Thursday, June 27, 2013

Meanwhile, Off Continent...

 video from Japan's Ministry of Agriculture website.

From IPS News:
TOKYO, Jun 26 2013 (IPS) - Yukako Harada, an energetic 29-year-old, is part of a small but determined band of women farmers working hard to revitalise Japan’s moribund agricultural sector, which is feeling the crunch of an ageing population and a flood of cheap imports.
From accounting for half the country’s economic output just after World War II, agricultural production has shrunk down to just 1.2 percent of the world’s second largest economy, generating only 39 percent of Japan’s food needs.
I'd be thrilled to live on an island that produced 39% of its own food needs....
 
Mauritius Beach via Wikipedia
Over in Mauritius:
PORT LOUIS, Jun 25 2013 (IPS) - “No fighting, please. Everybody will get their fish. Give us time to empty the crates and weigh today’s catch,” Patrick Guiliano Marie, leader of the St. Pierre Fish Multi-Purpose Cooperative Society, shouts at the crowd jostling impatiently at the fish landing station in Grand Gaube, a fishing village in northern Mauritius.
People bump into each other to buy the fish that this cooperative society has just harvested from cages out in the lagoon.
“We don’t get fresh fish all year round. We have to buy frozen ones. This is an opportunity for us to eat some fresh ones,” one customer Marie-Ange Beezadhur tells IPS as she tries to negotiate her way through the crowd.
In the lagoon, about 500 metres from the coast, two platforms have been set up, each with four underwater cages.
In one average-size cage of four square metres, there are about 5,000 fingerlings, or young fish, which are fed pellets and seaweed collected from the lagoon.
It takes eight months for the fish to grow to about 500 grammes, with a small cage producing about four tonnes of fish, and a large one producing about 25 tonnes.
To date, aquaculture has been introduced to three areas in the surrounding ocean here, while a further 19 sites have been identified.
The cages, nets, fingerlings, and feed have all been provided for free by the government and the European Union (EU) under the Decentralised Cooperation Programme.
Marie and the 14 members of this cooperative society catch fish on a line for seven months of the year and for the remaining five months they aquafarm – they were trained to do this by the Albion Fisheries Research Centre.

 It seems like a great idea, but aquaculture, like agriculture, is not really environmentally benign. We have a number of salmon farms here in BC, and if you haven't watched Salmon Confidential yet, well, let's just say that it's required viewing. And when it comes to fish farms, Alexandra Morton has been keeping track of their effect on the local environment for decades.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

ALEC and the Corporate World

I didn't see this when it first aired, but I'm listening to the show as I type. This is Moyers and Company on ALEC: the American Legislative Exchange Council. This is one of the most significant ways that corporations re-shape the laws of a country to favour their pet projects--like charter schools and the disbanding of public education, or the carry of concealed weapons , tort "reform", or taking away the right to collective bargaining--anything that allows the 1% to become richer and strip the wealth and rights of the public at large.



Until there was a whistleblower, no one really knew how deep into the legislative process this outfit had penetrated. The development of model laws and the work on getting them passed state by state is detailed. One area which particularly concerns me is the work done to stop renewable energy research and purchase.



Moyers and Co. did a follow up to the original report (above).  It is all very interesting, and does help to explain the insanity that is apparent south of the border. But it also helps explain the insanity north of the border as well. Alberta enshrining charter schools and the rights of parents to take their kids out of the public school system. The progressive control over public policy exerted by Big Oil. The inability of our Prime Minister to even say the words "global warming." With a smaller "elite" to draw from, the links between Bay Street and the Hill are even tighter here than they are in the State legislatures in the US. rankly, it's time to Occupy democracy. We don't actually need an "elite" to make our decisions for us--we are perfectly capable, both individually and together, to understand the problems facing us and to make our own damned decisions. And it's time to talk about an 80% corporate tax rate and an even higher one on personal wealth.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Harper Government Hates You

Really. You're a whiner, a complainer, a taker not a maker. You want clean water, and you bitch about eating mercury contaminated food. There's that whole thing about thinking that the Canadian government is for all Canadians, that it's not the Harper Government For Corporate Rule. And that's just wrong.
What the hell's wrong with you anyway? You want your kids to have a planet to grow up on? Forget it--taking action on climate change would interfere with the right of the 1% to own everything (including you, your life, and your children). Sure carbon in the atmosphere is 395 ppm and rising, and the only known safe limit is 350 ppm. But that's the price you pay for progress.
You don't believe that the Harper government hates you? They're incompetent at managing money--they started life with a billion a year surplus and have transformed that into an ongoing deficit. Harper hates science--after all, it points out that he's a lying liar who lies. Take the ELA, the Experimental Lakes Area. Totally avoidable harm to your life from pollution was being monitored and programmes for fixing it being developed at the cheap cost of 2 million/year. It has to go. So do all the scientists--but first they have to be muzzled so they cannot talk about what they've been finding and figuring out.
Get used to it. Your children will be born with significant avoidable health problems, to a planet that is inhospitable to human life, and you will probably die before your time--probably starving or cancerous from eating contaminated food. And all because we've given up, don't want to face the future. And that's what Harper and his cronies are counting on.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Windfarm Sickness

via Wikimedia Commons
 ...is pretty much a myth, according to new research. It's spread by word-of-mouth rather than windfarms. From the Guardian:
Sickness being attributed to wind turbines is more likely to have been caused by people getting alarmed at the health warnings circulated by activists, an Australian study has found. Complaints of illness were far more prevalent in communities targeted by anti-windfarm groups, said the report's author, Simon Chapman, professor of public health at Sydney University. His report concludes that illnesses being blamed on windfarms are more than likely caused by the psychological effect of suggestions that the turbines make people ill, rather than by the turbines themselves.

"If windfarms were intrinsically unhealthy or dangerous in some way, we would expect to see complaints applying to all of them, but in fact there is a large number where there have been no complaints at all," Chapman said.

The report, which is the first study of the history of complaints about windfarms in Australia, found that 63% had never been subject to noise or health complaints. In the state of Western Australia, where there are 13 windfarms, there have been no complaints.

The study shows that the majority of complaints (68%) have come from residents near five windfarms that have been heavily targeted by opponent groups. The report says more than 80% of complaints about health and noise began after 2009 when the groups "began to add health concerns to their wider opposition".

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Kill Anything That Moves


Chris Hedges reviews the new book “Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam” by  Nick Turse.This is what modern, technological war does to its soldiers--not just American soldiers, although they are in the most modern, technological war machine, but to all soldiers. War is, by its very nature, brutalizing.
Nick Turse’s “Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam” is not only one of the most important books ever written about the Vietnam conflict but provides readers with an unflinching account of the nature of modern industrial warfare. It captures, as few books on war do, the utter depravity of industrial violence—what the sociologist James William Gibson calls “technowar.” It exposes the sickness of the hyper-masculine military culture, the intoxicating rush and addiction of violence, and the massive government spin machine that lies daily to a gullible public and uses tactics of intimidation, threats and smear campaigns to silence dissenters. Turse, finally, grasps that the trauma that plagues most combat veterans is a result not only of what they witnessed or endured, but what they did. This trauma, shame, guilt and self-revulsion push many combat veterans—whether from Vietnam, Iraq or Afghanistan—to escape into narcotic and alcoholic fogs or commit suicide. By the end of Turse’s book, you understand why. 
This is not the book Turse set out to write. He was, when his research began in June 2001, a graduate student looking at post-traumatic stress disorder among Vietnam veterans. An archivist at the U.S. National Archives asked Turse whether he thought witnessing war crimes could cause PTSD. He steered Turse to yellowing reports amassed by the Vietnam War Crimes Working Group. The group, set up in the wake of the My Lai massacre, was designed to investigate the hundreds of reports of torture, rape, kidnapping, forced displacement, beatings, arson, mutilation, executions and massacres carried out by U.S. troops. But the object of the group was not to discipline or to halt the abuses. It was, as Turse writes, “to ensure that the army would never again be caught off-guard by a major war crimes scandal.” War crimes, for army investigators, were “an image management” problem. Those charged with war crimes were rarely punished. The numerous reports of atrocities collected by the Vietnam War Crimes Working Group were kept secret, and the eyewitnesses who reported war crimes were usually ignored, discredited or cowed into silence. 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Garth Lenz at TEDxVictoria


This talk is a bit difficult to watch as Garth Lenz comes close to breaking down a couple of different times during his talk. Keep in mind, as he talks, that atmospheric carbon is at 395ppm, the target to maintain civilization on the planet is 350ppm, and last spring saw recording stations report spikes of over 400ppm. If everything stopped right now, we're still on target for 21 metres of sea level rise, a dramatic explosion in extreme weather events, a huge expansion of deserts, wild changes in fresh water availability and an inability to grow many corops and certainly not consistently. And all that within the projected lifespan of our children.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

3-D Printable Recordings


I stumbled onto this and was blown away. Over at Instructables, amandaghassaei is doing the most ridiculous things with audio--including converting audio information into files suitable for 3-D printing.



The video above has examples of familiar sounds converted to print files, printed, and played back on a standard phonograph.This is not a way to get a perfect reproduction--in fact, the results almost achieve the quality of the original Edison recordings. You can compare and contrast if you want.
The printed record is different from a traditional LP in a couple of ways; the grooves are so much larger (because the printers simply aren't up to the resolution) that you can't record as much information on a side. The grooves are also analog representations of analog sounds--the grooves are printed with triangles.
3-D printed record grooves
You can see the sharpness of the grooves, above, compared with the analog grooves, below.
Analog grooves cut in vinyl
The printer is not your neighbourhood RepRap printer, but a similar printer but working to finer tolerances. Even so, it can't yet match the fineness of an analog record--yet.
I love how she's used all this crazy technology to produce a recording on the level of a Edison cylinder.



She's also using an Arduino to explore granular audio--which gives me hope that she won't be doing too much clean-up on the 3-D printed recordings. Because I find a big part of what's interesting about the recordings is their imperfection, their decompositional aspects.Perfection of reproduction isn't the goal (or at least not the only goal).



The way the Arduino savages the sound is fascinating. In fact, all of her work is.



I'm quite fond of this new version of Over the Rainbow. It's no Israel Kamakawiwo'ole (a version that transformed the song for me), but the mutations that it runs through, I find sonically attractive. And Instructables is to be given an "attaboy" chip for finding her a place to stand.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Asstro --NSFW

Chilean indie electro-pop group Astro released this video recently. Gizmodo had it as their "Weirdest Thing on the Internet Tonight." NSFW in most places. Goofy as hell.

Parasitocracy

Yup, an aristocracy of parasites. George Monbiot points out the latest in the painful saga of the economically insane: notably CEO's of major financial institutions. Mr. Monbiot:
Matt Ridley used to make his living partly by writing state-bashing columns in the Daily Telegraph. The government, he complained, is “a self-seeking flea on the backs of the more productive people of this world … governments do not run countries, they parasitise them.”(1) Taxes, bail-outs, regulations, subsidies, intervention of any kind, he argued, are an unwarranted restraint on market freedom.
Then he became chairman of Northern Rock, where he was able to put his free market principles into practice. Under his chairmanship, the bank pursued what the Treasury select committee later described as a “high-risk, reckless business strategy”(2). It was able to do so because the government agency which oversees the banks “systematically failed in its regulatory duty”(3).
On 16th August 2007, Dr Ridley rang an agent of the detested state to explore the possibility of a bail-out. The self-seeking fleas agreed to his request, and in September the government opened a support facility for the floundering bank. The taxpayer eventually bailed out Northern Rock to the tune of £27bn.
When news of the crisis leaked, it caused the first run on a bank in this country since 1878. The parasitic state had to intervene a second time: the run was halted only when the government guaranteed the depositors’ money.

And now Matt Ridley has written a book. As expected, it indulges in the same magical thinking that got Northern Rock into trouble in the first place. Evil governments, terrible parasitic bureaucrats, crippling regualtion all come in for the usual bollocking.  As usual, the remedy is more of what failed the last time. Not only should these idiots not be allowed near levers of economic power, clearly they shouldn't be allowed near a cup of coffee. this belief that their ideology must be correct, must actually justify what they do and who they are, that they cannot give it up without a complete mental breakdown. Like cultists at the end of the world; when it doesn't arrive, you double down.
To let Mr. Monbiot finish up:
It is only from the safety of the regulated economy, in which governments pick up the pieces when business screws up, that people like Dr Ridley can pursue their magical thinking. Had the state he despises not bailed out his bank and rescued its depositors’ money, his head would probably be on a pike by now. Instead we see it on our television screens, instructing us to apply his irrational optimism more widely. And no one has yet been rude enough to use the word discredited.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Screwing Up And Never Paying The Price


From The Washington Post:
Consider it a mea culpa submerged in a deep pool of calculus and regression analysis: The International Monetary Fund’s top economist today acknowledged that the fund blew its forecasts for Greece and other European economies because it did not fully understand how government austerity efforts would undermine economic growth.
Yeah, the top economist for the IMF got it wrong. Of course, he still gets to keep his job, his house, his benefits package and the respect of his peers.Unlike, say, the Greeks, the Spanish, and the other members of the 99% that got done over by his policy demands.
These are the people who really are the Masters of the Universe--at least of the economic universe. And their decisions have real-world consequences--consequences they never have to face. So it becomes very easy for them to do incredibly stupid stuff and not think twice about it. Like Edward Greenspan, acknowledging that he was utterly wrong on so many things before the 2008 smash. These are generally people who come from privilege and will be certain to pass that privilege on to their kids, and its no damn wonder they keep getting it wrong--they don't live in the same world as the rest of us poor buggers. They are just as prone to mistakes and misjudgements as the rest of us, but, as a rule, they don't have to pay any price for being wrong--as long as the  wrong only affects us.
It won't do us any good to keep this system in place; it is chockablock with perverse incentives and the rich protecting the wealthy. All that's happened since 2008 is to re-establish a system that will crack up even bigger next time, until it either fails completely or is brought under significant regulation.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Three Stories

From Aljazeera

Earthrise, Al Jazeera's environmental program, ran a show back in July 2012 which I missed. But I've caught it up now, and I'm a bit excited. It covers three stories: wind generators in Kenya, end-of-life plastic reuse in Ireland, and land reclamation in Indonesia.



 Makers
If you haven't read Kurt Vonnegut's Player Piano,


 or Cory Doctorow's Makers,
from the website
you really should. They are both about humans and their relationship with their monkey-brains, about our inveterate need to fiddle with stuff. And they're both really good reads.
In Kenya, approximately 82% of the population is off-grid--entirely. They rely on batteries and hydrocarbon fuels for power. Access Energy, a local company, uses re-purposed parts and re-used automobile alternators to build not brilliant, perfect wind generators, but appropriate-tech wind generators that can re-charge cell phones and power a light. Which takes care of a large number of the power requirements the off-grid Kenyan's have.
In Ireland, the urge is the same; to take waste and re-purpose it into something useful. Only this is re-using end-of-life plastic to create synthetic diesel. Endlessly more complex than the wind generators, but born of the same need.
And in Indonesia, a born-again tin miner works to repair the damage done by himself and those like him. Here, desolate cratered land is transformed by energy and cows into something beautiful and livable. A model project for restoring lands we'd prefer didn't get destroyed in the first place.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Australia on the Front Line

Fascinating overview of Australia's record breaking temperatures. From The Guardian:

What is causing Australia's heatwave?

Does the country's record-breaking heatwave have something to do with climate change?
Australia has started 2013 with a record-breaking heat wave that has lasted more than two weeks across many parts of the country. Temperatures have regularly gone above 48°C, with the highest recorded maximum of 49.6°C at Moomba in South Australia. The extreme conditions have been associated with a delayed onset of the Australian monsoon, and slow moving weather systems over the continent.
Australia has always experienced heat waves, and they are a normal part of most summers. However, the current event affecting much of inland Australia has definitely not been typical.
The most significant thing about the recent heat has been its coverage across the continent, and its persistence.
It is very unusual to have such widespread extreme temperatures — and have them persist for so long. On those two metrics alone, spatial extent and duration, the last two weeks surpasses the only previous analogue in the historical record (since 1910) – a two-week country-wide hot spell during the summer of 1972-1973.
A good measure of the spatial extent of the heat is the Australian-averaged maximum daily temperature. This is the average of the highest daily temperature of the air just above the surface of the Australian continent, including Tasmania. The national average is calculated using a three-dimensional interpolation (including topography) of over 700 observing sites each day.
On Monday and Tuesday last week (January 7 and 8) that temperature rose to over 40°C. Monday's temperature of 40.33°C set a new record, beating the previous highest Australian daily maximum of 40.17°C set in 1972. Tuesday's temperature came in as the 3rd highest on record at 40.11°C.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Old Style Thinking in a New World

Lake Mead via Wikipedia

 Actually, that's a little misleading. Really, it's about American hubris and Las Vegas. The world hasn't changed, it's just that capitalist/technocratic thinking hasn't been in the real world for a century or more.
Tara Lohan writes about the water wars of Nevada, with Los Vegas slowly and deliberately destroying the rest of the state with its water demands. As she puts it:
The future that Las Vegas and the rest of Nevada face is one where climate change is likely to make life harder, water scarcer, and decisions about the future tougher. And it’s a future that will be shared across the Southwest. K. Kaufmann writes for the Desert Sun about the National Climate Assessment Advisory Committee’s findings on climate change will affect the country. In the Southwest, Kaufmann writes: 
Snowpack and streamflow amounts are projected to decline, decreasing water supply for cities, agriculture and ecosystems.
The Southwest produces more than half the nation’s high-value specialty crops, which are irrigation-dependent and particularly vulnerable to extremes of moisture, cold and heat. Reduced yields from increased temperatures and increasing competition for scarce water supplies will displace jobs in some rural communities.
Increasingly, wherever you live in the U.S. this will be a shared problem as water resources and potentially energy resources become strapped, if we continue unchanged on our current trajectory.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Murdoch Watch Day...whatever

Two of my favourite US political journalists (a list that includes Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone), Bill Moyers and Rachel Maddow had a chat the other day on Rachel's show. They were discussing the Rupert Murdoch phone-hacking scandal and its implications for the Murdoch empire in the US and about what it says about big journalism. Two very smart, very well informed people chatting about a topic both are familiar with--what a concept.



Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


Thanks to MSNBC for the clip.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

If You Won't Stop Climate Change...

...then you should learn to love it. As it is becoming clear that we will not be doing a damn thing to stop global warming and the resulting chaos, we'd better plan on doing things differently in order to maintain our current capitalist lifestyles. Thus:
From the Daily Mail Online
The area around this house is expected to flood every 20 years or so, and so this house is designed to cut loose from its foundation and float when that happens. The house is nearing completion in Marlow, Buckinghamshire.
The Guardian ran a short clip on the designers and the development that's been proposed.
video


From the article:
They may lack the exotic ring of Venice's Piazza San Marco or Marrakech's Djemaa el-Fna, but Norwich's planned Rain Square and Flood Park may one day earn a little renown of their own in the epic battle with the weather.
After England's wettest year on record, planners this spring will be asked to grant consent to 670 homes by the confluence of the Wensum and Yare rivers featuring these new public spaces, where half the site has a high probability of flooding and its edge is only 45cm (18in) above sea level.
The project, described as a folly by opponents, is a bellwether for Britain's readiness to tackle the twin pressures of rising floodwaters – which the Environment Agency estimates put one in six homes at risk – and ever increasing housing demand in popular places such as Norwich.
In a counter-intuitive attempt to persuade homebuyers to set aside their fear of the rising tide, the scheme proposes homes around marshes, squares that are designed to become ponds, and parks that become small lakes.
So really, why bother to fix the problem when 1 in 6 homes may be at risk of flooding, when that just gives you the opportunity for business as usual selling these creations? From the same article:
The Guardian has learned that the government chose to delay the introduction of critical anti-flood measures until 2014 after lobbying by Britain's biggest house builders. Regulations to demand better drainage of new housing developments using wetlands, reed beds, drainage channels and porous driveways to help prevent run-off flooding that threatens an estimated 2.8m homes was postponed last year after the Home Builders Federation complained to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) about the cost.
Barratt Homes, Redrow, Bovis and other house builders were supposed to take responsibility for building systems to ensure water that drains from new estates soaks into the ground rather than running off to cause flooding locally. But they have written to Defra minister Richard Benyon saying the standards, which have been championed by ecologists and flood experts, are "flawed and would raise design, cost and other problems for house builders". They also warned the scheme would "present a significant risk to the delivery of new housing", and the government announced an 18-month delay.

This, this is why we're all going to die. Probably screaming.

Soot, Diesel, and the Black Carbon Problem

Image via Wikipedia

While the study  is not yet published and will probably be behind a paywall when it is, the abstract is pretty clear:
However, global atmospheric absorption attributable to black carbon is too low in many models, and should be increased by a factor of almost three.[...]
Thus, there is a very high probability that black carbon emissions, independent of co-emitted species, have a positive forcing and warm the climate. We estimate that black carbon, with a total climate forcing of +1.1 W m-2, is the second most important human emission in terms of its climate-forcing in the present-day atmosphere; only carbon dioxide is estimated to have a greater forcing.
 Some 7.5 million tonnes of soots are released into the atmosphere  each year, coming from cooking fires, open burning (like clearing land or wildfires) and diesel engines. This means that there's actually room to reduce soot production, with diesel engines producing about 70 percent of the soot emissions in Europe, North America, and Latin America. In Asia and Africa, wood burning domestic fires make up 60% to 80% of soot emissions. Coal fires are also a significant source of soot in China, parts of Eastern Europe, and former Soviet bloc countries.
Coal, one of the great evils in fuels, should already be seeing its use cut. Trimming diesel use would also provide other health benefits, as micro-particulates emitted from diesel engines have been linked to a number of respiratory ailments. And the whole cook-fire issue is another reason added to the heap of reasons for bringing the undeveloped world forward.
So bad news: soot is worse than we thought--by a whole lot. Good news? Soot production is something that could potentially be managed. Not that I expect we will....

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

One Hundred Plus Reasons



BC independent journalist Laila Yuile writes for community newspapers, 24, blogs for HuffPo and on her own blogsite. She has a pretty good group of people following her work, which is why, when she asked them to come up with reminders of the Liberal record here in BC, they responded quickly, efficiently, and in volume.
The Liberal Party, first under Gordon Campbell and now under Christy Clark, have weathered some pretty strong political storms. Through it all, they've managed to maintain a majority government, even though they haven't broadened their support. Then they ran a campaign that swore they wouldn't bring in a harmonized sales tax, folding the federal and provincial taxes together. Six months later: harmonized sales tax.
Campbell thought he was running the standard playbook--bring in massive changes all at once in the first year of your mandate, and then spend the rest of it managing for re-election. It worked a treat for Ralph Klein in Alberta, and has proved successful enough that it's been used in Ontario and at the federal level as well. But the HST was different.
First, it was egregious. Negotiations on harmonization had to have been taking place for months before the election. And while harmonization was going to be good for large corporations, it was going to be brutal on smaller, local enterprises--like restaurants. And that pissed off the small business community who thought they had a champion in the Campbell government.
But the small business community found a new champion--even though he wasn't really all that new. Charismatic politician Bill Vander Zalm, former premier of the province leading a Social Credit government (precursors to the Liberals who fouled their brand so thoroughly under Vander Zalm that the party folded itself into the Liberal brand), picked up the banner. Using legislation brought in under a former NDP government (under great pressure from the Socreds), Bill announced a referendum drive to repeal the legislation harmonizing the two taxes.
With Zalm leading the charge, the HST was no longer a purely partisan issue in the legislature, but became a populist movement transcending partisan politics. The HST probably wasn't the worst Liberal idea to come out (abusing the poor and indigenous populations, a perennial favourite, was clearly worse), but the people of BC decided enough was enough, and used the referendum push to spank the ruling class.
The NDP admitted during the campaign that the referendum legislation had been crafted so that it was almost impossible to successfully complete a recall campaign. But when the people gets riled up.....
The referendum ultimately called, passed. Meaning that the government was compelled to reverse course on the HST ( still not reversed, btw), and started a slide in Liberal popularity even among their traditional supporters. Campbell, his personal brand trashed as badly as Bennett's and Zalm's before him, took a powder. The party, taking a leaf from the Socred playbook, elected a woman to replace him--figuring that the public and media would have a harder time attacking a female premier. But Christy Clark has been up to the challenge, and it looks like the province will get at least one term of NDP government starting in 2013.
But just to make sure that the boobs in power get what's coming to them, laila Yule's crew have provided a reminder to the province  about the last decade of Liberal rule: 100 reasons the Liberals have to go.


Thursday, January 3, 2013

Briony Penn Takes on Oilberta

Focus Magazine used to be this sleepy little mag read by seniors and, well, pretty much no-one else. But over the last couple of years, it has transformed itself into one of the most hard-hitting, deep-digging, and well-written magazines in Canada. And pretty much nobody outside Victoria knows about it.
We also have some of the smartest and most committed environmental activists in the world here. The local environment pretty much demands it of a person. There's Alexandra Morton taking on the fish farms of the Broughton Archipelago. David Suzuki just keeps getting smarter and more focused. And let's be frank; who else has elected a Green to Parliament? And then there's Briony Penn.
photo from The Province newspaper
Yes, Briony is not unwilling to use pretty much any means to get an issue attention. She rode through Vancouver as Lady Godiva to bring attention to logging on Salt Spring Island. And, if you've seen Salt Spring
Island, youll know why she did it.
Photo from findfamilyfun.com
Briony is also an adjunct professor of environmental studies at the University of Victoria, and continues to write--currently in Focus Magazine.  Where she has written this excellent article on the way the two sides are approaching the expansion of pipeline capacity through British Columbia.
Despite [Ian Anderson, CEO of Kinder Morgan}'s claim to be committed to more genuine consultation, it’s not clear that he or any of his colleagues in the oil patch understand British Columbians’ deep opposition to exposing their land, rivers and sea to the risks posed by oil pipelines and tankers and our even broader concerns. Many of us are sensing that we are on the verge of environmental collapse and that any one of these major projects could put us over the edge. Gerald Amos, past chief councillor of the Kitimaat Village Council, at the end of Enbridge’s proposed pipeline between the tar sands and the coast, articulates the crucial point around consultation: “The big issue for communities—one that really hasn’t been grappled with yet—is the cumulative impact of what we call progress.”
Whether it’s Jasper grappling with the cumulative impacts of man-made corridors on wildlife populations; or Kitimaat with the rising toll of logging, mining, hydro projects and the eight proposed liquefied natural gas plants; or Victoria facing another 300 oil tankers in our waters each year to service the expanded Kinder Morgan depot, the big issue for British Columbians is not just the next big project planned, but the sum total of where we are going as a nation with our energy needs, our distribution, and the rate of exploitation.
Anderson’s speech suggested that he believes it’s a waste of time trying to educate British Columbians about the importance of the pipeline to national security, that we’re simply concerned about our own backyard. In reality, though, it’s Anderson who doesn’t understand the big picture.
We get it that we are moving perilously close to the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Or, more aptly, in the case of the Rockies, the mountain caribou’s back. And on the coast, the southern resident orca’s (another species at risk) back. Environmental collapse cannot be addressed with such solutions as one discussed by the Heavy Oil club: saving caribou in the tar sands by fencing them into compounds to “mitigate” their decline.
“Cumulative impact” is the scientific term for what we intuitively sense is happening to our environment. While assessing such impacts is central to environmental assessments—and true national security—in jurisdictions around the planet, Canada’s policy on such matters, unfortunately, has regressed back to the 1950s.
Read the article. Particularly if you're an Albertan--the days of blithely assuming that oil will sell, the economy will expand, and "Alberta will be the  envy of the country," well, those days are over. BC is one of the reasons Harper decided to gut environmental protections in this country. We are squarely in the cross-hairs, and we know it. Ans still two thirds of BC residents are willing to flip him the bird. Harper's worried about bodies in front of bulldozers day after day on the news. He should be.