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  • keystone
    Peter Jones - April 21, 2014

    Further Delays for Keystone XL

    You have to follow issues arising in the approval of Transcanada’s Keystone XL pipeline closely to understand the latest delay.

    Two plus years ago TransCanada realized it had to re-route the path of Keystone to avoid fundamental criticism from environmentalists,. The path originally chosen threatened the Oglala aquifer, a critical source of water in the dry American Midwest.

    To expedite a new routing, TransCanada moved quickly, using all legal and commercial means at its disposal.  Unfortunately certain Nebraska farmers were not prepared to be steamrollered. They took their case to court, arguing that the methods TransCanada used were improper.  Late last fall the court delivered its verdict, siding with the farmers.  TransCanada appealed this decision.  Sometime later this year or next the Nebraska Court of Appeal will deliver its judgement.

    In the meantime, the US State Department has extended the period for its administrative review. Until its final review is completed, President Obama will not decide whether Keystone should be approved.

    Supporters of Keystone claim that there is no basis for the decision of the Nebraska Court impacting the President’s decision.  The exact location of the US route is a local and not an international matter.  These supporters demand that the President decide now, and let TransCanada and the Nebraska farmers proceed with their lawsuit. In due course, objections based on state law will be resolved.

    Republican Senators, supported by a handful of Democratic Senators in oil producing states, will attempt to force the President to issue his decision now.  They point out that six years have passed since TransCanada first initiative its request for approval, a delay that they consider to be politically motivated. The Republican Party now controls the House of Representatives, and they will leverage that control to the Party’s advantage.

    The President does have one advantage.  The risks of global warming as a consequence of GHG emissions have been confirmed in recent reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.   A further IPCC report is due in the fall.  This report will probably emphasize that along with the extraction of fossil fuels, pipeline infrastructure must be scaled back.

    It will be clear what those Reports mean:  “No to Keystone”!

    Recent 4RG Keystone comments:

    April 2014: Stating the Obvious that wasn’t stated!
    January 2014: The Real Issue must be addressed!
    June 2o13 : The Latest in the Keystone XL decision.
    January 2013:  Keystone is dead! 

    For further comments use the site search facility with the search term “Keystone”.

  • tar sands picture download
    Peter Jones - April 17, 2014

    Stating the Obvious that wasn’t stated!

    Former President Jimmy Carter and other Nobel Prize winners signed a letter to President Obama urging him to reject the Keystone Pipeline. Prime Minister Harper’s office responded quickly, citing the many arguments in favour of Keystone that its supporters have presented over the past three years.

    This response also referred to the problems of oil supply that followed on the Iranian crisis of 1979, a factor contributing to President Carter’s defeat in 1980.

    Read more

  • renewables
    Peter Jones - April 14, 2014

    Writing on the Wall: the IPCC Fifth Assessment (mitigation)

    The most important statement in the recently released IPCC Report from Working Group III on mitigation is the affirmation that disastrous effects of global warming can still be avoided.

    In practical terms avoidance of disastrous climate change requires international agreement on a price for carbon. The price must reflect the emerging scarcity of disposal space for carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere.

    With a price on carbon, fossil fuels will lose their competitive edge over renewable sources of energy. Canada and certain other countries will find that dependence on fossil fuels for energy cannot be sustained.

    There is another consequence for Canada in the displacement of fossil fuels as a source of energy. In future Canada’s fossil fuel resource industry will progressively contribute less and less to our economy.

    Read more

  • Syria
    Peter Jones - April 10, 2014

    An obvious connection: drought and civil war.

    Readers who wish more information on the connection between insurrection, drought and climate change should view the first episode in James Cameron’s series on Climate Change entitled “Years of Living Dangerously”. This episode deals with several countries but most relevant are the interviews and scenes concerning the four years of severe drought in Syria that preceded the civil war in that country.

    This video confirms our conviction that climate change can radically de-stabilize countries.  So we can’t agree with Chris Alexander, the Member of the Canadian Parliament for Scarborough East and now a cabinet minister.  Alexander thinks that terrorism and insurrection is a more important issue than climate change.  He fails to recognize that climate change establishes the conditions for terrorism and insurrection to flourish.

    So we have three areas in Africa and the Middle East – Darfur, Mali and Syria where the connection between drought and war is evident.

    Also remember that the Pentagon considers that climate change raises issues of national security for the United States.  That conclusion should now be obvious to every North American politician.

  • President Obama
    Peter Jones - April 8, 2014

    A human god with feet of clay?

    Noam Chomsky, Professor Emeritus of Linguistics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is a very effective critic.  His most recent criticism is directed at President Barack Obama, who is a hero to people who look to the US for leadership on climate change.

    Chomsky’s criticism was preceded by his short summary of the world’s bleak situation:

    “But another dire peril casts its shadow over any contemplation of the future – environmental disaster. It’s not clear that there even is an escape, though the longer we delay, the more severe the threat becomes – and not in the distant future.  . . .  “

    Chomsky referred to a speech of President Obama’s two years ago in the oil town of Cushing, Okla., in which the President stated:

     ”Now, under my administration, America is producing more oil today than at any time in the last eight years. That’s important to know. Over the last three years, I’ve directed my administration to open up millions of acres for gas and oil exploration across 23 different states. We’re opening up more than 75 percent of our potential oil resources offshore. We’ve quadrupled the number of operating rigs to a record high. We’ve added enough new oil and gas pipeline to encircle the Earth and then some.”

    Chomsky observed:

    “The corporate sector is carrying out major propaganda campaigns to convince the public that climate change, if happening at all, does not result from human activity. These efforts are aimed at overcoming the excessive rationality of the public, which continues to be concerned about the threats that scientists overwhelmingly regard as near-certain and ominous. To put it bluntly, in the moral calculus of today’s capitalism, a bigger bonus tomorrow outweighs the fate of one’s grandchildren.”

    Chomsky concluded:

    “What are the prospects for survival then? They are not bright. But the achievements of those who have struggled for centuries for greater freedom and justice leave a legacy that can be taken up and carried forward – and must be, and soon, if hopes for decent survival are to be sustained. And nothing can tell us more eloquently what kind of creatures we are.”

    4RG recognizes the terrible dilemma of politicians, who must continue to retain support from a majority of today’s electorate, an electorate that too often is indifferent to solving tomorrow’s problem.    No doubt President Obama has had to wrestle with this dilemma. i

    But as much as we sympathize, we must side with Chomsky.  The prospects of survival of civilization are under threat. Our world leaders must act!

  • wg3cover 2014
    Peter Jones - April 3, 2014

    If you read the Globe Editorial on Climate Change. . .

    . . . you would have noted that the Globe is no longer sitting on the fence.

    Today’s Globe editorial describes the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment report “as a jolt of reality.” The editorial recommends that Ottawa “re-think its current do-next-to-nothing policy on emissions.” And adds: “On carbon emissions, Canada’s efforts rank as an epic fail.”

    An “epic fail” is hardly complimentary. Still, the editorial could have stated that Canada ranks dead-last in its peer group, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.  This fact would have brought home just how poorly Canada has been performing.

    The editorial notes that there are only a few years left to reduce carbon emissions to stave off catastrophic warming. It states that Canada has a role to play in avoiding that outcome.

    Possibly so, but the editorial should have stated that Canada first has to demonstrate it is serious.  Our Government’s well-worn, self-congratulatory statements about “world-class”, “a world leader” and “an energy super-power” are recognized by the international community as meaningless hype.

    There are steps that Canada could take tomorrow to demonstrate its commitment to fight climate change:

    • Eliminate tax breaks, subsidies and research grants that favour the fossil fuels industry.
    • Increase sweet-heart royalties paid by fossil fuel companies who mine carbon to a comparable international level as Norway has done (Alberta take note!)
    • Enact the long-promised regulations on the tar sands, including a limit on emissions.

    That won’t happen unless the Government feels threatened by an electoral reverse. Right now the Federal Conservatives have solid support in the principal fossil fuel provinces, particularly Alberta and Saskatchewan. Why alienate this support?

    The most that we can expect from our Government is tokenism, a far-from- adequate response to the threat identified in the Fifth Assessment report.

    In summary:  the editorial is middle of the road, recognizing the dangers of climate change but muting its criticism of the Harper Government. It doesn’t go far in driving home the urgency for Canada to act to avoid climate change.