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  • web-simpson-logo
    Peter Jones - July 27, 2014

    In 2012 an enterprising Website ranked Canadian columnists who commented on climate change. Jeffrey Simpson walked away with the Project Beaver Award as the best!.

    4RG has commented on numerous Simpson columns.  In our view he has continued to be the most balanced, most insightful and most persistent commentator on the subject.

    Read his recent column in Saturday’s edition of the Globe and Mail. He successfully integrates many themes in this column:

    • Canada’s experience with extreme weather conditions,
    • our need to adapt to global warming,
    • the winners and losers from climate change, and
    • the measures taken by the Federal Government to minimize public appreciation of the issue.

    We had addressed up the last theme – the “suppression” of publicity about climate change – in our blog of July 1 Ohhhhhhhh Canada!  We would like to add to these comments that Leona Aglukkaq, the Federal Minister of the Environment since May 2013, has managed to avoid any public statement on climate change for close to a year.

    Climate Change is not a concern of this Government.  And certainly not of this Minister of the Environment!

  • Canada Coat of Arms
    Peter Jones - July 1, 2014

    Ohhhhhhhhhh! Canada

    Our Government minimizes the circulation of climate change information that exposes shortfalls in Canadian Federal Policy.  If it has to be disclosed, such information is quietly placed onto a Departmental Website without Ministerial comment.    This is what happened with a report, Canada in a Changing Climate: Sector Perspectives on Impacts and Adaptation, which appeared on the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) site June 24th last.

    The report was Canada’s climate change Score Card.  Yes, climate change is occurring, yes the effects are being felt in Canada, and yes, we have done little in response.  The Score Card identified barriers to action, such as “limited resources, limited motivation and issues related to governance.”

    4RG receives electronic Government of Canada Media Releases from the DNR. Most of these Releases relate only to routine activities and expenditures.   To give the content of the Release more substance, government communications officers include prior policy statements about climate change.  One might conclude from this frequent repetition that the Canadian Government is at a world class level in the fight against climate change.

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  • Peter Jones - June 26, 2014

    Fossil Fuels Promotion = Horse Manure

    So, Canada’s federal government has finally approved construction of the proposed Enbridge pipeline that is intended to carry bitumen from Alberta’s tar sands to Kitimat, and thence by ocean to China.

    If we do not go ahead, the Prime Minister warns us, Canada’s economy will be in grave danger. “No country is going to take actions that are going to deliberately destroy jobs and growth in their country,” he declared a week ago, in a joint statement with the openly climate denying Prime Minister of Australia, Tony Abbott.  Read more at “Prime Minister Harper ups the ante!”

    But what if none of this is true? What if there were two possible directions that Canada’s future economy could take, not just one? What if there was another future built on clean technology, renewable energy, sustainable transportation and zero-carbon buildings, in which Canada could prosper without the tar sands and the unwanted pipelines, and without all the fracking, the oil-polluted waters, the exploding trains, the waves of public opposition and the legal challenges from First Nations?

    To Stephen Harper and his supporters, such a future is unthinkable. He would far rather we dwelled on the danger of not supporting fossil fuel expansion than the far graver danger of a world that is four, five or even six degrees warmer due to the carbon released by the fossil fuels. Read more at  “A Half Truth or a Suppressed Truth”.

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  • glenn murray
    Peter Jones - June 24, 2014


    The Ontario Government has taken a small step which is enormous in the context of North American politics. The step:  re-naming the Department of the Environment as the Department of the Environment and Climate Change.

    In our recent letter to Premier Wynne we stated:

    “Along with other Provinces, your Government committed to bring these [GHG] emissions down to 15% below their 1990 level by 2020. In subsequent years your government encouraged the development of renewable energy and phased out coal-fired generating plants.

     We give you and your colleagues, past and present, full credit for this and other programs that mitigate emissions. . . .

    Can you demonstrate how your party can live up to its promise to reduce emissions?  The electorate needs more than words: what programs will your government institute to contribute to reductions, how soon, and how much?”

    In one sense inclusion of Climate Change in the departmental name is nothing but the addition of two words.  Yet, with the appointment of Glenn Murray as Minister, we believe that it will be followed by action.  And if there is action we will give this government full credit for what they have done.

    And if there is a lack of action on climate change we will be one of the many climate change groups that will hold the government responsible.


  • Peter Jones -

    For Want of a nail . . .

    Those words started a little rhyme that children recited.  The rhyme taught that ignoring small deficiencies could have large consequences.    The damage caused by the Angus Tornado is a somber lesson for grown-ups that in any age of climate change, skimping on best construction standards can be disastrous.

    Representatives of The Institute for Catastrophic Losses examined the wreckage of the houses severely damaged by the tornado.   They concluded is that small, inexpensive measures could have protected family homes against their roof from being wrenched off by the tornado.

    Loss of a roof, which weakens the structure and exposes the contents to heavy downpour, commonly occurs when a tornado strikes a built-up area, such as Angus.  The remedies are simple and well known: hurricane trusses (straps to hold the roof to the walls),  longer nails (!!), and more nails (!!) for roof sheathing.

    Some time ago, the Institute has shared this knowledge with governments and the building trades industry.   But nothing was done to require these low cost practices, although Ontario is the terminus of “tornado alley”. 

    The information occasioned a round of finger-pointing:  the building trades industry blamed the Ontario Government, and the Government responded by saying you were free to use these practices if you chose.

    Another children’s saying comes to mind:  “Penny Wise and Pound foolish”.

    Unfortunately, the situation is more serious than just a failure to require stricter building code requirements.  The examination of the wreckage discovered shoddy practices: in quite a few cases only one nail was used to secure the truss to the walls of the house.

    Our sympathies and the sympathy of all Ontarians are with the citizens of Angus.  They deserve more than sympathy.  They deserve justice against the indifference of those responsible for the building code, and those who build by it.

  • stephen-harper
    Peter Jones - June 17, 2014

    Harper ups the ante!

    Stephen Harper’s recent message to Canadians is stark:  if you insist on government action on climate change you are asking for “the deliberate destruction of jobs and growth”.

    Previously his message was that his Government would balance Canada’s economy with the protection of the environment.  Why has he made the recent message so much more threatening?

    Perhaps he is responding to recent polls that confirm a majority of Canadians do not believe his Government has struck the right balance between the environment and the economy.  His reference to “deliberate destruction” moves the debate away from this more comfortable middle ground of “balance”.

    He suggests that any government that claims it will take action on climate change is either

    (a)  not being candid with citizens about the impact of such action on its economy, or

    (b) is making promises that it will not be able to keep.

    Harper claims his government is “just a little more frank “ with the electorate about the drastic consequences of measures against climate change.

    It is inevitable that action to reduce GHG emissions will impact fossil fuel companies.  They may decide to suspend operations In Canada,  as Total Oil did a few weeks ago.   And yes! -if the expansion of the tar sands continues, Fort McMurray will still be a boom town.

    But that is not the whole story.

    Reducing consumption of fossil fuels opens up opportunities for the development of renewable energy.   Warren Buffet is one of the world’s most respected investors.  Through his company he has large investment in fossil fuels, and in other industries that service their extraction and transport.  Yet he recently decided that the opportunity for renewables merited a $15 billion investment.

    Other countries, such as Germany and China, have seen tremendous growth in their renewable industry, which has been assisted by sizable government support. They got there first while Canada was continuing its love affair with fossil fuels.

    Forget about Mr. Harper’s threats!  The question is: has Canada missed the new energy bus?.