayhoe (Texas Tech University) and energy and environmental economist Andrew Leach (University of Alberta) recently evaluated the plans of four federal parties.The Conservative Plan was assessed as “What’s missing: Policies likely to lead to actual emission reductions” and “Grade: D for ambition, F for feasibility.”  These two experts wrote “its actual substance is vague.  Very vague.  There are some bold promises about how this plan gives Canada the “best chance” at meeting the Paris targets, but there’s not much evidence to back that up.  In fact, they’ve been so shy to make commitments that they’re not included on the graph above.”, “You might think you know what Scheer’s plan is: cut the carbon tax. But that’s not quite true.  His plan has one, it’s just hidden.  For large emitters, the plan sets emissions limits and forces them to invest a certain amount (How much? No one knows!) for any emissions above that (also unknown) limit.  Other aspects of the plan come directly from the Harper government, such as credits for transit passes and home renovations.  But both of these policies are relatively expensive per tonne of carbon reduced“, and “Economist Marc Jaccard concluded that, by getting rid of the current carbon pricing system and replacing it with largely optional incentives, the CPC plan is more likely to increase Canada’s carbon emissions than decrease them.”  By any objective evaluation, it is clear that the Conservative Plan and rhetoric on the Plan continues the Conservative politician’s practice of misinformation, deception, and lies.  For their evaluation of the plans of the other parties, Hayhoe and Leach graded ambition at B to A+, and feasibility at D to A.   

Our choice on the environment and climate change is a critical consideration in our federal election.  For those who care about the environment that we leave to our children and grandchildren, it is clearly anyone but Conservative.

Dan Soprovich, Swan River

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Boreal Forest Fires Could Release Deep Soil Carbon

Courtesy Environment & Climate Change, Canada.
Increasingly frequent and severe forest fires could burn generations-old carbon stored in the soils of boreal forests. Releasing this previously buried carbon into the atmosphere could change these forests’ balance of carbon gain and loss, potentially accelerating warming. Story here.

DDT Pollution Dumped off Los Angeles Coast Has Not Broken Down Decades Later, Scientists Find

Eco Watch The  pollution  is even worse than earlier feared. Story here. RELATED: Research Suggests Our Past, Prolific Use Of The Insecticid...