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.

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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.”

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Climate change – but no ark in sight!

The Fifth Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released today re-emphasizes the conclusions expressed in previous IPCC Reports.  What is new is a focus on risk.  The Fifth Report sets out the impacts of climate change in considerable detail, with a careful statement of the probability of their occurrence.

Popular opinion may regard risk consequent on climate change differently from country to country.  People in Northern Temperate Climate Countries may think that global warming can’t be all that bad.  Particularly when they have come through a long, cold winter in which the snowfall compares with winters they experienced as children, oh so long ago – even before the term “climate change” had worked its way into a publicly consciousness. (Does that sound like Canada?)

Read moreClimate change – but no ark in sight!

Anti-Global Warming US Senator

Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) puts “the case” against global warming in easy-to-understand terms.

First, according to Senator McConnell: “For everybody who thinks it’s warming, I can find somebody who thinks it isn’t.”

The Senator is a Kentuckian.  Kentucky is old king coal country where they remove mountain tops to get at the coal. Finding somebody in Kentucky who disbelieves global warming shouldn’t be hard.

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Keystone approval: a bargain with the devil?

The world knows that Ambassador Doer has been a cheerleader for the Keystone pipeline. So his writing a support letter for Keystone XL is not really a news story.

What makes his letter to the US State Department interesting was a two line statement buried in a three page letter. Doer wrote:

“Our energy and environment officials are currently assessing common energy issues, including potential oil and gas issues, which we could usefully address together.”

At beginning of 2013, we reported on the efforts of a group of Canadian politicians who blitzed Washington pressuring for a favourable decision on Keystone XL.  During discussions with high-ranking members of the US administration hints were dropped that approval would be easier if the Canadian Government showed it was serious about regulating GHG emissions from the tar sands.

Premier Redford of Alberta was negative about further regulation.  She stated that she was proud of Alberta’s management of the tar sands.  She wrote a column for the business newspaper US Today  “Keystone was Responsible oil Sands Development.”

Read moreKeystone approval: a bargain with the devil?